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NETA Group Cycling Instructor Certification

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I went to the NETA Group Cycling Instructor Certification Class a couple weekends ago and have a few thoughts on my experience with the class. I’m planning on putting together some indoor group cycling classes later this year and thought this would be a good place to start picking up some of the basics or best practices for running a class.

The first thing I should mention is that up to this point, I have not had any experience with group indoor cycling or spin type classes. I obviously spend a lot of time on bikes and quite a few hours on indoor bike trainers, but that is a bit of a different animal than indoor group cycling for general aerobics at the local gym using spin style bikes.

My main expectation of the class was to give me a better glimpse into some general practices, procedures, class setup, etc… for putting together a class for my gym. I have no concerns about putting together an appropriate workout session and guiding class participants into appropriate training zones, but wanted to see what was taught as far as putting together a class session.

I also understood going into it that there would likely be some differences between what I do on an indoor trainer and use an indoor trainer for vs. how a spin bike might be used in a class setting with folks that may not ride traditional bikes.

The Good

Basic Bike Fit

This was fairly basic, but good at the same time. We took actual angle measurements of the knee joint with the pedal at bottom dead center (6 o’clock) position to set initial seat height using an angle of 25 to 35 degrees from straight leg position. I had never done this measurement myself, but found my comfort level to be best near the 25 degree angle with the 35 degree angle feeling like the seat was definitely on the low side. We also used a plum bob off the front of the knee to line up the fore/aft position of the seat.

Handlebar height and fore/aft positon was set much more simple and instruction was given that your bars needed to be above your seat to avoid back injury and this makes sense for the group cycling classes. The fore/aft position was to be set by making sure you could touch the bars with your fingers while holding your elbow on the nose of the seat.

Safety

Lots of safety was covered to avoid injury of beginners.

Riding Positions

Basic bike position and movements were covered that included 3 different hand positions, out of the saddle climbing position and lots of focus on not isolating the lower body that again, was very focused on safety and running a class with beginners. This was helpful though to understand as these are all things that I will need to guide the class through and things that I might generally take for granted. It’s also the little things, like changing body riding position or hand placement that will help keep the class engaged and the workout more entertaining.

Cadence

A few cadence windows were reveiewed to cover hill simulation intervals, seated flats, etc… I understand cadence windows, but this was another good aspect of the class for beginners and another reminder that this is another variable that the class instructor will need to guide the class participants on.

Actual Spin Session

The instructor put us through about an hour of a spin session that felt fairly mild. I actually brought a bluetooth chest strap heart rate monitor and bluetooth cadence sensor, so I could monitor heart rate and cadence. The machines were all manual with no electronics. Anyways, it was good to go through an actual session and get an idea of how to tie music to the workout. The other good part was just seeing a class in action and seeing an example of how an instructor keeps the entire class engaged.

The Bad

Animosity Toward Actual Cyclists

I have to mention this… the instructor for the NETA Group Cycling Certification was very much into the indoor group cycling/spin class thing for general aerobics, but seemed to have very little knowledge of traditional cycling. She even seemed to carry a bit of animosity toward actual cyclists and sounded like she almost just writes them off in her classes. She also did not really seem to want to even connect the two or care to see how an actual cyclist might use a spin bike to train for real cycling, that might be different than a general aerobics enthusiast use.

To be fair with the instructor though… I can imagine that she has probably had some cyclists with very elitist attitudes join her classes on occasion and may have felt that same animosity coming from the other direction, which would certainly turn her away from taking interest. I promise you that I did not bring this animosity to the class myself. I was highly interested in the potential to learn some new things and paid for the class out of my own pocket and went to it on my accord. I went there to learn as much as possible, so that I can put together the best class possible. I went in with an open mind, knowing that I had some things to learn about spin classes.

I bring all this up because I see no need to alienate one group from the other as there is obviously a population from each group that has an interest in both indoor cycling and actual outdoor cycling. I mention in my takeaways at the end, that I think it is quite feasible to engage both groups in the same class and I fully intend to do that. In fact, my focus or passion is actually more at the beginner level folks and getting more people fit and active, but I want to engage both levels together. It has nothing to do with what level you are at, but everything to do with your passion for activity, staying fit and making yourself better from day to day.

Not Worth $169?

The class was $169 and we got out a little early. I think $169 is on the high side for what the class covered. I think there were 12 people in the class, so it is not like they made a ton of money after paying the instructor, facility fee, insurance and then still have to process the exams and certificates. However, for the money… it would have been nice for the class to have went the full length and in a bit more detail. There was a good pdf booklet that we received in class, that went deeper than the class instruction itself, but it would have been nice for the instruction to go a alittle deeper than it did.

