Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What can indoor cycling instructors learn from wine?

I am reading a fascinating book called The Widow Cliquot, about the widowed woman in the late 18th century who made Veuve Cliquot the powerhouse champagne that it is today (”Veuve” means widow, and when widowed in that age, one always kept the title, unless one remarried). It’s a wonderful story about this entrepreneur, one of the few women business owners of the world at that time (widows were given a lot more freedoms than married women back then). But it’s also a mesmerizing story about the world of wine and the development of the champagne industry from around the French Revolution and into the post-Napoleonic period.

The author describes how the really great vintners of today are truly scientists. They are very skilled in the chemistry of winemaking, and are master technicians in selecting, storing and blending varietals to create the magical elixir you bring to your table. Sure, Mother Nature plays a role, especially in a vintage year where everything comes together exquisitely, the perfect blend of arid soil, sun exposure, the right amount of heat but not a heat wave, the timing of the rain, and a dry harvest. But even when everything is perfect, it’s the skilled and knowledgeable winemakers who set themselves apart from the others, creating a true masterpiece. These skilled scientists can charge more for their wines. And when everything isn’t perfect (like most years – vintage years only come once every 10-20 years), that skill can make or break the end product. Some years they will need a little more of this varietal, some years a little more of that one. If it’s a one-varietal wine (like a cabernet), they might blend more or less from different vineyards to arrive at that perfect combination. Sometimes they must age it longer, some years the alcohol content is higher, there is so much behind every glass you pour.

The result? The people drinking the wine may not know (or even care) what has gone into the creation of this wine. All they know is they like this bottle! They savor the enjoyment it brings, the pleasure of sipping it, and the masterful way it melds with their meal. The science is behind the scenes, but without it, the wine wouldn’t be as enjoyable or successful.

You, the knowledgeable instructor, are like the wine maker. You know there is so much behind every class you teach. You eagerly learn the science so that you understand the why behind everything you do. The more you know about physiology, the better your product will be. You blend the elements of a class masterfully to create the perfect profile. On some days it's higher intensity, on some days it's lower intensity with a mental focus, some days it's right at threshold; but each application is with intention, your intention. Your focus and attention to detail allows your students to train smarter, not necessarily harder. You blend the elements of mindfulness, motivation and music to create a class that wows your students. You add that secret ingredient that gives your class the "fizz"!

The result? Your profiles make sense. Your students love the product, and they enjoy the resulting increase in fitness. They may not really understand the science behind the effort, but there's just something different about your class, that savoir faire that you have, that sets you apart from your peers. You have them intoxicated!

Not every class will be perfect - you can't have a "vintage" class every single time you teach! But that's when your skills are even more important, so that your students have a great experience every time.

The science? Sometimes it's fun to teach them that part too. It's like going to a wine tasting or lecture where you learn about the the vinification process, the residual sugars in the different wines; what it is that gives them their characteristic aromas and taste; the choice of casks that impart entirely different flavors; why they use oak barrels or stainless steel. Did you know that champagne is fermented twice? After it ages in casks and goes through the first fermentation, additional yeast and sugar is added when it is bottled. The yeast "eats" the sugar (fermentation) and the result is carbon dioxide. This was originally a "mistake" in the 17th century, one that the monks fought hard to get rid of - no one wanted bubbles in their wine for God's sake!

Wine tasting is fun, and it actually improves your understanding of why you like or dislike a certain wine, and can even teach you how to appreciate that varietal that you normally pass over in the wine shop.

The class where you educate your students about what you're doing and why you're doing it is like that wine tasting. You give them just enough information to pique their interest, to get them to nod their heads in understanding. In the process, they expand their own knowledge, they appreciate their workouts even more, they appreciate you even more. How lucky they are to have an instructor who serves such delicious treats, and occasionally explains how to do it! You may hand out additional information for those who want to learn more - just like you'll receive at a wine tasting.

In the process you may teach them that they really can enjoy an endurance ride, because now they know and appreciate what is going on behind the scenes (in their bodies).
And then on other days, you just let them enjoy that glass and savor the delicate flavors without complicating it with too much information.

Here's to you and your students! Chin chin!

[A little background: As a bicycle tour guide in France and Italy since 1989, I've had the great fortune to not only ride through some of the most famous wine regions of these countries, but also to experience their wines and often take my groups to wine tastings in each region. I also love to ride and taste wine in Napa and Sonoma in California. But my favorite experience is from Alsace, a wine growing region in the northeast of France, on the German border. I have friends who own vineyards in Alsace. I met this couple, Martial and Catherine, while on a solo self-supported bicycle odyssey in France in 1988, and we've remained friends every since. Their wines are Reislings and Gevurztraminers, normally not my preference for varietals, but when I'm there, I love them; they go so perfectly with the food of the region, and I believe there's an "energia magica" (there's that expression again - maybe I should say it in French in this case - une energie magique) when you're in a vineyard that attracts you to those wines. I was lucky enough to experience a harvest one year, actually going into the vines and picking, then watching the whole process from pressing to storing. The incredible body of science behind it is mind-boggling. Before they selected vines for harvesting, Martial showed me how he measured the residual sugars in the grapes. "Nope, this vineyard needs one or two more days. We pick those over there." The best part of the harvest? The celebratory elaborate dinners they have each evening, of course opening up a couple of bottles from some previous vintage years. I hope you can have this same amazing experience one day; it is one I will never forget. Kind of like a Master Spin class that stays with you forever!]

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My BIG news

OK, here it is....

On Monday, August 31, 2009, after 12 years as a Master Instructor for the Spinning Program, I resigned my MI position with Mad Dogg Athletics.

Phew, that was even difficult to write! I can tell you that this past week has been one of the most pivotal and emotional weeks I've experienced in a dozen years (not even counting the stress and emotion of selling a house and moving. Man, put all that emotion in one week and it's been hard not to be overwhelmed).

How do you leave something that has been such an integral part of who you are? How do you leave a program that has been a part of how you define yourself? That has presented opportunities that you never thought possible?

Before I tell you the why and how, let's fade back in time to about 13 years ago...

It was early 1997. I was a personal trainer at the Vail Cascade Club (now the Aria Spa & Club) in Vail, Colorado. I had been teaching Step, Body Sculpting, Ski Conditioning, and this new thing called Spinning. We had recently brought in a Master Instructor from New York for the Spinning certification. I remember thinking "God! What a great job she has! Flying around the country certifying instructors, and she gets to come to Vail, Colorado!" (I can't remember who she was...she wasn't with Mad Dogg for very long apparently).

The day I got certified was a transition point in my life. As a cyclist, it bowled me over like a freight train - I was empowered by the potential, by the magnitude, by the possibilities of Spinning! "WOW! This is IT!" I thought. I discontinued teaching Step because I didn't have to choreograph anymore - I had always been such a perfectionist and spent hours and hours on my choreography. Spinning allowed me to connect with my students far more than dance type classes, and it was based on something I was already so passionate about already - cycling. It also allowed me to use my own music and not canned aerobics music; I immediately found that I had a skill for designing very effective profiles that simulated real outdoor riding combined with music that helped elevate the mood and energy of the class. I was also a ski instructor in Vail, and was able to apply the coaching skills I learned in skiing. As a coach, I love the one-to-one contact with my student.

About 6 months later, I received the Spinning newsletter with a call for presenters. I filled out the application with trepidation, since I had only been teaching Spinning for a short time. But, I had experience teaching and coaching many genres of exercise and sports, I was certified in group fitness and was a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, I had a degree in Exercise Science and loved the physiology aspect of training, I was a cyclist and had experience coaching many clients to ride up big hills in my bicycle tours. I was also experienced at public speaking. But I still had no idea I had a chance; I remember joking with my peers that what on earth would I do if they called me?

A few weeks later I received a call from Joelle at Mad Dogg Athletics for an in-depth interview. That call was truly the beginning to the rest of my life. I fulfilled each of the subsequent requirements one after the other. Back then it was a long process to apply as an MI, including sending in a video of me teaching, and speaking into the camera on why I thought I would be a good presenter.

I was invited to the Spinning Presenter training camp in California shortly afterwards where I spent a week with Johnny G and over a dozen other amazing people from around the world.

