Keeping your spin bikes in tip top shape is key for the participant experience. No one ever appreciates a squeaky bike!
A recent post on Fitnet.ca discusses the how-to on brake pads. Check out their YouTube video too!
It may not be part of your formal job description but having some idea about how indoor cycling bikes work is always good to have in your back pocket!
Well, here is some insight! Health.com writer, Rozalynn S. Frazier, recently shared her experience of a spin class at Soul Cycle in New York City. The really cool thing about her story was she highlighted a dedicated spin-only facility. I never knew that such thing existed!
What are your participants thinking and saying about your classes?
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!
Connect via email, Facebook (just "like" my page) and/or LinkedIn.
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!
How strong is your gluteus medius muscles? Need your anatomy textbook to remind you what muscle that is? Well, let me refresh your memory...it is a one of the three gluteal muscles that is situated on the outer surface of the pelvis. It abducts the hip (moves the leg away from the body).
I have always wanted to have a biomechanics assessment. Weird you may think but with my history of musculoskeletal injury...I could fill this blog post!
Last year, my chiropractor told me of a new service at his clinic - Biomechanical Assessment. He encouraged me to consider making an appointment as to review my riding technique. I jumped at the chance to have another set of eyes review my cycling biomechanics, even though I've got many sets of eyes on me each week at class!
Brian, the biomechanical analyst, had me cycle (and chat - I couldn't resist) and he videotaped my technique. Can you see what's wrong in this video?
I had known going in that my gluteus medius had been a problem particularly on my left side. Muscular weakness! Not really thinking it through I hadn't realized that my weakness would be that clear on the video. And that it would show up with an internal rotation of my left femur at the hip joint. Knocking knees my friends. If you look carefully, it is mostly occurring on final phases of my pedal upstroke and transition into the down stroke. Who knew...well, maybe I should have as I yell and rave at cycle participants about keeping their knees facing forward!
Do you cue contraction of gluteus medius? Are your cycle participants knocking their knees?
It tends to be a problem especially for women. That is not really a surprise. With a wider pelvis, women are more prone to fall into this form. The Q angle is greater than men and thus forces the knee into a Genu valgum position. With weak gluteus medius muscles, research has shown that is position puts the knees at greater risk for injury and pain!
Now take a second look.
Improved? Yes! Did Brian have me doing something different with both my mind and body? Yes!
His recommendation was to bring my knees out such that they felt way too wide. I felt like I was cycling around a barrel but truly it was the right technique.
Lesson learned? In your next class, take a look at your cycle participants’ alignment. Can you provide them some cueing that will enforce proper riding technique?
Recently, I was thumbing through iTunes podcasts and stumbled upon a fantastic find - SpinTastics playlists by Jason Hammers. It is a well stocked list of podcasts full of single one hour mixes of spin songs. And the best part is that they are FREE to download!
I contacted Jason to hear his take on his 20+ playlists.
He told me that initially he made the playlists available to his clients and cycle participants particularly for those who missed a session and wanted to get their workout in on their own time. The idea grew and Jason started to share his playlists with other instructors who needed help finding good music. At which point, he decided to design a podcast and post them on iTunes.
Jason’s playlists are chalk full of your favourite songs and they are all from the original artists. Take some time to listen to each and build your class drills based on the sequence of the songs. Songs can range in beats per minute from fast (140 bpm) to slow (90 bpm) so apply drills appropriately!
Jason also told me that he is considering building spin profiles/drills and packaging with his playlists for a small fee. Keep an eye out on Jason’s website for when they become available.
To get your copies of SpinTastics, simply download iTunes to your computer (if you don’t already have it) and search “spintastics”. It should be the first item to pop up in Top Results.
As you can agree, music is essential to our classes and making a playlist can take a fair amount of time. Thanks to Jason we’ve got access to an extensive choice of playlist podcasts.
Kudos to Jason for designing great playlists!
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!