Instructor Highlighted Specific Material That Would Be On Exam

This is obviously a positive to passing the exam, but I think it takes away from the credibility of the certificate and class at the end of the day. The exam itself was online within 30 days of the class, open book and easy anyways.

Training Zones & Interval Structure

I think this is really important to the class and can be a very educational thing that people can get out of a class in addition to a great workout. I personally feel relatively knowledgable about these topics, but if you went into this NETA class with very little knowledge about how to use training zones and the purpose behind specific interval structure, then you’ll come out of this class with very little knowledge. This was kept pretty basic and I can understand why, given the time frame. However, a good 30 minutes of focus on it would have been valuable in relation to setting up a indoor group cycling session. There was some basic stuff in the pdf handout booklet, but again… it was all pretty basic.

Couple Other Takeaways From The Class

One Class For All Levels

I don’t think it will be very difficult to run one cycling class that includes all levels and be able to engage everyone. The key to this will be driving home the perceived exertion levels and heart rate training zones for interval and recovery sets. The other part is having optional interval sets where very fit folks may do a set of short burst intervals or single threhold interval while the less fit folks hit a short endurance interval during the same period.

Music

Music is probably the part that I may struggle with the most… getting some good music together to match up with an appropriate workout. I do listen to music, but I’m not a big music person in the sense that I understand rythm very well or know all the artists and songs. I’ll have to do some digging here to put together some good tracks for the classes.

Would I Recommed The Class?

I would recommend this class only as a starting point for a basic introduction. You’ll learn enough to pass their exam, get a certificate, fit people on bikes and start putting together a class. If you’re really wanting to come away with some deep knowledge, then I’d suggest looking elsewhere. I was interested in doing the Spinning branded class, which is at least twice the cost for the class alone, but it would have required additional cost for overnight travel and a flight. Based on what I read, the Spinning branded class is probably worth the additionl class fee if you live in a city where they have a studio.

If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to hit me up on the contact form.

Reference Links

NETA

Spinning

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My Monthly Endurance Path Update – April 2015

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Welcome to the my April 2015 Endurance Path Update!

I started doing monthly updates last year, but did not follow through.  I am going to start them back up and see if I can refine them enough for it to make sense to keep them going.  As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.  If there is something specific you would like to see or do not want to see in these monthly updates, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page.

My intention is to share quick highlights of any endurance racing, training, nutrition, health and any other fun endurance sport related activities that I experienced this month.

Racing

I have never done any road racing before and I decided it was time to give it a try.  Over the past year, I thought I was getting pretty decent on my road bike and I can safely say that I have been humbled.  That being said, I have really enjoyed the road racing and by all means will keep at it.  I intend to try out a time trial during the month of May as well.  I have a lot to learn when it comes to racing with a pack, drafting, conserving energy and climbing hills.

Total Races:  5

Criteriums:  3

Road Races:  2

Spring Fling #5 Criterium – Lawrence, Kansas

Results:  7th out of 20

This was my first race ever on a road bike and was totally unplanned.  I was mountain biking that morning on the Clinton Lake Trail System when I heard some commotion and an announcer.  I want ahead and checked it out to find a criterium race getting under way.  I went back to the camper to fetch my road bike and entered the Cat 5 race that was later in the afternoon.  This was nuts, but I loved it.  A lead pack took off on a break away going into lap 3.  A couple laps later, I was by myself trying to chase them down.  I reeled in a coupe of guys that got dropped from that pack, but was not able to cover the gap.  After this race, I knew I had to keep at it.

Tuesday Night Worlds #1 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 20 out of 56, but no points

Bottom line, I had no idea what I was doing.  This was a Cat 4 / 5 criterium with every 3rd lap being a sprint lap for points.  The final lap counted for the same amount of points as the other sprint laps.  Overall time was tracked as well.  I was basically redlined the entire race and too nervous to get too close in line and basically blew up.

THK (Thoren Heuval Kernesse) Road Race – Avon, Minnesota

Results – 30th out of 46

My first road race.  Again, no idea what I was doing.  I found myself in the front of the pack on a couple sections coming into the halfway point.  This was a bad idea as I got totally dropped when we hit the climb.  I didn’t really see it coming.  I figured I would drift to the back of the pack going up the climb because I was spent and the next thing I knew, I missed the back and couldn’t get back on.  We had dropped part of the pack already, so I didn’t end up last.  I did have a strong finish up the final climb though, to leave with a little bit of confidence and feel good.

