When the weather is nice, do you ride your bike to the club and then teach your Indoor Cycling class?
Originally posted 2010-06-20 11:59:21.
There's an old saying that goes; “I've been at this so long… I've forgotten much of what I didn't know, when I first started.” I've taught Indoor Cycling classes since 1998ish. A long time ago for sure. Even back then I had an advantage over most new Instructors. I'm married to the “Senior Group Fitness Instructor” in my family. Amy began her fitness career in 1994 and Spinning® in 1995. She was there for many of my early classes to help guide and critique me and my classes. I had her positioned front-center in the class during my first audition at Life Time – yes, I passed 🙂
So a lot of time has passed between those first classes and today. It's hard for me to think back on the nervousness and insecurity that's common in most new instructors. What's needed is a newer Instructor who's willing to share their ideas and solutions. That sounds like my friend Lena Hershey 🙂
This page at leanlena.com has links to multiple articles writen by Lena > New Instructor Tips specifically for those of you just getting started in your teaching carreer 🙂
Originally posted 2015-04-03 09:59:07.
When a student asks what they should purchase for Indoor Cycling Shoes, what do you recommend? Do you have a place to send them? Does your club sell Indoor Cycling Shoes?
If you're only using them for Indoor Cycling classes, then a shoe with a recessed SPD cleat is the best choice. Often refered to as Mountain Bike shoes, you'll find they are easy to walk on and won't scratch the floor. Every pedal you will find and a studio these days will have a SPD on one side.
Here are links to a number of suggestions at Amazon.com which has as good a pricing as anyone and you can't beat Amazon's easy return policies.
I ride a lot outdoors and prefer a conventional “Cycling Shoe” that has an exposed cleat – I have used Look cleats on all of my road bikes. My feet are very wide and flat. After suffering with ill fitting shoes in a “regular” width for years, I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Sidi Mega Road Cycling Shoes. Yes I know they are expensive. I've had mine for at least ten years and other than looking a bit faded, they are as comfy as ever.
I should add that I wear my Sidi's with Superfeet supportive insoles that prevent my feet from rolling inward, which takes a lot of stress off my knees.
Originally posted 2010-06-19 09:51:02.
The posts with more than a couple of comments always catch my attention. It shows a hit on a subject that interests people enough to share their thoughts. I have always considered this forum's primary objective to do just that. Light a fire so-to-speak.
That said, the post on Single Leg Pedal Drills got me thinking. They are a staple of my classes. I teach on both magnetic as well as friction resistance bikes. Like Doug (Yo Doug good to hear from you) I cue the riders to “let one leg go along for the ride.
The term ‘contraindicated' has – over the years — been associated with these drills when the rider has been instructed to ‘unclip'. And I agree though I see the risk as minimal. Even on bikes using MR we have a few ‘bouncers' — those that will just never put the kinds of resistance we instructors are trying cue — and as such are at risk for getting a pedal in the back of their leg. So I just don't do it.
Yet, what I liked most about John's post is that he has come back around to an important issue. It clearly got us talking with our fingers which means — hopefully — we gave it some thought. We don't always need to be finding something new so much as reinforcing something good. And that got me thinking.
As I have moved from beginner to journeyman to experienced to grizzled veteran, I've learned a few things.
Embrace and learn from those that take the time to compliment you/your class. Lately there have been many more of my riders — some regulars some new — that have taken the time after class to come to me with an acknowledgement of well delivered class. “Your best yet” said one just yesterday. The irony was that I'm doing nothing really new. In fact I used a playlist favorite of mine that has been collecting dust in my iPad for a while. When I think about it I've not really put anything new together in quite some time. Oh, I've got a pile of audio podcasts printed out waiting for me to take action. But I believe the truth is that the riders in my regular classes are enjoying my growth as an instructor far more than hearing Katy Perry's new tune. Or another way to climb.
People resist change. We already know we cannot please everyone in class every time. So if you are committed to bringing new everything to your class, every class, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Your regulars have an expectation of what you're going to deliver before they walk into the studio. Try your new stuff out when you sub.
