So much of western fitness revolves around adrenalin-driven, kinetic (or should we say “hyperkinetic”?) energy.  Yet there is power that comes from quiet — and that was the concept of a recent training I ran in my indoor cycling classes last week.

Keeping the energy mellow does not require making the training easy.  Instead, it”™s training that comes from energy that”™s centered, rather than frenetic.  When I taught these classes, I asked the participants to focus on internal motivation — their own desire to train and work hard — more than on any external motivation that might come from, say, the energy of my coaching with loud cues to push themselves (or whatever), or loud music with a driving beat.

This unconventional approach worked well, and got the participants to work hard while staying focused and internally driven.  Here”™s how the class was structured.

I used eight songs, as follows:

  1. Going to California (music only) — Tribute Band Karaoke
  2. Porcelain — Miami DJ Collective  Two-song warm-up to start.
  3. Good For Me — Above & Beyond   8:00 hill climb at 70 rpm, increasing resistance every 2 minutes:  three levels seated, last one standing, all to music that is solid but not driving.
  4. Hearts Have Turned to Stone — Elton John and Leon Russell   4:00 limited recovery at 100 rpm, using quiet music with an easy feel, letting the heart rate drop only 15-20 bpm.
  5. In the Dark — Tiesto  Second hill climb, as described in #3.
  6. Dark Hollow (live) — Grateful Dead  Limited recovery, as described in #4.
  7. Burned With Desire (Rising Star Dub) — Armin Van Buuren  Third hill climb, as above.
  8. White Flag — Dido  Full recovery and cool-down. You'll want to add your personal favorites to lengthen this to suit your class.

Here is the complete playlist in Spotify and Deezer.

Our true ability is accessed through stillness, far more than through external sources, such as pounding music or sharp commands.  A successful performance that comes from someone who is not really sure what happened is a memorable, and even spiritual, experience.  Getting someone to experience an enhanced sense of himself/ herself, of aliveness and vitality while cycling, can anchor that person to training in a way that the external, “adrenalized” push can never do.

Obviously, there are reasons to coach and teach differently on different days.  To ask participants to go inward on occasion and find personal reasons to drive their training (and themselves) is a shift of focus and consciousness that can be, at the very least, a stimulating change of pace.  It can also be far more than that if properly coached.

In addition, it might turn the next high-energy class, by contrast, into an even more exciting and distinct experience.

Jim Karanas
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