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.