Of course, those of us at Stages Indoor Cycling believe the opposite to be true, (made you look, didn't I!) but we hear this all the time from people that haven't experienced a power-filled class the way it was meant to be. There exists an assumption that indoor cycling is moving away from fun and silently drifting towards a sterile, personality vacuum filled with muzak and boredom. Fortunately, it doesn't take long to convince people otherwise… just a content-rich, fun-filled ride.

In this two-part exploratory look at training with reliable metrics, we'll first discuss HOW to infuse data monitoring in your classes while keeping things fun and interesting. Then in Part 2 we will dive deeper into the physiological benefits and even the community benefits that these new tools can provide. For those of you that don't yet have immediate access to indoor cycles with data providing consoles, I think you'll find that the tips below apply to you as well.

To be fully transparent, I am the Director of Education for Stages Indoor Cycling and Foundation Fitness. Our team is responsible for the research and development behind the FreeMotion Fitness S11 series of indoor cycling bikes and power consoles. I will be approaching this specifically from the Stages Indoor Cycling methodology and in Part II will occasionally be referencing features on the FreeMotion power console.

I'm all about Super-7 lists, so… Here are my Super-7 ways to keep Power-Based classes interesting.

1.) Establish a goal and tell them why:  Talking about data for the sake of talking WILL get boring really fast. Choose one particular metric to discuss because it will aid your participants in reaching-- as I like to call them-- "micro-goals." Micro-goals can be anything, for example:
"For the next 5 minutes your goal is to give me a thumbs-up at the top of each minute. No thumbs-up means you're suffering and this 5 minute segment is about remaining in a place of comfortable, sustainable effort."

Based on that particular micro-goal, the only thing they should be concerned with on the console is the TIME. They were not asked to base their efforts on ANYTHING other than a perceived effort. And that's okay!! Which leads us to the next point…

2.) Leave the kitchen sink at home:  It's very tempting to talk about all the metrics on the console…ALL AT ONCE! Remember, no one is pressuring you to constantly speak about the numbers- this is unnecessary! In fact, it is rare that I ever focus on more than 2 pieces of data in a typical indoor cycling class, because people get easily overwhelmed. We have to warm them up to these concepts over time. Pick something that supports your micro-goal and stick to it.

3.) Luv ya, Don't ever change!:  Did that just remind you of your middle school yearbook signatures? Well, it has merit when it comes to teaching- especially if you're already successful! Don't forget to be YOU! Not only is throwing in the kitchen sink overwhelming for your riders, but it has another dreaded side-effect: instructors forget to be themselves and do what they do best. Don't neglect your charismatic side! Tell them that funny story, sing along with your music (if you dare!), ask trivia questions… Basically continue doing the things that make you the unique leader that you were obviously born to be. The data at your disposal can never replace you: it simply increases your odds for more effective communication.

4.) Reduce the filler:  60 minutes is a lot of time to talk about… nothing. With quality information we can now reduce some of the fillers that creep into indoor cycling classes. I promise you, people won't mind if you reduce the number of times you…

  • Count backwards from 8. (It ain't Sesame Street folks!)
  • "Woohoo!" (That gets old quickly)
  • "How we doing?!" (This come across as a cheap way to get them to respond. It only works once or twice before they tune you out.)
  • "Give me more!" (More what?)

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently bad about these group exercise idioms, but are they really motivating people the tenth time you've said them? Probably not. Once you reduce the fluff, you give yourself valuable time to discuss the task at hand, ask them work-inducing questions and give them a reason to want to achieve those micro-goals.

5.) Lather, Rinse, Repeat: There's no easier way to feel successful on an indoor cycling bike that measures power than to have multiple chances to reach your goal. Near the conclusion of a stage or interval, ask your riders to look at one piece of information and remember it. Give them ample recovery time and let them know that they get another shot at improving upon last time's performance. For instance,
"Get ready to rumble folks because we have a 5 minute stage coming your way, but don't fret; it's nothing that you can't handle, and I'll guide you the whole way. Towards the end of your 5 minutes, before we press the Stage button, I want you to focus on your total distance for this stage." 5 minutes later… "How did you do? Do you remember the distance you covered? Great, because we get to do that exact same 5-minute stage again. No surprises from me! However, this time I want you to find a way to go just a little further. Could you increase your distance by 1/10 of a mile? Even more? Let's find out!"

Seriously, nothing is more motivating then knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are capable of besting yourself!

6) Games, games and more games!: We've all done games in our classes: front row busts a gut for 30 seconds while everyone else is recovering, then the 2nd row goes, then the 3rd row…etc, but in order to truly be playing a game there must be an objective and there has to be a way to win or at least achieve said objective. The objectivity piece was always missing prior to bikes with consoles. Let the games begin! We'll do an entire post on games in the near future, but for a few examples of games you can check out the BIG RIDE that Pam Benchley and I taught on Saturday night of the ICI/Pro conference. Just remember, competition can get overly fierce very quickly amongst your participants. For this reason, consider integrating games as team efforts first.

7) Deliver Measurable Progessâ„¢: For those of you familiar with the Stages Indoor Cycling method, it will come as no surprise that I really, I mean REALLY stand behind this mantra. At Stages Indoor Cycling we Deliver Measurable Progress via Benchmarks. By assessing where you are today, you now have a means by which to achieve where you want to be 6-weeks or 12-weeks down the road. Functional Threshold Heart Rate testing is wonderful, but what if you could compare that alongside your ability to generate Power at Threshold?! Surprisingly it's very doable even in a large group setting. Of course, FTP/FTHR testing isn't for the Day-1 newbie off the street, but there are many other initial assessments that we can provide our participants that will show them where they are today and what to shoot for tomorrow.

Once benchmark assessments become a regular part of your programming, magic takes place! Participants start planning their workouts around these benchmarks as if they were training for an event, even if participating in a race or organized outdoor event has no appeal to them personally.

This all boils down to the "Susan and Bob" conversation from a few weeks back. It's true people come to your classes for a plethora of reasons, but I think it's safe to say that NO ONE would be disappointed if by coming to your classes they were able to do more work with less effort, endure more physically and emotionally, travel farther and go faster. If this helps them achieve their weight-related goals, what a wonderful side effect! If this breathes new life into indoor cycling as we know it - PRICELESS! And that, my friends, is far from BORING.

I'm so excited for Part 2! Your feedback regarding the Super-7 reasons above will dictate the direction of 'Power Is Boring: Part 2." Think of it as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel! Speak now or forever ride in silence. 😉

Originally posted 2011-12-21 04:00:19.

Cameron Chinatti
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