As part of my summer vacation, I was surprised with a trip to New York City. I was there last year only for a couple days and I knew I just had to get back to see all the sites. I was fortunate to spend a full day in Central Park and enjoy all the sights and sounds. I would love to share with you a ride in Central Park (and some of my pictures).
Just a bit of background ...the park was completed in 1870 and spans 843 hectares (think – Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park [at 130 hectares] times eight). It is huge! Around the park there is Central Park Drive which is open to walkers, joggers, roller bladders and of course, cyclists. Riders are a diverse group from seasoned cyclists to tourists riding rental bikes for the day. And I can’t forget the bicycle taxis!
Central Park Drive is a 6.03 mile (9.7 km) loop around the park. Set the scene by mentally taking your class participants to the park by picking the time of year (e.g., beautiful autumn leaves on trees or hot, sweltering days of summer). List things that they may see on their ride such as the outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), horse drawn carriages, lots of trees and wildlife such as extra large squirrels, numerous bodies of water (the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir), and of course, the world famous Great Lawn.
Instead of being one of the wide-eye tourists with cameras hanging around their necks, your cycle participants are the bicycle taxis drivers (see above picture) that drive tourists around the park. Cycle participants pick up a single tourist at the south east tip of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (right by The Met) and he requests a ride around the Reservoir, which is 1.58 miles (2.5 km). Assume cycle participants ride at 25 km per hour, the loop will take 7.5 minutes to complete. What cycle participants don’t know that the loop varies in terrain and there are surprises on the way! Start heading north on the east side of the Reservoir.
0-1 minutes: slight incline to the terrain; add tension stay seated
1-2 minutes: seated time trial/steady pace with one tourist
2-2.5 minutes: you run into large group of runners who are taking up most of the road; you need to dodge runners by adding tension and riding out of the saddle
2.5-3 minutes: tourist is not happy with your swerving and requests to get out; light tension on the flat
3-4 minutes: two female tourists pick up the ride at the north end of the reservoir with many heavy shopping bags; add tension to compensate for extra weight; push hard!
4-4.5 minutes: the path curves and you meet up with other bicycle taxis; to show off your excellent cycling ability, you start to pick up the pace and move into standing jog
5-5.5 minutes: you round the northwest corner and leave the other bicycle taxis behind, keep the same tension as above but sit down into saddle, remember you still have the two tourists
5.5-6 minutes: two tourists request to get out as they are heading to the Upper West Side, you let them out and turn tension back to seated time trial/steady pace with no tourists; Freedom!
6-7 minutes: you are waved down by a family of three that want to squeeze into your small carrier. They insist so you let them in. Turn up the tension and stay seated. Hold the pace to pull them to the finish of the loop.
7-7.5 minutes: You hope and pray the family wants to get out at the Great Lawn and hurry pedal your feet (increase speed) only to run into a horse and carriage that makes you want to speed even faster (increase speed).
Unfortunately, the family won’t get out at the Great Lawn and you race back to the Met and drop them off with a huff and a puff!
Feel free to modify your ride as required with the well detailed map of the Park.
Why not include some New York City Themed songs. Here is my list:
Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys (censored radio version)
I Love New York – Madonna
NY minute – Mobile
New York Minute – Eagles (good cool down song)
New York City Boy - Pet Shop Boys
Sex and the City Theme Song
Theme from New York New York – Frank Sinatra
New York Groove – KISS
New York – U2
New York City – Boney M
New York is My Home – Ray Charles
Or check out more options on Wikipedia.
I HEART NYC!
Hot off the press!
AFLCA, in collaboration with Alberta Milk, has launched a new website for AFLCA Leaders.
The website is designed by Alberta Milk registered dietitians for AFLCA certified fitness leaders and their class participants.
At nourishmovethrive.ca, you have access to:
- up-to-date credible nutrition information
- healthy eating resources to order
- tools to assess your eating habits
- nutritious recipes
- “Ask an RD” feature where you can pose your questions online to a registered dietitian
- weekly eTips on healthy eating
- comment and find out what other fitness leaders and active Albertans are saying about healthy eating
The website is just another helpful tool to educate class participants about credible nutrition information.
I love my birthday (quite frankly, what I call my birthday week) and in honour of our nation’s birthday, I would like to share a couple ways to use the theme “birthdays” in a cycle class.
1. Throw a birthday party! Invite cycle participants to celebrate a birthday, such as Canada Day. Have birthday games (you remember your childhood favorites such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey) and modify them into cycle drills, decorate with streamers and balloons, and provide party hats. Consider having prizes or “goody-bags” at the end of class for all those who attended. And don’t forget to play the song “Happy Birthday”.