Ken Woods Memorial Road Race – Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Results – 24th out of 47

I’m starting to figure it out a bit.  Hung with the lead pack the whole race.  There was a couple minor break aways, but we reeled them back in.  I hammered up the big climb the first lap around and hung with the leaders.  Coming back around to the big climb again at the finish, I couldn’t hang though and ended up dropping to 24th place and over a minute behind the leader all on the final climb.  I am feeling better about things though and just need to work on my power.

Tuesday Night Worlds #3 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 18th out of 46, but no points

This race went much better for me, other than I jumped for a sprint on the wrong lap and completely put myself in a bad position and blew up.  That being said, I was actually able to recover and wasn’t too far off from grabbing some points on the final lap.  I think I could have gotten up there if I would have positioned myself better on the second to last lap.  I got myself stuck in the middle of the pack and could not get out around people.

Training

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All races are included in the mileage and session counts.

Total Miles:  236

Mountain Bike:  42.7 miles

Road Bike:  185 miles

Running:  4.3 miles

Hiking:  4 miles

Total Sessions:  20

Mountain Bike:  4

Road Bike:  12

Running:  1

Hiking:  3

I officially removed the training tire off of my road bike before our spring break camping trip the last week of March.  My training now has turned to actual road rides, some trail riding during spring break and road races.  I still haven’t created the best morning habits yet, but try to get a body weight and short work out in before work in the morning that involves squats, push ups, lunges and abs.

That being said, I have ridden twice as many miles this year as I had by this point last year.  Last year, I only had 230 cycling miles in by the end of April and I have over 600 miles in this year.  There are 3 things that have contributed to this:  The first, being the fact that I picked up a Cyclops Jet Fluid Pro Trainer last fall and hammered through Sufferfest videos throughout the winter months.  Secondly, I also purchased a Fat Bike for the winter and was able to get a few trail rides in.  Lastly, I took a 3 day weekend to go mountain biking on the Santos Trail System in Florida with my Dad back in February.

Nutrition

I am still working on fine tuning the nutrition, but I have created what I think are some fairly good habits.  I have a pretty good breakfast routine of 2 to 3 eggs.  I usually get my eggs from a local farmer, but occasionally they run out and I have to get them from the store.  I highly recommend purchasing your eggs from a local farmer vs the grocery store if you can.  You’ll understand as soon as you see the color difference after cracking them in the pan.  They are so much richer in color and taste.  At any rate, I have been adding spinach or broccoli and cauliflower to my eggs on most mornings.  I used to do just eggs, but always felt like I was missing something and decided to add some veggies for some natural carbohydrates.

For lunch in the past, I had been mixing tuna with feta cheese and have now started doing raw vegetables and still adding the tuna on occasion.  I do snack during the day and with my activity up from last year, I seem to be hungry more often.  On most days, I have been adding a muffin in the mid morning and some fruit in the afternoon.

Dinner has usually been a mix of a meat such as chicken, fish or a burger along with organic frozen vegetables from Costco.

Health and Fitness

Weight:  158 lbs

Body Fat:  15.2%

Even though, I haven’t necessarily been feeling my greatest…  The month of April was pretty darn good in comparison to March.  I spent most of the month of March with a cold or sinus infection, which severely limited the amount of training I was able to do.  Not to mention, I had some international travel for work that didn’t help.

I have struggled quite a bit with recovery in the past and this still seems to be the case.  I used to think it was because I was getting older, but I honestly think it is because I tend to push myself past my my level of fitness too often.  I think the road racing is going to be good for me and really help me figure out how manage racing and training.

Recreation

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My kids are 5 and 7 years old and are able to hit some single track with me, so we can do some family rides on light training days.  Sometimes, my wife will ride with them and I’ll break away for my own hot lap and then catch back up with them.  It’s great to have the whole family involved and my kids can’t wait to race.

Website Updates

I have started a resource page to share what I use for all kinds of things related to racing, training, data logging, nutrition, health, trail finding, etc…  You can visit the page with this link: Endurance Path Resources.  Please let me know if you would like to see anything else.  I will continue to make updates as I expand the site.

Summary

I had pretty good month when it comes to taking on new challenges.  I would say, I need to pick up the training a bit more if I am going to be competitive.  I tend to struggle with recovery and I am working on figuring that out, whether it be sleep, food or overtraining when I do train.  I hope you found this update useful, whether it be insightful or inspiring.  As I mentioned above, please leave a comment below or or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page if you have any questions or comments.

