Last Playlist of 2014

I have created so many playlists this year that at times it felt that I almost ran out of songs. But only for a few seconds. With the help of fellow instructors, Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud and other social collaboration tools, there is always an abundant supply of fresh content and the playlists never end. We wrap up with this last playlist for 2014.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015. Sempre Avanti!

Tom

2015 Goals: Ready To Go

Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted goals (S.M.A.R.T). In 2015, your commitment to indoor cycling & spinning workouts should be focused on this strategic approach:

  • Specific

    The criterion stresses the need for a specific goal rather than a more general one.

    A specific goal will usually answer the five ‘W’ questions:

    • What: What do I want to accomplish?
    • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
    • Who: Who is involved?
    • Where: Identify a location.
    • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

    Measurable

    The second criterion stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal.

    A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:

    • How much?
    • How many?
    • How will I know when it is accomplished?
    • Indicators should be quantifiable

    Attainable

    The third criterion stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and also attainable.

    An achievable goal will usually answer the question How?

    • How can the goal be accomplished?
    • How realistic is the goal based on other constraints?

    Relevant

    The fourth criterion stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter.

    A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

    • Does this seem worthwhile?
    • Is this the right time?

    Time-bound

    The fifth criterion stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time-frame, giving them a target date.

    A time-bound goal will usually answer the question

    • When?
    • What can I do six months from now?
    • What can I do six weeks from now?
    • What can I do today?

According to spinning.com, goal setting can be summarized in this action plan:goals

It’s time. Write down your goals, study them every day, work to accomplish them, track them and re-evaluate when needed. I am here to help. I can create the plan for you and coach you through the process as well as the indoor cycling classes. Contact me for further details.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays!

Tom

 

A Quick Reference Guide to Spinning Energy Zones for Heart Rate Training

According to spinning.com, the Spinning Energy Zones are divided into five different heart rate ranges that emphasize a different workout intensity. Working in each Energy Zone is important for a balanced exercise program, which improves all aspects of your fitness, including mental and physical endurance, strength and performance.

Below is a quick reference guide/infographic that summarize these zones and target hear rates (click to enlarge):

EZones

 

Tabela-Energy-Zone-newdesign

Sempre Avanti!

 

Tom

 

The **Unwritten** Rules of Instructor to Instructor Etiquette for Indoor Cycling Classes – Part 2

In a previous posting, I wrote about these “unwritten” rules because I believed they should be written and honored by indoor cycling instructors. Just when I thought I covered it all, I interacted with a few instructors over the past few weeks that left me wondering and somewhat puzzled. Here is the second of these rules:

 

Instructor to Instructor Rule 1: Don’t hog all of your classes

This may be controversial. But I have known instructors who have taught a specific time slot for the past five years without interruption. While LNQ1099-300x206that is commendable and reflects consistency, I would suggest that you allow for yourself to be subbed once or twice per quarter (probably 4 times a years). For example, if you teach the 6pm Tuesday spot, you would have about 50 classes a year (+/- 3 based on holidays). By allowing your fellow instructors to sub 8% of your classes, you are “keeping the product fresh”. And, honestly there is no risk of losing your audience. Why you may ask? Here is why: when you have been teaching the same spot for 5 years in a row, you have commanded (and earned) a loyal following. You are an uber instructor whose students will reschedule their own birthdays so as not to miss your class!! So, yes, there is no risk if you let another instructor cover for you once in a blue moon.

 

 

Instructor to Instructor Rule 2: Ask me to sub, but don’t sabotage the class

I recently subbed for one of the instructors aforementioned in Rule 1. I knew that her classes are always packed: 25-30 riders. With such o-INDOOR-CYCLING-INSTRUCTOR-facebooknumbers, I thought I would see some riders come in 10mins early to setup. Didn’t happen! I didn’t think much of it and still expected to see at least 20 riders. Guess what….only 6 showed up for class. I did teach the class and at the end had a chance to talk to one of the riders. I then knew why there were so few riders. It turns out the instructor was busy emailing and texting her loyal following the previous week to tell them that she won’t be at that time spot and someone else is teaching. She also explicitly told them not to come…I saw the text message! I was shocked! Really?!!! You would do such a thing? Wow, just when I thought I have seen it all…

Self-preservation be dammed – this is simply unprofessional. And, for the same reasons as in Rule 1, you are NOT going to lose any audience to me. Needless to say, I will never sub for that instructor ever again.

Instructor to Instructor Rule 3: Collaborate

This is not high-school. This is the age of collaboration, social media, smart phones, etc. spin-class-022410-lgDon’t hold all your cards so close!! On occasion, share with your fellow instructors a sample of your playlists, your Spotify or SoundClound selections as well as any new information you gather from workshops, conferences or continuing education. When you share, you enrich the rest of us who will always be grateful and appreciative. We will also return the favor – it’s natural.

 

 

Instructor to Instructor Rule 4: Promote one another

Hey it doesn’t hurt for you to announce in your class that there are other indoor cycling sessions taught by your fellow instructors. Weslide1 appreciate that and we will reciprocate. We all benefit from a bit of shameless promotion, right? Again, have no fear, you uber instructors out there, because as noted in Rule 1, you will not lose any of your loyal following.

 

 

 

Got it? Good!

