Friday, December 26, 2008

How to put together a charity ride - very quickly!

4 Years Ago Today: December 26, 2004.

I was sick in bed with the flu.  I don't think I'd had the flu in over 10 years.  All I could do was watch TV as I lay in bed; I could barely do anything else.

And what was I watching on TV? 

Scenes from the breaking news of the devastating Tsunami.  Over and over and over again I watched the same scenes of water pouring into the buildings, pushing upwards over the shore, taking everything in its path. Gradually as tourists and journalists added more videos, I could see more and more views of the wave that destroyed so many lives. Something came over me, I couldn't turn off the TV, even though some of the video footage was shown seemingly hundreds of times. I couldn't break myself away from it, and my heart was wrenched from my chest as I lay there helpless, crying. I wanted to do something! I wanted nothing more than to jump on a plane and get out there and help these people. I found out later almost everyone I knew had the same strong feelings.

But what could we do? Of course, I could send a check to one of the many agencies doing their best to bring aid to Thailand, Indonesia and the other nations who were suffering, but I wanted to have a bigger impact. So I walked into my manager's office a week later and said (not asked), "We're doing a Spinning Fund Raiser for the Tsunami."

She jumped up immediately and was fired to action, for she too had felt the same feeling of helplessness.  Fortunately, our club is attached to a large hotel, with committees for just about everything, and she got every committee involved, helping with logistics, fundraising and promoting the event.

I called every local club to see if they wanted to participate; really all they had to do was bring their bikes over and promote it to their members. Logistically in the dead of winter this isn't always easy to do, with snow and ice and a complicated parking garage and elevator to bring up the bikes. But we had several clubs volunteer.

Next we had to create the logistics and rules for signing up for the event. Everyone was required to raise at least $100, but we strongly suggested a minimum of $250. Every $50 over the minimum qualified you for another raffle ticket for some of the great prizes.

I had two personal training clients write me checks for $1,000!

So who would the money go to? The committees voted on the American Red Cross, but my husband is in Rotary, and they were in contact with the Rotary Club in that part of Thailand. Money donated through Rotary would go directly to the source to be used to rebuild a hospital or school.  No organizational costs involved. So we agreed 50% to each organization. 

Prizes. You need prizes for people to raise more money. We had massages, free memberships, gift certificates for dinners, and  local businesses donated other products and services. Our club happened to be going through a brand new purchase of Spin bikes, and the dealer agreed to deliver the new bikes the day before the event, and wouldn't pick up the old bikes until the day after, so we had doubles bikes for the event. Plus they donated (at below cost) a new Spin bike as a grand prize to the largest fund raiser.

All this in less than a month. Normally, I'd say you need several months to really be successful in organizing a fundraiser, maybe even 6 months. But everyone in the nation was galvanized for this tragedy. Had we waited another few weeks we might have raised more money, but the situation was dire over there and we wanted to send the money soon. 

It was a 3-hour ride. I taught the first 15 minutes to get them going, then we had 3 other instructors, and I finished up the last hour.
We had about 55 riders on 45 bikes (some only did half). You can see a mix of old Schwinn bikes, new Star Trac Spinners, Lemond bikes and even three road bikes on trainers, including mine right there in the middle. In this photo above, our regular Spin room is the converted racket ball court in the back right corner of the basketball court.

There's my cute husband...
My good friend Nate, and Missy, one of our instructors and club membership director, and a very fun and sweet human being. If she has a chance to dress goofy, she'll jump at it! The food was donated by the hotel and a local bagel shop. 

For promotion, we had lots of pre-event announcements in the local paper as well as full page coverage the day of the event. We also had lots of radio time (the local radio station is owned by a Rotary member, so that really helped)!

All told we raised about $15,000, with the hotel matching a lot of the donations. 

Nine months later we had another reason to host an event - Hurricane Katrina. We called that one Mardi Gras Spin and raised another $15,000. By that time we had the process down and did it in even less time!

Have you ever done an event like this? Tell us about it in the comments area. I think indoor cycling presents a unique, fun and potentially very profitable way to raise money. But remember, every penny counts, even if all you raise is a few hundred dollars. Because you raise so much more than money - you raise awareness as well.

One of the most amazing charity rides I've been a part of is the Spin Odyssey in Norwalk, CT, which in ten years has raised over $1.8million for breast cancer, with almost half a million last year alone!! If you are in the Northeast, you want to ride in this event. Check out their website, which has a great video to describe the event. I was a presenter for that event a few years back, and then came back the next year so my husband and I could ride in it together.

The other event that meant so much to me was the Tour de Cove, which I described in detail in my blog.

Have you always thought about doing one but didn't know how to go about it? It does take a lot of work, but when you get a team to help you out, it can be a very fun and rewarding experience. Start thinking about what organization tugs at your heart strings and talk to your club management. Get some people to help organize and start talking to members who own business to see what they might be able to donate. A charity ride like this really brings people together, and is a great opportunity for goodwill and PR in your local papers and radio stations.

One option is to participate in Spinning Nation 2009, where clubs around the country raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I'll get you more information on that and post it here. 

In tough economic times, these organizations will see fewer donations. But poverty, disease and disasters never take a break, and don't care about a booming or a bust economy. They always need our help.

Maybe you can use your indoor cycling program to help out!

Here's to a prosperous 2009!

PS: Have you ordered your version of the Keep it Real ebook yet? I know that many of you will get a lot of great information from this book.  It will help you understand how important it is to Keep it Real indoors even if you, or your students, do not ride outdoors.  It has a ton of information in it - I could have divided it into two books but wanted to give it a huge amount of value. Think of it as an investment in your instructing career (and an inexpensive investment at that)! Send this link to all the instructors you know:!

Thanks as usual for reading! Sorry I've been AWOL for awhile - two words kept me away: Holidays and SNOW!!! Phew, are my legs tired from skiing! (Thankfully I took that week off two weeks ago when my knee was acting up - just goes to show you - it pays to listen to your body). 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keep it Real in Your Indoor Cycling Classes

Attention cyclists and indoor cycling instructors!

As a cyclist, have you been turned off by indoor cycling classes because they didn't have anything to do with real cycling? Are you bored to tears riding your trainer at home in the winter or when you're too busy to ride outside? Wouldn't you love to be able to take advantage of the motivation, camaraderie and energy of indoor classes to help you stay focused on your training, but you just can't face the aerobics-on-a-bike type of class?

Would you like to know how to maximize your performance and technique in indoor classes?

Then this eBook is for you!

Keep it Real in Your Indoor Cycling Classes is a must-read for both cyclists and indoor cycling instructors alike. Many well-meaning instructors would like to be able to cater to their cycling clientele but they may not know what the specific needs of a cyclist are.

Instructors! Everything you need to know about keeping your classes relevant to cycling is in this eBook!

