Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Base Building starts at my club tonight

Our base building program started yesterday, tonight is my first class during the program. Personally, I think it's starting a month late (from the point of view of an athlete's needs to develop this part of fitness and graduate to higher levels of intensity to be ready for the real bike by June). But I guess I should be glad they're doing it at all (although in my other club, I am ending my BB program in 2 weeks - this is going to get interesting.)

I have been working at this club for 15 years (OMG! That's the longest I've been anywhere in my life!), where I started with Step, now teaching Spin for 12, ran the Spin program for 8 (until 2 years ago), and started a Base Building program called the LSD Club about 8 years ago.

At first students weren't very excited. They (like everyone) like to "get a workout", like to sweat, like to be pushed. Although our market is a bit different than the average club, because almost everyone who lives in Vail, Colorado is "athletic" if not an athlete of some sort. Most came here to ski, many ride bikes, and we have fairly good HR monitor usage. They are NOT, and never were, into "psycho-spin" as I call it, that over-the-top super high intensity type of class. 

[Although I have to admit, my current 5:30 pm class is not the same regulars I had for so many years. There's been a big shift of people moving down valley, and most of my students are new since this past year - I'm even excited to say I have a few total newbies that I am enjoying nurturing along. Some of the longtime regulars - who started Spinning with me 12 years ago - are still there in the 6 am and noon classes.]

Normally I would have preferred to start in November until mid-January. But because of the holidays, and the nature of our club being attached to a fancy destination hotel and ski resort, beginning an organized program was out of the question until after the holiday craziness.

So my "LSD CLUB" ran from early January to early March, for 8 weeks.

"LSD" means long, slow distance and used to be a training tenet for building endurance. It used to imply "easy" riding, but for this program I always preached 65-80%MHR. It doesn't have to be "easy", but going to 'hard' or above on the RPE chart was discouraged. Where I live, they get their anaerobic efforts on the mountain during the ski season.

After a year or two of doing this program with people seeing great results (and winning prizes), they started asking for it every year. We do need to train the newer members as to why we do this, but longtime Spinning students are hooked.

First a little about how I scheduled classes (and how it's still being done).

Our class schedule for the month is made out in its entirety before that month begins. I did it in Publisher, and printed it out like a calendar. On the back was a description of the different types of classes, HR recommendations, protocol for classes, suggested apparel, etc. Note that this schedule is only for Spinning. On the regular Fitness Schedule, the time slot simply said "Spinning".

The classes we teach are based on the Spinning Energy Zones, plus one additional type of class:
  • Strength - hill climbing, 75-85%MHR 
  • Endurance - aerobic intensity, mostly seated, but we've added more variety over the years - not such a stickler to 'seated flat' only. 65-75%MHR  
  • Interval - 60-92%MHR, although I have taught my instructors how to use LT and RPE and not be a slave to that 92% 'ceiling'. More on that in another post.
  • Race Day - a time trial race, 80-92% MHR, or right around LT.
  • "Spin Training" - this is a class that used to be "all terrain", but in Spinning lingo, it's really just a 'Phase II" ride, where the instructor can create any profile with any objective. It could be an out and back ride, a pyramid or loop, a criterium, anything that doesn't fall into the parameters of the other Energy Zones.

Notice there's no recovery energy zone? Sure I believe in recovery, but I don't schedule them. I'll tell you why in another post. (Hint: you only need schedule them if you are with the same riders frequently and on successive days. Otherwise, just preach, preach, preach it!)

Each time slot is scheduled for the whole month. For example, MWF (all classes) the first week might be END, INT, SPTrn. The next week it might be STR, Race, END. The third week it might be SPTrn, END, STR. The T/TH/Sat time slot would be different. Most students generally attend the same time slot, because it fits into their schedule. I try to give variety for the week for each time slot, as well as for each instructor, so they are always teaching something different. 

As an instructor, you always know what you are teaching and when, so you can prepare well in advance. As an instructor, I LOVE this style of scheduling. You always know that if you have three different instructors teaching MWF at 6 am, they aren't all teaching intervals! (Which is what happens sometimes at my other club).

During the two months of LSD, there is no Race Day, and all other types of classes only go up to 80% MHR (or 3-5 beats below LT if you know it). Even interval classes consist of aerobic intervals; short, long, however the instructor wants to do them.

We had a meeting a few weeks prior to make sure all instructors were on board.

Tomorrow, I'll describe how we made the LSD Club into a "frequent Spinner program" with prizes and incentives. It also served to FILL the classes!


KalaSpins said...


Can't wait to hear more... as usual! :)

ultracyclist said...

It sure would be enlightening to take a spinning class, such as yours, where there is an actual *plan*. Wow -- a frequent spinner's club with prizes, what an excellent idea!!!

Kloba said...

Your program sounds wonderful!
I am entering a base building program myself and I am excited to start feeling like my workouts are giving me energy instead of taking energy away.
I hope that my students will follow my example when I start telling them about my own experience and hopefully see results.

Amy P. said...

Hi Jennifer,

I also just started my students on base building this past week. I originally intended to start it January 1, but held off for a few weeks because I added a new class and wanted to get to know my riders a little better before I led them off into "Endurance Land" for the next 6-8 weeks. Some love it, some hate it, some just get through it. Personally, I think It feels good to just go easy and let the body adapt to LSD for a while.

It does take a lot of explaining or "selling" as you put it to get them in to the groove. My students want to come in time and time again and just hammer away week after week. This past year I suffered from very severe over training issues because of frequent teaching , too much racing and not enough recovery in between. Now that my injuries ares under control, I look forward to some great rides between 65-80% MHR to get me and my riders back on track for the upcoming race and recreational riding season.

It's so hard to come up with diverse and interesting workout that students don't get too bored with. I find that I have to be even more creative with my music and coaching cues this time of year to make up for the lack of "intensity" in the classroom. I'm hoping that you will post a bunch of your amazing profiles for us to work with in our classes.

Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us all.


Jennifer Sage said...

I'll post an endurance profile or two this week.

Thanks for your comments!