Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anyone in the Vail Colorado area - come ride with me in April! Cycling Spring Training!

Are you in the Vail, Colorado area and want to get ready for cycling season? Sure, the mountain is open for another three weeks, but warmer days are calling you to get out on your bikes. Join me for four excellent reasons to get yourself ready for the best cycling season ever! Now that the snow is (kind of) diminishing, it's time to get those cycling legs ready.

The Vail Athletic Club at the Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa is hosting me for four workshops/Master Rides in April.

Monday April 4th: Lactate Threshold Field Test. Includes 30 minutes lecture on the importance of estimating your lactate threshold and the physiology behind it, followed by a 60-minute "field test" on the indoor bikes to estimate your threshold. You will also learn how to create your training zones. Come prepared, rested and hydrated. You will need a heart rate monitor that records averages (lap function). 5:30 - 7:00 pm.

Monday April 11th: Triple Bypass Simulation. A 90-minute ride, mostly climbing. Get your legs and heart ready not only for the Triple Bypass, but any of the major climbs that surround us here in the Rocky Mountains. Do not miss this ride if you are a climber! We'll focus on technique, pedal stroke and the mind-body element of long, epic climbs. 5:30 - 7:00 pm.

Monday April 18th: The Roller Coaster Ride. A 75-minute fast and furious, twisty-turny up and down mountain bike simulation. Perfect for those of you preparing for a Moab trip or for the local mountain bike race series, or anyone who enjoys the torturous but fun single track rides we have here in the Rockies. 5:30 - 6:45 pm.

Monday April 25th. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). We begin with a 30-minute lecture explaining the various types of HIIT. Then we get on the bikes for a 60-minute incredible training experience right around your lactate threshold (LT), a ride called Over/Under Intervals, made famous by Chris Carmichael. If you are serious (or only even partly serious!) about your training or fitness, you won't want to miss this one. Heart rate monitor strongly suggested. 5:30 - 7:00 pm.

To sign up for any of these rides, call the Vail Athletic Club at 970-476-7960. Limited availability. These rides will sell out - make sure to call soon to secure your spot.

For more information about the sessions or about training for this cycling season, contact Jennifer at

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My weekend with Cycling Fusion - an "ooops" turns into a good thing!

Last weekend was a whirlwind adventure at the Cycling Fusion headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. On Friday, I had most of the day to practice and tweak my playlists - but before I knew it, we were less than an hour to "roll-em" time! I've presented at twenty conferences, and a little adrenaline/nerves is good to keep you on your top form, but I have to admit, this was a whole different animal. Yikes!

Before I explain what went on (and my major flub-up), let me give you a little background on the Cycling Fusion concept and what I was there in Pittsburgh to do. Gene Nacey, founder of Cycling Fusion, came up with the idea quite a few years ago after starting his own Spinning studio and finding the education and certification programs available to instructors lacking. I first heard of it when I rode in Italy for the Giretto with Gene back in May of 2009. Since then it has evolved and blossomed into an innovative indoor cycling certification program, as well as a solid 12-week online periodized training program called Winter Training. In addition to those programs, Gene is developing a digital library of classes that will be available to clubs and individuals around the world. The library should be ready to be launched by sometimes next fall.

Gene brought me out to not only lead several classes to be filmed for the digital library, but also to lead the Winter Training program on Saturday. This consisted of a 40-minute lecture on High Intensity Interval Training, two 60-minute rides, followed by a yoga session (which of course, I did not lead)!

To keep the energy high, Gene wants a full class when they do the filming, so on the Friday night, they are offered for free to local riders in the Pittsburgh area. I was so happy that a good number of instructors I know through Spinning, my blog and through Pedal-On forum were able to make it on Friday night.

The Saturday Winter Training class is full of students who have paid for the 12-week series. Winter Training is made available live on the internet for subscribers around the world (which, by the way, is an exceptional deal for the amount of education and excellent training that you get). Gene graciously offered a 25% discount to what he called "Friends of Jennifer" to view the Saturday Winter Training session online. There were a few extra bikes available so Gene made Saturday's ride available to a few instructors who had come the evening before.

10-weeks of minimal issues!
This was the 11th week of their Winter Training program, all of it viewable live on the internet. They have had very few technical issues during the past ten weeks. However, this was not to be the case on this particular weekend, but technology wasn't the only thing that messed up...