In this eBook you will learn:
  1. the biomechanics of pedaling with a weighted flywheel and the huge implications it has on training techniques, cadence and pedal stroke
  2. which techniques are applicable to outdoor riding and which techniques cyclists should sit out
  3. how to select your gear or hill (resistance) and your cadence to best simulate what you do outside, adhering to the rules of "specificity of training"
  4. 13 popular movements that all cyclists (and non-cyclists alike) should avoid in IDC classes, and why
  5. how to increase your climbing skills and strength indoors
  6. how to improve your endurance and aerobic base
  7. how to periodize your program using indoor cycling classes
  8. a comparison of heart rate training zone methodologies and how to choose which one works best for your specific goals
  9. 13 drills for IDC classes to optimize your technique
  10. 9 high intensity interval profiles to maximize your performance
  11. and many more tips on how to make the most of indoor cycling classes!
No more drudgery of riding your trainer alone, no more inappropriate techniques that detract from your riding skills.

Still not sure? Here's a few comments I've gotten from readers of the ebook:

Jennifer has taken her years of experience as a Spinning Master Instructor and combined it with her years riding outside to produce a simple and concise book on how to take the road inside. She takes the training needs of the outdoor rider and translates them into the dynamics of an indoor cycling class. For those not familiar with some of the training tools and techniques used by cyclists, she provides very straightforward and understandable explanations. Simple enough for the beginner; enough information for the intermediate; but not boring for the advanced rider. Jennifer explains what to look for (and more importantly what to avoid) in a class to ensure a safe ride that can meet all training needs. Written to transition an outdoor rider to an indoor participant, this book is also a must-read for any instructor.
Stephen Grady, Vancouver, BC

Jennifer's ebook is a must-buy guide for roadies wanting to make effective use of Spinning classes in their off-season training. We've all attended those "stereotypical" classes (described in her book) where you perform odd maneuvers such as pedaling backwards in a "hover" position or performing "freezes" to get the burn. Keep it Real shows how indoor classes can be fun and effective preparation for outdoor riding. The book has even inspired me to become a certified Spinning instructor so I can take the class i want by leading one!

Thank you Thank you for your book on indoor cycling. As an avid cyclist and Spinning instructor I feel like I am on an island all alone in trying to get students to Spin properly. The problem is compounded by instructors teaching that the faster you go the better. I just downloaded the book and printed it. As it was printing, I got more excited as the pages rolled off my printer. I can't wait to read the book and apply the principles. And yes, I have been doing things wrong!
Alan, Santa Ynez, CA

This is a fantastic resource and I applaud and thank you! I will definitely recommend this to my instructors, and look forward to more goodies in 2009!

I love your ebook. I read it cover to cover. I hate as you do when instructors try and turn a cycling class into something else....isolations and upper body work on the handlebars.
Carol, Chicago

I am almost finished reading your ebook. It is great! I am learning so much, I can't wait to start applying it to my classes.
Charlotte, Pennsylvania

Here's to greater fitness and higher performance, both inside and outside!

Keep it Real has 169 pages with 18 color photos. Once you purchase this eBook you can download it immediately and begin improving your performance while having much more fun!

In Vélo Veritas!

(you'll find out what that means in the eBook!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hate mail from a fan of Jillian Michaels and the Biggest Loser

Putting yourself out into cyberspace via a blog or forum means you are willing (or should be willing or will have to soon be willing) to be open to criticism.  Ya gotta have, or soon get, a thick skin. No one can please everyone.  

My skin is kinda in the stage of just starting to get a callus, still a little soft, on its way to getting thicker. Admittedly it's still hard to take when someone doesn't like you, or who criticizes you for doing what you feel is somewhat noble.  I mean, my goal here is to help the collective you become a better indoor cycling instructor, inspire your students, and do it safely and in a way that follows proper training principles and science, as well as keeps it specific to riding a bike. I understand that others may have different methods than me, but I'm not so much talking philosophy here, I'm talking safety and practicality and downright effective training.

So when I saw something as blatantly unsafe and ridiculous as what Jillian Michaels did in her so called Spinning class on the Biggest Loser, I had to comment. I mean, I did write the book on Contraindications... and what she did was so obviously dangerous with no regard for the safety of her students, the antithesis of what we try to teach in a safe effective Spin class. But I also didn't attack her personally. I kept my criticism to what she did in that Spin class.

A week and a half ago I received a comment from someone who really seems to like (adulate?) Jillian Michaels a lot, and did not care for my Open Letter to her, not one bit. "Scorpio" kind of missed my point, really.  He/she thinks I was suggesting I'm better than her. Scorpio said s/he doubted I would publish the comment, suggesting all my positive comments were a result of filtering out only the good ones.

Let it be known that I haven't ever not accepted a comment in the 8 months of this blog's history (although I reserve the right to do so if I feel like it; this is after all, my blog). I only waited to moderate this one for when I had time to respond appropriately.  I've had a lot of deadlines lately, and this is the first time I've had a moment. This blogging stuff is time consuming, man! :0

Oh, and a few days later I received another comment saying I was just jealous of her. Methinks it's the same person....too much of a coincidence!

I'm wondering if Scorpio works for her...or wished he/she did!

All the blogging books and articles and tips say that controversy is GREAT for blogs! They even suggest that the blogger take on controversial subjects or positions to get more readership! So Scorpio is doing me a favor. I look at other bloggers and see that they've gotten hate mail as well, including Fatcyclist and BikeSnob NYC

Fatty is the nicest and downright funniest cycling blogger out there, and it is from him that I got the "Open Letter" concept (although his open letters are funny and very sarcastic. Mine wasn't). Here is a response to one of his letters, someone who didn't appreciate his sarcasm. People just don't get it! (Fatty is pretty funny in his response).

Bike Snob on the other hand invites criticism. He seems to thrive on it. And he's very funny too, but in a completely different way than Fatty. Scroll down to see some hate videos he's been sent.

Now, I'm not suggesting I'm anything close to Fatty or Snobby, but Funhog is now in some good company! (And we have some silly nicknames too...)  ;-)

Go here to see the letter and scroll down for the comment from Scorpio and my response to him/her and to Anonymous who thinks I'm just jealous of Jillian!

I'm curious to see your comments.

Monday, December 15, 2008


So I heard the snow was great yesterday on the mountain but that it was zero degrees on top.  Yup, I would have been quite miserable without my boot heaters.  But even two or three runs would have been worth it!  This morning the thermometer says -6 degrees.   Brrrrrrrrrr! Glad I'm inside.

My knee is ok; still stiff, still sore.  It's time to ice it again.  So it's wise that I didn't go skiing.  

More snow expected tonight and tomorrow, maybe even another foot. Maybe I can get up on Wednesday!  Right now, the morning sun is reflecting off the snow and everything is so shiny and crisp outside - a deep blanket of white.  At least we have power, I feel bad for everyone up in New Hampshire.