(If I don't stop myself now, this post will be waaaaay too long, so let's pop forward a dozen another time I'll tell you more about those amazing days with Johnny G and my phenomenal peers.)

In the past 12 years, I have been inspired by some of the most amazing people, coaches, athletes and instructors that I've worked with or trained. Many of the other Master Instructors I worked with I looked up to as mentors. I have had the opportunity to inspire thousands of people at conferences to go beyond self-perceived limitations and to realize their potential as coaches. I have written several important continuing ed programs and articles for MDA, most which brought the outdoors indoors. I have traveled internationally. I have done trainings at tiny little clubs in the countryside with 10 bikes on up to very large facilities in metropolitan cities with 65 bikes. I've experienced facilities ranging from amazing personalized boutique clubs and studios in the suburbs, to high-tech gyms in corporate fitness or university facilities, to large major chain clubs.

I certainly haven't done it for the money (my husband even jokes that I practically pay for the privilege), but the personal rewards have been countless, endless. Spinning gets into your blood. I LOVE Spinning. I LOVE the mind-body aspect of Spinning. I LOVE the fitness and health it's brought me, and has allowed me to bring to others. I LOVE being a Master Instructor. I LOVE inspiring others. I LOVE the people I've met.

However, in the past several years, I've been approached with several opportunities in indoor cycling that I have had to turn down because of my loyalty to Spinning.

Concurrently, in the past several years I've been attending seminars, reading books and joining coaching programs on entrepreneurship and building a business with the intention of growing my bicycle tour business and potentially creating an online business for bicycle tours in Europe. During this time I was exposed to the wonders of social media such as blogging (hence, this and other blogs I started), Facebook, Twitter, forums, podcasting, and more. It's truly amazing the opportunities that are out there if you look, and if you aren't afraid to learn, explore and grow.

I learned about how to develop a niche market, rather than go for the BIG market. I learned about promotion and PR and internet marketing and eBooks. I even wrote my own eBook which has been very successful and well-received, and I have some big plans for additional ones. It's such an inexpensive learning tool, a great way to reach people with excellent information.

Long story short, I have a deep desire to do something for myself. I also have an MBA from way back when, and perhaps that's been stirring inside me to do something more for myself. It's not just about the money (but a greater income doing my passion will be nice). For me, it's also about self-actualization. It's TIME for me to move on. It's TIME that I at least try some of the things I've been learning about, and take advantage of some of the half-dozen or so opportunities that have been presented to me.

In order to do so, I had to become a "free agent". By taking off the partisan hat I can "reach across the aisle" so to speak and inspire and touch many other instructors as well.

Sooooo, you will not lose me! I just won't be attached to Mad Dogg Athletics and Spinning. But remember, you can take the girl out of Spinning, but you can't take Spinning out of the girl! It's firmly implanted in my heart, in my soul. I hope to leave doors open with Spinning for potential projects in the future, as they continue to grow and lead the industry as they always have, and always will. My plan is to complement the Spinning program.

I have three opportunities that I will be working on immediately (and three others in the next 4-8 months). One of them is so exciting I can't wait to tell you about it! Go here and listen to the podcast about ICI PRO, which will launch soon.

I will be changing the name of this blog soon. I will still be giving you great information, but I'll be spending more time over on the ICI site. You will discover when you listen to the podcast, that there will be a portion of the information that will be on a paid site, so you as an instructor can grow even more and really find that spark of inspiration. This too is a very inexpensive way to reach even more instructors.

I am also hoping to come out to your club to present Master Classes. Please contact me for more information on how I can do that.

Thank you everyone for your comments and emails, and mostly for your patience lately as I focus on my personal life and moving. I am very, very excited for the future, and I look forward to sharing even more with you!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some personal news to share with you

For my regular readers of my blog, you know that I've been a bit pre-occupied lately. Maybe you've sensed that I've been trying very hard not to be anxious. Maybe you've wondered why I seem to be apologizing for not delivering promised posts, such as my Can Fit Pro sessions the past 3 weeks. (Hey, I take this blog seriously and I hate not doing what I say I'm going to do). There have been reasons! By sharing this information with you, you'll understand a little more about me and what we (my husband and I) have been enduring the past, oh, 6-8 months...

First, I now have very good news to share...

We have a contract for our house as of yesterday around noon. This is big. This is very BIG! Not only do they want to buy it, but they want it very soon (we'll close in only 2 week) and they will pay cash - no waiting for financing. You cannot even imagine the pressure that this takes off our shoulders!

My husband began building us a new home almost 2 years ago, a house that is a little too big for us, but we were both doing quite well in our businesses and we had big plans when we started this process. Then, as you are all aware, the economy tanked, and things didn't quite go as planned. My bike tour business had one cancelation after another beginning in February, and I had to cancel all my guided tours to Europe. My husband's general contracting business has no new projects (except for a minor remodel); he had to lay off all his employees, and he personally had to do the hands-on construction of most of the interior of our house, which was not his original intention.

(Our new house in Eagle, taken in late April. When the landscaping
is finished next week I'll share some more photos)

In the meantime the bank was getting uneasy, the construction was taking too long (we also had record snow levels this winter which also hampered progress), the market wasn't good for selling our current place. They started pressuring us, even warning and threatening us. They changed the rules on us on a weekly basis (did you know banks can do that? We didn't). No need to go into detail - you know the story, it's the same all over the country, even the world.

We were able to satisfy the bank temporarily, mostly by selling many other assets. Keep the wolves at bay, so to speak. But, we never lost hope. We never stopped believing.

We put our current home on the market 65 days ago; our realtor tells us that is excellent in this market - many will probably sit until next summer if they haven't sold by now. Never mind the fact that had we decided to sell last year or earlier, we would have been able to merely whisper that we might be thinking of selling, and we would have had a line out the door. Simply put, our home is the best unit in the best and most popular townhomes in Edwards, Colorado. I had quite a few people prior to a year ago who told me that should we decide to sell, to please let them know first because they wanted first dibs. But this year, those very people were in the same boat as just about everyone else in this economy. In fact, most people who came to view the house said they must first sell their current home in order to finance a new one.

So we are very, very relieved these people came along.

And, there's more good news! We already began moving to our new house in Eagle, 19 miles away. Monday was the big moving day, although we've left a bed and a few other items here at the old house. We're still sleeping here a few more days until final inspection of the new place (probably tomorrow). My office will be the last thing to move - so here I sit writing this post surrounded by stacks of papers, boxes, files...a veritable mess.

More good news is that after months and months of wondering IF and WHEN we would get a mortgage so we could get out from under our construction loan, we closed on that mortgage on Monday. Phew!

For many people, the past few months would have been oppressive stress. There was the very real possibility that the mortgage wouldn't happen. If that were the case, you can only imagine the outcome....banks don't take too lightly to you not being able to pay. For us, well, we did our best to think positively, do our affirmations, and visualize only good things. We weren't always good at this, we had our moments of fear and worry, and I think my husband suffered more than I did (bless his heart - that man needs a vacation soon)! I am sharing this with you because many of you know that I espouse the teachings of The Secret, and of empowering speakers, authors and coaches like Jack Canfield, John Assaraf and Wayne Dyer. They have all helped me through this year. [I even created a ride for WSSC 2008 called The Secret Ride, which morphed into this year's ride called How Big is Your Why}.

The happenings of this week reinforces my belief that it really does work! When you are committed to your desires and your goals, and as long as you are patient, you can create your own reality. As long as you believe deep in your heart that things will always work out the way they're supposed to, and in your best interest, you don't have to succumb to worry. As long as you take the lumps and obstacles as temporary, you know that the road will open up a few miles ahead. It may not always be what you thought you wanted, or exactly when you want it to happen...but things always work out. I knew that we would be OK, I knew that this house would sell, I knew that we could move in, and I KNOW that the best part of my life is ahead of me. And it includes a beautiful new house, a couple of thriving businesses, some awesome bicycle rides and Spinning classes, some great people who will enter my life, and some fabulous trips in the future!

Let me ask you this... Are you certain of your own fantastic future? If not, you only have to change one thing....your attitude.

Jeff and I are not totally out of the woods, and I have a lot more affirmations I'm working on, but I am actually quite excited for the future. Some of the things I'm working on will directly involve you, my readers. So stay tuned for a big announcement.

