Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Kind of Indoor-Cycling Classes to You Attend?

What kind of class do you go to? Or if you're an instructor, what kind of class do you teach? I feel pretty good after reading this article. My classes fall in the structured workout category but I believe that that type class benefits non-cyclists as well. For those of you that don't know him, Chris Carmichael is Lance's long time coach and founder of CTS, Carmichael Training Systems. He has quiet the wealth of knowledge. I read this article in Bicycling Magazine and then saw that another instructor had posted it on her Blog. It is good stuff. Enjoy!

Q: Will an indoor-cycling class at my local gym help me in the winter?
By Chris Carmichael


This is a perennial question, and for good reason: Every gym or health club has some form of indoor cycling class, and in the dead of winter it's tempting to jump in rather than face the elements or slave away on a trainer alone in your basement. There's nothing inherently wrong with these classes, but it's important to find one that will actually improve your performance on the bike. I encourage athletes to evaluate classes based on how well they address the core principles of training: overload and recovery, specificity, individuality and progression. I address each of these below.

Overload and Recovery Classes generally fall into two categories: sufferfests and structured workouts. Both have their merits, and I understand the psychology of the sufferfest fan's desire to reach the end of a class exhausted, but as a coach I prefer the latter approach. Though a sufferfest might feel excruciatingly difficult, your actual power output may be too low to improve your fitness due to inadequate recovery periods. Check in with the instructor: If the primary feature of the workout is that it's ridiculously intense, but he or she can't identify what you'll get out of it, find a different class.

Specificity The fact that you're pedaling is a step in the right direction, but some classes have very little to do with actual cycling performance. And that's okay— I'm all for classes that burn calories and get people sweating. But if you're looking to improve your performance on the road or trail, you need workouts that target the energy systems and power demands of actual cycling. These classes can be harder to find because effective interval sets are often not the most entertaining, crowd-pleasing kind. The intensities are consistent and repetitive instead of all over the map, and while you may do some pedaling out of the saddle, no cycling-specific class will have you doing push-ups on the handlebar.

Individuality This is where technology comes into play. The absolute best indoor cycling classes use power meters, whether that's in the form of CompuTrainers, power- equipped stationary bikes or personal bikes with power meters. And the best ones also set individual power-training ranges for each athlete. The next-best scenario is a class that uses heart-rate monitors and individual training intensities. The self-selected "turn the knob to the right" method is fine, but not optimal.

Progression Progressive classes are pretty rare, and to find one you'll most likely need to go to a cycling performance center. To address the progression principle, a class needs to be designed with the idea that the same people will be coming back week after week, and that the workload will thus take into account the developing fitness of these participants. In the standard gym model, in which classes are accessible to anyone anytime, the programming tends to be static. (This is also partly why these classes often are sufferfests.) In a progressive class, some of the workouts may well be more moderate in intensity, and while that's good from a long-term training perspective, it's not as appealing to the intermittent class user.

Then Again... Incorporating indoor classes into your winter training need not be an all-or-nothing proposition. There's nothing wrong with an occasional—even weekly—sufferfest. Even cyclists following well-structured, scientifically based, progression-driven indoor programs sometimes should forget the numbers and just open the throttle.

But if all you do all winter is pummel yourself, your progress will be blunted. The best option: Follow a scientifically based program, but incorporate some "hard for the sake of being hard" classes, just for fun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Different Kind of Race

The Spinning program has a specific workout called a Race Day profile. I've only done a couple in the 4 years I've been teaching because I never really believed I could pull it off. I mean, come on, how do you race when the bikes don't go anywhere?

Here's how I did it. I set up the ride as if we were racing around a designated route. In racing, that's considered a circuit race so that's what I called it. I thought about doing a criterium but crits in my experience are shorter in nature and usually don't involve any significant climbing. The circuit I designed had some rolling hills about half way into loop. The beginning and the end of the circuit were flat.

So how did I pull this off. I took the opportunity during warm-up to set the stage for the race. I shared with them what the course looked like so they could try to visualized what kind of terrain they were riding on. I also told them that we were racing and to imagine that we were all in a big group together. Because of the fact that this was a race, I told them it was important to keep up and not get dropped of the back of the pack. What I intended there was to encourage them to keep pushing even if they wanted to quit or slack off a little. In cycling, especially racing, it's important to push yourself a little harder at certain periods of time to ensure you don't get dropped. Or it's worth expending a little bit of extra energy to bridge a gap so that you can draft and recover. These periods of time might just be a few seconds, but those few seconds could be the difference in a win, a pack finish, or finishing dead last. The good news is that no one would get dropped because the bikes don't go anywhere :) I warned them that the ride would be hard at times. The pace would be high and would require, at times, an intense effort to keep up.

I told them the first lap would not be that intense. As in many races, the group tries to see the terrain and take the first part of the race to try to size up the competition. However, sometimes, you'll have some riders attack from the starting line. I wanted them to ride hard but look around, see what the terrain looks like, gauge their effort. As I mentioned earlier, the first section of the loop was flat so the pace was high. I divided the class into two groups with the guys on the floor being group one and the guys on the back tier being group two. After a little while I had them take turns pulling. For those of you non-cyclist, pulling is when you are in the front of the group. It's you against the wind setting the pace for the whole group. Pulling or being on the front requires extra effort. Some say that when you are up front, you can expend 10-20% more energy than if you were in the middle or back of the pack. On the flip-side, when you are drafting, you can save that much energy. I shared with them that this is the time to recover a little and get your breath back. I didn't mention that sometimes if the pace is high, and your riding with some of the boys that I ride with, it's even hard to recover when drafting. That's another story though. So that was the first portion of the loop.

The second section consisted of rolling hills. Rolling hills are tricky in cycling because they require some extra effort to get up, especially if some of the lightweight fellows decide to push the pace. So i got them to envision small hills that took anywhere from 30 to 45 seconds to climb. I had them stand up and climb then sit back down as we got to the top of the hills.

The last section of the course was flat as well. We did some pulling but since this is the backside of the loop, the pace was likely to pick up, especially on the last lap.

On the second lap I explained to them what an attack looks like. Basically, whoever decided to attack would add alot of resistance, transition to a standing climb, increase their cadence for about 10 seconds and then sit down and go as hard as they can for about 20-30 more seconds. Often times an attack is an anaerobic effort, or at least part of it is. An attack is really painful. The goal is to separate yourself from the pack and try to put distance or time between you and the group. Normally when one person attacks, you have several others counter to try to form a smaller group in front of the main pack. Attacks are HARD, they are PAINFUL, and I told them if they decide to launch an attack to make it know by yelling, "War Eagle". That went over real well being in Vol country but it was fun. I think I painted a really accurate picture of an attack because no body attacked until the third lap and that was only because I did one myself first. I was not gong to do one because I had been sick that week-end and was trying to take it easy. After I attacked, several people followed. It was fun to watch. I could see in their eyes that it was hard, that they were pushing themselves to their limits. Remember, the pace was already high, we were racng the whole time so the intensity was described to them as being a 7-8 out of ten on a scale of 10 for most of the ride. The ones that were using HR monitors were riding between 90-100% of LT. For those of you who don't know what that means just trust me and believe me when I say "it's not easy". So with that said, pulling, rolling hills, and launching an attack when you are already working hard is, well, hard.

Overall, I feel like they "got it"! As I said earlier, I've only done a couple of these race simulation profiles but this time I think it worked. Even thought the bikes are indoors and they don't physically move, I was able to portray or communicate to them the necessary things they needed to get them to experience a race.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Winter Gear Guidelines

It's a late in the game but not too late to share some tips on riding in the cold. Some may agree and some will disagree but this is what works for me. Depending on how well you tolerate the cold, or not, determines what gear you wear. That's a no brainer. I"m often times asked about bikes and gear so here's what works for me. This is actually a message I sent to a friend that inquired about what to wear.

You can waste a lot of money on gear. I have a couple rules about gear and they are both directly related to temperature. If it's below 40 degrees, it's really cold on a bike and you better wear as much gear as you have in the closet. If the temperature is between 40 and about 55 degrees, it's gonna be cold so there are some non-negotiables. You should still dress in layers in case the temperature changes 5-10 degrees! At these temperatures I wear Pearl Izumi winter gloves, warm under shirt with a wind stopper material, jersey with arm warmers, and a good winter jacket. I always wear shorts with knee warmers vs full length tights as long it's not below 50 degrees. To be honest, I really don't ride that much if its an colder than that. I'm not afraid to get on a trainer or spin bike ;) The knee warmers are an image thing ;). Lastly, full shoe covers and something to keep your head warm. These are mandatory for below 50 degrees. Above 50 degrees I might use under shirt, jersey, arm warmers. Maybe head cover and shoe covers but probably not. It depends on the chance the temperature is going to change or get warmer. Still, shorts with knee warmers. Anytime its below 60 degrees its a good idea to keep your knees covered. I read somewhere that it has to do with cold air and arthritis. For real. The key above 55-60 degrees is layers so you can take off it you get too warm. Rule of thumb is when you start the ride, you should be a little cool. Then you are sure not to get too warm. Most people over dress and then sweat more then risk overheating which could put them at risk for hypothermia because when you get wet, you really get cold. Make sense? You can get this gear online or at the bike shop. Its not cheap but you can always find sales. Hope this helps!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh Mary, I'm Comin' To Join You! This is the BIG One

Thought you might like these. I'm turning 40 on Monday so I plan to have a GREAT Week-end :)

"Forty isn't old, if you're a tree." ~ Anonymous

"We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it." ~ Jules Renard

"I'm not 40, I'm eighteen with 22 years experience." ~ Anonymous

"At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all." ~ Ann Landers

"The 'I just woke up' face of your 30's is the 'all day long' face of your 40's" ~ Libby Reid

“Life begins at 40 - but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.” ~ Helen Rowland

“Age is a matter of feeling, not of years.” ~ George William Curtis (All depends on who you happen to be feeling at the time I guess! )

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.” ~ Victor Hugo

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where Do You Live?


