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"the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one". 

Trekkies (fans of the old Star Trek franchise) will instantly recognize this quote from Spock, which to many of us makes perfect sense; the needs of the majority of our students should outway the needs of a single individual.

And yet applying Spock's logic in our classes can become quite difficult, if not impossible for many of us.

Many of us have experienced a situation where one person is disruptive in class or acts in a way that requires us to focus on them, at the expense of everyone else.

In his Monday post, Chuck Cali relates a problem he had with his new power program:

In the second class, a 73-year-old woman in Birkenstocks walked in after class had started.  She”™d heard cycling might good for her and demanded to be shown how.  With the CEO looking on, and everyone else looking impatient, I set her up.  She disliked cycling and left, wasting almost 15 minutes.  Such a disruption to this sort of class is catastrophic.

It's like watching a slow moving train wreck and we've all been there. Powerless (forgive the pun) to prevent what all of us with any experience knows will happen next - this one person will, in some way, negativity affect the entire class.

The answer is NO. As in; "I'm sorry, but for your safety and out of respect for everyone who was here on time, we don't allow people into class after it has begun." "If you'd like to come back in an hour, or come in ten minutes before the next class, I will be happy to get you set up." And then you physically turn your body (and attention) back to the class.

Saying NO is hard for all of us. Nobody likes to hear NO. For some of us it's almost impossible to turn someone away or ask that they stop whatever they are doing that causes you to feel you need to focus on them, instead of everyone else.

Ignoring the needs of the many can does limit the effectiveness of your class and diminishes your rapport and/or authority with your students. I'm using "authority" here to mean your perceived role as a leader and a fitness expert. 

What got me motivated to post this was a question I received ICI/PRO member Pat Williams.

Hello John,
Hope you are doing well.  Thanks for all your hard work with Indoor Cycling.  Our gym is in the process of moving and maybe purchasing some new bikes.  We currently have 18 Star Trac NXT bikes and they have served our group well.  Trying to stay with current trends, I am interested in bikes that could provide more objective information i.e. power, heart rate, speed, and distance ridden.  I know that you are currently riding Free Motion bikes that provide this information.  If you were in charge of the world, what bikes would you recommend and what are the pros and cons of your choice?  I know there are many choices that are out there.  Thanks for your help.

Whenever I'm asked for my opinion about what road bike someone new to outdoor cycling should buy, my answer is always; "you want to purchase the bike that you'll ride... not the one that will collect dust hanging in your garage".

My objective is to identify whether or not they are willing to commit to the changes in their lives, necessary to becoming a cyclist... or are they simply just in love with the idea of being a cyclist?

The same is true with clubs excited to purchase new Indoor Cycles that include Power indication.

No manufacture makes a bad Indoor Cycle with Power. They're all different and all have their strong and weak points. If you spend any time over at Pedal-On you've maybe read some of the never-ending debates over the fine points of which cycle is better.

Do I have a preference? Sure I do. I have experience riding and teaching on most of them. If Pat and I talked and I learned more about his club's specific needs, I could probable help him narrow his choice down to one or two. But any of the currently available Indoor Cycles; CycleOps 300, FreeMotion s11.9, Keiser M3 or Schwinn AC would be a good choice for Pat's club.

But none of them will guarantee a successful power based program.

I'm hearing, seeing and experiencing studios (like Chuck's) who were in love with offering Power to their students. But unfortunately not all of them are willing to make the commitment to Instructor training and class formatting / programming needed to develop truly effective power based program.

One major barrier to success is an inability to say "NO" to some of their students.

This isn't a new problem.

IMO - the failure of a majority of of clubs to implement effective Zone based Heart Rate training classes in large part goes to a reluctance to say NO to students who aren't interested in wearing a monitor. Instructors feel compelled to teach to the lowest common denominator (the few without a monitor) which effectively waters down the HR Zone class content until many of us have given up on HR training completely. Power based classes aren't any different.

Because Power is so new, I see all of us in a unique position to make the changes needed to establish effective Power based classes. I'm not deluded into thinking I have all the answers, but here are a few ideas that I'd like to see discussed in the future:

  • Clearly separate Power Training classes from Generic Indoor Cycling classes on the schedule.
  • Teach these Power Training classes to the many, saying NO to the random drop-in student - after first explaining that our club offers...
  • Regularly scheduled Introduction to Power classes where students can learn all about Power and can learn their FTP based training zones.
  • Establish a policy that no one can enter class after it has begun and install signs communicating this on the studio doors.

Does this make sense to you?


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