Yesterday's post was kinda long, so if you didn't make it through my whining (I wouldn't blame you....) to the end, here's the interesting stuff I posted at the end that might be of interest to you.  The next few days are devoted to my bike tour PR and website and getting my eBook ready to go online, so I probably won't post for a few days.  But you'll WANT to check back soon for some great stuff such as:

BLOG update:
I've got some great stuff coming for you guys so keep checking back often. Here's some upcoming posts and info:
  • I've got some controversy regarding the Jillian Michaels letter I wrote. Controversy is great for blogs! I'm going to post a not-so-nice letter I received from someone who doesn't like me very much.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all!  You'll find it very interesting and I'd be curious to hear your comments...
  • I'll be posting a lot on Aerobic Base Building and how and why (or why not) you should do it. I'll give you lots of aerobic profiles, including some great ones from guest instructors/bloggers.
  • I did a fun interval class last week I want to share with you. Will post that profile soon.  It's called Dueling Intervals!
  • In the next few weeks, I'll be moving this blog to another platform, which will include changing the name. Funhog is cute, because it has meaning to me, but now that this blog has actually become somewhat popular, I need something more widely appropriate. You'll be kept up-to-date when I'll be doing that.
  • Keep an eye open for my eBook announcement! It's called "Keep it Real In Your Indoor Cycling Classes"! I think a lot of you will want it - it's really marketed towards cyclists who want to use IDC to train for outdoor riding, but it will help instructors understand the specific needs and wants of cyclists.  Most importantly, it outlines what works indoors and what does not work, and describes in detail the implications of the weighted flywheel and how it can help or hinder cyclists in their quest for technique improvement.  There's some good descriptions of why certain movements are contraindicated, as well as some that aren't unsafe, but may not do cyclists any favors. I also go into Periodization and how to create training zones based on a LT Field Test, and compare these zones to other zone methodologies that use MHR.

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why is it so hard to be "Sage"?

As a personal trainer, I've given lots of advice to clients and friends about taking it easy or taking a day or a week off from their preferred activity when there's potential for injury or further pain. When knees or shoulders are sore or something is just not right, I always say it's better to err on the side of being "sage" and giving it a rest.

Or those friends who have an injury and are complaining about not being able to be active because the doctor says they need 6 weeks to heal. I am very good at giving more sage advice such as, "Look on the bright side! This will allow you to do that project you're always complaining about not having any time to do. Think of the books you can read! Think about how much you can accomplish! This is the time for being patient."

But Why? Why is it so hard to take my own advice?

My knee has been bothering me all week. The only thing I've done differently is to do lunges with my clients; you know, to get them ready for skiing! (Oh yeah, and I've taught 5 classes per week for the past month, a couple of them 90-min classes). Yesterday it got pretty bad, with a sharp pain in the left knee going upstairs and general tightness in the joint.

Last night we had winter storm warnings with predictions of 1-3 feet of snow! I live in a ski area as you know, and most residents of this area moved here (originally at least) to ski. One of the first things I learned when I moved here may sound very foreign, even callous, to those of you who don't live in, or near, or know anything about, a ski area that prides itself on dry powder snow. That expression is:

There are no friends on a powder day!
Meaning, all bets are off. Any appointments are canceled when there is double digit snowfall. If you can't ski the stuff, and you're out visiting and we hardly ever see each other, too bad! I'll meet you in the lodge in the afternoon for apres ski! You don't wait for people on the runs because you just might miss out on that untracked line on the next run. (Honestly, I'm not this bad!)

I learned this early on and I learned how to ski powder to find out what they were talking about. It's quite surreal to ski.

This kind of snow is EPIC (to employ a huge cliché). I wrote about one of those days last spring.

And today is going to be an Epic day. There is sure to be several feet on the windward slopes. Probably thigh deep in spots. I was almost in tears as I was waffling about whether I should or shouldn't go this morning. I even pulled out all my gear, started to get dressed, thought better of it and threw it down and just generally whined. My husband said, "Make up your mind dangit!!"

So I called a physical therapist friend who told me (as he was walking to the lifts and commenting on how much snow there was) that it was probably an irritated synovial capsule since there was no mechanism of injury that might have twisted it. Of course, the best (i.e. SAGE) advice is to stay off it, ice it and takes lots of Vitamin I (that's athlete-speak for ibuprofen). He reminded me that the season is just starting and there will be a lot more days ahead. Why ruin the next month potentially just for one day?

Ah yes, Sage advice indeed. Why does it hurt less when someone "professional" gives me the same advice I knew in my heart?

I just ran out and took some photos (well, I hobbled out) on my back porch to show you what I'm talking about. If we have 8-10" on our porch at 7,600 feet, then the mountain has much, much more at 9,000-11,000 feet!

Above is my patio table looking towards the town of Edwards. Below is my dead flower pot. Nice, huh? (The snow, not the dead flowers).

So now I need to take more of my own Sage advice and re-read my post from a few days ago about finding the silver lining in things. Here's the attitude of gratitude that I've come up with, and what I can do today instead of ski:
  • This storm that came through is also a very cold front - it's probably single digits on the mountain. And my boot heaters aren't charged yet, so it's probably better that I stay inside. I'm a whimp up there when it's this cold! (Or is that sour grapes and not gratitude?)
  • I finished my eBook last night and can spend today getting the website ready to upload it and promote it. You guys will love it, so I can't wait to tell you more!
  • I have a lot of PR to do for my bike tours. Why not today?!
  • The Giro d'Italia route was announced yesterday. Robert is helping me plan a tour to the Giro - I'll use today to study the map more and come up with more ideas.
  • It's only December 14th! There is 4 1/2 months left of the ski season! Woo Hoo!
  • Maybe a little rest today will allow me to ski tomorrow when there's no one around (and it's supposed to continue snowing all day - up to 1-2 feet more)! Today is Sunday and it's no doubt crowded. (OK, maybe skiing tomorrow is being a little too optimistic...)
  • GREAT time to do Christmas cards, which I almost always get out late....
  • Jeff and I can rent a movie and snuggle on the couch with some hot chocolate. Yeah, I like that one!
  • I can take a nap! Another good option!

I don't think Spinning caused this, but teaching 5 times this week no doubt aggravated it. Wednesday I have a Lactate Threshold Field Test planned (basically an all-out race pace effort for 20-minutes). I've never taught completely off the bike for this group, but I think that will be best. It will be interesting.

BLOG update:
I've got some great stuff coming for you guys so keep checking back often. Here's some upcoming posts and info:
  • I've got some controversy regarding the Jillian Michaels letter I wrote. Controversy is great for blogs! I'm going to post a not-so-nice letter I received. You'll find it very interesting...
  • I'll be posting a lot on Aerobic Base Building and how and why (or why not) you should do it. I'll give you lots of aerobic profiles, including some great ones from guest instructors/bloggers.
  • I did a fun interval class last week I want to share with you. Will post that profile soon.
  • In the next few weeks, I'll be moving this blog to another platform, which will include changing the name. Funhog is cute, because it has meaning to me, but now that this blog has actually become somewhat popular in this crowd, I need something more widely appropriate. You'll be kept up-to-date when I'm doing that.
  • Keep an eye open for my eBook announcement! It's called "Keep it Real In Your Indoor Cycling Classes"!