I saw this T-Shirt on an old man at Cracker Barrel as I was eating breakfast this morning with my family. Obviously, I had to approach him and ask him if I could take a picture of his shirt. At first glance, I thought it was one of the funniest T-Shirts I’d ever seen. My kids think I am so weird when I do stuff like this. They are probably dead on ;) I could’ve taken the picture without him knowing but I thought that would have been rude. They looked like a fun group so I humored him by telling him how much I liked his shirt. When I asked him if I could take a picture, he told me that he thought I was coming up to him to complain about it like everyone else has done. Seriously? He said I was the first person to tell him I liked the shirt. Everyone else had told him how inappropriate it was and that it was offensive. You have to be kidding me? Offensive? Inappropriate? That’s funny. People need to loosen up a little bit.

As I thought a little more about this silly little T-Shirt, I thought about how these street signs could represent where a lot of people you know live. You might even live at one of these streets?

Where do you live? Bite Me Blvd? To me this is a place where people don’t worry what others think about them. They are very secure in who they are and aren’t afraid to just be themselves. They don’t actually go around saying bite me, but this is there attitude. What about you? Are you so concerned with what everyone thinks about you? Be honest. I have to admit, there has been a time in my life when I tried to please people and got significance from how others viewed me. For some of us, this is how we were wired. It’s a natural thing to want the approval of others. But, I’ve learned in my old age how that’s not so important. It’s not who you are to others, it’s who you are to yourself and your closest family and friends.

Maybe you live at No Frickin’ Way. This is hilarious! I bet this is a great place to live. I imagine this is a neighborhood that prides itself on the marvel of wonder. Do you find yourself saying, “No Way” or “Really” often or are you always negative. Or do you doubt everything and everybody? Do you trust people? I for one believe that trust is critical when it comes to happiness. A life of distrust is a miserable place to live. Having children has taught me the idea of wonder. It’s a beautiful thing. Do you have dreams? Do you set goals for yourself? Do you imagine or marvel in wonder?

Where do you live? I know some of you are thinking that this is silly and you might not get it. I thought the shirt was cool, funny. Maybe? Maybe to some of you, maybe not. Think about where you live. Do you need to move?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good Ole Charity Rides


Charity Rides are the backbone of the cycling community. There are way more people that just ride for the fun of it, for the love of the bike, than there are serious race snobs. No offense to the race crowd, I'm a wanna be. In fact, more power to you. If I had more time or made more time, I would be there every weekend racing too. I love it! I've actually attempted to race a couple races in the past, not this year but in the past two years, I've probably raced 7-8 races. I can say with pride that I finished in the top 10 in most of them. I think 4th was the highest I finished in a Crit one time. I'm actually looking forward to racing next year. I'm on a strength kick right now and plan to implement a strict base period this Winter.

I got my start doing the MS 150 here in beautiful East Tennessee. We left from Verizon on Gunbarrel Rd and went North to Sweetwater and back the next day. Those were the good ole days. Since then I've done so many centuries I can't count as well as standing Bicycle Shop rides and rides with friends. Probably the single best thing I did to help me compete or to keep myself in good cycling shape was my decision to be a Spinning Instructor. 3-4 times a week in the gym really helps my ability to ride and at times ride strong.

This past week-end I rode in the Open Arms Care Bike Challenge. open Arms Care is an organization that houses and assist special needs adults in the surrounding area. Great ride for a great cause. My friends wife just got a bike and has only been riding for a couple months now. Several of us planned to do the ride but when it was all said and done, it was just the three of us. Because of soccer and football it was perfect timing wise for us to only do the 28 mile option. We had so much fun. It had been a long time since I'd done a ride like that and not tried to throw a lung. It felt awesome to just ride. No worries about heart rate, nutrition, hydration, none of that, just riding with friends. So with that said, thanks guys. I needed that. Chris and Cindy are pictured above. They are true bike snobs in terms of gear. Chris has a Cervelo R-3 (decent bike ;)) with Zipp 303's and Cindy has a new Orbea Orca. Sweet rides! Here I am riding down the road. The fog was so bad I had to take my glasses off. They were so fogged up I could see better without them, and that's scary. I looked like a dork but guess what, I was having a BLAST.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Motor-Cycle!



Check this out. I ran across this jewel last night outside Mamacitas. As a side note, if you haven't eaten there you need to check it out. They have some awesome food and and the atmosphere is cool too.

As we were outside admiring this piece of art, the owner came out to give us some details. He took the credit for getting the bike free of craig's list but his girlfriend quickly let us know that she is the one that got the bike. He said he ordered the kit from someone online and put it together himself. This baby will cruise at a max speed of 27 mph on the flats. It runs of straight gas with it's 4 cycle engine. Notice the spare gas bottle on the downtube. I told him he had better be careful and not confuse that with his Heed or Powergel energy drink. He tried to get me to ride it around the block but I didn't. Looks like a lot of fun but I think I'll stick to pedaling for now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shotgun Start?

May I start out by saying that there are some CRAZY people in this world? I am convinced of this more and more everyday as I go through life. The more people I meet, the more I’m convinced that “People are CRAZY”. I’m not saying ALL people are crazy, but there is more than a fair share that should be eliminated so that we would have more oxygen to breathe. There are too many oxygen thieves!

We really did have a shotgun start on our usually quiet Sunday afternoon ride hosted by East Ridge Bike Shop. As usual, we had about 40-50 people show up for this ride. It is a great ride as you have all levels of experience and ability. This is a ride that allows you to basically choose which group to ride with, fast, medium or slow. The group usually stays together for the first mile or two. With that in mind, you know how 40-50 cyclists of all abilities might look cruising down the road. Inevitably you have some knuckleheads riding three abreast and some even close to the yellow line. Sometimes you might even take up the whole rode. Trust me, I know this is WRONG, but it does happen, it’s just the nature of getting so many people together. This day, however, I had just commented on how nice it was for a group this size to be riding in a double pace line. The pace was easy and everyone, at least in the first 20-30 people in the group, was riding side by side in a perfect double pace-line. Uncommon for this group, but nice to see. Maybe it’s because it’s getting later in the year and people are finally learning the rules of the road? What happens next is a first for me and hopefully a last. I am absolutely stunned at what happened.

I was in the middle of the group towards the white line. I always try to ride as close to the white line as possible because I think it’s better to go in a ditch than to get hit by a car. I’ll take my chances in a ditch any day! I hear the folks in the back yell “CAR BACK” and as he starts to pass, I hear some not-so-friendly exchanges of words from both fellow cyclists and the driver of the truck. As he gets right beside me and the folks around me, I hear him yell at the top of his lungs “F---- YOU bla bla bla” He sped towards the front of the group and cut the front riders off and as he passed told them the same thing he had just shared with the rest of us. I guess he didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Nevertheless, this guy is ticked off at the world and speeds away. As he speeds away I see him slowing to make a right turn into what turned out to be his house. I thought this was a little awkward but hey, oh well, it’s our right to ride on the road, and he just needs to get over it. This happens more than not when someone rides by and yells obscenities at me but I normally just ignore them simply because I will not win that fight, plus I know that I am a bigger person that that. I just try my best to keep my mouth shut and hopefully they will go on to where ever they are going in such a hurry and leave me alone. We as cyclists will not win that battle. a. they are in a car a lot bigger and faster than me and b. People are CRAZY! Sorry, but back to the story. As we were passing his house, with him standing near his truck, I hear someone in the back of the group yell “have a nice day” or something to that effect. Did I mention that he is obviously in the above mentioned category of CRAZY people? Not even two seconds later I hear a gunshot! You heard me, a freakin gun shot! This clown has either fired a weapon at us or pointed it into the air and fired it. Either way, he fired a weapon in response to the dialogue. I have not been that frustrated in a long time. I was extremely angry and felt violated by this clown who had some obvious issues, but I was also angry at my fellow cyclist. Here’s my opinion on the whole situation.

There is no excuse for what happened. The guy, or clown as I referred to already, had no business firing a weapon in response to a group of cyclists enjoying a Sunday evening ride, no matter what! Cycling is a very popular thing around this area and for the most part, the locals are used to it. We rarely have problems in that area of town. What this guy did was borderline insane and he should be punished by the law for such recklessness. No doubt about it, this guy is an IDIOT! With that said we as cyclists have a responsibility to obey the laws of the road while riding as well as use a little common sense. As I said earlier, in situations like that, we are not going to win. That is neither the time nor place to try to get a pissing match with someone like that. The problem is that you never know who is in the car that passes. We are better off keeping our mouths shut when someone shows their ignorance, not matter how hard that may be. We will not win on our own. The laws are on our side so we should try to use that approach rather than taking things into our own hands. I’m convinced that if someone hadn’t responded to this clown, the incident that ensued would not have happened. Not to excuse this guy for what he did, but it could have been prevented by not responding. It sounds crazy, but as I said earlier, a car is bigger and faster than me and as in this instance, heaven forbid they have a gun. Wow, I can’t believe I’m even writing about this.