Tomorrow I teach my 6 am Spinning class right around the corner, about 600 yards from my house (well, my old house). Tomorrow is the last time I get to wake up at 5:35 a.m. and still take my time to get there. For next week's classes, I'll have my coffee ready to brew the night before, my clothes laid out, my water bottle filled, my breakfast planned and my alarm set for 5 a.m - maybe even two alarms just in case. I'll listen to my playlist on the 20 mile drive to the club - at high volume to help wake me up. But oh man, that half hour less of sleep will make a big difference to me!

But you know what? I'll adapt!

Don't forget to check back soon for a big announcement. I'll be posting more Can Fit Pro sessions (profiles, playlists, powerpoints) very, very soon over on the ICI website. I promise!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The JUMP controversy

In between my moving preparation, staging our current house for viewings and Open Houses, and a garage sale this morning (which wasn't very successful) I am trying to squeeze in finishing my promised profiles and playlists for Can Fit Pro. I've been a bit pre-occupied to say the least.

I do have one profile and playlist completed! It's for the session called Jump 'N Jazzier, which is a multitude of different ways to teach jumps, both on flat roads and on hills, with a focus on proper form. But I've had in the back of my mind for some time now to write an article on jumps, following the release of the ACE newsletter in June which decried jumps as being unsafe and intimidating. This statement came from a Schwinn Master Instructor, Julz Arney. Unfortunately, since Luciana Marcial-Vinson, a Master Instructor for Spinning, was also interviewed for the same article, but on other contraindicated movements, it appeared that Spinning was agreeing that they are indeed unsafe. Luciana had to quickly respond with another article stating the position of Mad Dogg Athletics & Spinning®. I've gone one step further and added my own $.02 to the controversy in an article over at the Indoor Cycle Instructor website.

I believe that Julz' comments about jumps being unsafe, too fast, impossible to master, hard on the knees, and intimidating are true! Yes, I said true...but ONLY when describing "Popcorn Jumps", which have long been on the contraindicated list for the Spinning® program. Popcorn jumps are impossible to do with good form or with control, and they impede a good pedal stroke. And yes, they are very intimidating if a student is watching from the outside looking in. If I was a potential student, and saw them being done in a class, I wouldn't want to go anywhere near that class! So if this is what a "jump" is being perceived as, then Julz' comments are absolutely true. Unfortunately, they are far, far too common in indoor cycling classes around the globe.

But can't that be said about any movement in an indoor cycling class? One that is done too quickly, out-of-control, with resistance that is too low and cadence that is too high? The bottom line is that all comes down to the instructor.

When done with proper form, proper cadence, proper resistance and with a speed that is in complete control by the rider, jumps are not only not unsafe, but fun and effective and they add variety to your class. Their cycling-specificity varies, depending on the method you employ. A cyclist in a Spinning class may decide to sit the jumping part out and just ride in the saddle, which is always an option. But they won't hurt you and they won't hurt your cycling or pedal stroke. When my class is full of cyclists, I rarely do them, or only do the cycling-specific power jumps (see my article for a description of those). But when there are many non-cycling students in my class, the added variety is very helpful for them.

So go ahead and jump. Jumps are GOOD! Jumps are FUN! But teach them correctly damnit! It's up to YOU, the instructor, to teach and to demonstrate proper form. So point the finger back at yourself and analyze your own form.

My article is lengthy and informative. You will find it over at the ICI Podcast. (I did that because I can reach a larger audience - I think a larger audience needs to learn this). While there, download the profile and playlist from my Can Fit Pro session called Jumps 'N Jazzier. I think you will really enjoy it and will find some new and exciting variations for teaching jumps and keeping them realistic.

By the way, our moving day is tomorrow. We are only moving 20 miles away, but it might as well be 2,000! So I won't be around much this next week or two. Please continue to spread the word about this blog and the ICI podcast! And if you know anyone who tends to jump too fast in class, please refer them to the article at ICI. It gives solid reasons why popcorn jumps are not advisable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can Fit Pro and the song of the weekend

Wow, my legs are still buzzing from Can Fit Pro this past weekend! I taught some hard sessions. Usually I have an easier session in the mix, or I am able to fake it a little bit more, but this time around, it didn't turn out that way. I had two on Friday, three on Saturday (all challenging) and two on Sunday. The final session was called Strategies for Strength, and I was too inspired to fake it! Too into the ride to go easy. Too engaged by the energy of the group to back off. And the music simply rocked...

This session ended at 3:00 and my plane left at 6:30 (international flight) so there was no time for a shower, just a quick wipe down and change out of bike clothes to travel clothes. Both Caroline Dawson (another Spinning MI) and I had to leave for the airport, and fortunately Claudia Lala, a Star 3 Spinning instructor from Argentina living in Toronto gave us a lift to the airport.

Today is my 2nd day of recovery. I was going to go hiking to the top of Vail Mountain, but I think that's too ambitious - it's better to give the legs a little more rest. Heck, getting up the stairs is challenging enough, much less a 7-mile hike straight up!

It will take me a few days to get caught up, but I do want to share my playlists and some other great information from the conference with you, so make sure to check back as I'll be posting them either here and/or over on the Indoor Cycle Instructor site.

But, in the meantime, I think the song of the weekend was a song I used in my last session. I had more people ask about it immediately after class, and had several emails and Facebook messages within a very short time (one within 30 minutes!) asking for the title and where to find it.

So, here it is: it's by Alcatraz and is called Give me Luv (That Kid Chris Tribute Mix). It's 10:28 long - an awesome, awesome climb (ya gotta like electronic music though). The emphasis during this song was that by changing your attitude about climbs, you can change your experience. Hill climbing for some outdoor cyclists is the bane of cycling. Some people H.A.T.E. to climb. It's scary, it's tough, it's challenging, sometimes it hurts, sometimes you fail, it's demoralizing if someone goes way faster than you, etc. Indoors we don't encounter that as much - I think it's because our students always know they have the option of altering the hill simply by turning that resistance knob. But you cannot do that outside!

So if you hate climbing, or you're scared it's going to give you big quads, you must change your attitude about it. Instead of thinking about the hill as an obstacle in your way, think of it as an opportunity. An opportunity to get stronger, to get more fit, to experience and succeed at a challenge, to do something you didn't think you could do. There are so many ways to turn your distaste for climbing into pure love of climbing, and it all starts with you and your mind.

This song is called Give Me Luv, so I asked my class to give me some climbing luv! I asked them to first love themselves, because if you don't, how can you possibly think you deserve to get to the top of that big climb? I also wanted them to love the mountain. "Give Me Luv!" I repeated it several times throughout the long song.

Where can you get this song? There are a ton of versions on emusic, but not this particular fantastic version. The other ones are OK, and if you are a member of eMusic go ahead and d/l a few, but to be honest, if I heard them first, I probably wouldn't be as excited about the song. This version (That Kid Chris Tribute Mix) is really phenomenal. I love the woman's voice in the background saying "Give me Luv" (it's different than on the other versions).

iTunes has it, Napster has it, and if you google it, I think you can find even cheaper versions.


And give me some climbing luv!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Off to Canada!

It's 5 am and I am off to Toronto to present at Can Fit Pro. If you are going to be there, or are in the area, come find me in the Spinning room (there are two rooms, side by side). I will be presenting any of the sessions originally listed as Meg McNeeley.

I'll report back on Monday with some playlists!

Have a safe weekend, and get out and do something fun. Summer's almost over!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Milestone for the FunhogSpins blog! Thanks to you!

Sometime today, Sunday August 16, I surpassed 20,000 downloads! That includes any of the profiles or articles or playlists that I've provided for you guys. I also noticed on Google Analytics that I've been visited by 87 countries! That includes Botswana, Latvia, & Laos!

Wow, it's mind boggling! Indoor cycling truly is EVERYWHERE!

Keep spreading the word! I am so grateful for all of my readers - it inspires me to keep on writing helpful, informative and fun stuff for you guys.

I do have a little teaser for you. I am going to be spreading my efforts a little more over on the indoor cycle instructor podcast, because it is such an amazing medium for providing helpful content to IC instructors. If you haven't yet downloaded the audio profile on Over-Under Intervals that we did a week ago, make sure to do so now. We are thinking it is a new way to help you become the best instructor you can possibly be.

