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Top 10 Ways To Keep the Basics Challenging!

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So many times I find myself caught up in the technical aspect of profile design that I lose sight of the basic principle “less is more,” and I know I am not the only one. Often times instructors feel compelled to present a big ride using all sorts of heart rate zones and multiple terrains.  

Yes, there are situations when a big technical ride is appropriate, perhaps during specific training periods, or as an event style ride, like Race Day. But many times, when you are teaching on a regular schedule, simple and clean profiles are what keep them coming back for more!  Remember, your job as an instructor is to make everyone feel successful and strong.  Keep focused on the five Energy ZonesTM and you can’t go wrong!

Here are 10 suggestions for getting back to the basics to create fun and varied classes.

  1. Objective: At the start of class clearly communicate what the ride objective is, and what next week’s ride will be.  Build expectations and curiosity.  Objectives should be appropriate for all fitness levels.
  2. Teach by Contrast: For example, “This week’s ride will challenge your cardiovascular endurance, we will not be taking recovery (unless you need to).  Next week is high intensity intervals; you will be breathless and screaming for recoveries.”
  3. Mix It Up: Once everyone understands and has experienced Endurance, Strength and Interval rides, mix them up.  For example “the first half of class will be heavy resistance and full of big climbs (Strength EZ) the second half will be fast and flat, high cadence work (Endurance EZ).  You can do a one minute of recovery 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) between the two halves.
  4. Endurance: Rides can be mentally challenging for some people.  Meet everyone on the way into class with the “Benefits of Endurance Training” student handout.  If people know why we train 75% MHR and the benefits of doing so, they tend to stick around and enjoy it more!  Remember that knowledge is power, especially if you are a new instructor.
  5. Break It Down: Break down an Endurance ride by artist blocks.   I like to use a “three song set” to keep people engaged in holding a steady state heart rate, as it breaks down the ride into smaller obtainable goals.  For example, we will ride for three songs in a Seated Flat, followed by three songs in an easy Standing Climb.
  6. Climbing: Establish how many climbs you will summit in your Strength Ride, and then ask the class which mountain they want to make the steepest!  Include the class in your travel plans.
  7. Individualize: When breaking down a big climb, establish how many times you will add resistance and then allow each rider to stand when they feel the need for more power.  If doing Jumps on a Hill, give the names of people in the class who they will be passing (each person is one jump).
  8. Visual Route: Recreate a great weekend ride in your class during the week.  Or pick a route around your facility that everyone knows so the profile is familiar and fun!  (I use to take my teen Spinning® class to the local mall!)
  9. Not Always by the Numbers: If you teach every class with specific heart rate guidelines, take a day off!  Find music that is emotionally strong and easy to connect to and just ride.  Tell the class to not worry about all the numbers today, and ride with your heart.
  10. Be silent!: It is the silence between your words where people grow.  Just as strength gains occur during the recovery phase, mental and physical growth comes from the time spent reflecting within our own souls as we sweat and ride.  Enjoy the ride!


Author: Brooke Hayward

Brooke is the Fitness Program Manager for the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa and is a Master Trainer for the Spinning and Bodyblade® Programs. She has worked in the fitness industry for over 18 years and is certified through ACSM, ACE, AFAA and IFTA. Her experience includes Regional Coordinator for the Silver Sneakers Program, providing education and training for Senior Fitness Instructors. Brooke is featured in several fitness and cycling videos and has completed four legs of the 2005 Tour de France.

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