There are a couple lessons that I take from this situation. First, there are some CRAZY people in this world. With the economy and everything else going on, you never know what people are thinking and are dealing with. For all I know, this guy could have just been laid off from his job, filed for bankruptcy, or his wife might have just packed up the kids and left, who knows. This applies to every situation in life too. Let’s be more sensitive to those around us. You never know what people are dealing with. Again, there is no excuse for what this guy did but it could have been prevented. I don’t want to come across as being a bleeding heart but let’s use some common courtesy and try to understand why people act the way they act instead of responding with profanity or hostility. Secondly, by responding to IDIOTS, you put yourself and those around you at risk. What if? Just what if this guy had misfired and hit someone in our group and killed them? Does that sound unrealistic? What’s unrealistic is this guy even firing the weapon in the first place. What if he had hit me and killed me? I would really be ticked off then ;) Is it worth it just to get in the last word or does it make you feel good to respond to someone that doesn’t have a clue? We need to be bigger than that! This guy just doesn’t get it! He certainly won’t get it if we continue to respond by yelling back profanity and then smarting off as we are riding past his house. We have a huge responsibility to educate those around us and that’s not the way to do it. Before we can do that however, we need to educate ourselves or our fellow cyclist on certain etiquette as well. Do we always obey the traffic laws as cyclists? Can we do a better job of common courtesy on the road? All I know is that we have a long way to go around here in terms of awareness and cooperation. Instead of helping increase cycling awareness and education to non-cyclists, this was unfortunately was a huge setback. I for one cannot believe what happened. I would love to get your thoughts on this.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What You Train is What You Get

This winter I committed to an extended period of low intensity training we cyclist like to call base training. I set a goal to train for 8-12 weeks without going over Zone 2 Heart Rate, for me that’s 153bpm. For those that don’t know me, this was very hard for me to do. Well here I am 7 months later and I’m still training at lower intensities. Sometimes not on purpose, I just haven’t been disciplined enough to add in intervals at higher intensities. Quiet the contrast to how I use to train. I use to be of the mindset that if you weren’t suffering to the point of vomiting, you weren’t working/training hard enough. Every ride I did was one of two intensities; hard or harder! I grew up in the school of no pain no gain. After educating myself a little, by the way some people call that ignorance; I realized that there is definitely a method to the madness. There has to be a better way than how I was doing things. It took me a year or more to finally but into the process of systematic training but I have finally drank the cool-aid. The past few years as I developed as a cyclist I was what I call a Zone 3 Hero. Last year I would go out and ride hard and hang with some of the fast guys and occasionally inflict some pain myself. However, if the pace was pushed over that a little bit, I was dropped, or if there was a push to the finish or heaven forbid a sprint that required me to go above Zone 3-4, I was toast. Now, however, I think I have developed a pretty strong base but still need to add some high intensity training (HIT Intervals) in to my work-outs to take it to the next level.

There are numerous physiological reasons for what I described in the paragraph above. In both cases my body adapted to the type training I was doing. Over time, no matter what you do, your body goes through a process called adaptation and becomes really efficient at what you tell it to do. An example is a Zone 3 Hero. That was me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not going to win many races. Trust me, I know. I was for the most part a decent cyclist. On most recreational rides on the week-ends with the LBS and even rides with the boys, I felt like a champ. As soon as I started racing I realized that I wasn’t quite as strong as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, in the few races I competed in, I normally had top 10 finishes (out of 11-12 racing) Just kidding! I did fairly well, ok, decent. I was a little better than average. I don’t know about you but those are not words in which I want to be associated. Here I am today in a very similar situation but in my opinion, a better one. Just like last year when I raced, yesterday while on a club ride my body did exactly what I asked it to do.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m stuck in an extended base training period. I have yet to deliberately add HIT Intervals as a part of my weekly work-outs. This can be a problem if you want to push the intensity for any length of time. Notice the key words length of time. I can go out and push the pace for a short period but yesterday was proof that I need some more work at interval training and Threshold training. I was on the weekly Sunday evening ride with the boys and they were in rare form. One guy is silly strong and then another guy that coached me last year was there. There were the usual suspects that are fairly strong too. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do based on what I had eaten that day and I’m sure that did play a small part in my performance but for the purpose of this post, I’m sticking to the title, What You Train is What You Get. Here’s how the ride progressed. We were doing an old familiar loop close by that is about 32 miles in length with a few sections of rolling hills. No significant climbs, but definitely not flat either. Great course but there is one part that can sneak up on you and it did. After 18 miles and the split, we were cruising along at 21.7mph. I say split because we came to an intersection and half of us made it across and the other half had to stop for a car. That also happens to be the same place in the route where there are a series of steep, stair step climbs. This was the beginning of the end for me and one of my buddies. As soon as we crossed the road, one guy attacked and the other guy followed. The other guy, who was my coach last year, also races in the masters division and has been racing now for about 20 years. We spent the next 10 miles trying to bridge but just couldn’t close the gap. We had them in sight the whole time but just couldn’t make any gains. We actually increased our average speed from 21.5 to 22.8 while trying to get across. With that said you can imagine what my intensity level was by then. It was already high, near threshold, but by then I was suffering at around 180-185 bpm. Eric and I both were on the bubble and after not making significant progress; we sat up and cruised on in to the finish.

Lesson learned. If I expect to ride at that intensity, I need to train there. Not all the time, but it is necessary to develop that energy system. I need to add some HIT Intervals as well as some LT and Anaerobic efforts into my work outs. I have been staying way too low in my zones to ride like that. This also brings up an interesting point. What are my goals? I really haven’t been training for any particular event or race so that’s why I haven’t been motivated to push the intensity. Goals are another topic for another day but you see where I’m going with that. I have trained my body to be really efficient at lower intensities. I bet I could ride all day at a lower heart rate and a slow century would likely be no problem. But as soon as I start hammering for an extended period, forget it. My body is doing exactly what I have been asking it to do. It really didn’t like me asking it to go above and beyond that level yesterday. What did that look like? It was painful. I had a little nausea and dizziness with a few black spots in my vision. My HR was well above Lactate Threshold so I knew what was coming. My body telling me that I haven’t trained for this kind of effort and it’s going to back it off a bit, whether I wanted it to or not. The bottom line is that we really do get what we train for or What You Train is What You Get!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Degree Makes ALL the Difference

"At 211 degrees water is HOT, at 212 degrees water boils, and when water boils it produces steam, and with steam we can power a train! One degree makes all the difference."


I ran across this video the other night while looking for material for Spinning class. You have to check it out. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

UNBELIEVABLE

Check out Jenniefer Sage's blog post on some incredible indoor cycling classes. This is a great example of how NOT to do things. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

JUST RIDE

I finally broke out of my slump this morning with an awesome ride. I met my friend who's training for IM Florida at 5:15am and we were off. I have forgotten how beautiful it is to ride this time of the day. The traffic is low, the heat and humidity had not yet crept in and there was no wind. Another good thing about right now is that the sun comes up way early so you get more daylight.

This morning was fun! I had no reason to ride except the fact that I love doing it. Unlike my friend who is knee-deep in his rather intense training schedule, I just rode. Don't get me wrong, his endurance is alot better than mine right now simply because of volume, and lack of on my part, but I loved it. I felt good physically but I really felt good mentally. After WSSC, I felt energized to start logging more miles and that's just what I'm doing. I will say that the timing is a little because my family is out on summer break and things have settled down. No more baseball and softball, but, I made a decision to make time to ride no matter what.

So there, I am going to "Just Ride". No training schedules. No set training sessions, no nothing. Just me and my bike! Don't get me wrong, there is a place for strict training and stuff and I've done that, but I have decided just to do recreational rides this season. My friends from Miami are coming up to Nashville to do the "Jack and Back" MS 150. That is the extent of events I'll be training for this summer. So, get on your bike and ride. If you are like me and love riding, don't let anything stand in the way of you doing this. It doesn't even have to be cycling, if there is something you really want to do, do it. What's stopping you? More on this later.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Ride Yesterday

I created a ride yesterday based on some of the core movements within the Spinning Program and I thought I would share it with you. It's a very simple profile but I think it turned out good. The goal was to create a High Intensity ride that would certainly challenge you but at the same time allow those that weren't quite ready for Higher Intensity to still hang on. Here's how it went.

It was a loop ride. We did two loops. The first was a bit longer than the second but the goal was to take note and observe the first loop so that when it was time for the second loop, we could really challenge ourselves. It was an interval ride but they intervals were rather long in nature. Here goes. BTW, I think this is the first profile I've ever posted on here, not sure why, just never have.

5:00 Warm-up
5:00 (continued warm-up) "Bridging the Gap" These were basically a continuation of the warm up but I also used this time to work on fast cadence drills. I called it Bridging the Gap because outdoors, you really do have to do these to get back on the wheel in front of you if you fall back. The fact that I explained that to them and had them visual this went over really well. It gave the class something to "picture". These are also called spin-ups and fast cadence drills. They were :30 seconds in length and were instructed to pedal up to 110rpms or even higher without sacrificing form. High cadence, low Resistance. I coached proper pedal stroke, leg speed, good upper body form (no bouncing) etc. HR was still going up. Target 75% of LT.

5:00 Transitions-Some call them jumps but these were longer in nature. Started out with :30 seconds then went to :15 seconds in and out of the saddle. The focus was on smooth transitions from seated to standing and controlled intensity. Target HR-80% LT.

5:00 Seated Flat. I called it "Hammering on the Flat" I knew that after a little higher intensity that some would recover and that was OK. I encouraged them to maintain the intensity on the flat, IE Hammering. I think this is one of the hardest things to do in a class because it takes a lot of mental toughness to maintain a higher intensity for more than a minute or two, for some that is. The HR goal was still 80-85% LT.

