Friday, March 13, 2009

Been to a Spinning class lately? I highly recommend it!

I have some big goals I'm training for (I'll tell you about them in an upcoming post - they're so exciting for me I can hardly contain it. But I need some more info before I reveal it).

Yes, it requires riding a bike. I need a lot of hours in the saddle.

A few weeks ago I gave up my Thursday night class to an instructor I'd been mentoring, Samantha. It's a bit too far to drive more than once a week. 

But because I need saddle time, I went to Samantha's class last night. I actually went 45 minutes early, to log a total of 1h45 on the bike.

Not counting the times I was mentoring Sam and had her teach half of some of my own classes (because I was focused on her), it's truly been a few years since I took another instructor's class.

Why? Many reasons really.
  • I would prefer to be outside on my bike in summer, or skiing on my non-Spin days in the winter.
  • I've had a schedule of teaching 3-4X/week for awhile. That's been enough (especially with the above-mentioned outdoor activities).
  • Though I don't do a lot for Mad Dogg & Spinning anymore, there was a time when I was traveling 1-2X month for orientations and CED training weekends. Plenty of on-the-spin-bike time.
  • Other classes didn't fit into my schedule.
  • I didn't think I would enjoy the instructor's class!

OK, that last reason is a bit selfish, maybe even arrogant, of me. But in reality, I'm sorry to admit, much of the time, it's true! I'm such a freakin' perfectionist and probably way too picky (to a fault). At least I admit it. 

And I would probably have been wrong about it in many instances. But the last time I did go to another instructor's classes (it was the only time slot that worked with me) - I didn't enjoy it, she was boring, had cheesy unmotivating music, and had non-cycling-specific silly profiles (though she didn't really do anything contraindicated or dangerous, just dumb stuff like perching on fingertips in long standing flats). Actually she never had a true "profile" - she winged every class.

But, I have to say that I LOVED the experience last night! I got to just ride, not think, not prepare a profile or the music, not limit my own intensity for the sake of the class, not have to check on everyone all the time, and just do as I was told. That was liberating.

Even things like the warm-up and cool-down and stretching and loosening up the shoulders prior to and after the workout felt really good. I experienced this as a participant, not the instructor, so it reinforced to me that yes indeed, I think it's important to do this before/after a class. (Does that make sense? Sometimes as the instructor, I wonder if what I'm doing is just fluff to fill time in the first few minutes of class. But no, it's important.)

And I am so proud of Samantha! She put together a great interval profile, with a lot of variety (flat road cadence work as well as hills),  great music, and kept us engaged. I got a great workout, stayed aerobic (we're still in Base at that club) and relished the experience. 

I'm even going to ask Samantha to put together the profile to present it to you guys on this blog. She's open to an open critical analysis of the profile as well. Maybe next week I'll be able to post it.

Has it been awhile since you've been to another instructor's Spin class?

I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

I taught my last Spinning class last week for a little while. This week, I attended two classes taught by the brand new instructors who are taking over my classes until I get back.

One class was awesome! Her profile had structure and a purpose. The other class was simply boring. The profile had no identifiable goal. There were a couple of contraindicated movements, too. I did speak with him about them.

Sometimes brand new instructors need a bit more practice and/or mentoring to become great instructors. I wish this was the case for this particular instructor. The great instructor is an avid outdoor cyclist and it definitely showed in her profile. She's a natural!

Kala Marie said...

You know, I teach 4 classes (soon to be 5) a week, but I reserve Monday night for "Kala night" and I go to another Spin class, at least that night.

And I couldn't agree with what you said more:
"I got to just ride, not think, not prepare a profile or the music, not limit my own intensity for the sake of the class, not have to check on everyone all the time, and just do as I was told. That was liberating."

That is exactly how I feel when I get the chance to ride in a class instead of lead. It feels great and usually re-motivates me to go out and teach my classes for the week! :)

Charles said...

I've visited 3 different instructors in the past month or two. I learn something every time I go. Only one of the 3 actually had a goal for the class. I felt lost in the other classes and as I looked around the room, I know the others were lost! Several new people that likely had very little experience, if any, at spinning looked confused. I really don't understand that one.

Congrats on your new training goal. I think I know because of Twitter! How cool is it to follow Lance. I think he's obsessed with it. If you ever need any "help" with your tours, let me know. Especially the ones that have to do with the little races over in France and Italy!

Charles said...

