As instructors, we often see the same riders in every class. Some have been loyal for several years, with flawless attendance records. Some riders come and go. However, whether you are a new rider, a veteran one or an occasional rider, you may have formed one of these common bad habits. Not to fear, breaking out of such habits is relatively easy. Here’s how:
You Are Not Setting Objectives
As noted in a previous post on SMART goals, it is absolutely critical that you arrive at each ride with a pre-defined intention to achieve a specific goal or tackle a specific challenge. Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted goals (S.M.A.R.T). This does not have to be a complicated effort; simply set your mind to exceed last week’s numbers or to reach a specific goal for watts expended, distance covered or KCALs used. Which leads me to my second issue: not keeping track.
You Are Not Keeping Track (Progress Not Perfection)
You must attempt to keep track of your progress for each class. If the bike is not Bluetooth compatible or if you are not using a wearable fitness device, write down your numbers per each class. It is critical that you establish a baseline in order to uncover progress towards a goal. It is also equally important to monitor your numbers so that you can identify where problems my exist and where you have “plateaued”. If you are using an app or if your studio provides such capabilities (IQniter, Performance IQ, MyZone, etc.) then that takes the guess work out of keeping track of your performance. If not, create a simple spreadsheet, then, at the end of each class, take a snapshot of your power meter using your mobile phone and update the worksheet. If your bikes don’t offer power meters, try using an HRM watch with a chest strap to monitor your heart’s rate and other vital statistics.
You Fall Into Poor Technique
It is easy to slack off, especially when others are doing it. Sometimes, you may find yourself sprinting at high cadence with little resistance. Or, there are times when you slump over the handlebars, in a strange aero position, just to finish the ride. I understand that we all have off days. The issue is essentially related to the discipline of maintaining good posture, good form and good “power-to-resistance” ratio in order to maximize the benefits of your workout. Simply put, if others are doing it, you should not. After all, you have been doing this for a while and some riders can learn a thing or two from you!!
You Are Not Learning About Your Body
The only way to substantially improve any workout is to know more about your physiology, basic muscle groups, important fitness metrics and nutrition essentials. For example, learn about the Quadriceps Muscles making up the front of the thighs. This leg muscle group is popular – it’s what most people think of when they hear “leg anatomy.” This group consists of four individual muscles: Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius and Vastus Medialis. Then learn about the Hamstring Muscles. Additional muscle groups include the Hip Flexors & Iliopsoas, Hip Adductors and Gluteal Muscles. You owe it to yourself to not only learn the names and functions of important muscle group, but to also know their interaction, relationship to power output and to a certain degree, causes of injury or pain (previous posts on IT Band Syndrome, VMO, PFPS….).
You Reassign Priorities
It is important to schedule and prioritize your workout routines. Once scheduled, they become a staple of your calendar. Additionally, once you are committed and disciplined to the concept of investing in your health, rescheduling or skipping a class becomes less of a challenge. Life is full of surprises and there are times when you have to miss a class or two. That’s understandable. My recommendation is to ensure that your emotional support systems (your family and then your friends) fully understand your desire to attend indoor cycling classes as a way to remain fit, strong and healthy. Once they are clear on your vision, there will be less excuses to skip a class. Without the emotional support system, the slightest of inconveniences or challenges will immediately relegate your spin class to a non-priority.
In a world of never-ending to-do lists and constant demand, never lose sight of the fact that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. Refocus your priorities, learn more about your body and recommit to your goals. See you in class!!