Saturday, January 23, 2016

Going Big Early (Spinning Profile & Playlist)

For my first interval ride of 2016 I really wanted to knock it out of the park and show the class participants how different interval can be from the strength and endurance rides we've been doing.

I've been staying in the EEZ / SEZ zones while the classes have been full of new folks with their resolutions.  Besides many of the other instructors hate EEZ and only begrudgingly do SEZ.

Last week I did a David Bowie Tribute ride, and since that occasion wasn't going to repeat, I decided not to post that play list.  This week finds me doing a Glenn Frey Tribute, but I liked the profile so much and since I didn't over do it with tribute songs here you go.

Also, if you haven't seen this hilarious video from Funny Or Die, you need to check it out.

Spotify users:  I substituted a different Tabata song in the play list since the one I used wasn't available.  The version I used actually had a 2 minute cool down that I used to perform a flat and and then start a small incline into the first mountain.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Shut Up Already!

I love January time in the gym.  I know that for some "regulars" they hate the crowds of the New Years Resolutioners, but for me I love it.  They bring an energy to the gym, they're all so full of hope, even if they don't have the slightest clue how to attain their goals.

That's okay, that's what we're there for, to instruct, mentor and encourage these newbie's to a healthier, fitter version of themselves.

I will say I do enjoy people watching too.  It's amazing how much complete and utter nonsense you'll see and hear.  I was in working out last week, doing some bicep curls and watched a 20-something working on an elliptical machine going like a crazy mad person at a velocity that had she not been wearing a low friction fabric she might have ignited her own pants. Just down from little miss hot pants was another young woman that was "working" on a recumbent bike at maybe 10 RPM.  Later while I was running on a treadmill I watched people stroll and meander on the track that encircles the 2nd floor.  I know that some of those folks were going to go into school or work the next day and share with their colleagues about how their workout had gone and how long they were at the gym.  I'm sorry but if you're walking at a 2 MPH pace holding your phone and talking to someone (not exercising with you) then you shouldn't consider it a workout.

The entire thing reminds me of the YouTube video that's been floating around social media.  It's a fairly long video but well worth the time.

Which brings me to my recent classes.  My studio is a round room; I don't know what fool came up with the idea of a round room but regardless this is what I have to contend with.  The acoustics of a round room are bizarre and I find I hate standing in the middle of the room as you get a lot of weird echos (remember I get off the bike and coach a lot).

Back to the Newb's in class. They all come to class with their friends and find that they have to talk; not realizing that the acoustics make it so that everyone hears their hushed tones.  I'm not concerned about the occasional grunt, or a "Let's do it!" outburst of encouragement from a participant.  It's the long discussions about how they're feeling or doing during or after class.   This week I actually had someone taking pictures and tweeting during class.  
Historically I've imposed the "telepathy rule".  I'll remind everyone that as a courtesy to the class that I'm the only one that should be talking during class, but feel free to carry on any conversation that you like as long as you use mental telepathy.  I then remind people during class "remember mental telepathy."  That usually works.

If I'm coaching an interval session, where it's acceptable to go anaerobic I'll have the class keep adding until they just run out of capacity to pedal and talk at the same time.
This week during a strength ride however, I came up with one for someone that was particularly chatty.  We hit a down hill segment and I used the visual about the wind blowing in your face, and then I told everyone to shut their mouths so they didn't catch a bug.  I even went on a bit enough to tell them how bad the bug might taste.

Aside from the straight forward addressing the chatter, what creative ways have you addressed your Chatty Cathys and Talkative Toms?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

What if all Indoor Cycle Instructors actually rode a bike?

I originally wanted to title this post, 

"What if your indoor cycle instructor knew what the #$%@ they were doing?

but then decided that was a bit harsh.

Now let's be clear, I'm talking about indoor cycle instructors not that crazy stuff that you see on YouTube or a SoulCycle class.  If I were to write an article about that craziness, I'd title it, "What happens when your Zumba instructor does crystal-meth on a bike."

No insult intended to Zumba®.  I love Zumba and can totally recognize how awesome it is for the core.  If I had a lick of rhythm and grace I'd be a Zumba instructor.

What if all Indoor Cycle Instructors actually rode a bike?

...they would understand the importance of proper bike setup to prevent injury.  They wouldn't simply instruct you on the setup of the bike all from the comfort of their bike assuming that everyone already knows how to adjust the bike.  "Set your bike up so your comfortable" would fall 'way to "Let's make sure your setup properly and that you understand how this machine you're strapped to works."

