Saturday, January 20, 2018

How to make a Spinning Profile (some assembly required)


I was watching one of a dozen or so Facebook groups related to indoor cycling and the discussion came up about how long does it take everyone to make a profile.  They even went so far as to put up a nice poll to see what took everyone the most time, the profile, the playlist, or song selection. 

The person starting the post commented that he took 2-3 hours per profile and he was doing a new profile every week.  To that I say, "Two point for Gryffindorf".  I love the dedication to his art.

I added a couple of comments to the post and resigned myself to writing an extended post about this.  To those 'Pros' to the Spinning® world, you may want to simply skip to the bottom and see if this weeks post has any new music you may like, for everyone else...

FOR STARTERS when I first started coaching Spinning classes I too put together a new profile/playlist every week and it took me a solid 2 hours because I wanted it just perfect.  I had each transition, every nuance of the ride mapped out.  The music was perfectly choreographed, I often remixed music to get rid of dead spaces and sometimes to change the cadence of the music.

I also struggled with using the Spinning® symbols, while I could see they were a shorthand, it seemed like they didn't have enough resolution for the choreography I wanted.  I was also hand writing my profiles which lead to a terrible situation as my water bottle once leaked while all my profiles were in the same gym bag.  Oh the horror!

My solution was to find a font for my computer that would allow me to put these, with their symbols all on my computer so I had an electronic backup.  All the fonts I found SUCKED.  Sure they gave me the symbols but then I had to keep changing fonts to type regular words into my profile as I liked to write the names of the songs, and even some cuing notes.  That lead me to develop my own True-Type Spinning font (unsanctioned of course), that that font allowed me to just change the top half of the number keys to show the symbols while maintaining an Ariel font for everything else.

I even created my own hybrid to the symbols where I would write in superscript the time a movement would start in the song and then subscript when that movement was over...  Yes, yes.  Good, good!

I then discovered Class Builder from Cycling Fusion, and while it meant I had to abandon my beloved symbols, it allowed me to do some radically different things from my peers at my gym, and the participants loved it.  First it allowed me to actually change the screen cues based on the time in the music.  I could have virtually all my profiles and play lists on a device, and I was able to project a heart rate profile of the ride so members knew what to expect.  I then started sharing my profiles here including the file that you could import right into your own device and be ready to ride.

But alas...all good things must come to an end and Apple changed some security parameters that would allow me to share my profiles the way I had been.  Then a new manager took over my gym and she stole my television so I could no longer project my profiles, and then with iOS 11 Class Builder doesn't work.  I have yet to try their iClass Builder, maybe soon!

How Long Does It Take To Make A Profile?
My typical profile takes my 30-60 minutes to pull together.

Here's my approach.
I keep Shazam on my phone so anytime I hear new music I capture it so I can go back and download it later.  Some songs you just know deep in your soul what you're going to do with it, "That's a hill climb."  "Wouldn't that be a great Sprint."

HINT: When I download the music I put it into a play list called Strength, Interval, RaceDay, or Endurance.  Now I know what music I have that feels right for what type of ride.

What about the profile?
I coach like I ride my real bike, which goes to say I don't try to put in a bunch of weird choreography.  I don't make stuff up just to keep the class "fresh".  That's what the music is for.  I know that when I approach a mountain that there are often rolling hills leading up to it.  Do I imagine a plateau at the top or bottom.  I decide how many mountains I'm going to do and start from there.  Do we go straight up the mountain, or are their switchbacks as we climb (these are all cue points for me).  And then just for fun, do we piece in a Sprint or a Tabata interval?  Once I have the visual of the profile in my head (3 mountains with switchbacks and a Sprint at the end), then I pick out the music.

Music Selection: I drop all the music I want onto a play list and see what time it takes.  At my gym, the class is 55 minutes, so if my list comes close I know I'm pretty good.  Sometimes I need to swap out a song.  I think the flat at the top might need to be shorter or I go to my music play list for that type of ride, sort the music based on duration and I have 50 songs that I can swap with that will get me to the right time.

Music variety is important but don't get too hung up on it.  I have some songs like Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk that literally has 237 plays (as of the date on this blog).  Spinning® Master Instructor Raquel Rezara Schmidt passed along some wisdom to me that has always stayed with me...We'll get tired of our music before our classes do because they're taking other classes too.

Said another way, you're hearing your play lists a lot more than your participants, and the same is true of your profiles.  If you have 8-10 good profiles and play lists you could probably get away with using those same 8 for six months and your participants won't think a thing of it.

Where do I find music?
I have a couple of Go-To sources

  • iTunes : I always check out what's in their Top 100 Pop genre songs.
  • Spotify : I get to triple dip here.  First I hit and go to Charts.  I always visit the Viral 50 both US and Global.  Second I hit Genres & Moods and visit Workout.  I always review the Cardio play list and the Beast Mode play list.  And then finally, I follow other instructors to see what they're playing.  A couple of my favorite are Chrispins and Dana Urban.

    Quick Tip:  Chrispins runs a very nice blog site, you should check it out here.
  • I have a host of websites of other indoor cyclists I visit, include Chrispins, but also Steve's site called "For the Ride Inside"
  • Occassional I use YouTube, but that's mostly for Remixes
  • and then there's Facebook.  Search on Workout Music and you'll find more music than you could ever play.  Join a couple of indoor cycling groups, they're always sharing.
Some last minute advice.
Don't stress the details too much.  Have a plan in mind for what the ride should look like and what positions/cadence/resistance you're going to go, but don't be afraid to deviate from the plan.  Sometimes when I'm coaching I find that the group has more or less energy than expected - adapt.  Sometimes I think, 'This is going to be a kick ass mountain with lots of switchbacks' and then I realize that we've already loaded enough, better dial it back some.

Go with the feeling of the room, or where the music takes you.  Switchbacks is one of my signature moves at my club and depending on the music I may just throw a long one or a short one in that was unexpected just because it feels right.  What I'm saying is that you don't have to have all the details worked out to make it a great Spinning class, there's a lot to be said for being flexible in your approach.  We do this thing so that we can take our love of exercise to others and to make it fun for them, but you should also have fun with it.

Keep Spinning!

~ SpinningFreak

I came up with this profile when I was feeling particularly sadistic.  Someone in class commented that they were saving something for Tabata at the end, so naturally I put it in towards the beginning and book cased the ride with Sprints on a Hill at the end of the ride.