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Now excuse me while I go charge up my boot heaters.... ;-)

Jennifer not-always-so-Sage

PS I still get a kick out of having married a very cool guy with a very cool last name that I can USE in this manner! Thank you Jeffrey Sage! My sister-in-law has a license plate that reads "SAGEWMN"!

Friday, December 12, 2008

OK, I've done it again - I need your help!

I've gone and signed myself up for another event...

Two months ago it was the Tour de Cove and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Awesome event, awesome cause.

I started back in 1987 with my first MS 150, raising $5,000 back then. I've done some sort of fundraising event almost every year, probably raising close to $50K in total.

This time I signed up to be on Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan, which I found out through the Fatcyclist blog. I met Fatty at the Interbike trade show and have been a fan of his blog for over a year. His wife's cancer has progressed to pretty darn serious right now, and his normally very funny posts have gotten more subdued (except today's was hilarious), but I can tell you, Elden Nelson, the Fatcyclist, has brought cyclists together from all over the world. He's united a community, raised awareness, and kept us laughing and loving cycling for a long time. People from all over have donated and contributed time and supplies to help him build a wheelchair ramp in his garage so his wife can get outside. They bring over dinners for his family (4 young kids)! Many people who he never met before.

All through a blog.  This world is fantastic, isn't it?

So when he announced that he was forming Team Fatty, I jumped right in.  Here is the goal of the team:
  • Be the largest Livestrong Team there has ever been
  • Raise more money to fight cancer than any team ever has.
  • Make a legacy for Susan that she will be able to be truly proud of.

My personal goal? Raise $4,000.

I'll be riding in the Austin, TX Livestrong Challenge. It's not for awhile, but I want to start now.

I know times are hard for everyone now. I figure if I can get 100 people to donate $10 each in the next few weeks, we'd make a huge dent. Depending on where you live, that's 2 to 2.5 grande chai lattés! $20 helps a little more, but know that every little eeensy bit you can donate counts!

If you've found some value with my profiles, cueing tips or other suggestions, just click this link so we can together help to cure this insidious disease. 

It's not just for Susan. It's for everyone I've/you've known with cancer (and there isn't a single one of us who hasn't been touched by it in some way).  There is a woman named Nancy, a Spinning instructor from Connecticut, who commented on a forum post I made about Fatty's wife, saying a "fellow cyclist needs your prayers." Her husband Bob has cancer, they're just finishing the chemo now. So this is another way to help someone in our Spinning community. I've added him to my list of people to pray for, and for whom I'm riding. Also, I just found out that a woman at my club who has come to my Spin classes, young, beautiful, healthy, vibrant....has bone marrow cancer. Her husband works with my husband.  A few months ago I ran into a man I've known for years, who has had 3 relapses in 12 years. He showed me his tubes for his chemo, taped to his waist underneath his shirt. He has 2 small kids. My husband built their home. This is such a small community where I live, we hear about so many people all the time who are afflicted.

This disease must be stopped. And I'm trying to help out in my small little way to do something about it. Please help me!  Better yet, maybe you'll want to sign up to be on Team Fatty! There are 4 Livestrong rides next year - Seattle, San Jose, Philadephia and Austin.

Here is my fundraising page. I thank everyone for any little bit.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Adrenaline packed playlist

OK, as of last night, I've finally made the mental switch to winter. I fight it all autumn, mourning the loss of longer days and warmer temps and of putting my bike away for the winter (my new pink bike that I didn't get to rid that much after I got it!), dreading every extra layer I have to put on, or the fact that I now need gloves when I go outside or that we now need to add shoveling the driveway to our list of duties to be shared (fortunately my DH does it most of the time). 

Every year the transition to winter is aided by the yearly release of the Warren Miller ski film. Once I watch the film, I walk out energized to take out my skis and get out in the snow. (It doesn't hurt that it's been dumping snow for 3 days and more is on the way).

We went to this year's movie last night in Beaver Creek. Living in a ski town, the auditorium was full of newly arrived just out of college skiers/snowboarders who plan on spending a season (or two or four or ten) living the ski-town lifestyle, waiting tables at night for their primary income, with another on-mountain job like a lift-operator (a "liftie" in ski-town jargon) to get their passes so they can ski or snowboard every day (that was kind of me 15 years ago when I began teaching skiing!) It was a rowdy crowd, with hoots and hollers with every amazing stunt, or with every crash (lots of them), or during the scenes of endless pillows of white powder to plow through. 

That white powder is our gold here in Vail, Colorado.

If you've never seen a Warren Miller ski film you might not understand. If you're not a skier, you really won't understand! But if you have, and if you are, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Warren Miller is an icon in the ski industry, making his first ski film back in 1937 I think it was! It's come a long way since then, with adrenaline filled, action packed clips of skiers and boarders hucking themselves off huge cliffs or down steep rocky couloirs in the Rockies, Alaska, Chile, Russia or Europe, double twisting flips with mute grabs in competitions, or plowing through chest deep powder in places all over this planet.

The reason for this post is that music is a huge part of these films and I want to share the soundtrack with you. It's funny, as I sat there watching the movie, my mind often wandered to, "Wow! This would be a great Race Day song!" or "I wonder if my peeps would go for this song?"

Some of the music they use in the films is way too adrenaline packed for me (more for the Gen X snowboard/skateboard crowd), but there are some fun energetic songs that I will be adding to my library.  You might find a lot of great tunes from this list depending on your tastes and your market. 

So, check out this playlist! It includes everything from Sigur Ros and the Foo Fighters, to the older rock of Cream to world music of Afro Celt Soundsystem. This year's movie is called Children of Winter, but on the left side of the page, you'll see the playlists for the past 5 years of movies. 

OK, it's time to go get my skis tuned....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Snowing! Help! I'm teaching too much to ski!

And more snow is on the way.  I might have to pull my skis out and take a few turns on Monday (too many people in town this holiday weekend).

Which makes me think, it's going to be time to drop a class soon.  My Spinning schedule is too intense (for me) to be able to ski much.  Tuesday 5:30 pm, then Wednesday 6:00 a.m. (less than 12 hrs later).  Then I repeat that Thursday 5:30 pm and 12 hrs later, Friday 6:oo a.m.  By Friday I am toast.

Of course, I'll be doing a lot of aerobic base building coming up soon (and I'll be sharing with you all my info on periodizing and base building so make sure to come back often).  So one would think I could handle it if I were riding at lower intensities. But this schedule really is taking its toll on my physically, and I want to be able to ski 1-2 times per week. Skiing hard wrecks my legs for Spinning, and lots of Spinning wrecks my legs for skiing.

What's a girl to do?? I moved to Vail to ski, and I haven't got that much skiing in the past couple of years (too much working on weekends).