5:00 Seated Climb-We transitioned onto a hill and really started working on resistance and slower cadence. I asked them to really challenge their legs and to raise that intensity a little. I also let them know that the hill was going to get a little steeper and to get ready mentally. We worked on good climbing position and breathing techniques getting ready for the steep part.

5:00 Standing Climb-I gave them an option to remain seated if they needed to and some did, but I really wanted to see them increase the intensity and push over the top of this mountain. I asked them to raise the intensity higher than they've had it all ride. This was the toughest part of the hill. They responded well and we made it over the top. We took 3 minutes to recover and flush our legs to prepare for the next loop.

As I said earlier, the next loop is exactly the same except the segments were shorter in duration. I did ask them to look back over the first loop and think of anything they would do differently. Did they go out too hard, not hard enough? How was their form? Do you think you could have challenged yourself a little more? Then I encouraged them to make necessary changes.

Overall, I think the class was good. It definitely challenged me. I haven't trained intensity much at all this year but I really liked it. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What is Going On?

Wow! I can't believe it's been over a month since I've written. But, I'll tell you, this has been one of the busiest months of my life. Work transition, kids school and sports, life, they all have been in full swing. I'll share a few of the highlights with you.

As far as cycling goes, it's non-existant. I am almost embarrassed to say that I've only ridden my bike 2 times in the last 8 weeks. I am still, however, teaching spin class so at least I'm getting in a little training. The two times I rode my bike were eventful to say the least. The firt ride after about 5 weeks of not riding was a blast. The weather was perfect that day. The goal was to get in miles, time on the bike as well as lots of climbing in preperation for the big event, 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge the following weekend. Mission accomplished. We climbed Lookout Mountain on 3 different sides and got in a little over 5 hours on the bike. After that ride, pollen out in full force by the way, I started getting some pretty bad congestion in my head, sore throat, etc. Yep, I was getting sick. Well, with the big day coming in a few days, I really couldn't back out. I had 7-10 friends doing this ride and I couldn't let them down. My goal was just to ride the 100 miles, have fun, and finish the ride when I felt like it. I was going to take it easy. Well, as we were preparing for the ride that morning the skies looked scary. The good news is that it didn't start raining until all 2,000 cyclist took off but the bad news is that it literally flooded for the first hour of the ride. The temp was about 65 deg, so going up the mountain wasn't that bad. The rain was horrible, it was raining harder than I've ever experienced on a bike. The misery started as I started the decent. The rain felt like little ice pellets hitting me in the face. I didn't have a rain jacket, all I had was arm warmers. I really didn't think it was going to rain that hard for that long. Note to self: If there is a chance of rain, take a rain jacket. Did I mention I was sick and felt like crap? Long story long, when we got to the bottom of the mountian, everyone was stopping to kind of regroup. As we sat there waiting on the rain to slack up a little and for it to quit lighting, we (tons on people) started shivvering uncontrollably. It was miserable. Of course I couldn't be the one to whine, but I was so cooperative when several people were asking the shortest route back. Yep, we DNF'd (Did Not Finish) the ride. A couple friends actually called for a ride home. It was that bad, but another friend and I turned back and went back over the mountain. Overall we still got in 45 miles for the day but were really disappointed that we couldn't finish the ride. As we started back over the mountain the rain slacked off and we obviously warmed up as we climbed but we both agreed that we made a good decision to live to fight another day. A. We are not getting paid to do this and B. Did I mention I was sick?

Baseball and softball are winding down. This is the last week! Whooo Hoooo!! It's been a fun season but it is so tiring. We are at the ballpark almost every night except Wed's and Sunday's. Nicholas' team is doing soo well. They have only lost 1 game all year and he is contributing every game. I am so proud of him. Noel's team on the other had had only won one game until last week. But, they've won two straight. They are on a roll baby! She is awesome as she loves to play and is having fun doing it. BTW, she made cheerleader last week.

Hope you didn't get too bored with the updates but I thought I would give you some good excuses for being awol! Lastley, I'm going to WSSC, (World Spinning and Sports Conference) in Miami in a couple weeks. I am pretty excited about this opportunity to gain even more experience and grow as a Spinning Instructor. To be honest, I need the break to recharge my batteries. With everyting going on, I've gotten a little burned out lately. I hope it hasn't shown in my classes but I'm not nieve enough to know that it could happen. Hope not though. Please feel free to leave your comments. I would love to hear from you and see what you think!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shifting Priorities

What's up fella's? It seems like a year or so since I've written about cycling stuff. That's because I haven't ridden my bike in a whole month. This weekend makes 4 weeks since my last ride. What happened? How can that be?

Well, both my kids, Noel 10, and Nicholas 8 started softball and baseball respectively. With two different teams and two practice and game schedules, it is hard to fit in any extra time on the road. Oh, I also have a wife, have a social life, teach spin class, have a job, go to church, and just started P90X. Here I am making excuses again. The truth be known, I have shifted my priorities to something a whole lot more important. I am not only coaching and helping them grow as little people, I am having fun doing it. See, in the past, I use to stress about when I was going to fit in a bike ride. I would do all the kid and family activities but in the back of mmy mind I was always stressing to see when I could ride. Did it ever cause conflict, uhh, somewhat but not noticable. So, when I fins that perfect balance, weighted heavily towards family, I'll do it.

There will be plenty time for riding bikes, but everyday I neglect or fail to capilalize on time with my kids, I miss out. It's gone, never to be again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Question Behind the Question

Just read this little book called The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller on the flight home last night. Little did I know that I would be tested right off the bat in Spin class this morning. Our Spin room is really nice with a great sound system and a nice big fan which makes it pretty loud in there, especially with all the bikes spinning and the music and fan roaring. The room is shaped like a diamond with the instructor on a raised platform in the point of the diamond. There's a lower level and another raised level in the back of the room, nice huh? I think so. Well, I've rarely ever had a problem with the sound system because I can normally figure things out before class starts. Not too difficult, just hook your iPod up and adjust the sound a little. Not today. Oh, and did I mention that my flight arrived in Chattanooga around 11:30 last night so I didn't get in bed until 12:30 or so.

I show up for class after getting about 4 hours of sleep feeling pretty good about things and very glad to be back. I do NOT like getting subs but I'm really thankful that Misty filled in for me. Anyway, enough rambling, I showed up this morning as usual, about 30 minutes early, to find the microphone not working. I have taught without a microphone but it's been a long time. In fact, I was just bragging to myself how good we have it at our gym because the microphone always work. But, the few times early on in the life of the gym, when the mic didn't work, it was horrible. Our spin room is not designed for teaching without a mic. The speakers are in front of the instructor making it really hard to hear without one. I couldn't get it to work no matter how long I played with it. I tried everything only to find that nothing worked. So, I had a choice to make. How was I going to respond, especially after just reading the QBQ.

The QBQ is a little short read about personal accountability. Something I feel is lacking in our country right now. It's not my fault! I often find myself, and don't think I'm that uncommon in doing so, pointing the finger at someone else, or at least asking the wrong questions. I bet you're asking, "what are the wrong questions", or "what do you mean". Well that's precisely what the QBQ book is all about. When we are faced with situations, are we asking correct or incorrect questions. I had a choice to make this morning, was I going to ask the correct or incorrect questions? Here's what an incorrect question consists of: It begins with "Why" or "When" or "Who". It also contains "They", "Them", "We", or "You". The correct question or correct response in most every circumstance involves sentences that begin with words like "What" or "How" and contain the word "I". Can you see where I'm going with this.

This morning, I had a choice to make. Was I going to blame the mic not working on someone else? Don't laugh. Don't think I haven't before. I've found myself asking things like "Who left the mic on and drained the batteries?" I've also probably (have) said, "Why doesn't this mic work? They just don't know how to use this system". Notice the words in these questions. Do these questions sound familiar to you? I hope not but can honestly say that I find myself asking those type questions sometimes, rarely, but sometimes. haha! But, this morning was different. I found myself asking questions like "What can I do to fix the problem" or "How am I going to teach the class today without a mic" See the difference in the wording? I was taking personal accountability for the mic, even though I wasn't totally responsible for it not working. It is, however, my class and I had to teach. It really felt good not pointing fingers or blaming others. Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you really ever even considered this? Am I the only one? The correct questions or QBQ's focus on action! It felt good to ask those questions. The result was a very positive atmosphere that worked out just fine. You know what I did? After trying for 30 minutes to get the mic to work without success, I turned one of the bikes on the front row around and taught from there. The front row is in front of the speakers, not behind like the instructors bike, which allowed me to hear how loud the music was and make adjustments as necessary. I was able to keep the music just low enough for us to hear it really well but allow them to hear me at the same time. The mic will get fixed. I could have let it spoil the whole class by placing blame and creating a negative atmosphere but I didn't. The class turned out great in my opinion. If anyone thinks differently that was there, please let me know.

So, give it a try. First of all, what kind of questions are you asking? Take a look at the way you are responding to different circumstances tomorrow. They could be at work with co-workers and managers, at home with your family or wherever you might be, notice what your questions look like. Do they begin with "Why", "When", or "Who" and contain "They", "Them", or "We"? Try to change them to "What" or "How" and contain "I" and remember they always focus on action! Good luck!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If You Can't Come to My Class, You Must Get This!

Weather, time restraints, and basically life often times gets in the way of training outdoors forcing you to spend those dreaded hours on the trainer. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to train indoors, but for the most serious cyclist, it has to be done.

