Constant improvement is the mark of a professional

Team ICG® Master Trainer Chuck Cali

It”™s Friday afternoon, the end of a week cluttered with my own classes and subbing others.  Many triples and quads.  I”™m tired.  My unwillingness to fake it on the lead bike takes energy and catches up with me now.  I reflect.

It”™s been a good week.  Jim Karanas said I was a great asset.  The group exercise director at an upscale club said I was just what she needed for their new cycle studio.

I love writing, especially about indoor cycling.  How did I get here, telling you my story?  I wanted to improve my craft:  indoor cycle instruction.

I sold my flying school in 2007.  A fitness fanatic all my life, I decided cardio fitness was my next career.  Since I loved Spinning, I got certified, determined to do it better than anyone.

But after my eight-hour certification, I realized I wasn”™t prepared to teach cardio on a stationary bike.

Sure, I could go through the motions, but didn”™t understand cardiovascular training or the biomechanics of riding.  I could make people sweat and get their heart rates up, but needed more to be as good as I wanted to be.

In flying, we talk about experience in hours.  The flying axiom:  10,000 hours in one”™s log book means either 10,000 hours of experience or one hour”™s experience 10,000 times.  In flying, I was in the former category.  My goal was to be there with indoor cycle instruction.

I needed to improve my craft.

I googled “indoor cycle instruction.”  At the top of the list was ICI/PRO, talking about something they called “Indoor Cycling 2.0”.

There were other listings.  Many.  I spent hours on all of them.  It became crystal clear that ICI/PRO was a strategic resource.

It came together for me right here and can for you, as well.  How can you improve your craft?

1.  START HERE.  If you haven”™t done so, I recommend buying the ICI/PRO premium membership.

Set your browser to open to ICI/PRO.  First thing every day (yes, before email, the stock market, or sports), read the new posts and listen to the podcasts and audio profiles.  If something piques your interest, print it. John always puts playlists in Spotify.  If you don”™t have Spotify, get it and buy the premium version.  I”™m inept at Spotify, but it has still saved my butt more than once.  Just be sure your favorite playlists are “available offline” — that”™s why you need the premium version.

I know, I”™ve already got you spending $20 a month, but improving your craft is worth it.  (I don”™t get a penny.)

2.  COMMUNICATE & GET INVOLVED.  There”™s not one person posting on ICI who wouldn”™t love to hear from and help you.  Comment on our posts.  (Yes, we read them.)  If you prefer privacy, John will know how to reach us.  Then we can Skype, talk on the phone, whatever; but first you must get to us.

We”™re all deeply invested in Indoor Cycling 2.0 and want to talk to you.  Me too.

The contacts I”™ve made through ICI/PRO have accelerated my understanding of cardiovascular training — exactly what I wanted when I started this craft-improving thing.

3.  UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU”™RE TEACHING.  Indoor cycling is a cardiovascular workout that mimics riding a bicycle on the road.  My outdoor riding has added a valuable dimension to my teaching.  The pages on ICI/PRO discuss everything outdoor cycling can do for indoor cycling.  But you don”™t have to ride outside to improve your craft.

The biomechanics of cycling are the key to getting your riders to perform better, hurt less and train harder.  If that”™s not enough, Jim Karanas, Gene Nacey and Tom Scotto can help.

4.  TRY SOMETHING NEW.  Break free of your comfort zone.  You can start simply by taking another instructor”™s class.  What did you like?  Not like?  I”™ve learned much watching other instructors.

How about changing your routine?  Do you rush in a minute before class?  Committing to a 15- to 30-minute early arrival changes you from flakey, flustered and hurried to reliable, ready, steady — and able to bring your riders to a much different state.

Select one of the audio profiles and do it.

My first break from my comfort zone was teaching power.  I bought the wall charts, put together a training plan and playlists, printed cards for recording baseline numbers.  I practiced.

The program flopped famously, they thanked me and replaced me, but what I learned was invaluable.  (If you”™re wondering why the program flopped, learning from failures is my next post.)

5.  ADD A CERTIFICATION!  ICG® offers free education on its web site.  Much of it is complete with CECs and lots of interesting stuff, including teaching to Forward Motion Video.

Every major contributor to ICI offers new or add-on certifications.


6.  CONNECT WITH YOUR RIDERS!  Maybe this should be number one.  It”™s the single most important skill to hone.  (See my earlier post on Connections.)  Will it improve your craft?  Your riders will like you so much they won”™t care.

The best of the best connect every time.

This morning, in a very experienced instructor”™s class, I saw again how important it is to find your own style of connecting.  This guy had us captivated, used everything in the room (himself, the equipment) to his advantage, and taught a challenging cycle-specific class.

When I spoke with him after class, though, he had little regard for virtual rides, felt the studio needed mirrors, and didn”™t care about setting up AV equipment for optimal virtual possibilities.  As good as he was, he was still on hour one for the 10,000th time.

Is that you?  It doesn”™t have to be.

Chuck Cali
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