Friday night
We started around 5:30pm with a 45-minute ride, followed by a 30-minute ride. Both of them filmed, but not live on the internet. I have to admit, having 3 cameras on you adds another level of, well, reasons to be nervous. Phew, my heart rate was high but not due to my effort! I was glad those two rides were done, next was the LIVE FEED - my 60-minute Triple Bypass ride that I had promoted here, on Facebook and the forums.

Then Mr. Murphy and his "Law book" showed up. After ten weeks of no issues, we had our share of them. First, an important cable broke that provides the feed to the internet (and as Gene explained to me later - it was not one that you could run out and pick up at a Radio Shack), along with a few other camera glitches. The Cycling Fusion technicians were quite amazing in their ability to think on their feet, and pulled a McGiver or two so that we could continue with the broadcast. When all was said and done, we started about 45 minutes late. I hope those of you watching can understand that the delays were totally out of anyone's was just one of those things. (And if you're in the world of technology, "those things" always happen at the worst possible time)!

My Triple Bypass Ride
By now my butt was really sore after over 2 hours on the bike. I have to admit, I was nervous again since I knew that over a hundred people had registered to watch it live. Live? Was I doing this LIVE?? :o Talk about Butterflies...

Finally, all is ready. The cameraman gave me the countdown, I put on my iPod and begin to teach the class. It was going to be three long climbs, with a short warm-up. I told them we'd be continuing on our warm-up on the first climb (just like the Triple Bypass ride in Colorado is in real life). But I noticed that the first song went on a little longer than I remember.....I chalked it up to being nervous.

Then the second song came on and as I coached them onto the hill I noticed that the song was NOT the right song - it was too fast. If you watched it live, you saw me look at my iPod, and then not sure if you could read my mind, but I was thinking, "Oh (expletive)! What did I do? I put the wrong playlist on!"

For a split second I wondered if I could "fake it" through, but I realized the playlist was for the Over/Under Interval ride the next day, with much faster songs. Soooooo, I sat up and, embarrassed as heck, told everyone we had to start over. This was LIVE - not a good thing!

I have to admit that when I did start it over, my introduction to the ride had much more energy, and my nerves were gone so I think I flowed much better. I guess I figured I had made the biggest possible error, nothing else could top that. So in the end it was a good thing!

But I'm still pretty self-critical (aren't we all?) - I watched the video and made some notes to smile more often. Also, I tend to look down a lot when I am focusing - not bad when I'm teaching my own class, but on video I need to look up more. I'll be better next time! ;-)

If you signed up to watch the live feed, I appreciate your patience with our technical glitches. The good news is that Gene is going to make the edited version available a little later this week for everyone to see (for a limited time). I will send an email out to all of you on my mailing list with the reminder, as well as post it here and on Facebook. Keep in mind, once the digital library is launched next fall, this will be one of the classes that you could view either with a class or on your own (for a fee). So Gene is graciously offering it for free to introduce you to the Cycling Fusion live class concept.

In the next day or two, I'll write a post about the Winter Training lecture and the two powerful rides we did, and will post the playlists for all of my rides.

In the meantime, here are some photos from this weekend.

Preparing for the very first ride. How would you like that kind of technology at your fingertips everytime you teach?

Matt getting set-up prior to the session. Since many participants had never ridden the Keiser M3s, Cycling Fusion wanted to make sure everyone was set-up properly.

This is what it looks like in the back room, where they are able to watch all four cameras and do some of the editing as it's being filmed. This is high-tech stuff here folks!

Some of the gang from Pedal-On who showed up. Jeff, me, Kala and Laura.
Thank you all so much for riding with me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Join me for a LIVE class this Friday in person or online: The Triple Bypass!

This Friday will be a momentous and exciting occasion for me, and I hope many of you. I am honored to be leading some rides at the Cycling Fusion headquarters outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are going to film several of my indoor cycling classes for the Cycling Fusion digital library. On Friday at 7:30 pm EST (GMT - 4:00), you can log in to view live on your computer - for free! This generous offer is thanks to Gene Nacey of Cycling Fusion to introduce the world to its new concept of creating a library of digital indoor cycling classes. Clubs (or individuals who want to ride at home) around the world will be able to access this library of a wide variety of classes from top instructors. It should be available sometime in the not-too-distant future.