So it's one of my goals to ski much more this year. 

By the way, if anyone reading this is anywhere in Colorado and you come up to Vail, or if you're taking a vacation out here, let me know and we'll make some turns! 

Sigh....I guess I'll be giving up a Tuesday or Thursday night sooner than later!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I am grateful for...

Taking a little break from cooking and cleaning the house, getting ready for guests (13!) in an hour and a half....

I've been dwelling on what I am grateful for today. And I want to get it written down.

I am thankful....

  • For my husband Jeff, for being understanding of my quirks and silliness (and for understanding me when I spend a lot of time on my blog!), for sharing my life, for recognizing when he's cranky and apologizing for it, for being such a sweetheart, for coming to my Spin classes 7+ years ago (where we met), for being such a good athlete himself...
  • For the house that Jeff is building for us, about 20 miles away. About 2 months from being finished.
  • For living in such a beautiful place. It's getting cold now, so the wonders of winter are awaiting me (just a little more snow though, before I'll get out and ski).
  • For my good health; this is something I really cherish!
  • For Spinning, because it's allowed me to stay in excellent cycling shape throughout the winter - bikes on trainers can be so boring!
  • For my role as an instructor, because I love working with people to help them reach their goals.
  • For my role as a Master Instructor, because of the wonderful people I've met from around the world who are as passionate about Spinning as I am, and because it allows me to inspire other instructors to inspire their students. I just LOVE doing this! :-)
  • For my back. Despite the challenges it provides me occasionally, I could be so much worse off, and I am thankful that I can do everything I can do! Every now and then it reminds me that it has its limits, and now I can say I'm grateful for those reminders because it keep me careful. (my goal - more core training....)
  • For the fact that I found a way to have fitness as my job. Albert Schweizer said, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are dong, you will be successful."
  • For my bicycle tour company, Viva Travels, because it not only allows me to share my love of cycling in Europe with others (and make some money in the process) but look where I get to go ride my bike (AND get a tax write off while researching it)! ;-) Alpe d'Huez, Mont Ventoux, the Dolomites, Tuscany, the Pyrenees, etc! I am soooooooo grateful for this!
  • For my friends around the world, who keep my life even more interesting.
  • For the amazing opportunities that are presenting themselves in this economy - they're there if you'll look hard enough! History is FULL of stories of people who come out of recessions far better off than they were before, and I plan on being one of those people! I will not buy into this bad economy BS, I will only look for the good, how I can grow, how I can turn things around and really improve my income. (Because I'm not afraid to admit it - I want to make a lot of money some day. That's the only way I'll be able to help the world in the way I plan on doing it. And to travel and see other amazing parts of the world that are awaiting.
  • For my parents and the things they gave up in order to provide excellent educations for me and my siblings. I am thankful to them to this day for their sacrifices. Everything they did was for us!
  • For music and the way it makes me feel! ;-)
  • For gourmet food and wine - ah, one of life's greatest joys! (That's probably from all the traveling I've done in France - it's rubbed off on me!)
  • For Peace. The more we focus on being grateful for peace, the more likely we are to have it. Not being anti-war...but being pro-peace. Here's to the eventual end to the war in Iraq!
  • I am so incredibly grateful for the outcome of our election, and the direction I believe our country will take from here on in. It won't be a quick-fix, it won't be an easy 4 years, it's not a fairy-tale that with a wave of a wand all the negativity and wrong directions will be fixed right away. It will take sacrifice on everyone's part. But I believe that Yes We Can! I am grateful for Barack Obama!
  • For blogs! A year ago I never thought I'd be doing this, but what a great way to connect with people!
  • For everyone who reads my blog. Thank you so much!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Thanksgiving class - The Gratitude Ride

I've decided to dedicate my Turkey Burner class to Gratitude.  It's a 90-minute ride tomorrow morning.  I'm teaching a 90-minute "Afterburner" class on Friday at another club and will do the same ride.

I am mentoring a new instructor, Samantha, who got certified with me a month ago.  She has already team taught two classes with me so far, and she will be serving up the "appetizer" and "apéritif" for tomorrow's ride.  I've asked her to do some surges and accelerations on the flats (see my previous profile for more explanation), for 20+ minutes after the warm-up and introduction.

When everyone arrives, I will hand them a post-it note and a pencil.  Then when class starts, I will ask them to write down 3 things that they are grateful for in their lives, and on the back of the paper, 3 things that are current challenges in their lives. They don't have to share it with anyone; it's just for them. Fold it up and put it in their pocket, or stick it on their handlebar as motivation, or whatever they want to do with it. It's more ceremonial than anything else.

Some of the song choices have something to do with the theme; some don't, and are chosen for the terrain and rhythm.

Here are the first 6 songs that Samantha will do:

1. Neil Diamond, Coming To America 4:19
Explain the format.  Samantha will serve the appetizer and apéritif for the first 30 minutes, mostly on the flats, revving up their legs, getting into some jumps, with one song of runs with resistance.  Jennifer will then come in and serve the "meat and potatoes", which will be some challenging climbs, followed by the "dessert", an easy flat to the finish.

We'll ask them to write down their challenges and the things for which they are grateful during this song.

2. Andy vs Dreamgate, Now We Are Free (Andy & the Lamboy Club Mix) 7:47
Warm-up continues.  One of the things we are grateful in our country is our freedom.  It's why many of the people came to America, as the first song described.

Start doing some accelerations, from 80-110 rpm, taking about 30-seconds, holding 110 for 30-seconds, then back down to 80 rpm.  Repeat.

3. Mike Oldfield, The Millenium Bell 7:22
A happy song.  1-minute surges.  Alternate 1-minute seated with standing flat surges, each with a 30-45 second recovery.

4. The Beloved, Ease the Pressure 4:21
4-count Jumps. Enjoy the feeling of the work on your legs. Enjoy the sensation of challenge. 

5. Djuma Soundsystem, Les Djinns (Trentmoller Mix) 6:17
Run with resistance for 8 counts, every 32 counts or so.  This song has a great beat.  After the last song of jumps, this might get a little high intensity, so caution everyone to reserve some energy for the upcoming climbs, sitting a few out if needed.

6. Joe Cocker, Feeling Alright 4:12
Feeling grateful for feeling alright! Thankful for life.  This will be an easy to moderate seated flat, preparing for the hills.

Then I will come in and begin the main course...

7. The Lounge, Free Your Mind 6:04
I've used this song a lot, anytime I want people to think about the doubts, fears and excuses that are holding them back.  It's just such an amazing song! (Available on itunes on Bonzai Worx). "You have to let it all go, fear, doubt and disbelief!" Let's be grateful for setting ourselves free of these inhibitions and obstacles.  This fast flat road will bring us to our hill, where we will encounter these obstacles that we'll overcome.