You are who you are. If you have been teaching well attended, prime time classes then it is very likely that your success has more to do with you, than what you play and cue. While I don't recommend getting stale I do strongly urge you to stay true to your style.
I will use John as an example of what I mean. Recently he posted about a technology, Harmonic mixing, that blends tracks of the same musical key. His frustration was that others could put together better mixes than he. Ok, I guess. First, that is his opinion of his playlists and probably not an issue for his riders.
Next, while his integration of harmonic mixing may have a subtle effect (positive or negative) on what the riders hear, John is teaching to full room because he is John. A great smile, always happy to see his riders, has a plan for the workout and best of all, his voice over the mic during his cues are about the best I've heard. Right up there with the late Jim Karanas. Which segues nicely to.
Know your strengths and play to them. Maybe wife Amy and Chris Hawthorne put together mixes that he thinks flow better. Good for them, that is their strength, among many others, 🙂 not his. We all chose to get to the front of the room. On stage is what I call it. So face it, you like the affirmation. What gets you applauds is what your strengths are. If you are a new instructor then you may still be searching for key performance parameters. I use the word performance intentionally because that is what we do. It's not just about the workout but how you deliver it. Your performance.
One last thought on strengths. The best of the best are quite adept at getting their riders attention and holding it. I cannot stress this enough, go watch them. How? Maybe at your club there is the one instructor that ‘packs em in'. Attend conferences. IDEA here on the left coast is dedicated to instructor continuing education. SCW has monthly conferences around the country. Find one near you.
Know when to say when. If you are teaching more than an average of a class a day it will be very difficult to keep the fire burning hot. Motivating ain't easy. If you are teaching your third class of the day it will soon become obvious to your riders that you are not feeling the love. Teaching indoor cycling for living is tough and — in my opinion — not sustainable at pro levels. Unless teaching that many classes is standing between you and the street, consider what your optimum number is per day as well as per week.
Do continuing education. You can always get better. Our craft is one of caring, connecting, nurturing, prodding and sweating. But none of that is possible if you don't base it on sound fundamentals. Indoor cycling is about doing cardio vascular training on an indoor cycle. Knowing as much as you can about training both, will never hurt. Add your personality, a touch of some stuff you picked up from the pros and you've got a winning recipe.
We don't always need to be finding something new, so much as reinforcing something good.
Originally posted 2017-11-20 09:00:51.
NOTE: I'll be publishing what I believe are the 10 Myths of Indoor Cycle Rider Setup / Bike Fit on Wednesdays each week, starting today with:
Myth #1 – It's proper, for you the instructor, to cue people to draw in their knees.
I cringe whenever I hear; “OK people, now I want everyone to bring in your knees!” because, for most of the riders in class, everyone's knees are already where they need to be. Please note that I didn't say where they should be, but where they need to be based on a number of different factors. Some are based on how the rider is fitted to the cycle and some are because…
Indoor Cycles are perfectly symmetrical – Humans, not so much…
You can find dozens of books and multiple business who focus on the art of fitting an imperfect cyclist to a perfect bicycle. Discussions of Leg Length Discrepancies, Feet Pronation, Q Factor and Cycling Shoe Cleat Wedges are beyond the scope of an Indoor Cycle Instructor helping a student with setup.
But there is one aspect of Indoor Cycle setup that has a huge influence on knee position, and yet is universally ignored*- foot alignment.
Take a minute and try his test on yourself: Stand on a smooth floor wearing your socks. Feet shoulder width apart, with a soft bend in your knees (like you should have on the bike). Now transfer the majority of your weight to the balls of your feet (like you're standing on the pedals) and rotate your heels inward. Notice where your knees go?
For most of us they move out, did they for you ?
Now let's see what happens when you arbitrarily decide; “my knees are sticking out, I need to bring them in.” Go to the same position as before; soft bend, heels in, but now bring some of your weight back to your heels which will prevent your feet from moving (similar to how the pedal cages or cleats fix the position of your feet) and try to bring your knees in. What happened?