I was recently introduced to some cool indoor cycling DVD’s by http://www.globalride.net/ . I got an e-mail from them asking me to review their product and I immediately said, “You’ll have to go through my agent”. Right! Of course I said I would be glad to take a look at it and to be honest, was flattered by them asking. Who isn’t looking for a way to keep from going insane on their indoor trainer? There are three DVD’s in the set but I’m only writing about the Rolling Hills Ride. I’ll let you know about the other two when I get time to look at them.

I asked for volunteers to stay after class my Spin class this morning to participate in this virtual ride. Most people looked at me like I was crazy and suggested that I was lucky to get them for the first hour. I did, however, have two brave souls stay and do the ride with me. As a Spin instructor, I’m always trying to queue my class to help them visualize climbing or descending or going up and around a switchback, or cruising along on a flat with a strong headwind. This is one of the most challenging things for a coach. What are we doing at this particular time? How steep is the hill? Certain coaches are better than others at getting the class to visualize the ride. That’s why I think you’ll like this DVD set. It makes it easy for you to visualize riding in some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

This particular ride was a rolling hills ride in Maui, Hawaii. Here are some of the things I liked about this ride. The scenery is incredible. How cool would it be to go to Hawaii to ride your bike? Just looking at the views as you are riding is enough to make the time go by quickly. It was very easy for me to visualize me hammering over the beautiful countryside of the “Big Island”. You have the option to listen to a coach guide you through the ride or you can mute him if you want. The same goes for music, you can listen to music they provide or you can blast your iPod as usual. I really liked the music selection. The coach does a really good job of coaching you as you approach the rollers, helping you to feel like you are there. He also does a great job of motivating and encouraging you to stay on target. The goal of this particular ride is to sustain your target heart rate. I chose to keep mine around 75-80% of my max heart rate given the fact that I’d just completed a hard interval class in the previous hour. The coach also did a great job of reminding you to stay focused and to stay on target. I like that because, especially indoors, you can easily allow your HR to go too high or to drop down too low if you’re not paying close attention. He helps you stay focused. There’s not too much instruction, just enough to let you know what’s going on. Additionally, there is a bonus Yoga tract on this particular DVD. I have found this to be extremely beneficial. As a cyclist, I have neglected to stretch properly over the years and it has just recently started causing big problems for me. I am convinced that you have to stretch or else you are an injury waiting to happen. These bonus tracts are awesome.


Here are a few things that I would recommend adding or changing. One of the participants this morning was new to indoor cycling and cycling in general. After the class I asked him for some feedback and he said that he would have liked more instruction up front. There is not a lot of instruction or coaching during warm up and I think that’s a perfect opportunity to set the stage for the ride. It will be different if you purchase these DVD’s and are able to read the instructions and box they come in but for many people who don’t read the instructions, like ALL men, more guidance up front would be helpful. I also really liked when you could see another cyclist in the picture. In fact, I want to be that guy for the next DVD! ;) I liked it when you could see a rider in front of you or behind you. It helped to see his cadence, his speed, his body position on the bike. I liked that but think there should be a lot more. In fact, I think it would be good if you could see a rider or even a group of riders the entire ride. It made it feel a little more realistic, almost as if you were on a group ride or something. The last thing I’ll say that I would improve is the coach’s tone and voice inflection. Maybe it’s because I have some experience in announcing certain sporting events and love that stuff, but I feel like he could have been a little more enthusiastic in his voice. His voice was good, but could have articulated and annunciated and not been as monotone.

Overall, I liked this ride. I thought it was very professional and nicely done. You can tell the folks who produced this video knew what they were doing and aren’t just trying to sell you another gimmick. I don’t think they are going to throw in a set of ginsu knives for buying these DVD’s and that’s a good thing. They are practical and very realistic which makes for a great tool for indoor training. If you do any training indoors, I highly recommend you take a look at these DVD’s. Go check out their website. I think this is a great tool to help you endure those long hours on the trainer. Check it out!

Could Have, Should Have, Would Have

Check out this website. I have already committed to go to Miami at the end of May to the World Spinning and Sports Conference (WSSC). While eating breakfast this week-end, my wife looked at me and said "is it too late to get out of your trip to Miami?". I really didn't connect the dots but she went on to say that because I was turning 40 this year, she thought it would be a great early present to go to Italy and ride the first five stages of the Tour of Italy. I almost spit my grits and coffee all over her. After thinking it thru, I decided that it was a little too late in the game to switch gears. Talk about a tough decision. I am looking forward to going to WSSC and I'm sure I will get a ton out of it. However, riding in Italy would likely be the coolest thing EVER, not to mention it is for a great cause. Check out this site www.cyclingfusion.com

Sunday, March 8, 2009

This is a MUST Read! It's long but worth it

Don't take this too seriously, but he has some valid points. Let me know what you think.

You Look Mah-velous: Cycling Style Etiquette
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:37:05 AM PT

by Josh Horowitz

You could fill a library with all the rules in the unwritten book of cycling etiquette. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that bike racers don’t hit their prime until their mid 30’s. It takes that long to learn all the rules before you can really concentrate on riding strong! With the summer months and group rides aplenty, it’s time to take a scientifically-proven but tongue-in-cheek look at looking good on the bike…

Billy Crystal and his alter ego Fernando Llamas said it best when he mugged, “It is better to look good than to feel good, dah-ling.” The cyclist’s version goes something like, “It is better to look good than to ride good.” We can’t all be world champions or even win the sprint on the local club ride, but at least we can look cool going off the back.

Although I couldn’t possibly sum up every unwritten rule of cycling etiquette in just one article, below are the 13 most important rules to remember. Some will actually improve your riding, others will simply make you look good and the rest are just down right snobbish.

Helmets. Face it, helmets just aren’t cool. Nothing looks more pro than the tour rider cruising down the boulevard wearing nothing but a broken-in cycling cap. However, concussions and drooling out the side of your mouth are really lame, so wear your helmet. But for heaven’s sake, take it off when you walk into the coffee shop! Are you afraid of slipping and hitting your head on the counter? When worn, the helmet should be tilted as far forward on your head as possible and never at an angle. Cockeyed helmets are a sure sign of an amateur.

To look cool, take off the helmet and slip on your cycling cap the moment you arrive at your destination. To look Euro-cool, make sure to always wear your sunglasses on the outside of your helmet straps so the television cameras can see the brand logo on the ear pieces. And please, no neon colored helmets! White is the only acceptable helmet color.

Legs. We’ve all been asked a million times, why do cyclists shave their legs? Our answers range from aerodynamics to massage to wound care. But we all know the real reason. It makes us look smooth (in more way than one)! So whip out the shaving cream and the Bic and mow the lawn.

For the ultimate in cool, roll up the cuffs of your shorts for that extra 1/4 inch of tanning space. To look Euro-cool, always wear a pair of the ultra-cool Pez cycling socks. And please, no gym socks!

The Kit. Your jersey must match your shorts, which must match your arm warmers, which must match your socks. But under no circumstances should a replica pro team kit or a national/world champion kit be worn unless you’ve earned it. The only acceptable team kit is your own club kit. Retro wool kits are sometimes acceptable, but even that is iffy.

To look cool if you don’t belong to a club or a team, wear a stock Castelli or Assos kit but don’t mix and match. To be Euro-cool, wear the kit of an obscure European amateur team, but only if you have a story about how you spent the winter riding with them in Majorca to go along with it. Please, no century jerseys (I’m going to take some heat on that one), nothing with cartoon characters on it and never, under any circumstances, go jersey-less. Especially if you are wearing bibs.

* And a special note for women. As much as the guys on the group ride might like it, a jog-bra is not an acceptable substitute for a jersey. Wear the bra, but please throw a jersey on over it. It’s hot. You’re hot. But shorts and a jog-bra is just not.

iPods. I should say MP3 players, but let’s face it, an iPod is the only cool on-board music system. Of course legally, I have to recommend against wearing headphones out on the road, but since you’re going to do it anyway, here are a few guidelines. Never wear headphones on a group ride. Headphones on a group ride say two things. 1) You people are good enough to ride with, but not good enough to talk to or even listen to and 2) I’m not concerned with my own safety and I’m even less concerned with YOUR safety. There’s no faster way to become disliked by a group of cyclist than by showing up on a group ride with headphones, even if the music is off.

To look cool, remember that the smaller the headphone, the better. No 1985 walkman ear muff headphones please. Ear buds are the only acceptable iPod accessory. To look Euro-cool, make sure you are listening to an obscure independent British punk rocker or electronic group. And please, no Kraftwerk!

Clipping out. Hard to believe, but this one actually deserves its own paragraph. One of the easiest ways to determine the experience level of a cyclist is to see how early they clip out before coming to a stop. A novice rider will clip out as much as a block before a stop sign or red light. A real beginner will clip out a block before a green light, just on the off chance that it might turn red by the time they get to it.

To look cool, let the bike come to a full stop before clipping out. To look Eurocool, never clip out. Track stands are the only acceptable way to wait at a red light. And please, no basket-clips and no mountain bike shoes on the road bike! Wearing sneakers or mountain bike shoes on the road indicates that you intend to spend more time with your feet on the ground than in the pedals. You’re a cyclist, darn it, not a pedestrian!

The Friday Ride Hero. Although getting dropped on the hard Saturday group ride isn’t cool, there are actually more ways to look un-cool on the easy Friday recovery ride. The best way to look un-cool is by pushing the pace over 19 mph or by doing your intervals off the front of the ride. Friday rides are for recovery and socializing. You’re not going to impress anyone by ramping up the pace. Unfortunately, messing up the pace is just as easy to do on the hard group ride and this is where things get really complicated. Sprinting at the wrong moment, setting the wrong pace up a climb or pushing the tempo at the wrong time can draw just as much scorn as pushing the pace on a recovery ride. Get to know the etiquette of a group ride by doing it at least two or three times before even thinking about getting to the front.