If you can join me for this ride - either in person or online - I would be so honored. The live-feed will be a 60-minute ride I am calling The Triple Bypass, with three focused climbs, all slightly different. If you view it online, my suggestion is to either treat it like a Master Class or conference session and take notes, or ride along with us on your bike at home (or at your club if you have computer access). Click here to sign up for the live feed.

Are you near Pittsburgh?
Then please come ride with us in person for free - but sign up soon as it will fill up quickly. Nothing makes me happier than meeting in person some of the fantastic people I've met through cyberspace. (Click here and then click on "reserve a bike in Pittsburgh" to sign up.)

We are actually filming 3 classes on Friday evening; only one will be shown live on the internet. But if you come in person you can sign up for one or all of them (two 45-minute and one 60-minute ride).

Winter Training, Saturday March 26: Educational lecture and 2-hour ride
Then on Saturday I will be a guest instructor for Cycling Fusion's innovative Winter Training program, a 12-week progressive periodized training program every Saturday during the winter. First I will give a lecture on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) followed up by Over/Under Intervals, a ride designed to improve your threshold. After that Gene and I will co-lead a ride to a Global Ride video (hint hint, this is an unreleased soon-to-be-available edition filmed in my favorite place to ride a bike, a region I know very well - the Alpes of France)!

Normally it's $39 for the four-hour session but for you, Gene is making this available at a special discounted rate of 25% off for my readers/subscribers. Click here to sign up for Winter Training and enter the discount code "sageless25".

I am so excited to be a part of this and I can't wait to tell you more about it next week after I've recovered from this crazy weekend.

Want to learn more about Cycling Fusion? It is one of the newest and most progressive indoor cycling certification programs, one you will certainly be hearing much more about in the months and years to come. Click here for more information on their certification and training. Also, next winter you will surely want to be plugged in and take part in the entire 12-week Winter Training program.

Remember, mark your calendars:
  • Friday, March 25th, 7:30 pm EST (GMT -4) Live online feed of Triple Bypass ride.
  • Saturday, March 26th, 11:00am - 3pm EST Live Winter Training: lecture, 2-hour ride, yoga.
EDIT: By the way - if you sign up for the free live feed, it is only available that night. But if you sign up for the Winter Training discounted program (lecture + 2 hr ride + yoga) then you will have access to it for a week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Love Sinning®, I mean Spinning®!

Actually, I have a long history of misspelling the word. Not because of not knowing how to spell it, but due to the mechanics of typing it. On the US keyboard, the "P" is in the top right, requiring the pinky finger to adroitly extend upwards to hit it. On the left hand it's the 'Q'. Therefore, a word that contains both a 'P' and a 'Q' is likely to be illegible if I am typing fast. Pinky finger typing has always been awkward for me ever since I learned to type way back in 1st grade in the late 1960's (yes, we learned to type on really old clunky typewriters in my 1st grade class at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in San Diego. I remember Sister Margaret Mary calling out the letters in her thick Irish accent. That is where I learned "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country")!

It's not as bad on my new MacBook keyboard, but on my previous computer, the keys got quite sticky as it aged, and the "p" was one of the worst. The double whammy resulted in chronically mistyping the word Spinning. I usually caught my typos, as I tend to edit (and over edit) almost everything I write. But last year I sent out an unedited Tweet describing my Spinning class, minus the 'p'. The result was embarrassing, but pretty funny and got me thinking about all the innuendos that could result from that weak pinky finger. I don't know exactly what I tweeted, but it was something along the lines of the following:

Phew! Euphoric after a thrilling and sweaty Sinning class!

See what I mean? One can get oneself in trouble....

Last night I wore my I Love Spinning shirt out for drinks with friends (still one of my fave t-shirts). It got me telling stories about some of my typos I've corrected prior to publishing, whether on this blog, on one of the indoor cycling forums, on my ICI blog or on emails to instructors. There may have been some that escaped unedited without my knowledge. Here are a few that I remember almost writing:
  • That was a real hard Sinning class.
  • Planning a tough Sinning class tomorrow - should burn a lot of calories.
  • Sinning is a fantastic workout.
  • Nothing is more fulfilling than being a Sin instructor.
  • Endurance Sinning tomorrow...
  • Who would like to join me for my Sinning class tomorrow? I promise a great time!
  • Sinning is for everyone. All levels can enjoy it.
  • Sin at your own pace.
  • You always feel great after Sinning!