My recommendation is that you go over there and sign up for the ICI podcast newsletter as well as mine. They are just weekly notices about the posts (or podcasts) that are listed so you don't miss anything important. But don't worry, you won't be inundated.

The Indoor Cycle Instructor Podcast just celebrated 1 year of providing great content - go over there and wish John Magowan a "Happy Anniversary"! I chatted with John for a short podcast discussing the past year, and some of the great things that are coming in the next year (although some of them are a secret!)

I want to extend a welcome to all my new subscribers. I realized that any new subscribers are still getting my WSSC information from June. You'll enjoy it, but my automated reply email is a little dated. I'll be changing that soon to other free and valuable information - but don't worry, once you are a subscriber to the free newsletter, you'll always also receive anything I give away to new subscribers. And if you haven't subscribed yet, just enter your name and email in the top left corner of this blog.

Thanks to all who have commented on my post on "cycling-specific" classes. It will be about 2 weeks before I am able to write my intended response. For one, I am thinking it will be a series of articles that will take me a little longer to compile. Secondly, I AM GOING TO TORONTO on Thursday! Eeeek! How did it get this close? I have 7 Spinning sessions that I have to work on and develop playlists for, so I will be a little bit pre-occupied this coming week. But look out for updates just before I go.

It should be a very fun conference. I'll be joining three other very fun Spinning Master Instructors - all women - getting together leading a total of 28 Spinning sessions at Can Fit Pro! (And I think we'll go out on the town at least on a few evenings - how can it not be fun?!"

And I'm also very interested to meet Dan McDonogh of RPM. He was just at IDEA presenting this past weekend and will be in Toronto at CFP next weekend. He and I have been chatting back and forth on Twitter and are planning on peeking in on each other's sessions this weekend. Now, the Les Mills RPM method is not really my personal preference for teaching an IC class, but I am open minded and can't wait to see what Dan does that makes him so popular at conferences. When you think about it, we are all after the same goal - to inspire our students to get fit, help them meet their goals (be it performance, weight loss, etc), have a lot of fun and to come back as often as possible. Because he is a cyclist first and foremost, I know Dan has the same interests as me - to keep his classes as cycling specific as possible while meeting the needs of our non-cycling students as well.

See you soon!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hold a baby a standing flat!

The other day I was subbing a class at the Aria club in Vail (a club attached to the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa) and I had two hotel guests from Florida (in addition to one regular - numbers here are very small in summer). Both women are pretty fit. One is a frequent Spinning student, Linda and she talked her friend Sheri into coming along for her Spinning first class ever.

Before the class started, Linda was giving Sheri tips, pointing to the RPE sign, describing intensity and HR (she didn't have her HRM with her but said she always rides with one), talking about Energy Zones, proper position, etc. I walked over and said that she must have some darn good instructors, and explained that it is so good to hear her actually teaching her friend the correct way to ride in an indoor class. I say this because we get a lot of out of town guests at this club, and this is not always the case. We get some who say things like, "I have the best 'Spin' Instructor ever - she makes us take the saddle away!"

I gave her my card with this blog address, so hopefully she will pass them on to her instructors (and if so and you are her instructor reading this, please let me know)!

As usual, I really enjoy having newbies in my class. I try to make sure I make it interesting for the experienced riders at the same time as I am explaining proper form for the basic movements we do in Spinning. Since Sheri is a fit hiker, she really did well her first time, with just a few things she'll need to work on formwise as she gains experience.

I have my own cueing that I've used for various movements and positions, but Linda shared one with me that I want to pass on to you. We were doing a standing flat (run) and I was explaining to Sheri how it's important to hold on to the handlebars, but not in a death grip, nor do you want to lean on your hands. My favorite cue is to imagine that you have water balloons under your palms. I tell students "wrap your fingers around them, so you squish them a bit, but don't pop them!" This helps people realize they must pull back their weight off their hands and into the legs. We also don't want to be 'perched' on the handlebars, up on your fingertips like you're drying your wet fingernails either. Fingers should be wrapped around the handlebars, but comfortably.

Linda said, "In golf they tell you to hold a baby bird when you hold the club."

Yes! Can you imagine it? In golf, if you have a death grip, you will never smoothly hit that little white ball with any control. On the other hand, if you don't have enough grip, the club will go flying out of your hand. Pros tell their clients to imagine holding a baby bird, firm enough to keep it there, but not tight enough to crush it.

If your students are golfers, they may really understand this cue.

This also shows us that we can transfer cues from many other sports to help our non-cycling students understand what it is we are teaching them. Does anyone reading this have any examples of cues you've borrowed from other sports? If so, please let us know by clicking the comments link below!

Thanks Linda for teaching me something new! I hope to see you and Sheri in my Spinning class again in the future. Tell your instructors to keep up the good work and to come to WSSC and say Hi!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Point to ponder

When you hear the following terms, what comes to mind:

  • "cycling-oriented" Spinning class
  • cycling specific
  • Indoor cycling for cyclists
  • Indoor cycling for roadies
Or even, "this class keeps it real"!

I'm just curious. I have a pending discussion on this, but I'd like to see what either you, or your students, or what you think the general population (of indoor cycling students or potential students) might think when they hear these terms.

  • Does it attract you/them?
  • Does it turn you/them off, or away?
  • Do you think it's going to be boring?
  • Do you think it's going to be too easy?
  • Do you think it's going to be too hard?

Just click on comment and leave your impression, or what you have heard, in the comments section. Then come back in a few days for an interesting post.

Thanks for your input!

Friday, August 7, 2009

More on Susan Nelson

Elden wrote a beautiful post about his wife, how they met, Susan's amazing talents, their four children, and more.

I think everyone should read this. Take it as a moment to celebrate life, and to recognize that in every moment of our life, even the painful ones, there is a lesson, and something good that will come from it.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Please join me in fighting like Susan

Elden Nelson, the Fatcyclist, sent out this announcement on Twitter late last night:

Susan died at 7:25 pm. Her battle with cancer is over. Mine just got more intense. FIGHT LIKE SUSAN

His previous tweet said, "Fighting cancer helps me cope."

Twin Six posted this on their web page in honor of Susan (warning - you'll shed a tear):

(EDIT LATER: If you're coming to this post a few days later, Twin Six changed their website front page back to their products, but it was very touching. It was the word WIN in pink, with a tear coming out of one corner.)

There are thousands of comments on Twitter supporting Elden, and in less than 12 hours, almost 1,500 comments on his blog. (update 8/7 one day later = almost 2,300)

Wow. What a community!

It just seems to me that we should not let this opportunity pass us by. It's evident that Elden has inspired thousands of people around the world to be better people, to love more deeply, to care for others (including those we don't know), to see the humorous side of things, to love their bicycles and revel in the joy that cycling brings, and most importantly, to join together in this fight against cancer.

I know, I know, I was raising money for Livestrong only a few short months ago for the Giretto. Please don't close this page if you're thinking, "oh no, here we go again..." I actually signed up for "Team Fat Cyclist Fighting Like Susan" for the Austin October Livestrong event back in January, before the Giretto. If you gave back then, you can feel really good about yourself. But if you haven't, I am hoping I can inspire you to make a donation in Susan's memory, or in honor of someone you know with cancer. Anything, no matter how small. We cannot let her passing last night go by without a major impact on this effort to Livestrong.

I know we are all affected by the economy and are cutting back, but to tell the truth, that's when giving means the most, when you have to make a sacrifice. $5, or $10 - it won't break you, but you will symbolically join hands with all the other indoor cyclists and cyclists to FIGHT LIKE SUSAN. If that is a sacrifice for you, then all the better.

You can sponsor me if you like, or if you know someone else on Team Fat Cyclist, please sponsor them. Or sponsor the Fatcyclist himself. Or better yet, come join us in Austin and ride for "Team Fatty Fighting Like Susan". There are already over 500 on the team (the largest team ever for a Livestrong event) and so far they've raised $.5 million (between all four Livestrong events)! I see Susan's passing as the potential impetus to raise another $.5 million in the next 2 1/2 months.