To look cool, show up to the Friday ride with a cup of coffee from an independent bohemian coffee shop and sip on it throughout the ride. To look Euro-cool, skip the coffee and blueberry muffin after the ride in favor of an espresso and a croissant. And please, never order any drink that has whip cream spilling out over the top of the cup. You didn’t ride hard enough to burn off 20 grams of fat and 600 calories.

Group Ride Etiquette. Have you ever seen a pro team on a training ride? Side by side, shoulder to shoulder, quietly zipping along. Then, there is the club ride. You actually hear it before you see it. Slowing! Right Side! Stopping! Rolling! Hole! Then you see it. 25 riders spread out over an entire city block, three, sometimes four, wide. Weaving, swarming cars, running stop signs. Keep your group ride cool with the following four rules of thumb. 1) Never ride more than two abreast. 2) Never allow more than six inches distance between your front wheel to the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. 3) Maintain a distance, no more than 12 inches from your shoulder to the shoulder of the rider next to you. 4) It only takes one person to call things out. This should be the person at the front of the pack. Ideally, a little point of the hand is all it takes to indicate obstructions or turns. It shouldn’t take two dozen people yelling at the top of their lungs to make a ride run smoothly.

To look cool, keep the group tight, wheel to wheel and shoulder to shoulder. To look Euro-cool, only ride with other cyclist wearing the exact same kit. If this is not possible, make sure there are no more than three different kits in the pack and that there are at least three riders wearing each kit. And please, never swarm cars at stop lights or steer a large group of riders through a red light. It’s just not cool.

Carbon Wheels. Carbon wheels are for racing! Never under any circumstances should they be brought out on a training ride. Training wheels should be strong and heavy with lots and lots of spokes. Carbon wheels say to the group, I’m not strong enough to do this ride without my $2,000 feather weight wheels. If you have the money to tear up a carbon wheel set on the road, then you’d be better off spending it on a coach who will get you fit enough to keep up with the group ride on regular training wheels.

To be cool, ride with Bontrager flat proof tubes. They’re about four-times as heavy as regular tubes and they just about double your rolling resistance. To be Euro-cool, don’t tell anyone you’re riding with them. It’s enough to know for yourself that you can keep up with those weenies even on a 22-pound bike. And please, no deep dish carbon clinchers. Carbon wheels are race wheels and clinchers are for training. Tubulars are the only way to go on your carbons.

Ornaments and Accessories. This one is simple. No stuffed animals or figurines mounted to your handlebars no matter what it signifies to you. No mirrors on your helmet or your glasses. No reflector strips taped to your bike. No giant flashing lights (LEDs are ok).

To look cool, ride without a saddle bag. Put one small tube, a tiny pump and a tire lever in your middle back pocket. To look Euro-cool, ride without a saddle bag and with nothing in your pockets. This is cool because it means you must have a team car following you with all your supplies. And please, don’t plaster the stickers that came with your shoes or your glasses all over your bike unless your sponsorship contract with those companies specifically dictates that you must.

Cat 4 Marks. Otherwise known as a chain tattoo, this is what we called them back in the day before Category 5 existed. Nothing gives away a rookie faster than a black streak of grease on their calf. The experienced rider can actually get through an entire ride without rubbing up and down on their dirty chain.

To look cool, CLEAN YOUR CHAIN! To look Euro-cool, take your chain off once a week and soak it in degreaser along with the bearings from your bottom bracket and your headset (you old timers know what I’m talking about). And please, it’s one thing to get grease on your leg. It’s another thing to get it on your hands, your jersey, your face!

Shorts. MEN: there are many rules regarding shorts. First of all, they don’t exist. Forget about them. The only acceptable garments to wear are bibs, no exceptions. But please, throw out your bibs when they start to wear out. Enough anatomy is revealed by the skin tight Lycra, we don’t need to see a transparent butt panel. And this may seem obvious, but the jersey goes over the bibs!

To look cool, wear bibs, enough said. To look Euro cool, wear bib knickers or even bib tights. And please, don’t wear underwear under your shorts!

How to Dress for Weather. If the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you must wear knees or better yet, full leg warmers. If you go out of the house in 50 degree weather with bare legs, it doesn’t mean you’re tough, it just means you’re an idiot. In the summer, no matter how hot it gets, you must never wear a sleeveless jersey. Tan lines are the proud mark of a real cyclist. If you must get some additional ventilation, cut a vertical line along the inside seam of your sleeve with a pair of scissors. Not only will this help you stay cool, but it says, “my sponsors give me so many jerseys, I don’t mind wrecking one.”

To look cool, if you need to keep the sweat out of your eyes, wear a cycling cap, not a sweat band or a bandana. To look Euro-cool, just don’t sweat. And please, no arm warmers with a sleeveless jersey!

When to Dress. Believe it or not there are a whole bunch of rules regarding when to get dressed for a race or a ride. In general, the less time you spend in your chamois, the cooler. If you are riding to the start, you should get dressed just before you leave the house. Don’t eat breakfast or walk the dog in the morning in your full kit! The neighbours think you’re goofy enough for cycling as it is! If you are driving to the start and it is less than a 45 minute trip, it is ok to wear your bibs under a pair of regular shorts, but not your jersey or your gloves and especially not your helmet. Also, make sure the suspenders on your bibs are hanging down, (preferably on the outside of your street shorts) and not over your shoulders. If it is longer than a 45 minute drive to the start, you must bring all your cycling gear in a cycling specific duffle bag such as a Specialized or Rudy Project bag. Brown paper bags or shopping bags are never acceptable.

To look cool, wrap a towel around your waist when you change. Changing skirts are practical, but not very cool. To look Euro-cool, make sure it’s a white, thread bare towel taken from the cheap motel room that you and five teammates crammed into at your last stage race. And please, no bare butts in the parking lot. Once again, we see enough through the skin tight Lycra.

Once last time, if you can’t ride good, you might as well look good. And please remember, I don’t write these rules, I only live by them.[/i]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Favorite Music Monday

I need your help! The hardest part of teaching Spin for me is deciding on what music to play. I ask my class all the time to give me suggestions but only one or two people ever do. So, I'm out-sourcing the music selections. Please reply in the comment section and give me 1) your favorite work-out songs of all time and 2) your latest favorite two or three songs. They don't have to be work-out songs, just whatever you are digging right now. After I collect some "Best-Of" songs from you guys, I'll put a play list together and post it. I might even try to figure out how to put the tracks on here so you can download the play list from this site. I'll have to seek one of my blog-xperts on this one though. Thanks for helping out. I can't wait to see what songs you like.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Take Charge of Your Fitness!

Why do you go to the gym? I bet in the last ten years gym membership is at an all time high. Why is that? Especially this time of year. The gyms are packed. Weight loss is probably the most common reason people work out. Some do it for improved health as they get older, others just to socialize or be a part of something. There are many reasons people work-out but then there are plenty more reasons why people don't! That's why I'm challenging you to show some ownership! Take charge of YOUR fitness! It's yours, no one else, so if you're not happy with it, change it. Do something about it. When is the last time you found yourself wishing you could lose some weight or get in shape? I bet it was within the last week. Then why don't you? Even though membership is through the roof there are still a lot of people that don't go to the gym. I want to address some of the reasons I hear and how not to fall victim to these excuses.

I was talking with someone recently about fitness and goals and I asked them how often they planned to go to the gym. They really didn't know they just said that they were going to "try" to go 3 days a week. Well, trying is often times not good enough. Our intentions are great but our actions sometimes don't match up. What you need to do is make exercise a part of your day or week. Schedule it. Write it down. Put it on your calender. Make it as much a part of your day as eating or brushing your teeth. I hear people all the time say that they just don't have time. I have to call BS on that one. Take a day or a week and think about where you spend your time. Is it on the Internet or surfing Facebook? Careful on that one. I just started a FB account and I know the answer! Here's a good one, how about watching TV? You will be surprised when you take a close look at where you are spending your time. I think that what you'll will find is that you do have time to fit in exercise if you make it.

What about those New Year's Resolution's? So many people set these and never follow through. They may go to the gym for a week, maybe two but then stop. Some may even hang in there for a couple months but then slowly fade out. Why is this? One reason is that most people think that they have to work as hard as they can or work-out like they did back when they were playing high school sports. Then they find themselves very sore and unable to walk for a week and say "forget that", I'm not doing that anymore. I can't blame them, heck I wouldn't either. I'm too old for that. The answer is to start slow. You didn't gain all this weight overnight and you sure aren't going to lose it overnight. In fact, it's going to take a lot longer than it use to. Sorry to break that to you, but it gets harder as you get older. So hang in there. Take it slow. Don't try to kill yourself at the gym. If you use to be a runner back in the day but you haven't ran in years, WALK.(read my "Harder is Better" Post) Don't try to go out and run 5 miles the first day back. What happens is that most people start out too hard and try to pick up where they left off. Then they get discouraged and quit. Don't make this mistake.

There are even those that are faithful and workout 3-5 times every week and still aren't getting the desired effects. Is this you? Have you been working out for a year or so with minimal results? Why do you think this is? The biggest reason I see is that people don't have any goals. I love the saying "If you aim at nothing, you normally hit it" That is so true. What about this one? "You tend to miss 100% of the shots you don't take". I ask my class often why are they there. Why do you get out of bed at 5:00am in the morning to ride a bike that doesn't go anywhere? You have to have a reason for going to the gym. It doesn't have to be that your training for an Ironman or the Olympics or something. It just has to be something. It can be as simple as weight loss. If it is, then how much (see my Post on New Year's Resolutions about SMART goals) do you want to lose? How long do you want it to take to lose this weight? Set some goals. Be specific. Then track your goals. You are so much more likely to even go in the first place if you have a good reason.