BTW, Another thing I found in the classes I've attended is that it is physically impossible to do what they were asking us to do. Things like add a quarter turn, add a half tuen, add a whole turn, add two turns. What it forced me to do was ignore them. I couldn't do it and I was likely the most experienced cyclist in the room. No realistic parameters = zero control over your classes intensity. Everyone is pretty much doinf their own thing because they get discouraged. I need to come take your class, or maybe Melissa or Kala's class so I can just Ride. Oh but that's what's so beautiful about the great outdoors! Cheers!

lamspin said...

I fit in some of your reasons including the last one too. I wouldn't go to the class which doesn't have a good instructor (participants know and talk about who is good and who is not). Too busy to waste my time and also don't want to be judgemental. One time, I attend a paid endurance ride (10-week training if I remember right) with a popular instructor--not certified with SPINNING. Out of respect, she asked me for an honest feedback so I did. Based on what I was trained by SPINNING program. I said her ride was more like an interval ride (so many 30-second ROHs, my HR was up & down, not steady....) She didn't respond to me or had any contact with me after that.

I would be freaking out if you attended my class, so my hat off to Samantha! I rather attend yours, every single one if I could; but unfortunately I don't live in Vail :>(

I did some mentoring programs with few new instructors too. NikkiJade was one of them. They asked for me; it was an honour and a learning experience for me. I didn't mind doing it. However, some participants expressed their opinion that new instructors should gain experience somewhere else, not at their benefit of a good class, especially in the prime-time classes (the ride was chopped up a little when we exchange the bike, mic..., introduction...)

I think I know what your exciting news is about, something about a tour in Italy??? (from reading your twitter);>)

Jennifer Sage said...

Charles, your comments about students being, and looking lost is so pertinent. Many instructors think they're being clear but they're not. Clarity is oh so important, especially if there's loud music. Clarity not just of voice, but commands, and what exactly is expected, and how hard and how long they will be working!

You're also right about the half turn, two turn thing - no one can ever do what they're asking! I bet the instructors can't even do it, but they're afraid of having to find another way to cue resistance - they just don't know how.

Melissa Marotta said...

I could NOT agree more! Before med school took over my life (for good... but took it over nonetheless), I made it a point to take another instructor's class at least once every 3 weeks -- even when I was teaching 21 of my own (that "life policy" was one of the few things that disciplined me to coach off the bike so much), and I can't tell you how valuable it was. I got the most out of the exceptionally AWFUL classes -- it helped me focus on my own coping mechanisms to not only 'endure' those tedious 45 minutes but to actually get something out of it. The experience of focusing so completely on my own thought processes and how they relate to my breathing, my heart rate, my performance -- THAT was the point. And you know what? I'd generate the best concepts/themes for rides and specific cues out of what I'd think about during the WORST classes. It's amazing how discomfort can fuel creativity -- but it makes sense. Learning to coach myself, I've found, is the best prep work to coach others.

I ranted and raved til I was blue in the face about this concept to a new instructor whom I mentor -- and one of my proudest life points is her recent decision to spend more time instructing off-bike so that her body will allow her to keep taking other people's classes. SO proud of her.

Thanks for bringing up this SUPER-VALUABLE point, Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

Great subject, Jennifer.
I have always been fond of taking
other instructors' classes because
I can simply focus on my own ride
and I can get some good feedback
about what goes on in the class.
There was one ride I remember where
I thought it was THE LONGEST ride in my life. The music was not motivating for me (subjectivity is
SOO personal) and LOUD. I could not
stop looking at my watch. It even
de-motivated me! (and this is very
difficult to do!!). I hear from
other members (because they do talk) who the 'good' instructors are and what the others are doing
(or NOT doing). I have been in classes where the instructors are
asking people to pedal backwards
with and without resistance (OUCH).
One member even told me that she
experienced such EXCRUCIATING pain
later she felt like crying! isn't
peddling backwards bad for you and
bad for the spinner? Then why, WHY
do instructors ask people to do this? it's disturbing. AND there is the 'aerobic dancing' on the bike. Fun for the moment but, gosh, does it look silly...sorry.
Recently Jen included some videos
that featured instructors riding with bad form, riding waay too fast, even a cute couple riding
together (she liked talking louder
and interrupted him most)...
The classes that have inspired me
THE MOST were the ones where the instructor engaged the class with
imagry, words. The least motivating were the ones who spoke
TOO little and had very little direction. HOWEVER, I've known
GXManagers who PREFER that instructors do LESS talking and more riding. I suppose this can be a good thing, since it takes the
pressure off the instructor...but is it better? What do you think,
Jennifer???? I've taken your classes and think they are wonderful. It's only a handful of
instructors who have truly inspired me and you are one of them. Thanks again!! :)