With 40°f and rain scheduled for this past Sunday, I agreed to sub the 9:00am Cycle Sculpt class at the Life Time Fitness where I have scheduled classes. This was my third chance to teach this LTF branded format that combines Indoor Cycling and Resistance training. You can read about my earlier experiences here and here - both links include my class profile and Spotify playlist.
I was chatting with my friend Richard in the locker room before class. He has taken my cycling classes for years and he's front & center for this class religiously. He also knows something about training physically and mentally - Richard's a triathlete and Tae Kwon Do Grand Master with 9th Degree Black Belt. I told him how I rarely feel anxious before any class, but these cycle sculpt classes always make nervous.
Do you have any suggestions? I asked.
Just relax and do what YOU normally do...
Just relax? That's it? That's your suggestion?
Richard went on to explain; I haven't seen the John I know up on that bike, the other times you've lead this class. You need to lighten up man and just be you. Show us that you're having fun, work us hard and we'll all be happy!
Truer words were never spoken
As soon as Richard finished speaking I knew exactly what was wrong. Two things actually:[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']
- I was trying too hard to make everything fit together. I had decided that the music, movements and transitions all had to flow together perfectly = the anxiety I felt before and during the class. I can remember panicking early in the last class I subbed when I heard the currently playing song crossfading to the next > Crap - they're not done with their exercise yet! This messed up my perfectly choreographed class and shortened the time available (and needed) for next activity... everything snowballed downward from there.
- I wanted (needed?) everyone to like me and my class. I've been at this game for a long time and normally feel very confident subbing any class. Why, all of a sudden, am I now feeling insecure and looking for approval? Because these people don't normally come to my class. That's why. I realized that I was trying to be someone different in order to appeal to a group of people whom I assumed don't come to my other classes because they don't like me.
Separating their like/dislike of ME from a like/dislike of MY CLASS
After 9 years at LTF, I'm well known as the Instructor who teaches a very cycling specific class. Believe it or not, there are a lot of members who don't like that format. That's why they don't come. It isn't that they don't like ME, just my heavy emphasis on outdoor cycling. So after 30 seconds of self-talk while I walked to the studio, I had a new perspective - the proper perspective to lead the class confidently and it appeared that most participants enjoyed it 🙂
End note: After the class I was told by a member how she appreciated that I included the weight segments. She explained that a previous sub had refused to offer anything but cycling > which confirmed my new perspective (it's not ME they dislike) and I felt awesome knowing that I delivered a class very close to what these participants came for!
Evolution Cycle/Sculpt Profile #3
To keep this class more familiar to me, I switched my plan and followed our typical Evolution Cycling format through the first four tracks.
Equipment: Everyone needs hand weights = 12/15 Reps to failure and a floor mat.
This light between us 5:09 Warm up where we transition to a standing run after just a few minutes. Every minute after we sit, increase a few gears and then up again. NOTE: Cycle Sculpt includes a lot of standing work & jumps. Frequent variation is important = if you feel you've been doing something for too long, you probably have and need to change.
Revolution 5:09 Openers - I like to have everyone find a comfortable cadence and add load until they feel the need to stand. Each of 4 openers is a standing acceleration that's maintained for a progressively longer effort. Start with 15 seconds and add ten seconds each time. The goal is to get to threshold by the end of the last 45 sec effort.
Daybreak 5:04 Best Effort - This track has a long intro that lights off at exactly 1:00. I used that as a recovery after the openers. Sunday we recorded our Best Effort distance over three minutes. This is all out, absolute maximum sustainable power, from start to finish.
Remind everyone to remember both their miles traveled and Avg. Watts (if you have them) or average HR at the end. We'll be referencing these metrics later.
Runaway Baby 2:28 Reset - Resets are a short transition song, part recovery part just plain fun! Here I offer an option to either recover completely, or find a productive effort around VT1 - edge between Zone 2 & 3 in a five zone system.
Tribal Force 8:01 Floor set #1 - With only 12 participants, we had plenty of room in the front for everyone to have a mat. While standing we did: 10 x DB curls, 10 x DB OH press, 10 Pushups and 10 situps/crunch > repeat. These are all at self directed tempo and with 8 minutes there's plenty of time.
The few who choose to stay in saddle were instructed to find a comfortable climb and alternate seated and standing at their discretion.
Spectrum 5:01 Jumps on a climb - @62 RPM, this track has a very strong beat begins around the one minute mark. Use the intro to get everyone back on and settled, then build the hill - again to that point where they feel the need to stand. Follow the phrasing of the music first at 8 count, then 4 count jumps. It's super important that you can properly demonstrate these jumps exactly with the music. I'll start by calling out the count; up, two,three,four, down, two three four (or out to eight). Then get quiet and just watch them, watching you. If you see some struggling, go back to the basics of seated pedaling to the music. Rinse & repeat.
Until we go down 4:12 Floor set #2 Compound movements: 20 Squats/OH press and then alternating leg lunges with curls - 8 each leg.
Animals 5:04 Pick your head up - You're off the back! - this seated climb replicates the panic you feel when riding in a group, with your head down... only to raise it up and see you've slipped off the back. Have your riders find the 64 RPM pedal speed and then add the hill that has them thinking they should stand. There are a number of changes in the music (a great one at 1:50) that become your trigger to pick your head up, realise what's happened and then stand, accelerate and sustain the effort to fight to get back on. You'll find natural breaks that will have these efforts ~ 30 seconds. Perfect for a few brief trips to threshold.
Police and Thieves 6:10 Floor set #3 Floor work 2 sets of 20 pushups (using weights as support) and 20 crunch/sit-up.
Riders are following the 77 RPM cadence with a strong endurance (just below threshold) Time Trial pace.
Show Me 3:28 Reset Easy pace, taking time to drink, towel off and prepare mentally for the last hard effort of the class.
Ready to go 5:01 Big finish Time to replicate that earlier Best Effort - or better it if possible. This track as a nice, 30 sec building into where you'll be encouraging everyone to get back to their previously remembered watts or HR. Hit the stage button and see how far you can get over the next three minutes... or sustain that VT2 threshold HR over the timed section. [/wlm_private]
It's the end of the world 4:07 Warm down - my preference is to give athletes a chance to warm down = a gradual recovery vs. just soft pedalling. The cadence of ITEOTWAWKI is a tick over 100 RPM. Get there and then add enough resistance to keep yourself aerobic (around VT1) for the first three minutes and then slowly dial it back until everyone is conversational > that's your cue as the Instructor that everyone has recovered 🙂
1901 5:11 Stretch
- ICI Podcast 361 Life Time Fitness Takes Rhythm & Movement Classes Mainstream with AMP Cycle - September 18, 2023
- More observations from our students - September 9, 2023
- 5 Reasons Instructors (that would be you and me) Need A Professional Headshot - September 3, 2023