I could write about this forever but I think these few things are enough to get you started. I know you have good intentions. I know you really want to do better. Well, what's holding you back? Don't let anything stand in your way of your own fitness. It's yours! You have to be the one. Don't let time be an excuse. Make time. Do away with some of the things in your life that do not add value. Make fitness a priority. Take it easy. Especially if you are just getting back into the swing of things. Don't try to be a hero. The odds are against you if you do. The chances of you quitting are really good if you do this. Then lastly, set some goals. Maybe you can set a long-term goal with plenty of short-term goals to help keep you focused. The bottom line is that YOU have to TAKE CHARGE of YOUR FITNESS! I'm no fitness professional but I've been doing this long enough to know a little bit about it so if you have any questions or need any help, let me know. Hang in there. Stay positive. When you get discouraged or tired and think you want to quit, think about why you are doing it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Base Building Works!

I've been preaching the benefits of aerobic base building for a while now and we are 5 week in to it. I feel great! I'll tell you later the tangible benefits I've already seen but let me share with you what I'm seeing out on the road. Friday after noon we climbed Suck Creek Mountain. Suck Creek is about 6 miles long but had a nice and easy grade of 6%. We had about 8 miles or so to warm up so when we got to the bottom we were ready to go. Typically I climb this mountain as hard as I can. I've only climbed it a couple times for training, the other times were in 3S3M Challenge. As we started the climb, my friend set the pace a little too high. My HR went up to around 170 which I didn't want to do because of base training. Although it is expected that your HR exceed your base training zone while climbing, I still wanted to keep it down as much as I could. I told my friend I was going to back off and let my HR settle in. We both agreed and did so. What happened was very encouraging. After I let my HR settle down to about 160bpm, I started focusing on my pedal stroke and breathing. before I knew it my hr was well under control and I felt incredible. My legs felt stronger than normal and I was still maintaining an average speed that I normally keep at a lot higher intensity. The bottom line is, I was able to climb this mountain at the same level of performance (speed/time) but with much less effort. What this means is that my heart, my CV System, my aerobic system is getting more efficient and stronger.

Sunday afternoon we went for another base ride. This time with 4 other folks, two of which are known to try to push the pace even though we are doing a base ride. Here's what happened. We rode for 2 hours at a pretty good pace. I averaged 139 but often times found myself at 25-30 mph. Granted, some of that was while drafting (another post later) but for the most part, I know it was because of the time spent in base training. My heart is getting stronger and my body is adapting to the low intensity training. It's becoming very efficient at burning fat as fuel! This is huge for a former Zone 3 Hero. I can't wait til base is over and I can start adding intervals and some LT work. In the mean time, I'm committed to the "Fat Burning Challenge", thanks to Melissa! If you are doing it, hang in there. It works and if you go to another instructor's High Intensity class, don't fall victim to the madness. Stay disciplined! You'll be glad this summer when you are hammering down the road with a low average HR because you can!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SUCK CREEK MOUNTAIN RIDE

Anyone interested in doing a couple hours tomorrow afternoon? A few of us are riding from the bike shop (Suck Creek Cycles). Out Signal Mountain Blvd over Suck Creek. I think we'll head down the mountain into the Sequachee Valley for a while then back up the back side. Should be nice weather so if you are interested, let me know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

HOW I SEE IT

Isn't it amazing how our impressions are formed so quickly. I don't know about you but I'm bad about making a judgement based on an initial encounter with someone often times without really getting to know them. Am I the only one? Do you ever do this. Don't get me wrong, my inital impressions aren't always bad or judgmental, they are just that, intial impressions that can often shape a relationship or how you see others. I have to tell you a story about an encounter with two women in my class.

A month ago I was attending another Saturday class to gain experience and "learn" from other instructors. As I was working out, I noticed a couple women in front of me. I noticed that as the younger woman was trying to do the prescribed standing climbs, she was having difficulty keeping up. She would go as long as she could standing then would sit down. Struggling to keep up, she would do this over and over with her form getting worse each time. Finally I decided to "help" her so I proceeded to tell her that it was OK to stay seated and that she didn't have to feel like she had to do everything the instructor was telling us to do. I told her my favorite line that I use everyday in my class, that Spin class is an individual exercise in a group setting. As I was "helping" this woman, she looked at me like "who the heck are you pal" and kept on spinning. I continued working out, feeling that I had really ticked her off. She didn't have a clue who I was. She probably thought I was some know-it-all, indoor cycling hero or something. After class I approached them and introduced myself and tried to encourage them to come to my class and that I was an instructor for the early morning classes. Then we were off.

As I looked back on the experience, I thought, wow she was not receptive to my feedback at all, and that I was just trying to help. Right then my impression of this woman was formed. Not really in a bad way but just the fact that she was not receptive to my feedback and correction. I thought, wow, she really had a problem with me trying to "help".

A week or so later the two women start coming to my class. I re-intorduced myself and chatted for a second before class but mostly very shallow small talk. They continued coming to my class for a couple weeks. Well, yesterday I approached them after class and called the one by name and asked the other "what was your name again?" She replied, and I then asked them if they were friends or sisters. I was just trying to get to know them a little better when the oldest one smiled an said, "she's my daughter". We all laughed and joked about how they looked like sisters and the age difference and so forth. The mom mentioned riding outside and that she didn't have a good road bike that she hasn't invested in one yet but she did do a charity ride last year. Turns out she did the Saul Raisin ride last year. Saul is a kid from across the state line from Dalton, GA. He rode professionally with a French team named Credit Agricole. Saul unfortunately had a crash that almost cost him his life. He suffered a severe head injury and was told that he should never race again. Since then he has started raising money for victims of head injuries. The daughter looked at me and said "My mom rode for me in that ride last year". At that moment it clicked. My heart to the floor. I saw beneath the surface of the situation. Tears welled up in my eyes as I asked, what happened. She told me that she had a jet ski accident a while back and suffered severe trauma to her head and almost died. She was in a coma for 3 and a half months. I told her how sorry I was and that she looked great and seemed to be doing awesome now. Her mom told me how much they liked my class and that it help with balance and coordination. I was touched by the whole incident.

Somehow my age came up and the daughter said, wow, I thought you were my age (25). As usual, I laughed and joked that she was awesome and that when you get old flattery is good for you and stuff like that. Then she said " I told my mom that you were cute, and wondered if you were married". I again laughed and said thank you and thatI was flattered. She could tell I was humbled by the whole encounter and then said "I hope you are not offended by me telling you are cute". Getting the mom to agree, I told her again that flattery was good when your older. Then I said, Heck, I'm not offended, I'll give you a hug for that! We laughed and then went our seperate ways.

How I see it? Well, I learned again that next time I meet someone, I need to be careful not to be so quick to form impressions. I need to take time to see what's on the inside not just the outside. What's beneath the surface. What causes people to respond in certain ways. Who are they and why are they not receptive to you or your feedback? I saw her heart once I took the time to look at it and I was touched. How do you see it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ride this Week-End?

The spring-like weather will be here this weekend and YOU are invited to come ride with us! We are meeting at the corner of Mahan Gap and Ooltewah-Georgetown Road in the big parking lot. Wheels down at 2:00pm. (that means rolling at 2:00 not airing your tires and putting on gear ;o) It's the parking lot on the right coming from the interstate.

We will be doing an easy loop at a super easy pace. If you feel like coming, let me know and I'll look for you. Don't miss this opportunity to get together and ride. Also, if you are doing the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge, you had better start getting in some hours in the saddle! See you there at 2:00

Monday, February 2, 2009

Harder is Better? Maybe Not

Are you one of those that thinks that "if I don't work out hard every time I go to the gym, I'm not getting a good workout"? Don't get me wrong, as I mentioned in another post, I've been there. I was raised in the camp of no pain no gain, and blood, sweat, and tears, and sacrifice your body. Now, after years of hit or miss exercise, injuries, and average fitness gains, I'm not so sure that that mentality works. Are you one of these people? What usually happens after you set your New Years Resolution to get back in the gym? Are you still at it? You tell me.

I can tell you how it use to be for me and I bet for many others out there to. Maybe not you, because some of you are totally committed and love taking care of your bodies and have developed the habit of consistent working out. But for the majority of us, I've seen it year in and year out at the gym, after the first month or so we quit. It's too hard! It's not fun. Why do I kill myself? My back hurts. My muscles ache. I can't focus at work after working out so hard in the mornings. I'm soooo tired all the time. It doesn't even seem like I'm losing weight. I crave sugar all the time. I crash about 2:00pm. I'm getting sicker this year than usual. I'm not really seeing any significant gains anyway. Do these sound familiar? If they do continue reading.

After reading many, many articles on this and experiencing this for myself, I'm convinced that "harder is not better". Now, is there a place for "harder" workouts. Let's refer to harder as intensity for now on. Absolutely there is a place for intensity in your routine. I would bet that for some of you, that's all you know. That's why you get discouraged and quit, or maybe aren't as consistent as you want to be. Do you think that every time you go to the gym you have to work at a high intensity. Here's a better question. Do you even know how intense your workouts are? Do you have a Heart Rate Monitor? How are you measuring your intensity? That might be a place to start.