It really doesn't matter to whom you give; it matters that you give. And whether you think so or not, your $5, or $10 or $20 really does matter, in more ways than you could ever imagine. It matters to Susan, it matters to cancer survivors and patients all over the world, it matters to your loved ones affected by cancer, it matters to the Fatcyclist, it matters to Lance Armstrong, and most importantly, it matters in your heart.

Susan has inspired me both in her life and in her death; I hope she inspires you as well.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gimme some climbing luv! 7 hours of climbing music

I'm very grateful for where I live, and I admit that I am pretty spoiled because of the beauty of these surroundings and the great, but challenging cycling. Around here, you better like to climb (at elevation no less) or you're going to be relegated to only riding east or west (left to right) in the photo below, in that valley between where I am taking the picture below (which is a gated community called Mountain Star), and the mountains across the valley, looking south towards Beaver Creek ski area on the left and Bachelor Gulch on the right, another gated community. Literally all other roads heading north and south of this valley go UP.

I took the above photo last fall. It will look like that again in about 6-7 weeks from now. At the moment, it is a verdant green, due to a very wet spring that has provided us the most beautiful and lush summer I can remember in 15 years! On Saturday, I rode 2.5 hours, first going up into Beaver Creek and onto some of the roads into the hills. Sometimes I like to ride up there just to ohh and ahh over the amazing houses (and dream). Then I rode over Bachelor Gulch. It's a 5-mile climb, with 2,200 feet of elevation gain that tops out at about 9,200+ feet in elevation. I'd say it's 7-8% on average, with sections of 9-10%. That's steep! I think of this climb as my "test" ride for Alpe d'Huez! I always time myself on this particular climb, to use as a litmus test for how fit I am (or not, as the case may be). Saturday I climbed it in 47:40; not my record but still faster than I ever did it on my old bike. I was feeling tired from some pretty hard Spinning classes the three previous days, but I wasn't about to turn around, no way!

Prior to going for my ride, I created a climbing playlist for my iPod shuffle to use on long climbs like this. I wanted to add songs that aren't on almost all of my other "climbing" playlists, such as from my Moving Mountains or Alpe d'Huez rides (although admittedly, one or two made their way into this list; I must really like those songs).

Now before I give you that playlist, I'm sure I'll get comments on riding a bike with an iPod. I should preface this with the fact that when I am on busier roads, I always take out the left earbud and keep it very low or turn it off. The sound of the wind in my ears covers up far more of the sound of approaching cars than my music does - wish I had an "off" button for that! But when on climbs like this, on roads with very little traffic, I feel comfortable riding with my music (still listening for cars though). On Saturday's ride up Bachelor Gulch, exactly zero (yes, none, zippo, zilch) cars passed me in that 47 minutes. That's because these are second homes, where the owners might stay 2 weeks in winter and 2 in summer. For some reason, they're not here right now. Many of them look like this:
It's almost sinful that these houses sit unoccupied for much of the year...(most have full-time caretakers).

Anyway, I want to share with you this playlist of great climbing music. Click here to download the iTunes playlist. In this almost 7-hours of music, there are only 44 songs; that's because they range from just under 8-minutes on up to almost 13-minutes long. I like lonnnnng songs when climbing because I can really get into it and focus on the rhythm, and when it's over, I mentally acknowledge that a long time has passed, which translates to covering a lot of road uphill. It's a mental trick I play with myself.

There is great variety in this playlist, though most of the tunes are under the "electronic" umbrella. But you will find reggae inspired electronic (Beat Pharmacy), ambient psychodelic (Asura, D.P.O.D., Enigma, Delerium - in fact, Delerium figures the most in this list with 5 songs), Alternative (from the early 90's The The to more current Death Cab for Cutie), heavy tribal beats (Manaca, Chus & Ceballos), techno (Crystal Method), rock remakes (Eric Prydz vs Floyd), even rock (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and even, dare I admit it, Guns 'n Roses)!

Some of my most recent favorite climbing songs are in this list. Breathless by SBP is one of my new top songs after using it in my Mont Ventoux playlist during the Tour de France. Le Ciel est Triste by Emou is a long time favorite - it has a slow bpm, good for steep hills like this one where my rpm struggles to stay at 60-65 rpm. I LOVE the very catchy and engrossing Give me Luv (That Kid Chris Tribute Mix) by Alcatraz. I have to admit that I replayed this song several times as I was climbing, trying to match my cadence with the bpm. I could only do so on the easier climbs; when I did so on the steep parts of Bachelor Gulch, my HR went too high (above threshold, which is not good when you still have a long way to go uphill) and I had to slow my legs down. BTW, this song is the source for the title of this blog post!

I also discovered some new (or in some cases, re-discovered some forgotten) favorites that I'll be putting into a Spinning profile soon. Strange Shades of Light by Midnight Society, Hug the Scary by Will Saul, Giant by The The, Emergency by Faithless, Resurrection by Delerium, Things Can Change, Klangstrahler Projekt (another slow bpm for slow rpm climbs).

Where can you find these songs? I haven't had the time to peruse eMusic to tell you if they're available there. However, check out this list of songs I've gotten on eMusic first. However, just because it's not on that list doesn't mean it's not available there; either I've not looked yet, or because eMusic has recently significantly expanded their library, so make sure to do a search.

I think eMusic is one of the better downloading sources - the songs are only about $.50 instead of the over $1 on iTunes (and you can get free songs just for signing up - click on the eMusic icon on the top left of this blog for 25 free downloads). You can also google the artist, or check, a good, but fairly expensive, source for hard to find electronic music (some of the songs on my list might only be available there - but if you found them it would be worthwhile). I always use iTunes as a last resort - you'll pay a lot more for the average song you can find elsewhere for less, but they have a big variety. It's one thing to pay more for a hard-to-find fantastic song on Beatport, but for a song available elsewhere, iTunes can make us instructors in search of musical variety go broke...

Oh, by the way, there are a few songs in my list that say "Track 8" and then words like "good tempo, HIT, STR**" These are just notes to myself. HIT = high intensity training, STR = Strength, JOH = jumps on a hill, and ** means I really like this song. I will do this when a track doesn't have a name to help me remember it. These come from the Hanima Hitechwell cds from an Italian producer. I got them at a Spinning conference a few years ago. I believe they are doing a BIG sale right now - I will write a blog post soon about how to get some of these songs and cds. These are fantastic climbing songs.

Check a few blog posts back on my discussion of the song Breathless by SBP on the Ventoux ride profile. It's also from Hanima Hitechwell, but available on the Spinning CD, Vol 13 - that post tells you how to d/l those songs from Many others on that cd are GREAT climbing songs.

For long lists of my other favorite climbing songs (both short and long) I wrote two posts last year. This one and this one.

Enjoy all this great climbing music!

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Spinning Playlist and new podcast

This morning I rode my Resistance Reloaded profile, a fairly challenging Strength ride. We got a late start because the person opening the club didn't show up in time (grrr - I'm sure all you early morning instructors or gym-goers have encountered that before), so I had to take out one song in the middle (the "intermission" song, which meant they had to climb the entire time with no break - ah, but my students are used to it)!

I posted that profile almost a year ago (wow, time flies). I didn't have a specific playlist to go with it at the time (read the blog post to find out why). This new playlist worked really well so I thought I'd share it with you.

When you download the profile you'll see that it is 8-minute blocks of climbing, with progressive resistance-loading in the saddle for 5 minutes, followed by 3 minutes in a standing climb, repeated over and over. This time I created a playlist using a 5-minute song followed by a 3-minute song (give or take a few seconds). I've been doing this a lot lately with my music for profiles that are in blocks like this, and it really helps not having to watch the clock much. For the final song however, I used an 8-minute song (5 min seated, 3 standing). It helps to have a LOT of songs in your library so you can narrow down your selection based on time. Those of you with Mix Meister can do this with almost any song, but to be honest, even when I did have MM (before I got a Mac) I didn't like to chop longer songs into much smaller pieces, because you could lose so much of what is good in that song; I just used MM to fade in and out.

The profile calls for 6X8-minute blocks. This is fine for a 60-minute class, but my morning class is actually 55 minutes, so it's hard to fit in. So I did 5 blocks instead of 6, and put in a 3-minute "intermission" flat road in the middle (which as I mentioned above, I had to take out this morning; but next time I'll keep it in, as it does give them a nice break).