8. Dead Can Dance, Spider's Stratagem 6:41
We'll climb for 5 minutes of this song.  Resistance loading every minute.  Thinking of our first challenge during the first 3.5 minutes, and then as we near the top, think of the first thing we wrote down that we are grateful for, switching the mindset to one of gratitude. Knowing that we are grateful for the fact that we will overcome this challenge as well.

The final minute and a half of this song is a little recovery on flat roads before the next challenge.

9. The Cranberries, Zombie 5:09
How can you have a Thanksgiving meal without cranberries? 

This song however represents one of the challenges our country has faced the past 5 years. She talks about the horrors of war.  My thought on this hill is to be grateful for the end of war. By expressing gratitude for something that hasn't yet happened, we can help bring it to reality! But I am also personally grateful for a new president who will make ending this war a priority! Let's all be grateful for the positive things that are facing our country.

5 minutes of climbing. Some seated, some standing, the final 1.5 minutes will be out of the saddle.

10. Melissa Etheridge, I Run for Life 4:22
What a beautiful song about gratitude for a vibrant life! This song can't help but bring tears to your eyes. Let's follow Melissa's lead and celebrate all those woman who have overcome breast cancer (and men and women who have overcome other cancers and diseases), because as she says in the song, "they cut into my skin and they cut into my body but they will ever get a piece of my soul!"

Think about anyone you know who is faced with this challenge right now, a challenge to their health, and dedicate this next climb to them.  In the process, be grateful for your own health and fitness!  

2 minutes flat recovery for the first part of the song, then begin the next climb.

11. Delerium feat. Leigh Nash, Innocente (Deep Dish Gladiator Mix) 11:54
We're continuing the climb from the last song. We've got 12 minutes to commit to climbing, with one little rest in the middle.

This one I want you to think first of the next challenge that you wrote down. Now you can see how we can use this climb as a metaphor to overcome it. Because no matter what, we'll make it to the top of the hill. We'll do 4 minutes of jumps on a hill. After that 4 minutes, devote a minute to the next thing on your gratitude list, adding a little more emphasis to your climb, increasing your effort (a little above 85%MHR).

Then take a 2 minute break, getting ready for the next onslaught... (by this time, we are 7 minutes into the song).

The final 5 minutes of the song is the next hill.  The first focus is the third challenge you wrote down on your slip of paper. Come up with more tactics for overcoming it. Devote 3 or 4 minutes to that, then focus on the third thing you wrote down that you are grateful for. Let this gratitude overcome you as you continue to jump on this hill. Each time you rise out of the saddle is a wave of gratitude.

12. Moulin Rouge (Soundtrack from the movie Moulin Rouge, cd 2) 6:57
Our final climb.  The first 1:30 of the song is easy flat, a little recovery.  Then the song starts to get powerful.  We start on a seated climb, adding to our gratitude list. I love this song because it is such a powerful crescendo, a fitting finish to our challenges, the music take you to the top with such energy, helping you out when you thought you were fatigued; you now know that nothing can stop you!

13. Iggy Pop, Lust for Life 5:13
OK, I know he has a lust for some not so good things in his life (liquor and drugs) but I like the energy of this song, and I am grateful for my own Lust for Life! So think of what things in your life that make you so happy to be alive; your relationships, your family; your work; your energy; your fitness and health. Me? I am grateful for Spinning! I am grateful for living in such a beautiful place like Vail, where people come to take their Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays - I live here full time! Thanks for coming to my backyard (I will have visitors to my class who are on vacation here)! I am grateful for Samantha for her zest to learn and to help me with this class!

We're off the hills now, feel the open road, how good it feels to spin your legs at will.

14. Shaman, Move Any Mountain 3:29
Great words to this song. Shows how grateful we are for our choices in lfe. We can CHOOSe to have a good attitude, we can CHOOSE to move mountains and not be a passive bystander to life. 

Continue on a flat, bringing our heart rates down.

15. Huff and Herb, Feeling Good (Epic Mix) 6:57
I love this song, with jazz great Nina Simone's voice.  Great lyrics. Feeling grateful for feeling good! (Like the earlier song by Joe Cocker)

Continue on this fast flat. Working on a high cadence.

15. Carlene Davis, Thank You Mr. DJ 5:05
Cool Down. Nice Lyrics.  Nows the time to add a few more items to our gratitude list. The more we are grateful for, the more we attract those things into our lives.

16. Ray Charles, America the Beautiful
Don't we live in such a beautiful place?

Thank you for coming! Thank you for giving me this opportunity! Thank you for being you!

And I also want to thank all of you who read my blog and for sharing it with others. Please leave me a comment and tell me about your thanksgiving rides!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Jillian Michaels, Follow up letter to the Biggest Loser

Dear Jillian Michaels,

OK, so maybe I was a little harsh in my letter of yesterday about your episode of The Biggest Loser on Tuesday night.  Please forgive me.  It's just that we work so hard to teach instructors the proper and safe way to teach Spinning (and any indoor cycling for that matter), that when something like this comes along, it sets this industry back light years.  My Master Instructor peers and I have to beat our heads against the wall when we encounter more and more students and instructors teaching unsafe moves and techniques, because they saw it on TV from a so-called fitness guru! So I hope you understand where I was coming from.

You see, you have such a visible role in our country, and if you wanted to, you could really do wonderful things for the personal training and group fitness/indoor cycling instructor industry by setting an example. So many people love that show, and love to watch you work. Think about the effect you currently have on them. Can you imagine how great it would be if you could show them how important it is to employ safe and truly effective training techniques? 

You're working with an unfit, unhealthy population, not marine recruits Jillian. They need your skill in balancing a tough workout with safe and effective methods. I understand the drill sergeant role you feel you have to keep up, or perhaps the network feels it must keep up - because hey, that's what sells, right? But does there have to be a total disregard for safety? I mean, I'm sure the network has those participants sign a liability waiver several inches thick, but a good lawyer could get right through that if someone got injured from something you had them do if it can be proven that it is unsafe, or even dangerous. Movements that are not advisable for a healthy fit person, much less an unhealthy, very overweight person who has no reason to be doing those things on a stationary bicycle! 

I have an idea. I will forego my own pay if you have me come out to teach you and Bob the correct way to teach Spinning! We could do a certification with the two of you, and then you can show the world that you truly are concerned for the health, safety and ultimate fitness of your participants. 

Maybe you can have me lead a class or two with your participants. It doesn't have to be an "easy" or wimpy class, but just a safe and relevant training session, using heart rate monitors in order to train them within their own individualized training zones, appropriate for their level of fitness. We can teach them how to set up the bike correctly, how to sit in the saddle properly, how not to lean on their forearms, allowing them to pedal in an efficient and safe manner at proper and relevant cadences (and not super high crazy leg speeds). And of course, we'd never take away the saddles. On the contrary - we need to teach them how important it is to stay in the saddle for as long as possible!

This will be something they can take with them long after they leave your show. You will be raised up in the eyes of the viewing public! You are more likely to see success with your participants! You will be even more of a fitness goddess Jillian!