There are several ways to measure intensity. The first is by RPE or rate of perceived exertion. That's just simply how you feel. How hard it seems you are working. There are a dozen charts that describe RPE based on certain descriptors like "Hard" or " Near Breathless". These are obviously subjective and vary greatly among students. The other is by using a power meter which I have not yet tasted the cool-aid on so I won't go into that. And the other most common way to measure intensity is by measuring your heart rate. Your heart rate is how your heart reacts to a certain work load. It's not a measurement of work or force produced but simply how hard your heart or cardiovascular system is having to work in response to this effort. This too can be subjective but it's so much more objective than RPE. Several things can affect HR are things like quality and quantity of sleep, caffeine, illness, stress etc. Do yourself a favor if you are serious about fitness and get yourself a heart rate monitor. Google Polar Heart Rate Monitors. I recommend Polar and particularly the F-4 or F-6. You're going to spend anywhere from $80-$120 on one but don't panic. These are not your entry level HR monitors. Polar is the most popular and dependable brand on the market. There are other more expensive and less expensive brands but these are the ones I would recommend for anyone looking to get one.

Back to Intensity. It is a physiological fact that you burn fat as the primary source of fuel at lower intensities. If you train at a lower intensity for 8-12 weeks you actually train your body to become very efficient at burning fat as fuel. When you do that great things start to happen. (more about the benefits of aerobic base training later) On the other side of the coin, when you work out at a high intensity, you burn glucose (sugar), carbs, and calories as your primary source of fuel. Now this is very simplistic explanation of your body's different energy systems and what each uses for fuel but for the most part, they'll do for now. What is the first thing most overweight people do when they finally want to lose weight? They walk! Partly because they can't run or do much of anything else so they just simply walk. IF they are committed to walking and get out there regularly and walk, what happens? They start seeing results. They start losing weight. They start feeling better. They get MOTIVATED to do more and the cycle starts. What happens if they are fat and try to run 5 miles the first day? You guessed it. They quit and go to Krispy Kream because let's face it, they're never going to get into shape. There's just no use.

Don't be that guy/gal. Don't think that you have to kill yourself in the gym or on the track the first day back. Take it slow. You didn't get in this shape overnight and your not going to get in great shape overnight either. Get a HR MONITOR now. Set some goals. Have fun. Get over the idea that harder is better. Be smart. Educate yourself on the facts and don't listen to anyone that tells you otherwise. Remember, there is a time and place for high intensity workouts, it's just not the first few weeks after you set your NY Resolutions. I would tell you to go easy for 8-12 weeks. Trust me. It works. More on that later.....

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Made the Cut

Thanks to all of you that called or texted or thought about me yesterday. It was confirmed that I have so much to be thankful for, especially the fact that I have some pretty AWESOME friends. It was a bitter-sweet day for me because even though I am still employed, many of my colleagues were let go. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they start this new, exciting chapter of their lives.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power to Choose

Well, most of you probably know by now that tomorrow is the big day for me and thousands of other folks I work with. Some of you may not know, but our company is yet again having "deep" cuts or reduction in force. We were told a couple months ago that is was not going to be pretty and that we should have a plan B. Unfortunately, I was notified yesterday that my manager had lost his job. I pray for him and his family. I find out tomorrow at 11:00am est.

We called it Bloody Friday two years ago when it happened. Many of my close friends and co-workers were let go then and many will be let go again tomorrow. I, myself included in that mix.

As I've talked to people this week, some close and some not so close, I've seen how people react sooo differently to the circumstances and perceived trials in their lives. Quiet frankly, some are scared to death. Even people that aren't going through this, people that just feel bad for me, are nervous and wonder what's going to happen. It's not just our company but thousands of companies around the nation/world are laying off tens of thousands of employees. What are we going to do? What can we do? How do we respond?

Thank God that we have the POWER to choose our responses to the many circumstances that we face. Whatever we are faced with in this life, death of a loved one, severe illness, hard economic times, war, job loss (wow the others make this one seem insignificant, huh?) we can decide how we are going to respond.

The way I look at it, whatever happens tomorrow will be the right thing for me. Does that make sense? I have no power over the circumstance or the outcome at this time, but I do have the power to respond a certain way. So, I choose to be thankful! I choose to be diligent. I choose to be faithful. I choose to be positive. I choose to move on with perseverance and commitment. I told my wife the other day that when Friday comes and, if I no longer have a job with Pfizer, guess what? We still have our marriage. We still have our three beautiful children. We still have our Faith in God. We still have soooo many incredible friends. So, with that said, I choose to be glad in those things and trust that God will provide a way for us! He never said it would always be easy, or that we would always be financially stable, or that we would always have any of the things we perceive as good, but He did promise to take care of us! Thanks for listening. Sorry to get all sentimental on you but I thought I would share this so you can get to know me a little bit beyond the 45 mins to hour that we have for spin class.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IJA-Intensity Junkie Annonymous

I talked a lot about that in class this morning. I subbed for someone this morning and boy was it fun. Some people in the class knew me but many of them didn't have a clue who I was which, by the way, is pretty challenging as an instructor. They didn't know what to expect from me, I didn't know what to expect from them. Like most, they were probably there to get their intensity fix for the day/week and feel good about themselves. If you do know me, you know my thoughts on the "harder is better" mentality. Trust me, I've been there. I was a three sport athlete in school and was in the Army after college so I understand what it means to "work as hard as you can every time no matter what".

I think several of the members stopped by Starbucks this morning around 5:00am to get their daily double shot of espresso because they sure were chatty. That just told me that A) they had a lot of energy and wanted to kill themselves in class because that's what we do, or B) They just didn't know any better. So, uncharacteristically, I gave them their intensity fix.

Over the past few months, I've been trying to educate myself and class on the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic training and the different zones associated with that. That all went out the window this morning! Anyway, simply put, when you work in your aerobic zone, below 80% of max heart rate, you are training your body to use mostly fat as the primary source of fuel. When you cross over that 80-85% of your MHR, your body starts using primarily carbs, sugar, and eventually some stuff in your muscles as your primary source of fuel. Instant energy if you will. Do you burn calories at lower intensity? Absolutely! Do you burn Fat at High Intensities? Yes! But, like I said, the primary source of fuel at a lower intensity is primarily Fat.

Do you want to become a fat burning machine? Then you might have to have a shift in thinking. Are you an intensity junkie? Do you think that if you don't kill yourself in the gym then you are not getting a good workout? IMO, that mentality needs to be thrown out the window. There is something to be said for frequency too though. If you are only working out once a week, then by all means, it's probably safe to say that high intensity is OK. If you are working out 4-5 times a week as you should, then you have to STOP the addiction. Get off the intensity drug.

Stay tuned for a more about the tangible benefits of aerobic workouts. Not only do you train your body to become very efficient at burning fat, which lasts all day, there are other benefits. Disclaimer, there needs to be a balance in your workouts. I am not advocating that you abandon anaerobic workouts at ALL. And, you have to know what your are trying to accomplish, why you are working out. That's another topic. What are your goals?

Please give me your thoughts or questions. We are in this together. It's your class and your workouts, so please tell me what you think.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm Blogging

Welcome to my brand new blog! I never thought I would start one of these but I thought this would be a great venue to discuss and share information about cycling and spinning. I have found that there are some talented writers out there that provide loads of valuable information for all to read. I wanted to personalize it and create this blog so that we as a class or group of friends could learn and grow together!

Congratulations to those of you who have agreed to take the "How to Become a Fat-Burning Machine" challenge. Hey, maybe that's what I'll write about first. Just to let you know, I stole this idea from another blogger. I know it's going to come as a huge surprise, but a lot of the stuff I teach and talk about in my classes aren't original to me. I know, I know, I bet you are shocked because you thought I was the MAN, but I have never been one to re-invent the wheel. There are some talented folks out there that have been doing this stuff for a lot longer than I have. Although I will say that we are all different in terms of delivery and style. That's what makes us unique. So, I hope you will stay tuned and follow this blog. I'm going to try to provide you with some great information that will help you on your journey to good health, or whatever your fitness goal may be.

New Year's Resolution?

How many of you set New Year's Resolutions? Now, how many of you are frustrated year in and year out because you never keep them? You probably have great intentions but have found that sometimes you have poor follow through. Here are several ways to keep your New Year's Resolutions and stop feeling guilty for letting yourself down.

Be SMART! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

Your goals must be Specific and and Measurable. What is it that you want to accomplish? Is it to lose weight, how much? Is it to lose body fat, how much? Maybe you just want to be in better cardiovascular shape. Get a Heart Rate Monitor so you can measure improvements. (more on HR Monitors later) Maybe you want to complete a 100 mile bike ride. (you know who I'm talking to) Maybe a triathlon. Whatever your goal, make it specific and measurable.

Your goals also have to be Attainable. You probably won't set a goal to win the Tour de France this year right? However, there are many challenges that you can achieve with your current skill set. Find something that you really want to accomplish that is in the realm of your capabilities. Don't sell yourself short. Set your goal just beyond your current level of ability. Challenge yourself but make sure it is attainable.

Be for real! Be Realistic! This is very similar to attainable. You are the only one that can determine how high your goal should be. It can be very high and realistic at the same time. A high goal is often easier to achieve than a low goal because low goals bring low motivation. Your challenge or goal must be equal to or just beyond your skills or else you will be board. There has to be a balance.

Lastly, your goal must be timely. When do you want to see results? With no time frame there is no sense of urgency. If your goal is to lose 10lbs, "whenever" is not good enough. You have to set a specific date or else the chances of you achieving this goal is highly unlikely. You need a time frame.

So, it's not to late to set New Year's Resolutions. I actually don't like referring to goals as New Year's Resolutions but I thought it would make for a better story. You can set goals anytime of the year and you probably should. So, what are you waiting on? Set some goals and be SMART about it.