Lordy, I can imagine Sister Margaret Mary rolling over in her grave, thinking "Oh how sad, I thought little Jennie Ralph was a sweet little angel."

And then there are the ones that I've never written but thought would be entertaining if I had reason to write them. Do you have any more to add to this list?
  • Ugh, the Sinning room was a mess today.
  • I hate it when the other instructors leave the Sin room in such disarray.
  • Sinning is more fun with a large group.
  • Sin hard, sin often.
  • Periodized Sinning...
  • Sinning can be so fatiguing.
  • Sinning, one of the joys of life!
Or how about this one: FunhogSins!

By the way, I recommend pinky pushups to help avoid the missing "p" in your Sinning classes.

While we're on the subject, does anyone know if the devil has trademarked the word "Sinning®"? If not, maybe I should grab it while I still can! ;-)

HEY by the way, if you haven't signed up for my mailing list, please do. I have some very exciting news to announce in the next few weeks. You won't want to miss it! Just enter your name and email in the top left corner.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Saint Patrick's Day Songs and another profile

Brian's playlist I posted this morning is hard to beat. But if you want more song ideas, I thought I'd post some of the other Irish/celtic songs I have in my library that I've used for past St Paddy's theme rides (heck - they're not just for Saint Patrick's Day anymore)! Feel free to add some more suggestions in the comments below.

  • The Acoustic Motorbike - Luka Bloom, 4:10
  • Glad Tidings, 3:42, Van Morrison, Moondance
  • One Tree Hill, 4:43, U2
  • The Emperor's New Clothes, 5:16, SinĂ©ad O'Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
  • The Paddy Set, 2:23, Seven Nations, The Factory
  • Cry Of The Celts, 2:23, Ronan Hardiman, Michael Flatley's Lord Of The Dance
  • Morning Prayer, 6:04, RiverTribe
  • Dueling Violins, 3:46, Riverdance
  • Music For A Found Harmonium, 2:59, Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon Dynamite
  • Lemonade and Buns, 5:50, Kila, The Best of Kila
  • Mermuradora, 5:09, Hevia, The Other Side
  • Rare Ould Times, 4:06, Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies
  • Another Bag Of Bricks, 3:45, Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies
  • Death Valley Queen 4:18 Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies
  • Swagger, 2:05, Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies
  • What's Left Of The Flag, 3:39, Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies
  • One Last Drink, 3:31, Enter The Haggis, Soapbox Heroes
  • Sunshine Highway, 3:22, Dropkick Murphys, The Warrior's Code
  • It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll), 4:44, Dropkick Murphys, Singles Collection Volume 2 - 1998-2004
  • The Kids Are Alright - Dropkick Murphys, 2:31, Dropkick Murphys, Dropkick Murphys / The Business Split Release: Mob Mentality
  • Zombie, 5:09, The Cranberries, Emerald Rock
  • Black & Tans, 3:51, Black Irish Band, Day the Earth Shook
  • Sophia's Pipes (Walkin' the Floor/Murdo MacKenzie of Torrido, 3:18, Ashley MacIsaac Hi How Are You Today?
  • Sleepy Maggie (Sleepy Maggie/Mulen Dugh), 5:28, Ashley MacIsaac, Hi How Are You Today?
  • Lovers Of Light, 3:58, Afro Celt Sound System, Volume 2 : Release
  • Whirl-Y-Reel 2, 5:28, Afro Celt Sound System, Sound Magic, Vol. 1
And of course, you have U2 and Enya as well.

In 2009 I posted my Hills and Dales of Ireland profile on this blog. You can find that post here.

Ride through the valleys and hills of Gaelic lands

Top 'O the Mornin' to Ya! One of my favorite holidays and theme rides (after Halloween) is Saint Patrick's Day rides. The Irish just know how to have fun, and their joy of life is so evident in their music. But who am I to create the best Saint Patrick's Day ride for you (although I am a quarter Scottish - does that count)? I have something even better.

Meet Brian Greene, a passionate Spinning instructor from Ireland. Brian was happy to share this great ride and playlist with you on my blog. Brian asked me if I could call it a St Patrick's Day ride as 'Patty' has another meaning over there... (a lump of animal dung! lol :) (Actually around here I believe they say St. Paddy's Day, and the local Irish Pub, Paddy's will be hopping on Thursday night for sure!)