Because everything is connected (you remember the song; foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone's connected to the knee bone, etc…) the position of your knee is exactly where it needs to be, based on your position on the cycle. If you have a student with improperly adjusted shoe cleats (or too low a saddle) and you tell them in your BIG INSTRUCTOR VOICE; “I want everyone to bring in your knees during this crushing 11 minute climb!” you could potentially hurt them over time. Worse, cause them to ignore the true reason their knees are out which for many people is simply having their heels rotated inward – like my buddy Randy demonstrates below.
There's actually a Sub- Myth here; the objective of proper bike fit isn't to just “bring in your knees”. The objective is to get your knee pushing directly down on your pedal = the most efficient transfer of power with the least amount of stress on the most vulnerable joint in the system – your knees. We live in a three dimensional world, not two 🙁 So when while helping a student get set up, be sure to observe them from the front, as well as from the side.
So what to do and/or cue as the Instructor?
Jim Karanas gave us a beautiful cue during a class I took last week in San Francisco. He had us down in the drops (I realize your cycle may not have drops – Spinning Instructors can read this as comfortably in position 2) and asked that we look down and we should see our knees in the space between our arms. Nothing more. He was simply suggesting that we observe what was happening.
You haven't heard it yet, but I will be publishing an interview with Jay Blahnik in December where he makes a similar point about suggesting your students observe something and then let them act on it.
You may also pay attention to what you see in your students and identify excessive foot rotation. But be careful – some people are naturally very duck footed (or whatever the opposite of pigeon toed is where you live) so my suggestion is to ask “did you have someone set up your cleats? This may give you a clue to if they put any thought or care into attaching their cleats. You could also have them stand naturally in their socks on a smooth floor to see if there's anything weird and refer them to your local bike fit expert if necessary.
*There are 100's of YouTube videos explaining a multitude of different ways to properly fit someone to an Indoor Cycle, but not one that I'm aware of makes any comment or suggestions as to foot position and it's effect on knee position / alignment. Even the Spinning® Fit System ignores this topic beyond “… the cleats must be adjusted properly on the shoe. A good bike shop or bike fit specialist can help with this if needed.” What “adjusted properly” means remains a mystery.
Read the rest of the 10 Myths of Indoor Cycle Rider Setup / Bike Fit
Originally posted 2012-11-21 12:19:18.
What do you do when you want to train but need a break from cycling? Indoor rowing is an excellent alternative. If youâ€™re into power training, this is for you.
Most of my teaching of indoor cycling was done in Performance Max, a program that included both cycling and indoor rowing. I took the program as a participant for 14 years and taught it in a different location for 12. This post covers the basics of starting to row.
Truly, the only indoor rowing machine worth using is the Concept 2 Rowing Ergometer (“erg” for short). Yes, other rowing machines exist, but no one who rows takes them seriously. The Concept 2 is the gold standard. The current models are the D and the E (slightly higher off the floor). The longest-standing model is the C, which was the one-and-only for many, many years. (I have one, love it, and wouldnâ€™t trade it for a D for anything!)
If you have access to a Concept 2 erg and are new to rowing, learn correct technique from the start. Itâ€™s easier to learn it the right way than to unlearn the mistakes that people commonly make when trying to row on their own. If you teach at a gym with an instructor who really knows rowing, thatâ€™s ideal because youâ€™ll get good instruction and correction. Years of teaching rowing have shown me that correction is essential.
If you donâ€™t have either an erg or personal instruction, visit the superb Concept 2 website (concept2.com). This 5-minute video teaches rowing technique step by step and repeats the steps clearly and slowly.
Thereâ€™s also an “erg finder”. Enter your location, the type of facility you want (e.g., health & fitness club), and the distance youâ€™re willing to travel. Youâ€™ll get a list of clubs with addresses and the number of available ergs there. You might want to call to verify the info. (When I looked for ergs in San Francisco, the club I taught at for years was listed as having only 1 erg; that was wrong. Farther down the list, though, the same club was listed again, accurately, with 17.)
