Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why train like a pro in spin class?

Fifteen years ago in a dimly lit spin studio with six spin bikes, Kevin Wallace, ultra endurance cyclist and all around formidable bike rider led me and several others on a journey with him.  He was poetry in motion.  His pedal stroke smooth and velvety, every movement on the spin bike a beautiful, supple and fluid motion. Even though we were indoors, Kevin simulated his ride outdoors.  He was taking us with him.  I will never forget that feeling of authenticity, the feeling that I was riding like a "real rider" even though at the time,  I was a chicken shit on an actual bike outside!

As indoor cycling instructors we owe it to our participants to teach them to ride their spin bikes just like "real cyclists" ride their bikes outdoors.  Whether we re-create a mountain bike trek,  ride in a peloton on the open road, or a crazy commute in the big city, participants in our classes deserve the credibility and authenticity of a realistic bike ride.

Not every ride need be on cobbled pavers of the pro tours.  I'll never forget Jill, who took us on a trek through the rainforest, battling humidity, thick greenery, steep ascents and to top it all, leeches!!  Jill had hiked this particular trail in the Amazon, but she re-created it for us on a bike!

Interval based rides are what serious cyclists will use to tweak fitness.  Want more bang for your workout buck?  Intervals are the key.  As an example, Chris Carmichael (Lance's coach) uses what he calls "weight loss intervals".  2 minutes at a perceived rate of exertion of 9 and 2 minutes recovery. He uses "attacks" on hills to push riders past their thresholds when they're already tired from the climb itself, leaving opponents in the dust!

All it takes is a little effort, a little bit of time to learn how to use actual cycling principals and apply them to the spin bike.
My participants are more than worth it, aren't yours?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Are You Stale?

People talk.  Out of earshot, in the change room, people talk...about you, your music, your ride.  What they say depends entirely on you.  Did you phone the ride in?  Have you been winging it the last couple of months?  Using the same old playlist over and over?   If you go in to teach your class and have no idea what you're going to do with no plan, you might as well call in a sub.  Chances are the sub will do a much better job, he's keen and fresh.  He's out to impress.  You?  You've already won their hearts (and legs), you were known for your kick ass music and then after a year or two you stopped caring as much.  You played whatever came up on your Ipod, falling back on your repertoire of old drills.  Your class can probably tell you what's coming next.  B-O-R-I-N-G!  If you have the nagging feeling that this might be you, there's still time to save your reputation as a formidable instructor.  Change the music, change the ride.  You should be using a new ride once each week.  If you're C.O.R.E certified you are privy to a new ride with new drills each and every Monday.  If  you don't care enough to dedicate the time to change it up, then you need to take some time off.  At least that way you won't be boring anyone but yourself . 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

If You Don't Do it Outside DON'T Do It Inside

Several years ago, I helped form a new bike club in the greater Toronto area.  I was on the board of directors and also rode with the club, guiding new riders.  One of the members, a man in his early 60's, had signed up for a 50k charity event and wanted to know how to "train" for it.  He thought it would be a good idea to keep going to his spin classes because his instructor really knew how to get his heart rate up.  They would "box" while riding!  I told him I was pretty certain that he wouldn't have to"box" anyone on his 50k charity ride and that the best training for him would be to ride outside...often, and leave the boxing gloves at home.

Indoor cycling has evolved over the past 15 years, moving further and further away from its roots.  Most spin instructors (cyclist or not) see a distinction between spinning indoors and riding outdoors.  Most indoor cycling classes have become nothing more than "aerobics on a bike".  Not only is this sad, it's downright dangerous. 

Any movement that is not done on a real bike, regardless of whether it's a road bike, mountain bike, cyclocross, track bike or hybrid, shouldn't be done indoors on a spin bike.  Movements like hovers, isolations, jumps, running  or upper body contortions are harmful to you as an instructor and to your participants as well.

Respect the bike, respect your body. 
If you don't do it outside on a real bike, don't do it inside.