...they would understand that it's impossible to climb doing a sprint while contracting your abs.  I'm blaming Pete McCall for this.  I saw a post by Pete on Facebook about why not to "engage the core" so of course karma being the sadistic witch she is, means that one of the first classes I attend they instruct directly the opposite of this sage advice.

...they would understand that there is no way to do a "sprint" for 90 seconds at 100% of your heart rate.
 I don't even know what to say here other than, "Have you actually used a heart rate monitor?"  and if you do, have you actually done some testing.  Even with the conservative formula that Polar throws into their calculation for max heart rate I would question the ability of anyone in the general population to work that hard.  Don't believe me?  Watch this Tour de France finish line video and notice that the Best of the Best take off for their final sprint at 1:56 a mere 16 seconds before crossing the finish line.  They know they can't sprint for 90 seconds, and they time their finish accordingly.  Yet we in the cycling studio's of the world sprint for 90 seconds?  I don't think so.

...they would understand that sometimes less is more.  It's a bike, strap your feet to the bike and start pedaling. It's not complicated.  You don't need to muddy it up with too many cues to give a semblance of knowing what you're doing.  Shut up already.  That goes for the cool down stretch as well.  Cuing a stretch with so many instructions as to sound like you're watching an origami video at double speed does nothing.  The instructions were coming at me so fast this morning that had I tried to understand them I would have folded myself into a pretzel.

...they wouldn't try to stretch the lower body while sitting on the bike.  It's okay to stretch the upper body, the shoulders, traps, and neck while on the bike (you can do that on a real bike too), but standing up, folding at the waist, so that your butt is pointed toward the ceiling while extending your arms and torso over the handle bars is a no-no.  Denise Druce (Master Instructor for Schwinn) has a nice video of stretches for after your ride, and she's a big advocate for yoga for cyclists.

...they wouldn't tell the participants that you just did 18-25 miles depending on your intensity. This is especially true if it's only a 45 minute class.  Even in a longer 55-60 minute format I wouldn't tell my class that we just went 18 miles unless it was a flat endurance energy zone ride and everyone was able to keep up with me.  Add a hill or two and we slowed way down.

These were the things that bothered me the last couple of days, but I'd love to hear from you all in the comments section about what insanity you see in the cycling studios of the world.

Hopefully next week I'll be able to give you a review of my new heart rate monitor / smart watch.

~ Spinning Freak™

Saturday, December 26, 2015

We all do it, even if we don't admit it (Spinning Profile & Playlist)

We all do it.  We may say we don't but when no one is around to hear, even if we don't vocalize it, we all do it.  We all make New Year's Resolutions.

Something about the New Year we all seem to align with it...We're going to work out more; eat less; eat better; lose weight; lower our cholesterol, etc...  And the list goes on.

I say embrace it!  If the new year is your catalyst, let the fire burn bright and hot.  But make sure the fire is controlled least you get burnt.

If you haven't figured it out from my Facebook posts I'm signed up for a variety of multi-sport events this next year, so I'm working out a bit more than I have in the past.  Today I skipped the morning swim, but I made it to a cycling class.  I had thought about breaking out the road bike, but decided instead to check out a new instructor at the club that I'd heard good things about.

Gym members come to our classes for motivation and instruction.  The depend on us to know the proper methods of using the equipment in a safe and effective manner.  If you instruct them wrong and they get hurt, then it's on you.  Yeah you might be protected from liability because of a waiver, but that shouldn't alleviate the guilt that is yours.  It's your responsibility to do better.  So with that in mind here's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from this morning's experience.

The Good
She did quite a good job of cuing her ride.  Good explanation, clear and she didn't just keep talking to hear herself.  I see that in a lot of instructors where they can't stand silence so they just keep talking.  She did a good job of just talking the right amount.

I can really appreciate her skill here because I often misspeak.  I want to say one thing and then trip over the words.  None of that occurred during today's class.

I can also appreciate that she was mindful of cadence, especially since the studio bikes don't have any rpm gauges.  She did several cadence counts to make sure everyone was in range.  I've long given up this and instead insist everyone to match my pace, but for my money either way works well.

While we didn't actually do a heart rate check, she did talk about perceived exertion and she did cue where heart rates should be for the few with a heart rate monitor (which I might have been the only person in the room with one).  I often cue around anaerobic thresholds since again most don't have heart rate monitors, and this gives us a "known" point of exertion level.