Thank you Brian - Slainte!
This is a journey though the Valleys and Hills of Gaelic lands - The Celts are Rising... Happy St Patrick's Day!
1. Promentory - The Last of the Mohecians 104bpm [Seated Flat] (6:13) first 3:30 mins to continue welcome and set some atmosphere, when fiddle starts (last 2:43 mins) when the ride begins (Sampled from 'The Gael' by Dougie MacLean)


2. Music for a Found Harmonium - Patrick Street (Album: Irish Times), 112bpm [Seated Flat / Standing Flat] (2:47). Prepare for the climbs ahead cadence <110
(It would not let me upload the video - make sure to do a search on Youtube - it's a great song).

3. Colossus - Afro Celt Sound System (Album: Capture (1995-2010) CD2: Chorus) [Climb into Running with Resistance into Standing Climb] (6:44)Time for a break half way though... at about 2:30 (2 more climbs ahead both challenging), then back into second climb for last section.


4. Coconut Dog / Morning Dew - Solas 112bpm [Flat / Standing Flat] (4:07). To allow some active recovery and to spin the legs after the climb, cadence <110 href="">iTunes

5. Warriors - Ronan Hardiman (Album: Lord of the Dance) [Variable BMP surges Climb]. Careful with this one, it surges particularly at the end - Be a warrior, strong, brave, smart... still a small climb to go next.

iTunes (this and the next song)

6. Victory - Ronan Hardiman (Album: Lord of the Dance) [Variable BMP Climb]. (Continued from last song) We won, some recovery but we have to make it to the top of the hill - work in Seated/Standing climb from about 1 min in [Jumps on a Hill if you really want to push] - we have time after to regroup for the night - Up The Celts :)

7. Busindre Reel - Hevia (Album: Tierra de Nadie / No Man's Land) 108 bpm. We light our fire at the top of the hill and regroup for the night, settle and celebrate. Keep hydrated: Slainte! (Cheers in Irish!)


8. Mojave Afro Celt Sound System (Album: Capture (1995-2010) CD2: Chorus) 67 bpm [Climb (option into Running with Resistance) into Standing Climb]. It is worth editing this track to remove the first 3:20 seconds (you can use it at the end during the stretch)... This is our final hill, listen and decided if/how you want to break it up... lots of options... judge the class to see how hard they have been working and coach appropriate intensity and movements... do they want stay with the group of their warrior bothers and sisters, or push ahead and lead the pack... I love this song so much :)


9. North - Paul Mounsey (Album: NahooToo)

A melodic end to challenging journey... melt into the rhythm and flow... (non guitar version is more relaxing)


10. Use the beginning of Mojave to finish up...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I live here - the 2nd most active in the United States!

Colorado has been found to be the most active State in the US of A, and my county, Eagle County, CO, is the 2nd most active county in the country! (Ha! Take that Aspen! Even more than you!)

I knew there was a huge reason why I live here! :)

It also makes me realize even more that when I am referring to my Spinning® classes and students, we have a particular market demographic, and that what I experience here is not necessarily "reality" everywhere else. No, not everyone in my class is an athlete, or even a skier or cyclist, and some are even a little overweight. But on average I bet our students in classes here are more fit than in many parts of the country or world. And they plan their week around being outdoors, and won't come to class if it's a powder day (translation for you non-skiers: LOTS of fresh new powder snow!) And the women don't generally put on makeup to come to class (unless they already have it and come straight from work. My 6a.m. crowd - no way). In the 15 years I've taught indoor cycling here, I can probably count the women with freshly applied makeup on my two hands - and most were probably from out of town visiting this destination resort. That's Colorado.

In the Spinning® orientation, one of the Four P's of class design is know your Population! Each one has its specific needs.

Because I recognize the difference in where I teach, I try to take that into consideration when discussing indoor cycling students. Instead of assuming everyone experiences what we have here, or that all your students are like my students, I try to draw on my 14 years of traveling around to over 100 clubs in North America (and a few international destinations), certifying and educating thousands of instructors and presenting at 20 conferences over my career as a Master Instructor/coach. I've also got a few "go-to" instructors and Master instructors who teach in vastly different markets whose brain I can pick if I need to explore how to, say for example, work with an inner city crowd, a room of 70 bikes filled with Type A personalities or suburban housewives.