If you found this useful and think someone else would benefit from reading and following my blog, please share with you friends through Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

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Endurance Update After The Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival

I entered the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival 30 mile mountain bike race this past weekend and got my tail kicked. I have 2 major things I need to work on. First, I need to learn how to train much better. Second, I need to learn to pace myself. The Lutsen is less than 2 weeks away, so there is not much more I can do to improve my endurance before then. I need to recover from blowing myself up on the 30 mile Chain Drive race and make sure I start the Lutsen off at a nice easy pace, or I’ll never finish it.

This is really the reason I started this blog. I know there are other people out there that share my ambitions and I’d like to share my experience. I want to compete in long distance endurance races, but I know I have a lot of work to. I need to figure out how to train and then how to race. I really want to be competitive and I believe I can be. I am a long ways away from the end goal, but I know what I want. I just need to put the work in and stop beating myself at my own chess game. I’ve done the same thing in 3 events now. First not really being completely ready for it, and then going out of the gate way to strong.

I believe if I were to have backed my pace off at the beginning, that I would have finished 20 minutes faster at the end of the race. I’ve been looking at my heart rate profile over the race, and I was purely just pushing it a little to far and depleting my muscles of oxygen. I only needed to back off a slight bit and I would have been fine.

My plan for the Lutsen at this point is to set myself a pace and not go over that pace for the first 50 miles unless I’m coasting on a downhill. Mile 50 to 75, I will pick it up a mile or 2 depending on how I’m feeling and then try to carry that on for the last 24 miles.

Have you done the Lutsen or any long distance races that you can offer some advice to somebody that is recently getting into racing?

Here is a picture from the race:

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Endurance Path – May 2014

Cycling season is in full swing now and the racing has just begun.  I’ve had a busy month between trying out some new gear and competing in a race.  Now that the trails are dried out and open, I have switched most of my riding over to my mountain bike, which is what I enjoy the most.

Lessons Learned

  1. I should not have waited so long to make the jump to a 29er.
  2. Get measured and get your bike’s geometry fit to your body to prevent back pain.

Training

I find it hard to call it training when it is just so much fun to ride.  I would ride every day if I could, especially mountain bikes.  I put 254 miles on my bicycles this month.  90 of those miles being trail miles.  Now that summer is here, my training will mostly consist of trail riding and maybe a road ride once a week.  I will also ride in to work once or twice a week also.

Nutrition

As I’ve been writing in my previous monthly updates, my nutrition continues to get better.  The more I ride, the better I tend to eat.  I continue to eat more frequent with smaller meals.  I also started cutting back on coffee and any alcohol, as I tend to get dehydrated easy when I exercise a lot and the summer heat comes on.  I have dropped a couple of pounds as well and am starting to feel a little leaner.

Events

St. Croix Woolly Race – Marathon Open Class

I’ve ridden the Woolly trail a few times now and figured I would enjoy racing on it.  I entered into the Marathon Open Class race as a way to test where I was at with my riding so far this year.  The Lutsen is coming up soon and I needed to test myself.  I finished in the back 3rd of the pack and have some work to do before the Lutsen 99er.  My biggest struggle in this race was my back.  After about 2.5 hours, my back was in quite a bit of pain and I slowed down quite a bit.

Gear

Wow, I have a lot to talk about in the gear department.  I’ve had some of this gear for a few months and I should have provided the update in previous months’ reports, but I just now decided to include short gear updates in my monthly reports. I will write full reviews on them in the future as well.  To spoils things, I did get a new mountain bike and I will start with that.

Felt Edict Nine 3 Mountain Bike

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My mountain bikes were getting pretty worn out, so I ended up getting a new mountain bike for racing, the Felt Edict 9 3.  I was able to demo ride it and was sold on it.  I’ve never ridden a 29er, but really like how it rolls over small rocks and roots, especially combined with full suspension.  The other good news is, I was able to find a last years model on closeout and save a bunch of money!

My old bikes are a full suspension Proflex from the 90s and a custom hard tail that I built on a KHS frame in 2002.  Both were really nice bikes in their day, but also have seen much better days.  I did replace the brake pads on the KHS with the Kool Stop 2 pads and will say that they are awesome rim brake pads for those still running rim brakes.

CamelBak Lobo Hydration Pack

I was looking for a hydration pack that had a large water capacity, but was still slim enough for racing.  The CamelBak Lobo fits that bill.  I can carry 3L of water and have just enough space for the necessities emergency gear on a long distance race or trail ride.