The Bad
Some of these might be nit-picky but here they are.

  • No music playing before class to make the room more inviting.
  • Didn't explain what type of ride we were doing.  It ended up being a Criterion Interval but nobody else in the room new that or had any way to gauge what effort they were going to be putting in.
  • She didn't know the class duration.  I know from looking at her schedule that she teaches an early morning session which is a 45 minute class.  Imagine my surprise when a 55 minute class was cut short by 10 minutes.  I just stayed on the bike and kept going.

  • She is definitely an instructor and not a coach.  She hid behind that bike the entire time, actually instructing people on their bike setup from her bike versus getting out there among the crowd to see if anyone was new or needed assistance with proper setup.

    I'm a big fan of getting off the bike and connecting with the participants to make sure they're feeling okay, riding with proper resistance, and a whole host of other things that you can't see from the seat of the instructors bike.

The Ugly
  • She instructed the use of a HOVER during the ride.  I don't know if she was planning on doing one during the criterion because I deliberately instructed a new participant, that I setup on the bike (and therefore I knew of a recent knee surgery he had) not to do the hover, nor did I do this.  Hover's are not included the curriculum of Spinning®. Schwinn Cycle, or Keiser so I can only believe that she's picked up this bad habit somewhere.

  • Stretching after class is a must, but stretches performed while on the bike should be limited.  I have my classes do a few breathing relaxations, shoulder rolls, and trap/shoulder stretches all from the seat of the bike.  Key here is your butt is firmly planted on the seat.  No chance of injury.  While this morning's class did a wide variety of stretches while standing on the pedals on the bike.  Again most can perform these stretches without risk of injury, but one injury when it could be avoided is one too many in my book.

    Here's a good reference for you.  5 Stretching Tips for Spinning Class

What's this all have to do with New Year's Resolutions?  If you're trying new things, a new class, a new your research and make sure you know what and how to do them.  If your a coach, assume that those coming to class don't have a clue and truly teach them in the proper manner so that you're not the reason that their resolution gets derailed.  Be the Professional.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

How many miles do I typically spin during a normal session?

I've been asked this question in same manner many times over the years.  The short answer, "0" I'm still in the exact same place that I started.  I do often get of the bike and teach during class, during which time I'm walking around the room, I'd say on a good day I'd call that 1/4 mile.

Okay, enough with the stupid answers, I know what you're really meaning.  I generally say 10-18 miles, and that's based off of what pace I normally ride when I'm on my real bike on the road.

Having said that I had a friend that was doing her first "triathlon".  I put that in quotes because it was one of those indoor events that gym's sometime sponsor to get their members motivated.  The triathlon consisted of 30 minutes in the pool, 30 minutes on a stationary bike and 30 minutes on the track running.  When she finished she proudly told me what she placed, and they told me she put on 20 miles.

Whoa, girl!  Did they ask you to sign up for the Tour de France.  You're peddling at 40mph.  (Reality check).

If you have a bike that reports distance, great! You're looking for repeatability not a real-world measurement.  If you get off that stationary bike after an hour, and think that you've done something north of 20 miles you need to question the validity of the measurement.  I occasionally train with nationally ranked duathlete friend of mine.  Our typical route from his house is mostly flat.  I'll set the pace, but at the half way point we'll switch so he can push me.  Maybe pull me, is a better way to say it.  He'll bump the pace to 22-25mph.  Going that pace, I'm good for maybe 60 minutes before I'm hating life and my buddy.

What's a better measure is power, and that is only as good as the bike your on as well.  If you're fortunate enough to be in a studio that has watt meters, and you can get the same bike each time (Spinners at my club are real territorial about their bikes) look and see what your total watts is.  During a Strength ride it will most likely be higher than during an Interval ride, while your mileage will be reversed, Interval > Strength.  Unless your on a really high end bike like the Spinner Blade Ion, I wouldn't read too much into the actual wattage number, it's relative to the bike.  But what you can do is check that versus your next ride and the one after that, etc... to see if you're loading properly, and not cheating.

If you're not in a club with that type of technology on the bike, no worries.  Get yourself a heart rate monitor and then you can ride any bike and measure if your physical exertion is on par with your normal workouts, or not.

"If you measure it, it gets done."  So whether you're measuring calories with a heart rate monitor or watts on a bike, or even virtual miles, what's important is that you're doing it, and working towards some goal.