I am always grateful to learn more from you guys and the unique experiences and situations you encounter with your demographic.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Eating before early morning hard classes

I teach twice a week at 6 am, and it's a 30+ minute drive to get there, so I get up at 4:50 am on those mornings. I don't do well on early breakfasts - it's just not comfortable putting food in my system that early. I would rather not eat (and sometimes I still don't) but I do understand the importance of eating something before exercising after a long fast, so I usually nibble on a piece of toast or bread, and maybe a banana or a little yogurt. In a rush I'll eat half an energy bar, but most have too much sugar for me (even the low sugar ones).

I've often stressed to my class the importance of eating something beforehand, but I know some of them live very close to the club (it's a neighborhood community club) and they were probably in bed only 15 minutes before!

If I am planning a hard class, at threshold or above, I think it's even more important to eat something. Last week I did a threshold field test, with a 20-minute hard sustained effort (plus an initial 5-min hard effort in the warm-up). In their preparation materials prior to the field test was the suggestion that they should be well hydrated and fueled prior to class, even if they had to set an alarm to get up earlier just to nibble on an energy bar. (Note: this is a 12-week periodized cycling clinic, so I have the same students every class and I send them a coaching email weekly with training tips and that week's goals).

One of my students emailed me afterward that she felt nauseous and light-headed after the field test. There could be several reasons for this, including factors such as illness or fatigue. It could also be because we've only done minimal higher intensity work, and certainly it was the first time we spent that much time at that intensity since the first field test 7 weeks ago. I don't believe in throwing a threshold field test at them after 6 weeks of base building in zones 2 and 3, so last week we did some sub threshold intervals, up to about 2-3 beats below LT.

She is a fit woman who does a lot of skiing and snowshoeing (which are higher intensity sports here in the mountains), so more likely it was either not eating, or what she ate. She said she ate toast with peanut butter about a half an hour before the class. Peanut butter has protein, which is a good thing, but for me, anytime I've tried it that early in the morning, I didn't feel well during my ride either. She said she would try something else for our next field test.

I'm curious. For those of you who teach or train early in the morning, what do you eat, and how early before your workout do you have to eat? Have there been things you've tried that have proven not to work for you? Does anyone have a problem with peanut butter early morning, but not at other times? I'm sure there are those of you who do not eat that early before class. It's probably OK for a more aerobic-intensity ride (as long as you eat soon afterward), but do you feel a difference during higher intensity rides if you've not eaten anything prior?

Thanks for your comments. I might try to get an exercise nutritionist to look at these questions and give some advice that we can all benefit from!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Can Indoor Cycling help save the Middle East?

I bet that title caught your eye!

I have some fun stats to share with you, and one one of them has me perplexed, fascinated and curious all at the same time. One of the very fun things about blogging platforms is that they provide some very interesting stats.

First, in just 5 days since coming back to writing this blog (since March 2) I've had almost 1,000 unique page views. Pretty cool, since I've really only mentioned it on Facebook and Pedal-On and to some friends. Gotta love the power of the internet!

In my stats, I get a listing of the total number of visits from the Top 10 countries in the world. The top four countries that have visited are very understandable: the United States, Canada, The UK and Australia.

The 5th highest number of visits is from China! Also very interesting, but still not the really curious one....

Then we've got Switzerland and Ireland. Greutzi and cheers to you!

But #8 has me bowled over. The 8th largest number of page views has come from Iran! Iran? Wow! If you are from Iran, I want to hear from you - I would love to highlight where you are teaching (or taking) classes, and the unique things that you encounter. Of course, we can do it anonymously and I won't share anything you don't want shared, but I bet readers would love to know more about an indoor cycling instructor (or enthusiast) from Iran. Heck, maybe through fitness and the joy of indoor cycling we can assist the Middle East in its woes! Maybe if more of the oppressive regimes are overthrown, societies will be free to bring in more ways to stay fit and healthy, such as Indoor Cycling. ;-)

Following Iran in the top 10 are The Netherlands and Germany. Bedankt and Danke!

Back when I was actively writing on this blog two years ago, it reached instructors in over 90 countries - I'd love to see it get back there! Please send this link to your indoor cycling and Spinning® friends around the world.

