At the end of my last registered session, I taught a class that for a lack of a better word was a “mixed bag” of different drill types and durations. I realized while teaching that cycle participants were able to do certain drills much better than others. I thought to myself, what is going on here? I too was feeling stronger with certain drills. Reflecting back on the last 12 weeks of classes, I soon recognized that our focus was on many 30 second drills. In comparison, there were far fewer shorter duration (i.e., 15 second) and very long duration (i.e., >3 minute) drills. Variety is a focus of me, and as much as I thought I provided it over the term, it was obvious that in addition to just “changing things up” regularly, I needed to focus more on ensuring drills worked with all energy systems.
How can we as group fitness leaders provide that variety which keeps classes interesting, while ensuring that we’ve covered all the key elements?
I reflect on a current tag line that I am using in my fulltime work – PDSA. Well, what the heck does that mean? That’s not a word! It is the short form for Plan, Do, Study, and Act. I plan to learn from my recent experience and use it to improve my classes. Let’s explore more...
This part is really the no-brainer. We plan out our classes with music, drills, themes, etc. each time we ride in front of a group. As educated group fitness leaders, we plan our registered classes from start to finish by slowly progressing cycle participants into the harder drills. Some of us use a written lesson plan (always my suggested way of doing it!) while others might have a plan based on a playlist and/or have at least mapped it in our heads beforehand. In my situation, this past term my plan primarily used multiple drill types in 30 second work increments including hills, power, and sprints.
Again, we are brilliant at implementation. That is what we do. At times we may modify our plan on the fly based on our groups’ needs but in most cases we do what we do – ride an indoor bike and lead our cycle participants through drills and hopefully, an experience.
Now this is where things might start to break down. How do we measure how effectively we planned and how well we implemented that plan? Depending on your studio, cycle participants might complete a survey, but this usually it doesn’t provide all that much information on your specific class drills and your cycle participants’ physical fitness improvement. This is where you as a group fitness leader need to take a step back and access how your participants are doing. Is there a way you could test their ability to do a certain type of drill? The easiest way is through different drill types and observe how they use our bodies’ energy systems. It only makes sense as the energy systems provide energy to allow our bodies to do what we do – move!
Once you’ve determined how to STUDY your group, and then act. In my situation above, I was a bit late out of the gates. I wasn’t able to make changes to our workouts because the class was just to finish. Ideally, a perfect time to measure your group’s ability would be at the half way point of the class. Giving you the opportunity to re-assess, and if need be, change your plan for future classes.
The idea of PDSA can be applied to just about anything. How else could you study your class? I’d love to hear your ideas and share them on my blog. Drop me a comment or two!
I might have tweaked your interest - energy systems. Remember from your training? In the next handful of blog posts I will be reviewing the energy systems (there are three of them) and providing ways to incorporate each of them into your cycle drills and skills! Check back soon for your first instalment!
University of Alberta's Campus Recreation will be hosting an AFLCA cycle designation course on Saturday June 4 and I will be the facilitator!
Pass on the word! Click here for more information.
MEC Bikefest is a daylong community celebration of all things bicycle related. Their goal is to bring together Edmonton’s bicycle community and those new to bikes, to celebrate the wonders of cycling. Come join MEC and make it the best bicycle bash in Edmonton!
Wow! What a great session at the 11th Annual YMCA Spring Training! As promised, here is a link where I’ve posted the music playlist and a sample template for the rating of perceived exertion cards.
Thank you to the instructors who took the time to attend my session. It was a pleasure to meet you all! I appreciated the invitation to share my ideas and present to you today. Take those ideas and use them at your next class!
And don't forget to connect with me! I'd love to hear how your classes are going!
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Exercise Your Happiness!
Well, maybe not literally, but it might be something to consider. Why not set your bikes up in a circle? This may be just what participants need to spice up their ride.
When the class is in a circle, it changes some fundamental class dynamics:
1. participants who usually sit in the back row are no longer able to hide!
2. participants can interact with others who they may not have in the past
3. allows for a chance to see other participants face to face
4. provides an opportunity to see mirrored riding technique and the opportunity to match cycling biomechanics
I have to be honest, some participants are not a huge fan of the circle set-up. Especially those that like to hide in the back!
Here are some circle drill ideas that you can try. I encourage you to use your imagination and design your own!
1. Chain Reaction Wave
Starting in a seated position (moderate resistance, 80-90 rpm), initiate a standing position. Remember to add resistance when standing! As you stand, the participant on your left stands, followed by the next and the next, until the whole circle is standing. After a moment or two, as the participants become comfortable, start the 'chain reaction' again by sitting. Alternate between standing and sitting while remembering to cue the proper level of resistance and cadence. Encourage others in the circle to initiate the 'wave'. Participants need to stay aware and use their peripheral vision to watch for changes.
2. Cross Circle Partner Challenges
Have participants chose a partner across from them in the circle. For two minutes, pairs are challenging their partners with hills, sprints, power, seated, standing, steady state drills. Encourage 'jockeying' for lead but allow for each partner a chance to dictate the ride. This drill encourages participants to keep facing forward, watching their partner's next move. Cycle participants usually push themselves much harder than you as the instructor would push them! Over time, increase the duration of the challenge to upwards of 5 minutes. It is also advisable to switch partners, allowing other participants to push each other in a different way. Some participants are stronger at hill climbs while others like sprinting. Changing partners forces each participant out of their comfort zones!
Workman's Cycle Drills & Skills
Enjoy some of my favorite cycle workout drills either in a cycle class or on your own bike at home!