I taught my last class today. My last ride so-to-speak. It all started seven years ago. I had been Spinning® for years. That day our regular instructor asked me to lead her class. She was just too sick.
To me – a pilot – it was like being asked to safely land an airliner because the pilots were incapacitated. Truth be told, I was far more prepared to land a 747 than lead the class. But I did it, and that is where my ride as indoor cycle instructor began.
Penning this post for ICI/PRO is – for the most part – where it ends. A memoire of sorts that highlights milestones of my journey from certified but lost, to Master Instructor, what I learned along the way about our craft and our industry.
Realizing the joy of being in the front of the studio, I took the first of countless certifications the next month. A one day, eight hour class. Leaving that afternoon I realized what I didn’t know.
I knew that to be the instructor I wanted to be, would require more than eight hours. So I did what all red blooded Americans do, a Google search on teaching indoor cycling.
Lucky for me John understands search engine optimization. ICI/PRO was top of the list and my life as an instructor changed.
Back then John was publishing ‘podcasts’ and posts talking about something he called Indoor Cycling 2.0. What?? I was in my car a lot in those days with my iPod plugged into the radio. I listened to it all trying to figure the best way to integrate such wisdom into my teaching.
There were guest speakers who discussed everything from music to very cycle specific training.
There were posts from this guy, Gene Nacey, who had started a company called Cycling Fusion. Gene wrote a book back then about training with power. The forward, written by Sally Edwards. Who were these people and why are they always talking about heart rate, power and cadence?
ICI/PRO offered class profiles with music suggestions. I found these very helpful but they had names like muscular strength or climbing power or aerobic volume training. It was all very overwhelming.
I realized what made it so overwhelming was that I had not really been educated. That my eight hour class hardly scratched the surface of what ‘training’ on an indoor cycle was really about.
My experience taking classes was just the opposite. My favorite instructor never did any of this stuff. I had reached a defining moment. Indoor cycling version 1.0 or 2.0.
I chose 2.0 because it had the education I yearned for and the structure that seemed missing from the classes I took. I had always been a fan of heart rate. Moreover, the new bikes at the JCC – where I was trying to land a sub job – measured heart rate and had power meters. I knew that seemed like the perfect combination but – at the time – had no idea why.
I got the sub job and a fair amount of opportunity to teach in those early years. I began my quest to get better through education. My sub classes (all I had at the time) were – unbeknownst to them – my guinea pigs.
Having read Gene’s Power Training Book there were some questions. I had found a way to land a ‘regular’ class in prime time by offering to do a power training course. I had questions, so I called him.
Gene is the quintessential professional. He always gave freely of his time to answer my questions. But he warned me, “Chuck where you are going you will discover a culture, the culture of indoor cycling. Good luck.” But more on that later.
Later that year he was doing the official launch of his new company, Cycling Fusion by hosting a summit of some of the most nationally regarded indoor cycle instructors. I’m not sure where I found the nerve, but I offered to kick off the summit suggesting that I was representative of the new 2.0 instructor. To my surprise Gene said yes.
The rest is history. My relatively short, but incredibly intense career really began at that summit, west of Denver high in the Rocky Mountains at Keystone Ski Resort. Why? I met Sally Edwards. Talk about unbridled energy. Sally – the only person ever inducted into both triathlon halls of fame – epitomizes it.
Suffice it to say that when I ran into Sally at the Denver airport after the summit I knew I was home. John led me into the room, Gene opened the window and Sally was the sunshine that poured through. There are not enough words to describe the learning one experiences working with Sally Edwards.
But if Sally was the sun shining on my personal learning crusade, Jim Karanas was the fresh air flowing through the open window.
Jim was indoor cycling 2, 3, 4 and 5.0 way before anyone ever heard of a ‘podcast’. Sadly, Jim left us a while ago, but his legacy lives on in all of those he touched. From Jim I learned to put the icing on the cake. That at the end of the day, it was not about me or just about heart rate or power, cadence or cycle specific training. It was about bringing to class the ability to touch each rider such that they were sure I was teaching class just for them.
When I made the choice to give up leading classes I did it with the knowledge that I had met my own challenge – to understand the whole of indoor cycling yes, but to touch the people who trusted me in a positive manner. How did I know? Simple really, rider feedback. Additionally, I had grown past the place where I was committed to only one way. I was comfortable teaching outside the keep-it-real philosophy that had governed my every thought for so long. I knew that Indoor cycling 2.0 was only a pass to explore and learn, not a rigid protocol to vigorously defend. That my job was not to suppose I knew what my riders needed, or how they got it, but to provide for them what THEY thought they needed that day. I can do that. I have done that. I am content. I have moved on but I have not forgotten.
In the coming weeks I will give John some additional posts written but never submitted. Posts that take a close, perhaps inside look at the realities of our industry. Fruit for thought or maybe, fuel for a fire.
It has been my privilege to have met and worked with so many great and talented individuals.
I wish you all well!
He partnered with Sally Edwards in January 2011 to market and set up operations to support ZONING, the next generation three zone heart rate training system.Chuck is an evangelist for cycling and his enthusiasm for getting America fit is second only to the head heart herself, Sally.
Pilot, flight instructor and small business owner Chuck is no stranger to excitement. His diverse background, passion to stay fit and willingness to take on a challenge make him a great fit within our Indoor Cycling Community.In addition to being a full time pilot, Chuck writes, speaks, teaches, and cajoles others to be active using the Blink heart rate monitor and ZONING programming.