Email me at if you are an instructor or enthusiast from a unique country dealing with some unique situations (such as social or cultural) where you teach or take classes. I'd love to hear from instructors in China as well. I don't think I'm only speaking for myself, but I imagine for us Westerners, we are entrenched in our way of doing things and it's fun to see how other cultures approach fitness, and especially, indoor cycling. I've always had a passion for all things foreign, travel and languages (went to International Business School in the early 1990's and lived in France) so this is yet another very cool way to reach out to other nations - through Indoor Cycling!

I have to say, Korea has me a little worried though. They have an indoor cycling championship which includes acrobatics and dancing on the bike (do a search on Youtube and you'll see what I mean). Any one reading from Korea? Can you assure me that it isn't like that in the regular classes, even in a very modified form, and that there are some facilities that practice safe and effective indoor cycling based on sound training principles?

Don't you just love the global reach of Indoor Cycling? Uniting all cultures through our passion for fitness and riding a bike that goes nowhere! :-)

EDIT: Curious note. Those stats listed above are just for this week. When I look at the Stats for the month - which since I've only been back now 5 days, include mostly hits from Google searches for indoor cycling and Spinning ® information, the Top 10 list is: The US, Canada, The UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, China and Australia. And from the entire life of this blog, Russia, The Ukraine, Denmark and India are in the top 10! Someone had told me recently that Spinning® is taking off big time in India, so it's no wonder.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heart rate, recovery and aging

One of the most beneficial aspects of using a heart rate monitor regularly is to be able to track your body's response to exercise over time. Your heart rate is a glaring in-your-face notification of what is going on in your body - but its value is of little use if you don't pay close attention to it. Some people just see a number, and don't put two and two together if that number doesn't make sense in the big picture of what they normally see for a given perceived exertion.

I have a personal training client, Alex, who recently purchased a Spinner® bike for home. I also ride outside with her in the summer, coaching her on technique. She has a bicycle tour planned to Europe this summer, so I will be working with her on increasing her endurance and hill climbing ability. Her challenge is higher cadences, and outside her preferred cadence on the flats is mid 70's rpm. I know she will have less muscular fatigue if she could raise her preferred cadence by 5-10rpm, so this is what I've been working on with her indoors. You should know that Alex is 72 years young and is very active.

Just recently I have been having her focus on pedal stroke technique drills as well as cadence drills from 70 to 90rpm. This post is not about those drills or their effectiveness - although I can write another post about that because I have been successful at raising both her and her husband's comfort level with higher cadences by teaching them to pedal more effectively. Rather, I want to tell you about her experience this past week with her heart rate response to exercise.

I had planned to take her through the cadence drills. After she warmed up, I noticed she seemed to be working very hard and was breathing very heavy. Her cadence was about 70rpm. I looked at her monitor expecting it to be pushing 140 judging by her breathing (Alex's threshold is 142). But her heart rate was only 113!

I asked her what her perceived exertion was. She said 6 (just below "hard"). Hmmmm, that's up there. So I suggested she try a lower resistance and higher cadence. There was no change in her perceived exertion, breathing rate or her heart rate. Nothing she did raised her heart rate (even standing up, which normally spikes it) or lowered her perceived exertion relative to that HR of 113. She was flat out tired.

After only ten minutes I said "Stop! This is not the day for you to ride!" She had been cross-country skiing several days in a row, plus pilates twice a week, plus traveling the week before with not one day of rest. (That is kind of a typical week for her, often with a snowshoe thrown in). Also, she hadn't been sleeping well and felt a deep fatigue even going up stairs. This was a Tuesday and she had a cross-country ski lesson on Thursday that she was looking forward to.

So I put the nix on the cycling and told her to completely take Wednesday off - NO EXERCISE! And if she still was that fatigued I suggested she pass on the skiing on Thursday as well. (Knowing her, she wouldn't do that - she's pretty committed to her skiing and to constantly moving).

This can happen to anyone who is very active. The heart rate response to doing too much physical exercise or to excessive stress without sufficient recovery can be either a suppressed heart rate (as in Alex's case) or one that is much higher than it usually is for a given perceived exertion. Everyone needs rest and recovery. If you balance hard days with easy days you are much more likely to avoid a response like Alex's.