Once youâ€™ve learned to row, you can take advantage of Concept 2â€™s Workout of the Day. You can choose short (30 minutes), medium (40-45 minutes), or long (60+ minutes). Itâ€™s available on the website daily — or can even be delivered to your inbox.
A few points to keep in mind:
– Rowing is not an upper-body activity. Itâ€™s a full-body activity that centers on leg power. Sliding seats were added to rowing shells in the 1870s to optimize the superior power of the lower body. The best training Iâ€™ve heard on this came from a Performance Max instructor who rowed on the U.S. National team: “The arms are an afterthought.”
– Rowing has a definite learning curve. In the beginning, it may feel frustrating not to have sufficient power in your stroke to reach a high heart rate. That will change with practice. Believe me, rowing heart rates can go very high, typically higher than in cycling.
– Because of the learning curve, novices often use a higher damper setting than necessary. The damper opens the drum to let in more air, increasing the resistance. Skilled rowers, however, use a moderate setting and create effort by accelerating quickly at the start of the stroke (the catch).
– The most common mistake is bending the knees too soon after you finish the stroke. (This will make sense once youâ€™ve watched the video or gotten some instruction.) Itâ€™s almost instinctive and can be difficult to correct. One effective correction is to stop rowing and hold for 2 seconds after youâ€™ve extended the arms before letting your knees bend. Repeat with each stroke for a few minutes.
– Rowing should NOT be done with a straight back. Curving the shoulders slightly forward will engage your core and protect your back. A straight back is more likely to be injured.
Holding an even and consistent pace can be difficult to learn. Jim Karanas, who created the PMax program, always said rowing builds character: With every stroke, the computer tells you youâ€™re a failure [i.e., your pace is off], but you have to keep going.
Working on pace feels like moving meditation. Skilled rowers doing sustained efforts even look relaxed and meditative.
So hereâ€™s to a character-building, meditative yet exciting alternative to cycling. I think youâ€™ll like it. You might even find yourself adding it to your training on a regular basis.
Originally posted 2014-07-07 08:42:14.
She was close to yelling when I walked into the studio. “I'm so excited you came back John!” “I haven't been able to find you on Facebook or Spotify, so I wasn't able to find the playlist you used the last time you were here…”
I subbed last night at the Life Time Fitness corporate HQ club. This participant was there the last time I had covered this class for a friend. I remembered her instantly and how she had approached me after class, asking for the names of two of the tracks I had used. “Are you a Spotify user?” I had asked her. She responded that she was just getting started with Spotify, so I suggested to friend me on facebook and I would show up on her Spotify.
Perfect plan… until she remembered my name as John McCowan and couldn't find me on Facebook 🙁
Which got me to think about an old post I wrote back in 2008. In it, I suggested that Instructors carry and handout a business card (I called it a class promotion card) and showed the card that Amy and printed online. They included our email addresses and class schedules. They worked like a charm, until our classes changed that is.
There are a bunch of websites online where you could quickly create a simple Spotify/Promotional card that you could have available to hand out. I ordered mine through www.vistaprint.com and paid $15.95 with shipping. Because my schedule changes so often, I choose not to include it – but you could easily add yours to the back.
Originally posted 2013-04-02 15:51:43.
ICI/PRO member Zack, a Cycling Fusion Master Instructor and routine contributor to The Weekly Ride on ICI/PRO, delivers a ride. THIS IS THE COMBINED FILE THAT INCLUDES THE MUSIC AND THE VOICE. IT IS NOT AVAILABLE ON ITUNES.
“I am very excited to be releasing an audio version with my ride this week. You get to really feel how i intended the song to be felt then. Notice the shorter than usual notes this week to really make you listen to the delivery. As always my rides can suit all riders and ill be sure to highlight that verbally. So listen up and enjoy!” Zack
Find the file here:
SUMMARY PDF (Full PDF available to members)
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Originally posted 2018-04-12 21:11:48.