How about it?

You can contact me at

In fitness,

Jennifer Sage

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Jillian Michaels of the Biggest Loser Show

Dear Jillian,

My name is Jennifer Sage and I am a Master Instructor for the Spinning program, a certified personal trainer since 1992, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and I have a BS in Exercise Science. I am also a certified Ski Instructor, and I have 27 years in the fitness industry.

As an MI for Spinning since 1997 I have certified over a thousand instructors, taught many continuing education courses, wrote several of the continuing education programs for Spinning, and presented at many fitness conferences, including ECA Miami and New York, Can Fit Pro in Toronto, Crunch (Atlanta), New York Sports Club Summit, and WSSC (World Spinning and Sports Conference) Miami for the past 10 years.

Our biggest challenge as Master Instructors is to teach instructors PROPER training principles so they can then teach their students how to safely and effectively accomplish their goals. Notice the word "safely". There is so much crap that is taught out there in the fitness industry, and especially in indoor cycling. Unfortunately it has become rampant and widely accepted in many parts of the country as the way it should be done.

I actually wrote the workshop for Mad Dogg Athletics and Spinning entitled Contraindications in the Spinning Program. I know you know what contraindications means - but just in case you don't, Jillian, in a nutshell, it means just don't do it! In the workshop, I analyzed many popular but unsafe moves in indoor cycling looking at biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, proper training principles, the roots of road cycling, and plain common sense reasons why they should not be a part of ANY indoor cycling program, much less the Spinning program.

What you did with your participants on the Biggest Loser last night was horrendous and very sad. It showed great disrespect for your participants, for the Spinning program, and for indoor cycling in general. You showed rampant disregard for safety, for biomechanics, for understanding of training principles, and for concern for your participants. It shows that you know nothing about riding a bike, either. I know you think you must keep up your "image" as being a hard a$$, kick butt, no-holds-barred personal trainer, but this time you went too far.

Many indoor cycling enthusiasts from around the country were watching that show. They will come away from it thinking that these are acceptable moves (“because Jillian did it”) and want their own instructors to do them. Many of those poor instructors (the ones who don't know they can stand up to their uneducated students and explain the real reasons why they don’t do stuff like that on a bike) will feel the need to offer their students what they're asking for, even though they can sense that it’s unsafe. As a result, there's going to be far more injuries and far fewer people reaching their performance goals.

Burning muscles, as I'm sure you know, is not always a good thing. It can be caused by mechanical inefficiency, and not just anaerobic work. Pain in the joints is a sign to the person that something is amiss, and is often caused by incorrect form. Good form is crucial for proper and safe indoor cycling - I'm sure your riders last night felt pain in their joints because form was never addressed. You should never, ever, EVER, take away the saddle in indoor cycling, it has high-risk and serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. It does not make you stronger, faster or a better cyclist, indoors or out. Do you think the best cyclists in the world would ever do something as silly as that? Yet look how incredibly fit they are! And for God’s sake, one should especially never do that with someone who is carrying that much extra weight! Jillian, there is no need to risk injury in the name of fitness. You should always respect the fact that this is a bicycle, and cannot pretend that it isn't. Being a fixed-geared bicycle has huge implications on the body when pedaling. You simply can't be doing squats, girations or other crazy aerobics-on-a-bike movements without placing the rider at great risk.

Spinning is a brand, and it is based on proper and safe training. You are using Spinner bikes on your show. You should respect the brand, and show what good Spinning is! Even if you didn’t have Spinning bikes, safety, smart training and common sense should still apply, because safety is important in all indoor cycling, not just Spinning.

I have a blog devoted to safe and effective Indoor Cycling, and if you go to and look under the label "Contraindications" you'll see several posts, including a huge list of what NOT to do on an indoor bicycle, and the biomechanical, anatomical, physiological and common sense reasons why not. I think you should read these. Many of them were on the show last night.

And get yourself certified. Please...

In fitness,

Jennifer Sage, BS, CSCS, CPT, MI
Vail, Colorado

UPDATE: Was I harsh on Jillian? I wrote a follow-up blog post here, where I offered to certify her for free in Spinning! And another blog post after getting some "Hate-mail" from Jillian fan who thinks I'm just jealous.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I'm no longer writing here at FHS, all of my education and training efforts for indoor cycling/Spinning instructors can now be found at

Friday, November 14, 2008

BPM vs RPM - a comment from the perspective of a German instructor

Dear readers,

My goal of presenting this topic of BPM vs RPM was to create a discussion of what works for different instructors when it comes to music choice. My experience and opinion, expressed in my first two posts on the subject, are just that - my experience and my opinion. You may have a different experience, and as a result, a different opinion. I've known of instructors who do use BPM, but not as many here, and only the occasional MI in the US - that I know if - focuses on it. Because I originally had a bad experience with it, I am very curious to see how good instructors use it. And I know they do, and that they have good results. (Maybe I just need some faster music)! I am already learning a lot just since my first post on Monday, and have lots more to present to you as I pay more attention to the bpm in my classes this and next week.

But first, I received an excellent email from an instructor in Germany, Anita, who shared her experience with me. I'd like to post it here in its entirety, get some comments from you, and then answer some of her questions right here on this blog. I am thrilled to have this interaction and this discussion of our different teaching styles from one corner of the earth to the other! I can't wait to go to Germany and take Anita's class one day! ;-)

So, may I present to you Anita, with some great points about teaching with BPM.  I'll respond in a couple of days...

Hi Jennifer,

There is such a lot to say about music that I really don't know where to begin. When I became an instructor, I used the mood of a song for the different techniques. "Lady in black" by Uriah Heep was a hill for me (today I find it great for standing flat!). In class, I saw that my students did not always follow me in cadence and I could not explain why. Then I met another instructor who asked me if I did not count my music first and then put it in a profile. I learned how to count and this helped me to guide my students better. In my clinic (in 2003), we got no instructions by the MI about using music.

As far as I know, things have changed and I think most of the German MI use the bpm for their profiles. It is quite common to teach bpm = rpm and it seems in the Netherlands it is the same. Music has become a part of the clinic by now and the MI explain about the bpm and how to count them.

In the German forum we discuss these things as well, but it is more like if we should use the musical bow (every musical bow consists of 32 beats and the first one is known as the "big one", this indicates a change in the song, you can use it for a technique change or for jumps for example) or not. 

This sounds more like an aerobic instructor than a spinning instructor. This is how it has developed since I've been teaching and I find it good on the one hand as it makes it easier for the students to follow the beat of the music, especially on a hill (like Robert said) and bad on the other hand as the music dictates what you should be doing next (and it stresses the instructor in finding the right beat to change!). This is a limitation and leads to less variety in putting profiles together. Many profiles sound like mathematics with all the bpm and minutes to stay on. Outside, you will never find a road like this! But it is not bad if you want to improve your skills. Once, I did a ride with only 95 bpm music and the students had to change intensity or technique to reach different heart rates.