But I want to make another point here about age. After age 40, the human body simply cannot do what it used to do. It's a slow steady decline. I don't mean that in any kind of pessimistic attitude like "it's all downhill after 40"! But most people do not want to admit that they can't do what they did before. Heck, I like to pretend I'm still in my 30's! ;-) But I noticed a tremendous difference as I moved into and through my 40's in my ability to put in multiple days of exercise. This need for rest and recovery is even more pronounced every decade.

It's just reality, and we can't ignore it!

Chances are, you have a few people in your classes that are over 40, right? Over 50? How about into the 60's and 70's? Make sure to stress the importance of recovery to them even more than your younger population. You don't have to directly address them (unless you feel very comfortable with them); as you are well aware, some people are quite sensitive to the fact that they are aging. Alex can get very depressed when she focuses on her inability to do as much as she used to do. That's when I try to focus her on the fact that she is so much more fit and able than 99% of the population her age. When she is rested, she realizes she is able to enjoy her cycling and skiing and snowshoeing and golfing much more than when she is not rested.

I know my situation is unique with Alex, being able to train her one on one in cycling and Spinning and being able to see her HR response and to ask her immediate questions about what she's been doing. Of course, this is unlikely in a class situation, especially if it is a large class. But some of the things I learn from working with Alex and her husband Bob (who is 79 going on 25) have been instrumental in helping me coaching at one club where the age range is 50's to almost 80. After this happened with Alex, I gave a lecture to that class on the increased need for recovery for older populations. They too are more fit than the average person their age, but many are also exercise-aholics. After I explained it to them, one woman in class announced out loud, "So THAT'S why I'm always so tired!" She also thanked me after class for the information.

So, the key points here:
  • Pay close attention to your heart rate response to exercise
  • Remind your students that everyone needs recovery
  • Balance hard days with easy days
  • Recognize the increased need for rest and recovery after age 40, and especially 50 and above

Do any of you work with older populations?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Down but not Out!

To my dear indoor cycling and Spinning® instructor friends and colleagues,

It's been a challenging couple of weeks, but I'll be back! ;-)

As most of you know, I am no longer posting for ICI/PRO. First I want to say I am humbled and blessed for the incredible amount of love and support I have received from so many instructors around the world - on Facebook, via emails, phone calls, text messages, comments on ICI and posts on Pedal-On. Please know that I am so grateful for all of you.

As many of you know, I left Spinning® 18 months ago to help create ICI/PRO. I am not at liberty to discuss the details, but for those of you who followed me there and learned anything from my 18 months of educational content that I provided, I am very hopeful that you will follow me back. I have to get my "riding legs" (so to speak) back underneath me. I have so much more to give to instructors - so bear with me as I regroup. Educating and inspiring Spinning® and indoor cycling instructors has been my passion for 14 years! It is my chosen career, and I will continue doing what I love, and what I know I've been able to do effectively for the past 14 years.

I won't be posting anything at ICI anymore. No more training articles, no more physiology or science, no more cueing, no more motivation, no more audio profiles or other profiles, no more videos, no more music, no more interval profile evaluations (I was planning on doing that again this spring - it was so successful last year), no more fun stuff. I have over 300 total posts/podcasts at ICI, and a full 80% of the members-only content was provided by me; the other 20% was divided up between 11 people. Hmmm, with those stats one might say I was a crucial part of membership...

Please sign up for my mailing list here so I can keep in touch with you when I figure out where to lay my hat (this blog will be temporary). I promise you, I will continue to be there for instructors around the world. I promise that I won't disappear. I promise that you will be extremely excited with some of my new ideas: for profiles, for content, for inspiration, for teaching you to be the best indoor cycling instructor you can be! I have a whole host of eBooks on various aspects of instructing, eBooks that have been stifled in their growth that I will be unveiling over the next few months. eBooks are an excellent and inexpensive way to learn a lot at one sitting.

And if you were an ICI/PRO member, you know that I was preparing a series on Power to help you understand the concept of power even if you do not have, or may never have, bikes with power. When you understand these basic concepts, cueing effective resistance and cadence will be so much easier. I will soon find a way to make that information available to you.

And please, if you have a question about teaching Indoor Cycling, please feel free to leave me a comment here - I'll do my best to answer it in a post.

Please follow me on Facebook (it's always helpful if you leave a short message when you "friend me" so I know where you are coming from):

You can contact me by email at

And please leave me a comment below.

Love and peace,

Jennifer Sage