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!



Karen said...

WOW Jennifer! BIG NEWS! Best wishes with your new adventures! I'm excited and happy for you. Can't wait to hear more.

BTW, your new house is awesome!

sandy said...

Although I am happy for your new endeavor and can sense how excited you are, selfishly I am thinking now I have one less reason for attending workshops. You were one of my favs. Now if can just get you to my club to do a master class!

Charles said...

Good for you Jen! I can honestly say that I would not be the instructor I am today without you and access to your blog. Congratulations and THANK YOU! I hope you have all the success you deserve and more. Keep up the good work!

Varinka said...

WOW Girl!!! You are an inspiration!!
I am so happy for you, thank you for sharing about your beginnings!
Really interesting!
I was looking forward to meeting you in person next year in Miami :(
I wish you the best and I will keep reading your good info!

Kloba said...

I'm so excited for you, Jennifer!
Good luck with starting all your new stuff and I can't wait to follow your progress.

Lisa Mona said...

Hi Jen,
Wow, that is exciting news! You have inspired lots including inspiring me to be a better Spinning instructor and inpsiring me to become a Master Instructor for the Spinning program. You are always my "go to" gal! I wish you the best always!

lamspin said...

Changes help us grow. Follow your dreams, Jennifer! I am happy for you. Will continue to follow your path but will miss your Spinning workshops at CFP conference. All the best to you!

Moritz Gyssler said...

While I can fully understand the drivers and reasons for your decision (I know by own experience how difficult yet important this is) and I am convinced that this is the right decision for you at the right time, I regret that the Spinning/MDA community has lost a strong "advocate" ...

RaffCycles said...


I know this must have been a difficult decision. I know you're doing the right thing for you. You have been an inspiration for me to become a better Spinning Instructor and ultimately a Master Instructor. The team will miss your wisdom, experience, and guidance but most of all your support.

Thanks for all of your guidance and help along the way. You set the bar for what I believe is the ultimate Master Instructor!!!

Keep on riding!!!


Jennifer Sage said...

Thank you, all of you, it means so much to me. I struggled very long and hard with this decision, and this week I am realizing how powerful it actually was. I am excited for the future!

Sandy, let's find a way to bring me out! Maybe I can do a road trip out there, and go to several clubs!
Varinka, don't worry, we'll meet. If not at a Master Ride first, it will be on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez! Or up a climb in Colorado!

To my teammates Raff and Lisa, thank you so much for your kind words. I am passing the torch to you guys! Carry it well - Spinning continues to need passionate people like you!

To all the rest who have left comments or the many who have emailed me, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Raquel Schmidt said...

Jennifer-I'm very sad (for us & Spinning) and at the same time so happy for you. You are truly an inspiration in every way, and will no doubt continue to do great things.

Shayne said...

It might surprise you to know that you get talked about in Australia, but only a couple of months ago a few of us were sitting around and the comment was "how come FunHog still has a leash?". Further discussion suggested we all thought that you had rather outgrown the Spinning Program and that your drive for quality and improvements to IDC in general might be being held back by a long standing loyalty. Loyalty is a wonderful thing. But eventually the great student will exceed the master. The time has absolutely come for you to be in charge of your own framework. We applaud your bravery and your generosity. This is a good step for you and a great step for IDC. Big ups from DownUnder. Shayne

Jennifer Sage said...

Wow, Shayne, I really appreciate your comments. Loyalty is a wonderful thing, and I admire it in people...but you're right, there is a limit. At some point it holds you back. The time has come!

patti said...

Hi Jennifer,

I hope now we can get you on a RealRyder so y9ou can better understand why so many people around the world are excited about it. Moving on is scary, but not growing is dieing.


claudia said...

Jen.,...THIS is the beginning to your NEW YOU!!!! Will plan something special for Argentina!!!!some ridies,workshops...and some vacations!!! after all you went throu u really NEED IT!!!!
I truly wish you all the very best!!!Keep in touch MASTER!