Whenever I solve a problem for myself I stop and think, “I wonder of other Indoor Cycling Instructors have this same problem”. So I make a video to show you what I've done. Let me know in the comments if this was helpful to you. Here is the link to the free online calculator.
Originally posted 2010-02-20 13:30:07.
I love having a full class of students. But first they need to know my class exists. I'm continuously frustrated with how poorly my own club promotes the Indoor Cycling classes we offer. Based on comments offering similar frustrations, I'm guessing that I'm not the only one.
So why not take a few minutes to do a little self-promotion?
The other day a received a request from an ICI/PRO member to join FourSquare, the social media site where you can check in, so other people know where to find you. Like Yelp, FourSquare acts as a search engine to find where there friends are, in the hope to meet up with them. You can also leave and read reviews there. I hadn't spent any time there so I decided to check it out to see what I could do with it to promote my class. At first I thought that only actual businesses could create a listing. Instead I discovered you can create a listing for anything that is an actual place, even if you don't technically own or manage the facility. I saw listings for specific seat rows at a concert, events in a local park and even a listing for a specific airline flight to Europe – maybe they were interested in who they would be sitting next to for eight hours.
It was very easy and here's how you can create your listing (s) – there's no reason not to create a listing for each of your classes.
Now when anyone searches for a Spin class near Minnetonka, MN they will find:
If you do try this, let me know what happens.
Originally posted 2011-03-24 04:55:09.
This week I have the extraordinary privilege to be working from my balcony in Punta Cana. I have never been to an all inclusive resort before, and it is quite the experience. The grounds are beautiful, you can go to any of the many restaurants or bars on the property, and there always seems to be a smiling face nearby ready to wait on your next need.
Last night we attended an outdoor band that was playing and there were six younger people that were hired by the resort to provide entertainment and get the crowd dancing etc… While all of them were great dancers, the lead young man was simply incredible. His feet were light and fast, and yet somehow thoughtful and deliberate. He was smiling from ear to ear, and seemed to be having as much fun doing his job as we were joining him on the dance floor. As talented at this young man was, one of his gifts seemed to be the ability to dance with a wide range of partners (guests that he would engage) and have them seem comfortable and loose. You could see the transformation in the people in only one minute: they went from thinking “oh, no, I can't dance with him, he is too good” to relaxing and enjoying themselves and then going back to their tables only to return to the dance floor with their spouse or partner.
It really got me thinking about customer service and how that impacts our industry and profession. Yes, being an indoor cycling instructor is, well at least should be, a profession. We have customers (riders) and it is really our job to guide them through this fitness experience that we have (hopefully) spent time and effort creating. In many ways, we should be presenting an image similar to this young man's for not just our riders, but all of those that are in the club or studio.
As with any great performer, his performance moved me, and has me thinking….Am I providing a high quality performance for my riders and most importantly, am I providing that experience to most of my riders or only just a few? As with most instructors, I have a core group of 10 or so people (about a third of the class) that seem to be in all of the classes I teach. They are all cyclists (they ride outdoors) and they work hard, they work very hard. They are inspirational to teach to and certainly in the midst of a very tough set they help to get me to the other side. But what about the other 20 or so people in that room? I am reaching them? Is my class actually fun and enjoyable, or has it become a 60 minute grueling experience?
I have often heard group exercise instructors talk about the class they just delivered and the gist of the conversation always seems to revolve around “killing” the people, or it being the “hardest” class they have had or something similar. Very rarely, if ever, do you I have pleasure of hearing about how they had the entire class pedaling to the beat and enjoying themselves. I am not sure that I myself have ever measured the success of one of my classes by the number of smiles I have seen on the participant's faces; but perhaps I should. Some, well really most, of my riders will never be on a triathlon course, so I should be mindful about training them like they headed there in three weeks.
So I challenge you, take a few moments and think about your next class. Are you providing great customer service? Are you including most of the riders, and not just your hardcore following? Are your riders having fun? As for myself, when I return I plan to taking the time to be sure that I am dancing with all of my customers, not just the cyclists!
Originally posted 2018-04-02 07:00:10.
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