Here was my playlist:

Kubala Ma, Karunesh 5:04 - warm-up

Swamp Thing, Juno Reactor, 5:12 - first seated climb. This has a faster cadence - good to ease into your climb.
Cabin Down Below, Tom Petty, 2:51 - standing climb.

Distance, Radar, 5:07 - seated climb
Dreaming Against Me, Seven Mary Three, 3:05 - standing climb

Euphoria, Delerium, 5:03 - seated climb
Freeform, Playmaker, 3:01 - standing

Wildflowers, Tom Petty, 3:11 - "intermission" seated flat

Apparition, Delerium, 5:05 - seated climb
The Mission Soundtrack, Ennio Morricone, 2:53 - standing (these two songs have a similar "in the clouds" feel. I LOVE The Mission for a standing climb.)

Tribal Force, Klangstrahler Projekt, 8:01 - 5 min seated, 3 min standing

Read My Mind, The Killers 4:07 - flat road, gradually reduce HR to cool down
Track 10, Spinning Across the Alpes (from Hanima Hitechwell Italy), 4:32 - cool down/stretch

Exciting new podcast coming very soon!
This morning John Macgowan and I recorded a new podcast and tried an experiment. We're going to help you all with profile creation, so please check out the indoor cycle instructor podcast and let us know what you think. He's got to edit it, so give him a few days, but I think you're going to like what we have in store for you!

Remember, keep spreading the word about Funhogspins and the Indoor Cycle Instructor podcast - don't keep it to yourself! When we raise the level and quality of all instructors, everyone in our industry benefits, especially our students. It's like the old adage, when you raise the level of water in the harbor, all the ships rise!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sugar addicts

I want to pass on an astounding fact. This was posted by Joe Friel on Twitter a few days ago.

We all know that there has been a huge increase over the decades in the consumption of sugar in developed western countries, and it's fast shifting to undeveloped countries too.

But did you know that it was this bad?

  • In 1900, the average American ate 30lbs of sugar and sweeteners (I'm assuming that's in one year)
  • In 1967 that was 114 lbs.
  • In 2003, 142 lbs.
  • A linear increase would be 150 lbs by 2020!

Most of the increase is soda.

Put down that coke can America! No wonder we have an epidemic of obesity!

If only we could get them all into our indoor cycling classes....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm Coming to Can Fit Pro!!

Just a quick update, I'll fill you in with more information soon, but I just found out today that I'm coming to Can Fit Pro in Toronto in 3 weeks! I'll be doing Meg McNeeley's sessions, which is awesome because she's a cyclist and her sessions are very cycling oriented, so it's right up my alley and I won't have to prep that much!!

Meg, bless her heart, needs to put all her energy into healing from some physical issues, so she asked me to come in her place.

Yeah! I loved doing Can Fit Pro last year. If you are going, or thinking of going, please let me know. I look forward to seeing you all there.

More soon!

P.S. I'm going through Tour de France withdrawals....
Tomorrow morning is my first post-TDF class for my morning regulars (I taught one tonight but I only had 2 newbies and one other student, and it was all about proper form and intensity management). I'm planning on doing a very simple endurance ride with some rolling hills. Very little structure except to Just Ride the Bike! ;-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heart Rate monitor usage study - Please Help!

Now that the Tour de France is over, I hardly know what to do with myself!!

Just kidding...I've got a LOT of things on my to-do list that got pushed to the bottom due to this 3-week bicycle race in France which has been all-consuming for me, if you couldn't tell! ;-)

One of those items is a study that is being done on the psychological importance of heart rate monitoring. Yes, psychological, not physical. I've been intending to tell you all about it for awhile, and now my time is running short as she wants to complete the study and compile the results in the very near future. Can you take a moment and fill out this survey?

Who should take this survey? YOU! Anyone who has used at one time, or considered using, or currently uses a heart rate monitor for your own training and/or teaching. Your students could take it as well; it's not just for instructors. A big sample size and a wide variety of participants will greatly help with the results.

And I believe the results will be very important to each and every one of us as we grow in our instructing and learn more about how, if and why we should utilize heart rate training. Click here to take part in this very short survey.

Who is doing the study? Melissa Marotta is a Star 3 Spinning instructor and 2nd year medical student in Vermont. I am in awe of her for her intelligent, educational, inspiring blog posts, and for her passion for Spinning and love of her students. It would be an honor to be able to take one of her classes in Vermont or NYC, where she taught 20 classes a week for years before going off to medical school. You can feel her passion just by reading her blog, or by listening to her on the Indoor Cycle Instructor podcast talking about her survey.

This is the 4th month of her data collection for this survey, so do it now as it is closing soon!

Here is a little description of her study in her words:
We appreciate the physiological importance of heart rate training for meeting our fitness and performance goals. But are there psychological effects of heart rate training?

The way we think and talk to ourselves is a prime determinant of our physical performance. If we can better understand how to incorporate heart rate training into this construct, just think of the possibilities. As instructors, there is often a disconnect between the presenting and receiving ends of the dialogues we have with our riders about heart rate training. [When the results of this study are released] we will have concrete data about how to more specifically reach people. What are they hearing, and what are they taking away from it?
I strongly encourage you to participate in this study and let your voice be heard!

Thank you so much for your participation, and I also want to let you know how grateful I am for all my readers. I hope you got a lot out of my Tour de France sessions.

Oh, and here's a fun bit of funhogspins blog trivia: my blog has now been viewed in 76 countries! Keep spreading the word!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Great Website for Ventoux information

Check this website out. A hotel I use near the base of Ventoux sent me this great promotional website put together by the Vaucluse to promote their region to cyclists and others coming to the Tour just for this stage. It's a brilliant piece of marketing. Click on History for information on the stages that have gone up Ventoux beginning in the 50's. You also get great pictures that you can conjure up in your stage description - they literally will be riding through fields of lavender through the middle section of the stage.

And here are 11 things to know about Ventoux from a cycling blog called Cyclefit (someone I follow on Twitter).

In 1967 Tom Simpson died about 2km from the top on a very, very hot day (over 100 degrees farenheit). His famous last words were, "Put me back on my bike!" Back then they didn't know much about the effects of drugs and dehydration. He didn't have enough water - Tour rules at the time were such that they could only have 4 bottles! (Those rules were changed after his death). In an autopsy, they found amphetamines in his system. Apparently one of his teammates recently came out and said he definitely drank brandy that morning!

Above is the memorial that was erected to Simpson, a photo I took in 2004, the last time I climbed it. To this day, cyclists leave water bottles and other mementos to honor the fallen cyclist.

This memorial will play into my own Ventoux profile which is coming, I promise! I'm planning on posting it this afternoon, so come back soon!

(On a personal note, I've got to first get my house ready for an open house for realtors - they'll be parading through here in a few hours - cross your fingers a few of them have buyers in mind. I need to sell my house, and a LOT of stress will be lifted!)

BTW, thanks for the comments! It really does help, just like the applause helps riders get to the top. No one likes teaching Spinning to an empty room - it helps to know you're there and appreciating this!

I won't blow today's Tour if you haven't watched it yet, but I will say this:

It was frickin' amazing, exciting as hell, and as I predicted, so far the most exciting stage of this tour. I practically needed CPR afterwards!
(But wait, Ventoux is coming)!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day! French Spinning tunes

I'v been wanting to post some fabulous fun French songs to use in your Tour de France Spinning programs; but I haven't had one second to spare the past two weeks. Finally I get a tiny break between creating tour packages for my clients going on self-guided tours to the Tour de France. Yes, I am sending several small groups to the Tour de France - they are all going for the final week, departing this weekend for a few of the Alpes stages (including the time trial) and then Provence to watch the amazing battle on Mont Ventoux. I am living vicariously through each custom package I create. I give them everything they need - everything - to do it on their own in total confidence!

I'm not going this year; there weren't enough people signed up for my guided tours, but I'm grateful that enough people wanted to go on the self-guided options. I guess this is the year to cut corners - self-guided is much cheaper. Personally though, between you and me - the self-guided is way more fun; that is, if you are the independent sort and don't mind driving and supporting yourself. If not, then it's more fun to come with ME on a guided tour! ;-)

To keep myself from getting bummed that I'm not there, I am really getting into and enjoying my Tour de France Spinning classes. I am using a lot of new (well, new to me) French songs I've found on eMusic. I intersperse a French song or two with my regular music, and it keeps it very interesting. So far they seem to really enjoy the mix.

