Guest Contributor: Schwinn Master Trainer Shannon Fable
If we hope to expand our reach as indoor cycling instructors, measurement – whether in the form of power/wattage or heart rate monitoring – is best used to add motivation to an already effective workout. In our enthusiasm, we as instructors many times end up complicating the experience when we add technology. We over-load our students with too much information and thereby narrow our audience down to an elite “hard core” group. We forget that the gift of technology is to actually make things simpler or more exciting. Thatâ€™s why your preschooler is hogging your iPad, right? Itâ€™s the simplicity of riding a bike that attracts a WIDE variety of people to experience and enjoy our classes and what speaks loudest to everyone who exercises is the hope of just a little extra motivation to go longer, harder and more often. Adding measurement can do just that.
The addition of power/wattage to bikes is an amazing advancement in the indoor cycling category. We can now actually tell if someone is getting fitter, losing fitness or maintaining fitness. Itâ€™s been a long time coming and students who use cardio machines in the gym will tell you they have had measurement on the console in front of them on the treadmill, stepper and elliptical for years! For them, it feels normal to be able to measure their workout! Itâ€™s our job to now make that measurement mean something.
Many instructors began their careers as front row riders. But once we go from being a front row participant to being the instructor we sometimes forget that successful instructing is not about how scientific we can make the experience, but how addictive! Maybe youâ€™re shaking your head and thinking, “but we have to produce RESULTS”. Yes, though I believe we create long-term results in clients by making the experience extraordinary and this includes incorporating technology in an unintimidating way.
One way to do this is to coach riders to set their individual baseline wattage for work in a class and commit to staying above it and returning to it after recoveries. We can compare our work effort objectively from hill to hill and from class to class. And, of course, measuring work is a key component in achieving stellar results. I love that we have a new way to set bench marks for our participants so they can see progress in distance ridden, our time holding wattage, versus riding a bike going no where in a dark, smelly room by “feel” alone. Itâ€™s a new day in indoor cycling and the smartest instructors in the industry are the ones that can take the really intricate stuff and translate it to the novice rider in the oversized t-shirt, baggy sweats and running shoes as well as the hot shot triathlete in the front row.
Having personally launched power on bikes in more than one club, I find success, of course, starts with education. But not education that makes class any more complicated with charts and graphs and rider homework, but education that gives instructors the cycling science on measurement and the coaching tools to layer this easily over the great rides they are already teaching.
Can I take my knowledge of power and heart rate training and make it more specific and customized? Of course! In a small group setting or with a paid-for program with a specific focus, when I know everyone is in there with the same goals and the same level of commitment…Yes. But industry wide, thatâ€™s just not the mass appeal of indoor cycling and the most successful instructors I know, know how to reach the masses.
I have been more inspired and seen more results teaching with measurement in the last 5 years than in the previous 10 without it! And I encourage all instructors to invest in the education needed to deliver measurement in the most meaningful and motivating way. Itâ€™s here to stay, so make it work for you. The most important strategy is to make sure the entire cycling team at your facility is on the same page and to then to hone the coaching skills to deliver measurement as motivation – SIMPLY – to everyone.
John's note: Thanks Shannon 🙂 I appreciate your response.
I had asked for comments from a number of Indoor Cycling education providers in response to this post that identifies some of the issues we face implementing Power based classes. Schwinn's Master Educator Jay Blahnik is scheduled to be on the Podcast at the end of the month. Our plan is to explore his strategies to helping you successfully transition from conventional Indoor Cycling classes to classes that include Power.