Last week I was asked to sub a couple of classes for another instructor and friend.  It was at a club that I used to teach at and where I still knew a number of the members.  I always like teaching at this particular club because the riders throw out some good energy and appreciate a structured workout — my specialty.  Since I was going to be covering both the 9:30am and 12:30pm timeslots, I decided to bring my laptop and camp out in the lounge area between classes to get some work done.

The energy of the 9:30am class was great and the room was full.  I taught on and off the bike walking around the room to encourage riders I hadn”™t seen in a while and meet some new faces.  After class, a few people hung out.  I also took the time to make a few adjustments to the bike setup of a couple of riders.  It was definitely one of those classes that often gives you (the instructor) more back than one feels was given.  I left energized and refreshed and was now looking forward to the 12:30pm class.

I settled down in the lounge area and fetched myself a cup of complimentary coffee.  As I was checking emails and eating a Pop-Tart (yes, I got grief for that - “What, Coach Tom Scotto is eating junk food”) one of the riders approached my table and asked if she could interrupt me.  Sure, I love talking with people at the club and particularly about cycling. These were her exact words: “Your class and workout was great, but your music sucks”.  She said it in such a genuine, yet straight-forward way, that I could do nothing but smile.  “Wow, that is quite a range of feedback.  Would you mind bridging the gap for me?  What did you like and why such a strong response to the music?”

She sat down and told me how the workout was perfect and how she felt the exact challenge I had presented during the intro.  She remembered each of the drills and told me her heart rate ranges for each.  I was quite impressed with her detail and assessment of how she felt during each effort.  “So what”™s up with the music?” I said.  She said it was just awful.  “I hate all of that electronic stuff”.  Now I was quite certain the instructor I subbed for played very similar music, so I asked what she thought of the music the regular instructor plays.  “Oh, his music is terrible too.  I can”™t stand that electronic junk”.  She told me she liked popular music with vocals.  I asked her how she was able to make it through the entire class with that brutal noise.  She said that, although she hated the music, it somehow fit the flow of the class and matched the workout. “I just focused on what we were supposed to be doing and blocked out the music”.

I thought this was very interesting.  How could someone who had such a violent reaction to the music actually enjoy a class — to the point where her overall assessment of the class was “great”.  Being a musician, I”™m particularly sensitive to music and would find it hard to enjoy a class if I “hated” the music.  Her feedback demonstrated the importance of delivering sound training. It is so important that a 50% Great plus a 50% Sucks stills equals “great”.

Now I don”™t think she was speaking to the soundness of the “physiological training concepts”, but what I took away from her comments was that she appreciated the thought and structure that went into designing the class.  I thought this was great news.  As a coach, I have all kinds of workouts just waiting to pour out of my head.  The challenge is always the music.  It can take me hours to pull together just the right songs.  So, as I said, this is good news.  It doesn”™t mean we don”™t have to focus on the music, but if we take the time to put together a sound workout, it can overshadow our music choices.

So what does this really mean for us?  It is a call for each of us to take the time to design a solid ride profile.  How much time and effort do we take to construct our workouts or rides or whatever we call them?  Could your profile stand on its own WITHOUT music?  Wow, that”™s a challenge!  I”™m sure there is quite a bit more that we can pull out of this experience, but I”™m more interested in hearing your feedback and thoughts?

I”™m off to download some new music.  Apparently, my tunes suck.

Originally posted 2011-04-15 15:03:17.

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