 

#RideOn

 

 

 

 

Intentions vs. Expectations: How a 5:30AM Indoor Cycling Class Grew from 2 to 20 Participants in 10 Months

2Almost a year ago, I was assigned to a newly-added 5:30am indoor cycling class. No such time slot existed previously, so I immediately knew that building attendance numbers and promoting this class would be an uphill battle. Little I knew that it would be **my** battle as I came to discover a few weeks later that I had to go through a fundamental change in my approach and thought process. Here is what happened:

My Expectations

For such an early time, I expected to have a few participants show up. And, with that expectation, that’s exactly what I got. There were two participants. In the next four classes, I had no more than five. I was concerned that the class may get canceled because the GFM is very metrics-driven and is all about the bottom line. After two months, with numbers hovering around 6-7 participants, I approached the GFM and the Marketing group with some ideas about promoting the class using posters, social media blurbs, website announcements and the like. Again, I expected that they will help, which they did. However, after a four week period, the posters and postings did not increase the attendance numbers. As the weather got colder, the numbers fluctuated even more. If it was very cold, I would expect that fewer people would show up. Guess what, I got what I expected.

 

The Let Down

After a week off on vacation, I had time to re-think my approach. I was reminded by my wife that expectation is a hope that something will happen. Everything becomes connected to the outcome and everything is framed by the outcome. In other words, everything hinges on the outcome. And, when the outcome is not to our liking, we are faced with disappointment as well as a sense of failure. Simply put, expectations come from the ego, from wanting to be in control, from needing to shape the destiny or the result.

 

The Transformation – From Expectation to Intention

“Control the Controllable” – that’s what Nigel Adkins used to say during his tenure as head coach at Southampton FC. Brilliant!! Why was I trying so hard? I cannot make people come to class; I cannot count on social media to bring people in. This is a 5:30am class – no gimmicks, themed rides or any promotion is going to make you get out of bed so early in the morning (especially in the winter). In my commitment to remaining in control and having things go my way, I was actually creating the very results I was trying to avoid. I was focusing so much on the outcome that I simply lost sight of the process. Yes, the process. And so the critical shift in thinking began.

I set my intentions on the process, not the outcome. Using intention allowed me to remain detached from the outcome. For every 5:30am class, I intended to:

  • Bring my “A” game regardless of what state of mind I am in
  • Motivate and inspire the riders by helping them accomplish their goals
  • Participate and partner with the riders by encouraging them to commit to and invest in their fitness
  • Inspire riders to make the 5:30am ride a ritual, a key component to their success, an integral part of their day not be missed
  • Foster an inclusive atmosphere regardless of skill set and ask riders to provide feedback, playlist suggestions, etc.

Guess what? The above intentions were not new to me. In fact, I use them in every class I teach. What happened? Why did I forget them? I simply and temporarily needed to re-focus more of my intentions and less (or none) of my expectations on the 5:30am class. I had the answer all along and….it worked!! Into the fourth month, an additional four riders joined the group and by the sixth month, an average of 14 riders would attend. By the tenth month, the average would hover around 18-20 riders.

The answer was within. More intention, less expectation.

 

Sempre Avanti!

 

Tom

 

Audio Safety During Indoor Cycling Workouts

We’ve all read numerous articles about contraindicated moves, unsafe moves and what not to do during indoor cycling classes. However, audio safety seems to always get relegated to a third tier when it comes to additional safety and comfort. Have you ever walked by the indoor cycling studio or another group exercise room and noticed that the music was so loud, you wondered how can the participants inside these rooms tolerate it?

While a good workout is good for everything from muscle tone and balance to weight control and improved heart and lung function, for those instructors who play the music at unsafe levels during indoor cycling workouts, the potential exists for significant discomfort to participants’ hearing and a diminished ability to enjoy the ride. In some cases, sustained exposure for prolonged periods of time can lead to hearing damage – not just to the participants, but also to the instructor.

Music provides a fun backdrop to an already rocking workout. Indoor cycling instructors love music – we are closet DJ’s. Think about how much time (and money) we spend on selecting songs, preparing playlists, practicing, visualizing, etc (if you are setting up a themed ride, you could spend a lot more time on preparing playlists). Mixing up selections keeps us motivated and gets you jamming on the bike. Music is an integral part of indoor cycling; however, when you start noticing that some participants are wearing ear plugs more frequently (when they never did in the past) or when you are approached by participants to ask you to lower the volume, then you’ve got to pay attention to these warning signs.

To help me track safe decibel levels, I use Sound Meter, one of many apps available for smart phones. I start the app when I start the class and let it monitor the progression of music intensity as it records decibel values. The app provides real time feedback and a line graph to help you see whether you had inconsistencies (peaks and valleys) of music volume or if your routine remained consistent with a few variations. It is also important to dismount at least once and take a reading in the middle of the room as well as near the main speakers to give you a better idea about how the sound intensity is impacted by proximity to those speakers and the distance to the center of the room (by the way, if there is a bike situated right underneath one of the speakers, I usually relocate it further away). With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the decibel levels that you should be familiar with:

level

With the help of Sound Meter, I can verify audio intensity at three stages I pre-determined (start of a 4 minute climb, seated, gradually increasing resistance, then standing climb, overcoming a steep ascent, and then the descent) as shown below using a Keiser M3+ bike platform (click to enlarge) :

sound1

Note that if you need a quick reminder, the Sound Meter app provides a decibel levels tabular reference (see image in the middle). As the app plots your music track’s decibel intensity and threshold, you can determine if there were two many highs/lows, or simply if the track had a more steady output corresponding to a desired bpm rate. As indicated in the tabular reference, 120dB is the “Threshold of pain”, so I would recommend that you avoid staying in that zone for prolonged periods of the ride. Any higher would be unadvisable. Remember that you can also control the volume of your music player and the sound system – a 75% volume level is recommended. Short bursts for an intense climb or sprint may call of a higher volume, albeit only for an extremely short duration (probably under 20 seconds).

Finally, it is best to ask your participants whether the music levels need to be adjusted. Their feedback is essential and can help you deliver a more enjoyable as well as an “audibly-safe” ride.

#RideOn.

Tom