2. A less involved way to incorporate the theme “birthdays” is using birth month to group cycle participants. It is an easy and quick way to separate the class into distinct groups. Regardless of what drill you want to do with class participants, calling out a month of the year, cycle participants who are born in that month will respond without even thinking! When grouping, I would suggest three or four groups, which include either three or four months together (e.g., cycle participants born in January, February, and March participate together).
3. And finally, for registered classes where you could access participants’ birthdays, consider at the month end, celebrating the birthdays. What a great way to make participants feel special in their birthday month!
My countdown is on as my birthday week is fast approaching. Enjoy Canada Day!
Picture Courtesy of: Edmonton Journal
P.S., As we roll into the summer months, my blog post may become fewer as I will be out on my bike enjoying the nice weather. Don’t worry - I am cooking up more blog post ideas for the Fall! Happy Summer! Happy Riding!
Interested in reading another blog? My colleague, Angela Torry, from the Alberta Centre for Active Living recently started a Physical Activity Blog. Check it out for some unique ideas and inspiration to get more people physically active!
It feels like my wheels are still spinning after a great weekend at the Provincial Fitness Unit’s Fit Rendezvous. I find that attending conferences sets in motion new creative ideas to bring back to your classes. With volunteering, I was able to observe Lisa Kingston’s Endurance and Extreme Training session and that is the inspiration for my warm-up drill below.
Dynamic warm-ups prepare cycle participants for the workout ahead, particularly if the planned workout is of increased intensity. It helps participants increase blood flow to their working muscles by increasing cardiac output (heart rate and stroke volume). Mentally, participants are engaged from the start. They are forced to focus from the very beginning!
Have cycle participants set their tension at a steady state, moderate intensity with a cadence between ~80-88 rpm. When everyone has settled into that cadence, prompt cycle participants to:
1) Increase to ~100 rpm while they stay seated for 10 seconds
2) Then slow leg cadence back to ~80-88 rpm for 20 seconds
3) Repeat up to four to six times
Now that cycle participants have become used to sitting with quick cadence, have cycle participants add resistance to the fly wheel and stand on their pedals. Maintain cadence at ~80-88 rpm while standing. Body position should have hips slightly set back so knees are directly above the pedal axle. Again when everyone has settled in, prompt cycle participants to:
1) Increase cadence to ~100 rpm while they stay standing for 10 seconds
2) Slow leg cadence back to ~80-88 rpm for 20 seconds
3) Repeat up to four to six times
By starting with some cadence work at the beginning of the workout, it will enable participants to be ‘quick on their feet’ for the rest of the ride.
Not sure when my post-conference high will slow my wheels down. Enjoy the ride!
This past weekend, my husband and I competed in the team event of the 26th Annual Subway Coronation Triathlon. Guess who rode the bike course!?! The course was riding up and down a notorious road in Edmonton – Groat Road. It has a continuous hill climb that deviously plateaus, for what you think is the end, to be followed by a short climb to the top of 111 Avenue. It was with great pleasure that I got to ride the hill four times!
I reincarnated the climb for my cycle participants in class. I wanted them to have a chance to experience the Groat Road climb. Here is how it unfolds...
To start, have cycle participants start with a tension that mimics a hill (cadence will slow down).
The hill has five distinct climbs, which vary in duration. Prompt cycle participants to add a ‘gear’ (read: add resistance) with each hill climb.
Picture credit: static.flickr.com
Hill 1: 30 seconds
Hill 2: 60 seconds
Hill 3: 60 seconds
Hill 4: 90 seconds
Hill 5: 15 seconds
After the cycle participants reach the top of the hill, set the stage for the downhill portion. Groat Road has six turns, which are ~ 30 seconds each. With each turn, instruct cycle participants to drop a ‘gear’ and increase their cadence to the bottom.
I would encourage you to explore the various, hilly terrains of your community and make them into drills for your cycle participants. Take a ride for yourself and see how the hill would be best described. Draw the hill on a poster or white board as this will help participants visualize the course and allow you to place landmarks of interest (i.e., road signs, bridges, shoulder/run off lanes, etc.). On Groat Road, my two major landmarks were a traffic sign indicating a change in speed limit and the 107 avenue bridge which you ride under.
Setting up a drill that can be applied to an outdoor location can help cycle participants’ transition from indoor to outdoor riding and give them an opportunity to imagine riding local terrain.
The first couple classes of a new session are a great time to get the class practising fundamentals – using resistance and cadence to dictate their workout. These two drills are great for the first few classes as they are interactive but also introduce some important concepts. The drills are also good for the beginner classes to give cycle participants a taste of what a cycle class can be like.