I've complied a pretty big list of my old and new favorites and have it here for you to download. Most are dance/club style, some are rock, alternative, punk, and a lot of French pop. Oldtime classics I use a lot for pre or post-class music or cool-downs, but I didn't list specific classic songs here, just the artists that you can search on eMusic or iTunes or elsewhere.

The good news: almost all of these suggestions can be found on eMusic (except a few key ones you'll want to get on iTunes unless you can find them elsewhere). So if you haven't signed up yet for your free downloads from eMusic, now's the time to do it - just click on the icon on the left of this blog. If you're already a member, watch out - these tunes will probably take up your whole month's allotment!

Have fun with this music, and let me know how your Tour de France classes are going! Also, if you have found other great French music, please share.

I appreciate any and all comments.

Bon écoute!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Livestrong! Honoring loved ones in your TDF Spinning classes and fighting LIKE Susan.

On Pedal-On, Fitmama (Jessica) posted a video of the Livestrong manifesto, and said she is using it as the warmup to her TDF rides, asking her class to ride in honor of someone they know whose life has been affected by cancer. This is a BRILLIANT idea! I am going to ask my class to do the same thing this Friday when we ride Stage 7. If we all do that, think about the energy we can put into the universe! Watch this video...

I have promised you some posts with French music and TDF profiles, but I am at the moment overwhelmed with trying to finalize my self-guided tours for my clients leaving soon to go to the Tour de France. I've promised them their tour packets very soon (and for that I get paid, so it trumps my other obligations and hobbies, like blogging and even cycling). I am grateful that I got two more last-minute clients in the past week, two people going solo, mind you, to the Tour de France. (That would be me, in a second, if I didn't already know how to do this stuff)! So even more work is crammed into these same few days leading up to this weekend when we are planning an Open House to try to sell our house in this crazy market - and there's lots more work to do to get it cleaned up and ready.

I'm dying to give you all my Spinning profiles for the Tour de France - I did a fun one this morning for Stage 5 and will do Stage 7 into the Pyrenees on Friday. Plus I have a planned post on some great French music - you'll need that soon if you want to add some new exciting French music to your playlists for this TDF. (In the meantime, sign up for eMusic by clicking on the emusic icon on the left of this blog so you can get the freebie downloads, and do a search for In-Grid, then download all her extended mixes. Many of you have Tu es Foutu already - but her others are also fun, Her regular albums are good too, but the extended mixes rock).

It's all coming...soon. Bear with me.

Oh, and I must add that while doing all the above, I'm trying to watch the Tour as much as possible, because it is truly one of the most exciting Tours I've seen in years (and I'm not there - argh)! The Tour de France, if it wasn't already pretty darned evident, is one of my biggest passions.

As a procrastination tactic, I just read the Fat Cyclist's blog post for today and feel compelled to write about it right now, setting everything else I have to do aside. Please, every single one of you needs to read this and send Susan your healing energy - and Elden needs it to. As the caretaker, he is a true hero. So few of us can even comprehend the pain and sadness of what this family is going through - it makes all my issues and problems seem like absolutely nothing.

This has everything to do with running your Tour de France programs in your Spinning classes. Lance Armstrong has his team from Livestrong parading all over France following the Tour, spreading the word on cancer awareness. It is truly amazing the outreach and effort - how can anyone not admire Lance Armstrong, succeeding both in his efforts to raise awareness that we are far, far from where we need to be in cancer research, as well as in his physical efforts at the Tour de France - he's tied for first place for crying out loud!

Did you know that all sales of Livestrong yellow bands at the Tour are going to the French cancer league to help their cause?

And it's all for people like Susan. Read this and send them your prayers.

Let's all follow Jessica's suggestion in our indoor cycling classes and ride this week for someone who has been affected by cancer! If you are doing so, please leave a comment below so we can see the impact we're having around the world with our Spinning classes!


Friday, July 3, 2009

The Tour de France 2009 at the Homestead Court Club, Edwards, Colorado

The Tour de France begins tomorrow morning!

I have just put together the schedule for my club, the Homestead Court Club. We have four 6 am classes per week that will be participating in the Tour de France program. Todd teaches Monday, Amber on Tuesday and I teach Wednesday and Friday. I've created the weekly schedule, selecting 12 stages. My goal was to offer a variety of types of stages, while also giving each instructor variety, and at least one big mountain stage. (Those are my own personal favorite!)

I want to give you, my readers, the flyers that I've created. They are in a word document so that if you want, you can modify them to meet your needs - or you can just use them as ideas to create your own. I have tried to keep them very simple.

This is the flyer that we are posting around the club announcing our Tour de France program. Last year we did a contest with prizes, but that's not in the budget this year, so it's very simple.

This is the schedule of stages, which will be posted in the Spin room.

Then for each stage, I'll have a separate flyer posted on the Spin room (and sent to the instructor in advance by email). Those I'll give you in the next few days. The first stage we'll do will be on Monday. I've chosen stage 2, from Monaco to Brignoles. Below is the profile, taken from It will be up to Todd, the instructor, to put together his own profile to fit this course.

Amber will do the Team Time Trial on Tuesday morning (a very fun stage to simulate), and my first one will be on Wednesday, which will be a fairly flat stage with a definite sprint finish.

More coming soon! Allez, Allez!

4th of July Spinning Profile - Kareoke Spin! And the Tour de France

So many things happening at once!

First, my profile from this morning. For the first time in my long Spinning career (13 years) I had a sing-along! It was only one song, but we had a taste of Kareoke Spin this morning! My Friday classes usually focus more on climbing, and today was no different. I did three separate hills. Intensity? Whatever they wanted - staying below threshold for much of it, some of the surges and really hard hills will take them higher. Use the downhills to recover heart rate.

Warm up:
Coming to America, Neil Diamond 4:19
American Made, George Thorogood, 4:07.
Begin raising the HR, slightly faster cadence, around minute 6.

Flat: R.O.C.K. in the USA, John Mellancamp. 2:55
Fun, fast song. Standing flat surges of 10-15 seconds, then sit with high cadence (95-100 rpm) for 30 seconds. Alternate.

1st Climb - about 7.5 minutes.
It's the 4th of July, Big Jack Johnson, 2:56. What's more American than Blues? Great start to the climb. Stay seated, adding resistance every minute.
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen, 4:41. Stay seated another minute, then stand for 2 minutes, on a harder hill. Sit to the top.

Rock'n America, The Catholic Girls, 3:21. "Downhill" for 90-seconds, high cadence 100-110 rpm. When you reach the bottom, take away "gravity" by adding resistance to simulate a gear increase. Continue to work a fairly high cadence on a seated flat, 95-100 rpm.
Living in America, The Sounds, 3:28. 10-15 second surges on the flat, similar to the last flat before the 1st hill. This gets the HR up towards threshold. Cadence slows down slightly (slower song).

2nd Climb (1st song is fast, 2nd is a slow hard climb)
Remix- - If You're Going to San Francisco, Hanima Hightechwell 7:06. VERY cool song, I can't tell you where to get it or if it's available anywhere - I got it at a Spinning conference 3 years ago, it's their "MySpin #4" CD. (Email me if you want it). Great fast climb, concerted cadence of 75-ish rpm. Mostly seated, with a few standing surges on the "If You're Going to San Francisco" refrain.
America, Mike Musick 4:22. Slow hard climb. Cadence 60 rpm. Mostly seated, stand to finish.

Downhill - fast and short.
America, Agent Orange, 1:21. A little punk rock anyone?! I told them this song is mercifully short...and then we'll slam into the next hill hard and fast, and let the steepness slow our legs down.

3rd Climb - this time the first song is slow and hard, then it gets less steep and faster
The Hands That Built America, U2, 4:59. Ugh, this hill is hard!
America, Bigod 20. Standing switchbacks of 30 seconds, every 45-60 seconds. Seated in between.

American Pie, Don McLean 4:09. Starts slow - still climbing until the song picks up at minute 1:30. KAREOKE! Yes, everyone started singing, I mean really singing! No one doesn't know the words to this song. Now, I wouldn't do a Kareoke Spin on purpose, but this was a fun way to end the ride.

