Blink, Blink, Blink …………………goes the clock on your VCR. Yep, I said it, VCR. It is mind boggling to me that I have children (ages two and four) who will never know a Tape Player, VCR, 8 Track, and possibly even a DVD. Technology moves fasters than the fastest cyclist on his/her best day. But this story isn”™t about VCR”™s or technology. It”™s to illustrate a point about how we as a culture like to change, modify, and complicate things even when they don”™t need to be. I am writing this even at the risk of getting backlash from much more “technical” and experienced outdoor riders. But like I said in my first post, I speak from the heart and you”™re either going to love me or hate me. If you”™re looking for stats or data to shave off 3 seconds from your hill climb…..then I”™m not your guy.

I still remember the very first VCR my mom and stepfather bought. He was a car dealer and had gotten a great bonus check. It was summer, probably July, and we loaded up in the car and headed to the Video Rental store. For you young readers, we used to have places that had VCR tapes lined up on all of the walls so you could choose what you wanted. In addition, WAY back then (early 1980”™s) we had discs that looked like large vinyl records but played like a DVD. They were encased inside hard plastic covers. Anyway, back to my story. The VCR most likely costs us $600, weighed as much as my brother and I combined, and if I am not mistaken had no more than 5 features. Play; Stop, Pause, Forward and Backward. More expensive ones had “Record” so you could tape Price is Right or your favorite soap, but as a 10 year old I was just excited to rent Friday the 13th (The first one).

That VCR had less technology than the cheapest, crappiest cell phone on the market today, but when I look back it did absolutely everything that we ever needed it to. Then somewhere in some big board room a group of people decided that we (the consumer) needed to have options. And not just a couple, but over a hundred that the most experienced technical engineer would have trouble programming. So my question is WHY !?!?! Why do we need to complicate every single thing in our world to the point that we either lose some of the enjoyment OR feel like a complete idiot because we can”™t or don”™t want to spend the day trying to figure it out ?

How does this apply to us, the indoor cycling people of the world? And actually, I will go so far as to throw in all Group Ex AND Personal trainers to this query. What are WE doing as coaches and leaders to complicate things that don”™t need to be complicated? I still believe, and may be wrong with everyone OUTSIDE my class, that my people come to me for more than instruction on how to peddle, when to get their heart rate up, or when to stand up. Let”™s face it, I “teach” (HATE to use the word teach, I prefer coach) a class on how to get on a bike and peddle. Sure, there are MILLIONS of ways to teach and A LOT that goes into it……FOR AN ELITE ATHLETE to do the tour!!! But I have 30 to 60 people who, like me, are there for so much more than to learn all the tricks to shave off 3 seconds from their best time. And even if my people ARE there to learn how to shave of the 3 seconds, I believe (speaking about my people of almost 20 years) are trying to shave that time for internal reasons. Reasons of personal growth, pride in ones accomplishments, or even to use that shaved 3 seconds as a metaphor for something much bigger in their life. That”™s why I teach and have always taught from a spiritual perspective and not so much from a technical perspective.

I am so fortunate to “coach” at arguably the best club in the US. I spent 10 years in all 50 States as a Sales manager and so I have been in too many gyms to name. I have seen trends in workouts, classes, equipment, and I am never surprised at what comes next. Right now this “Cross Fit” craze is amazing to me. We are now as an industry demonstrating that “hey, you didn”™t need to join a gym with all the Cybex equipment because that spare tire in your garage, sprints up and down your street, and jump rope is all you need for a great workout. And you know what, they”™re right. Why is a sprint on a Schwinn spinning bike any more beneficial than a sprint up the hill in your neighborhood?? It”™s different because our people come to us for something they can”™t get at home in the basement or in the garage. For some of you, maybe it is the technical lingo you use. Some of you may be like me and teach good form but with a focus on the “spiritual” aspect of the ride. The truth is that if we do it right and with proper form, then all of these things will get us to the goal, which is for our people to walk out feeling healthier and in MY opinion both “physically” AND “mentally.”

My point is that we don”™t have to complicate things the way we sometimes do just so that we can stick with the trends. If your class demands that, than do it. But don”™t lose focus on your core audience of people, the ones who stuck by you for 20 years. Give them the best music, the best guidance, the best stories, and the best up to date techniques IF that is what is going to give you and them the result you”™re looking for. Let”™s remember and never lose sight of the fact that our members come to us to lead them and if we tell them that rubbing their tummy while sprinting doubles the amount of calories they burn, then chances are most will do just that. So it”™s our obligation to introduce the right amount of “new” technology if and only if the benefit is there. THEY are giving up one hour of their lives and putting it in our hands. I for one ONLY want to provide the best.

So the next time you jump on your bike ready to start class, remember that blinking clock on your old VCR and ask yourself “have I put together a class with total focus on helping them achieve their goals?” or have you designed it based on an article on the latest “Crave” from some gym in a posh LA studio? Do your research, make sure the latest “thing” is right for your students and then apply it. But don”™t buy the VCR with 100 programmable features that you don”™t know or understand until you SET THE CLOCK ON IT FIRST!! Now go press PLAY and have some fun. And please send me your thoughts so I can learn my audience.


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