Garmin Edge 510

I had been using the Strava App on my phone for the past year and really enjoyed being able to go back and review rides.  I decided I’d like to take it a step further by adding a heart rate monitor and cadence/speed sensor without running my battery down on long rides.  I really like the Edge 510 so far.  It is my first Cycling GPS system and it did lock up on me once while trying to load a large course during a ride, but I’m pretty happy with it overall.  I can see many more metrics while on a ride and like that I can load courses to compete against with the Virtual Partner feature.  I still have a lot to learn about the device itself and all of its features and will keep you updated as I continue to use the device.

Specialized Pro Road Shoes

I did not intend to get new shoes, but was also getting numbness in my foot after about 20 miles.  When I went to replace my pedal clips to mount the Speedplays, I noticed that the clip mounting points in the shoe were actually pulling out of the bottom of the shoe, so I went ahead and replaced my shoes.  I found the Pro Road shoes on Specialized’s online outlet for about 60% off the original price.  They have a full carbon fiber sole and are extremely stiff.  I am really liking them so far and was happy that I could find older year models, otherwise I would not have been able to get this level of shoe.

Speedplay Zero Road Cycling Pedals

I had been having knee problems while road cycling and decided I would try something different than my current and old Shimano SPD-SL pedals and clips and gain some float.  I went with the chromoly version of the Speedplay Zero pedals that allow you to adjust the amount of float in the pedal.  After a couple of rides, I am very happy with them.  The float takes a little getting used to, but I really like that my foot is not locked into 1 position.  I have not experienced the same knee pain on any rides with them yet.  I’ll keep you posted throughout the summer as I spend more time on them.

Continental Attack & Force Road Tire Set

I also was in need of a new rear tire after noticing a slit around the side wall.  I was still running the original tires that came on the bike, when I bought it in 2006, and was well past due for new tires anyways.  I love to go fast and wanted to try some really light race tires to see how much of a difference they would make.  I went with the Continental Attack Force tire set.  They are light, but not made for everyday riding and I blew the side wall out of the rear tire on my third ride.  The road I was on was asphalt, but was fairly rough with a quite a few cracks in it.  These tires are nice, but are made only for completely smooth road surfaces.

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Endurance Path – April 2014

I can’t believe it has been a month already since our trip to Moab.  We have had some very mixed weather, but I have been able to get out on a few road rides.  I’m running out of time to get ready for the Lutsen 99er and I would say that I am far from ready.

Lessons Learned

1)  When the knee starts tightening up, don’t push it or you’ll end up walking.

2)  Don’t bank on electronics working all the time.

Training

Cycling

I broke down and picked up a Garmin Edge 510 bundle with the heart rate monitor and cadence/speed sensor.  Aside from some software glitches, I do love the capability of it and it has made my rides more interesting.  It mostly has made the indoor trainer much more interesting which means, I have actually started to use it.  I went ahead and paid for the premium membership for Strava and used the Sufferfest videos a few times that come with the Strava premium membership.  The 2 workout videos I used so far were great and I will probably purchase a few of the other Sufferfest videos as well from Sufferfest.

All said and done, I logged just over 170 miles on my road bike in April.  I intended to get more miles in but the weather was just not cooperating and I was traveling 2 weeks out of the month for work.  About 40 of those miles were on the trainer.

Running

I didn’t do much running this month.  I’ve been having some knee pains and attempted a run while traveling for work.  I ended up walking about 2 miles of it back to my hotel.  I should have turned around sooner as I felt the knee tightening up, but I can be a little stubborn sometimes and figured I could run through it.  That being said, I only ran about 11 miles in April.  I probably will not do much running until after the Lutsen 99er as I need to get my cycling legs back in shape.

Nutrition

I’m getting my nutrition back into shape for sure.  The more I am working out or exercising, the better I tend to manage my nutrition.  I try to eat smaller meals and more frequently throughout the day.  I’ve been eating a lot of tuna fish, eggs, salad and frozen vegetables.  My wife has been slowly transitioning our household over to mostly organic foods.  Costco has actually been a great place to buy bulk frozen organic vegetables.

Events

No new events this month.  I am contemplating heading up to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula in June for the Chain Drive Festival, but we’ll see if I can make it up there.  It’s a 32 mile race and would be about 2 weeks before the Lutsen 99er.  I am thinking it might be a good race to check the status of my legs and help me figure out where my pace should be at for the longer Lutsen 99er race.

Photography

I started a gallery on my SmugMug account just for cycling related pictures.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

[alpine-phototile-for-smugmug src=”user_keyword” uid=”steveandlynn” keyword=”cycling” imgl=”original” style=”gallery” row=”12″ grwidth=”800″ grheight=”600″ num=”12″ size=”Th” align=”center” max=”100″]

How was your training and nutrition in April?  Did you make any progress?