Stand Up, Sit Down Wave
As we know, it is important to add resistance to the flywheel as we stand up out of the saddle. The drill emphasizes this principle but also allows cycle participants to ‘play’ with their resistance.
Starting at the front of the room, prompt the first cycle participant to stand up and add more tension. As soon as the first participant stands up, the next participant follows suit by adding tension and standing up. The ‘wave’ begins and participants remain standing until the last participant joins the others.
The wave can continue from the back of the room, where the last cycle participant decreases his/her tension and sits down. The wave will move through the group quickly and can last several cycles. If you want to change it up, try starting at the back of the room, this forces participants to watch for the wave especially with their peripheral vision (excellent skill to have when riding on the road!).
Encourage cycle participants to add more resistance on each round of the drill. An alternative to this drill would include having cycle participants maintain the same tension they set for standing in the sitting position.
One of the fun parts of being a cycle group fitness leader gets to play DJ! This drill focuses on cadence by using the music volume to dictate speed. As the song starts, keep the volume low (slower cadence) and progressively add more volume over 30 seconds to take cycle participants into a sprint pace. Hold the sprint pace for 30 seconds then slowly decrease volume and prompt participants to slow their cadence. Repeat up to six times. Choose a song that is between 140-150 bpm.
Note: To ensure auditory health, keep the high music volumes below 90 decibels.
Games are always fun to play in a cycle class. Try these two games with your beginner participants to help them learn the basics on the bike!
With Earth Day a not so distant memory, consider sharing these statistics with your cycle participants courtesy of www.egreenrevolution.com.
Now, if we could harness this energy production on our spin bikes, we could maybe power our stereo during class!
What other eco-friendly things can you do in your cycle class? Comments are welcome. Please share ideas and suggestions!
As discussed in my last blog post, Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is one way to monitor intensity in a cycle class. Being a visual learner myself, I appreciate any form of visual cueing during a cycle class. I have created individual RPE cards, which are affixed to each bike (see picture below for an example). I encourage cycle participants to use the card throughout the class to monitor intensity. The cards cover the modified Borg RPE scale (0-10), which seems to be easier to follow than the traditional Borg RPE scale (6-20).
When I use the cards in class, I start with a brief overview of what the numbers represent and how the scale is a subjective assessment of each individual’s exertion level or intensity. Ensure to clearly describe!
The following two drills are one way to use the cards in your class:
To start, set a baseline tension and cadence to match a 3-4/10 for a moderate to somewhat hard exertion. This can be tricky to begin with so take time to let participants juggle tension and cadence to find the right balance.
1.Use tension only to set the exertion. Maintain a cadence of 80-90 rpm. Each section can be held for 30-60 seconds depending on the physical fitness of your group.
Add tension to a rating of 5/10 (hard)
Take tension off to a rating of 3/10 (moderate)
Add tension to a rating of 7/10 (very hard)
Take tension off to a rating of 2/10 (light)
2.Use cadence only to set the exertion. Maintain tension at moderate or slightly higher resistance (steady state tension). Each section can be held for 30-60 seconds depending on the physical fitness of your group.
Increase cadence to a rating of 5/10 (hard)
Decrease cadence to a rating of 3/10 (moderate)
Increase cadence to a rating of 7/10 (very hard)
Decrease cadence to a rating of 2/10 (light)
These two drills give the cycle participants an opportunity to monitor their own exertion level, as well as, manipulate their exertion by using either tension or cadence. I would encourage asking cycle participants which version was more effective to mimic the assigned exertion level.
This is just one (visual) tool to help monitor exertion/intensity in a cycle class.
The University of Alberta's Campus Recreation is hosting a workshop that might be of interest. It is not a cycle workshop but it might give you new ideas and skills that could be applied to your fitness classes and workouts.
Here are the details:
"Feel the Music - how to integrate dance based choreography into a group fitness class. Choreography based classes have made a comeback to be one of the hottest fitness trends for 2010. Join Jennifer for a fun-filled latin-dance and hip-hop based Master class, followed by an interactive session outlining how to put the choreography together and then try it for yourself. You will leave this session invigorated, inspired and dancing out the door”
Taught by Jen Potocnik – AFLCA trainer, Bender method master trainer, Stott pilates and Zumba instructor.
May 2, 2010
E-19 Van Vliet Centre
University of Alberta
Registration at the Activity Registration Zone-Sales Office.
Course Code: 15426
Course Cost: $75.00
AFLCA credit: 4 CECs
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!