So did I pull off my practical joke? (In case you missed it, read the edit at the end of this post). Well, sort of. I couldn't find an empty bottle of Jaegermeister or Rumplemints (another favorite shot liquor in the mountains) - I even went to 4 bars, but this isn't "shot season" (bet you didn't know there was a season for that kind of stuff). So I dug through our limited liquor cabinet and brought a small bottle of Courvoisier (just for show - I didn't open it)! First, as the song started and everyone had a smile on their faces, I asked them, "So, what does this song remind you of?" And sure enough, they started naming the bars in Vail: "Pepi's", "The Red Lion", "The Club"! (Yes, my students no doubt have lifted a shot glass or two at an Apres Ski party in Vail while singing American Pie with the drunk tourists!) I told them I cannot hear this song without thinking of Apres Ski...and then I pulled the Courvoisier from the bag and held it up and said, "Anyone care to have a shot with me?"

A few shocked looks....and then I said, "nah...just kiddin!" Yes, it was a fun morning....

Oh yes, my cool down songs: Down There, Fury and the Slaughterhouse, and America the Beautiful, Ray Charles.

And now, I am really, really excited......


The Tour de France starts tomorrow in Monaco. I am doing a Tour de France program at my club and will share with you my profiles. I've also got some fun new French songs to share with you (I'll post those tomorrow so you can start collecting them - many are available on eMusic, so if you're not a member yet, click on the icon on the left side of this blog to join and get your 50 free downloads). This afternoon, I'll go into the Spinning room and post posters and other TDF paraphernalia on the walls. I've contacted the two other instructors who will be doing this with me and will email them their profiles. I'll also be posting the profiles with a description of the stage on the walls of our Spin room so students know what to expect.

In the meantime, go to the left side of this blog under "Labels" and click on Tour de France. You'll see LOTS of posts from last year's tour. Peruse those for ideas on how to put together profiles based on the different types of stages: flat stages with sprints, rolling hills, big mountain stages, time trials. Read about attacks and breakaways, tour strategy, how to cue switchbacks on climbs and more. Get racing lingo and music ideas. It's all there for you to learn and have fun in your TDF classes. Start here by downloading the TDF handbook I created.

Please post any comments about your programs, music you find, or questions you have about anything to do with the Tour de France. And come back often to see my commentary about this year's tour, which promises to be highly intriguing, exciting and potentially, uh, rife with conflicts! (Let's hope the drug scandals stay away!)

For the stage information, go to To decorate your cycling room, go to a bike shop and purchase a Tour de France calendar if you can find one. Great photos.

Vive Le Tour!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 4th Ride music

I do a July 4th theme ride every year. Since it's only a few days away, I thought I'd post some of the music I've used before or that I've collected in my July 4th folder (or that I've gotten off Pedal-On). I don't know yet what I'm going to do for a profile, but often it's based on the music I end up choosing, whether it feels more like hills or flats.

I also like to do theme rides on other nation's independence days every now and then, like Cinco de Mayo. Bastille Day is July 14th and it's during the Tour de France when I'm already playing a lot of fun French songs, so I cover that anyway. For my foreign readers, you may want to throw in a couple of July 4th tunes this weekend, but if you have playlists of your own country's songs that you might play on your country's holiday, please share!

There are your typical sappy America the Beautiful songs below, but not all these songs paint the good ole USA in a nice way. We as a nation are far from perfect, so take us warts and all. A significant freedom gained on July 4th, 1776 is the ability to challenge ourselves, our actions and our leaders. And that's American.

If you're into country music (which I'm not), you'll find lots more patriotic tunes. I have a few listed below. I don't know how "spinnable" some of the more sappy or country ones are - they may be better for warm-up, cool-down or pre-class mood setting music.

  • Frank Sinatra, America the Beautiful
  • Celine Dion, God Bless America
  • Ray Charles, America the Beautiful
  • Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful
  • Les Greenwood, Proud to be an American
  • Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA (not a happy song)
  • Bruce Springsteen, American Land
  • Neil Diamond, Coming to America
  • James Brown, Living in America
  • Chuck Berry, Back in the USA
  • Linda Rondstadt, Back in the USA
  • George Thorogood, American Made
  • George Thorogood, Anytown USA
  • George Michael, Freedom
  • BoDeans, Closer to Free
  • BoDeans, Freedom
  • Nicole Mullens, Freedom
  • The Guess Who, American Woman
  • Madonna, American Life (funny lyrics about the typical American dream, but the only version I have found has expletives, maybe there's a clean version somewhere)
  • John Mellancamp, R.O.C.K. in the USA
  • John Mellancamp, Ain't That America
  • Big Jack Johnson, It's the Fourth of July (great blues song)
  • U2, The Hands that Built America
  • U2, Walk On (America A Tribute to Heroes)
  • U2, Bad (Wide Awake in America)
  • ELO, Calling America
  • Styx, Miss America
  • Prince, America
  • David Bowie, Young American
  • Steve Miller Band, Living in the USA
  • Don MacLean, American Pie
  • The Offspring, Americana
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, Born on the Bayou
  • Dave Matthews, American Baby
  • Tom Petty, American Girl
  • Leny Kravitz, American Woman
  • Counting Crows, American Girls
  • Kim Wilde, Kids in America
  • Grateful Dead, US Blues
  • Everclear - This Land is Your Land
  • Agent Orange, America (fast paced)
  • Bigood 20, America
  • The Catholic Girls, Rock'n America (driving rock song)
  • Johnny Cash, I've Been Everywhere
  • Depeche Mode, Route 66 (Beatmasters Mix)
  • Beach Boys, Surfin' USA
  • Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Down There (slow song, cool down)
  • Safri Duo feat Michael M, Sweet Freedom
  • Melissa Etheridge, Christmas in America
  • Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Paul Simon, Graceland (hey, what's more American than Elvis Presley and Graceland?!)
  • Generation DJ, California Dreamin
  • Royal Gigolos, California Dreamin (Clubhouse Extended Mix)
  • The Ramones, California Sun
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama
  • Tina Turner, Proud Mary
  • Toby Keith, American Soldier
  • Toby Keith, Courtesy of Red, White and Blue
  • US Coast Guard Band, Armed Services Medley (parade music)
  • The Flaming Lips, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
  • John Mayer, Waiting on the World to Change
  • Labi Siffre, Something Inside So Strong
  • John Lennon, Give Peace A Chance

If you didn't already overload your students with Michael Jackson tributes this past week, it would be perfect to throw in a couple of his songs as an American Pop Icon.

Where to get some of this music? Try eMusic for some of the older or more unusual songs. (Don't yet have eMusic? Click on that icon on the left of my blog to get 25 or 50 free downloads). Then check the usual suspects like iTunes.

Anymore suggestions, please list them in the comments!

EDIT Later: I've got a great idea! As I am putting together my own playlist, I have just had a good laugh. Here in Vail, Colorado during ski season, several of the bars in town have Apres Ski celebrations and parties every single day, with a live singer/guitarist playing fun sing-along drinking songs. Everyone (everyone, including the singer!) is doing shots or chugging beer. Not that I ever really Apres much anymore (yes, we've turned it into a verb), but back when I taught skiing, we'd go sometimes after the day on the mountain ended, or take visiting friends. There is not a single Apres Ski entertainer that doesn't include Don MacLean's American Pie in his repertoire - because everyone knows the words. Even just walking down the center of Vail you'll hear the song floating from the bars.

So I plan on playing it this Friday about halfway through my ride. I'm going to have to come up with a joke about doing shots. I think I'll get a shot glass and an empty bottle of Jaegermeister and fill it with dark brown-colored water, pour myself one and throw it back while on the bike during that song! Then I'll ask if anyone else wants one. Think I'll get a few amazed looks at 6 am?? I'll let you know how it goes! :-)

[The challenge: where to find an empty Jaegermeister bottle? I don't drink that crap! Yuck. I guess I can use another liquor, but Jaegermeister is such the "In" thing in the mountains after skiing. Maybe a local bar will be kind enough to save me an empty bottle...which means I'll have to start calling around now. Sheesh, now that I think about it, this practical joke may be more work than it's worth. Man, the things I do to keep my students entertained!!]