Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time to get your head examined...

"Time to get your head examined."
That what I sometimes think of myself when I pull together ride profiles.  I'm wondering if I can make it through the profile; let alone get my class participants to make it through it with me.

Lot's of hills in this one and it's up to the participants to be honest with themselves.  Are they really turning on the resistance?  Are they pushing to hard and leaving the strength energy zone (75-85% MHR).

What I like about this profile is that you as the participant or the coach have lots of opportunities to do modifications.  Long inclines like "Outta My Head" puts you in a seated climb where you vary the cadence constantly to simulate gusts of wind.  Pedal faster, slower, as long as you stay in the 60-80rpm and 75-85%MHR you're free to be you.

Pacelining on a hill forces you to closely monitor your resistance load so that you're not going to high and then you have just enough time to recover before the next exertion.  I know that I would never be able to have the rhythm or ability to actually do a good paceline, but when I run through the exercise in a class, I always envision I'm right there with 2 good buddies doing it.

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Saturday Night's Alright (for fighting)amazonSaturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) [feat. Kid Rock] - Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (Music from the Motion Picture)
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Istandbul (Not Constantinople)amazonIstanbul (Not Constantinople) - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) [Remixes] - EP
Hard DayamazonHard Day - Faith (Deluxe Version) [Remastered]
ApolloamazonApollo (feat. Amba Shepherd) [Lucky Date Remix] - Apollo (feat. Amba Shepherd) [The Remixes] - EP
T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)amazonT.H.E (The Hardest Ever) [feat. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez] - T.H.E (The Hardest Ever) [feat. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez] - Single
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Right Here, Right NowamazonRight Here, Right Now - The Greatest Hits - Why Try Harder
HurricaneamazonHurricane - Hello My Name Is... (Deluxe Version)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Living in a bubble?

When I first started "teaching" Spinning® classes, a very dear friend of mine, another Group X instructor gave me a piece of advice, "Fake it until you make it."  Now to put that in context, we were talking about my confidence in leading the class, not faking the class.  Present yourself as having confidence, and soon, with a little experience you'll actually have the confidence.
In the movie "Fun with Dick and Jane", Tea Leoni's character has to lead a TaeBo class without any knowledge of what the heck she is doing.  Wow!  Yeah that wouldn't really happen, but it certainly shows what happens when someone that's not qualified to instruct gets put into that role.

Now for some honesty.  How hard was it to become a Spinning® instructor? Okay, maybe you're not a Spinning® instructor, maybe you're a Schwinn instructor, or Y-cycle, Cycle Fusion,etc...  but really how hard was it?  If we're all being honest, and I mean really honest with ourselves, the hardest part was in parting with the ca$h required to take the 6-8 hour course on a Saturday.  Presto! You're an Indoor Cycling instructor.
Presto! You're an Indoor Cycling instructor.

That's like giving the car keys to a 16 year on his birthday, with no prior driving experience and saying, "Don't kill anybody."

I had the benefit of have a great Spinning "Coach" as my first Group X coordinator.  She not only made sure that you knew your stuff during the audition phase of the hiring process, but she made sure that people stayed on top of their game by having mandatory "Back to Basics" classes to make sure you stayed true to your training instead of being complacent with experience.  She was my first mentor when it came to Spinning.

So I'm a firm believer that having a good mentor is important.  If you've read this far into this blog, you take your role of instructor seriously.  Not that I'm going to teach you anything you didn't know, because I'm not, but you're invested.  You're invested in doing a good job.  If you weren't you wouldn't spend the time and you'd live in a bubble of your own making.

The problem with living in a bubble is that you're isolated.  If you're making a mistake, you don't recognize it.  What's worse, maybe some new instructor wanna-be comes to your class, sees the mistakes that your making, but without experience directing him, he takes your mistakes as a "good idea" or as a "great teaching approach."  This sets up what engineers call a cascade-error.  A copy of a copy always leads to less and less definition of what the original was.

Michael Keaton showed this in his movie "Multiplicity" when they made copies of copies, pretty soon they had something that looked like the original but obviously had some special needs.  The same thing can happen in Spinning®.  You go to someone's class and they introduce you to a "new" move.  You, wanting to be cutting edge and provide your clients with the best possible experience, soon integrate this move into your routine.  Pretty soon everyone in your cycling studio is doing hovers, hip-hop and jumping jacks on the bike at 110RPM. Whoa!
Find yourself a good mentor

Without a good mentor you're in that bubble.  What makes up a good mentor?  There's a number of characteristics, but a couple that come to mind are:
  • Unwavering focus on the objective, with regard to Spinning that would be on fitness versus simply being a "popular" instructor.
  • Coach versus Instructor mentality.  Does your mentor try to educate you, other participants AND themselves.
  • Peer mentoring.  Even a good mentor needs to have peers to converse with.  Heck even Yoda was part of a Jedi council.  The point is, these peers setup an accountability structure.
As of late I have found myself without a good "personal" mentor for my Spinning, but with that void, I've surrounded myself in the cyber-community with peers that I can ask questions and opinions of.  I take other classes, several of which weren't very good, but even those I learned something from - What not to do or What I didn't like.

Hopefully you find yourself working in an environment with a Group X coordinator that is focused on a quality program, and holds you accountable.  While I wouldn't expect a fiasco like the TaeBo chaos in the above video you don't want to be responsible for hurting a participant or causing them pain and suffering.  After all, isn't it because you want to help people that keeps you teaching, because it certainly isn't for the money.

I also encourage you to change your thinking pattern from an Instructor mentality to a Coach, so that you can be a positive mentor to up and coming instructors.  Stay connected with your community of peers both in person and on the web, and keep up with the continuing education so that you don't find yourself in a bubble.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Real Hills mean Serious Resistance

Funny thing about an indoor cycle versus are real road bike is that you have the ability to cheat on the resistance.  I'm always teasing my participants that we're not doing Ohio hills (because these really are more like different degree's of flatness).  No, I coach my classes to imagine West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and if we're really going big, think the Rocky's like Colorado or Utah.

Inevitably you'll have some too light, with a cadence of 80-90 on a "steep hill", and you'll also have someone that can't figure out when I'm telling people "nothing slower than 1 per second" that I'm meaning complete revolutions.  Either that or they can't count, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi...yeah that would be 3 seconds.  [dripping with sarcasm]

Studio's with cadence computers have the advantage. just like heart rate monitor users have.