Sometimes, I wonder if there is a difference how to teach spinning in different countries. We Germans are not very rhythmic people, so we hear the beat first and not the rhythm. 

But you are right, it is not all about the beat, but if the beat is in front of the music, it is hard to ride a flat road instead of a hill. I would like to ride with you to learn more about how you use the music. By now, "Drippy" is just a hill for me! Maybe I will come to WSSC once (if I can afford it!).   

Your experience in San Francisco is a good example how the beat can be misinterpreted and overdone. I can give you an example vice versa: I took an endurance ride during a spinning event where the instructor played only techno music with approx. 138-140 bpm. Of course, the goal was to find your own cadence and to stay there for the ride. It was pretty hard!! I saw many people bouncing in their saddles, because they wanted to go that fast and there were also a few who made a hill out of it. So what do you think - was it a stroke of a genius or just bad music choice? Music is a motivator and supports you - I found it just the opposite! Ok - you can say you need a lot of intrinsic motivation to go through such a ride - but where is the fun factor?

I wonder how you teach the different cadences in your rides when you don't use the bpm and it is the goal of your class. Do you use cadence checks for that? How often? Every time you change cadence? It is great if you have a spinning computer, but what do you do if you have not?

Another question: how important is it to teach a certain cadence at a time? What's the use of it if you are just a "normal leisure time spinner"? If a certain cadence stands for a certain heart rate, then ok, but here I would say heart rate depends more on the type of music selection. 

I agree with you: beat is not everything - but it helps a lot, especially those who are not so experienced.

Thanks for reading!


And many thanks to you Anita for writing! Like I said, I'll address some of your questions about how I do it in another post.  

Now you readers have both perspectives; what say you??

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BPM and RPM - a discussion of cadence and music (part 2)

I love music, and love how it motivates me and inspires me as I ride. And I will be the first to say that when I do find a song that matches my preferred cadence for that terrain, then I am energized, as it can certainly help me to drive my pedals, especially for a powerful climb to the summit.

But there is so much more to music than just the driving down-beat, which is what defines the beats per minute or bpm.  To me, the perfect song for IDC classes can  be used for a wide variety of terrain, at various cadences, and isn't limited to just one application. If I limited my music choices to only songs with a certain bpm, then I'd probably have to reduce my itunes IDC library to only 50 or 60% of what I have, especially my choices for climbing. Now that would be a bummer, because I have some great music!

As Robert so perfectly explained in his comment on the last post, a distinction must be made between the rhythm of the song and the bpm.  He mentions that when dancing, most people will fall into the rhythm of the music. I agree. There is a difference between a musician's technical understanding of a "beat" and that of a dancer's emotional and instinctive perception of that beat. This is what I tend to follow the most when riding in a Spinning class.

When you listen deeper into the music, you find the rhythm of a song, and based on this rhythm, you can find a complementary cadence. It's the mood of the song that then guides you down a faster flat road, up a hill, or at the beginning of class for the warm-up. In this way, some songs can be used for a wide variety of terrain.

Let's take a few songs as examples. 

The song Drippy, by Banco de Gaia is an all-time Spinning classic. Even after all these years, I still love it. I may not use it for a year, then I'll rediscover it like it's a brand new find!

It has a bpm of about 128 bpm, or 64 on the half beat (FYI, I'm not very techincal at my bpm determination - I just use a stopwatch for 30 seconds and count, so they may be off by a beat or two). 64 bpm/rpm is perfect for a climb, and when I use it as a climb, I probably fall right in line with the bpm in my cadence, and enjoy it while I'm there. However, I love to use this song on a flat road, in an endurance ride, or as my first song. Cadence would be 80-90-ish.  You can only do that by listening deeper than the beat of the percussion and into the other instruments and let them guide you. 

Another example by Banco de Gaia is the song Last Train to Lhasa, without a doubt one of my all-time favorites. I use it at every conference for pedal stroke drills (when I do the drill called the "Locomotive" with the sound of the train in the background). The beat is about 112 bpm, too fast even for a flat road, or 56 bpm on the half beat, which is too slow even for a climb. You'd have to erase this song from your repertoire if you only ever follow the bpm. But if you allow yourself to settle into the rhythm of this song, you'll soon find yourself on a long straight, flat road that is total "zen" for over 11 minutes of joy!

Another example is the song Sanctuary by Origene. Not only do I love the lyrics, but the beat and rhythm of this song get inside of me and helps turn my pedals. But at about 132 bpm, or 66 bpm on the half beat, one might think it could only be a climb. Yes, I've used it clibing, and it helps me up those hills because it does feel good to latch onto that beat. But when you separate yourself from the beat and fall into your preferred flat road cadence above 80 rpm, this becomes another introspective seated flat. (BTW, this was the song I sent to someone in the Netherlands who said no one would use it there, as it was "too slow" of a beat. IMO, that's sad, because of what you miss out on!)

How about Dance of the Witches Fire, by Spirit Zone? It's a very high energy song, but still, "only" 144 bpm, which makes for a 72 bpm hill. I always seem to find myself zipping down a fast flat road with this song, pedaling much faster than 72 rpm.

The fastest one I could find (in my brief search for this post) is Conga Fury by Juno Reactor. Great Race Day song. It's 164bpm, but I know I ride it in tempo rides or Race Day at a cadence faster than 82 rpm.

One more, a powerful hard climb if you chose to use it as such, because it's again 65-67 bpm (half-beat) is Zion by Fluke. But I usually use that for a seated flat tempo pace, or in a Race Day time trial.

I love how this type of riding allows students to determine their own preferred cadence, what is comfortable for them, but still within the guidelines of that terrain (e.g. 80-110 rpm for a flat, 60-80 rpm for a climb). It's about being intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically motivated.

I think this discussion has brought me to my own revelation about what I am attracted to in music. As I go through my music to find you examples, it could very well be that I don't have anything (that I can find) that has a bpm of 180-ish, which I could use on a flat at 90rpm, much less a songs with 200-220bpm for cadence drill of 100-110 rpm. Maybe, without knowing it, I never felt an attraction to a beat that fast. Or maybe, you guys can turn me on to some!

Love your comments, keep em coming!

NOTE: you can get some of the above mentioned songs as free downloads on eMusic by clicking on the icon on the left of my blog and signing up for a free trial. No obligation. If I were you, I'd get as many Banco de Gaia songs (or email me and I'll give you a list of the best IDC ones). And make sure to download all 3 versions of Sanctuary on the ep. My favorite is the Harry Lemon Mix, but I like 'em all... Unfortunately Spirit Zone isn't on eMusic, but my version comes from a compilation called Global Psychadelic Trance Vol 4 (sorry, it may be hard to find - try a search for Spirit Zone for their own albums). Zion is from the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, and Swamp Thing is from the Bible of Dreams cd, both of which are not on eMusic (though they have other stuff by Fluke and Juno Reactor).