By Master Educator Kimball Theoret
Scanning the cycle room from the instructor podium, your eyes take in Joe Pro Cyclist, Sue Ironman Triathlete, a mob of dedicated regulars who came to sweat and a bunch of people standing next to their bikes wondering if you’ll come over and give them a clue on how to set up their bike, while secretly hoping they might actually be invisible and can sneak out.
Welcome to your diverse ability level cycle class and the solution for creating a unifying experience for all…. power meters!
Every cyclist has a purpose for going to class.
A rock star instructor provides a class environment and design that enables every individual the opportunity to reach their goals and feel successful. Power and the use of metrics is a universal language that brings such disparity together. Utilizing a power meter to measure cyclist’s power output unifies groups with diverse training goals. The elite athlete, the party riders and the first timers can use power to set a goal and achieve it. Watts put a piece of data to personal workout perception. Plus, the psychological benefits are numerous. People work harder when a metric goal is established.
So how do you go about defining goals?
“With great power there must also come great responsibility!” Stan Lee’s famous quote from Spider-Man holds true in cycling. When using power meters, it’s important to remember that power is personal. Goals are personal. The power police will knock down your door next time you call out for everyone to ride at 463 watts just as you’re currently doing!
The key to uniting all levels is to enable each rider to discover their own watt ranges. Consider holding a special event Functional Threshold Power ride every 2-3 months is the ideal methodology for establishing individual power performance training zones or simply explain what an individual sense of what easy, moderate, hard or max wattage feels like.
But what if your demographics don’t support hanging out in the very physically and mentally uncomfortable Zone 4 for a prolonged 20-60 minutes?
In that case, creating a strong class profile with multiple opportunities for each rider to discover their own watt ranges can be a very effective alternative.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Repeat scenarios provide an excellent approach for riders to establish a sense of their watt ranges. Simple repeat intervals with the goal of observing average watts in a variety of work to recovery ratios could be:
- (3 intervals) 5 minutes best effort to 3 minutes recovery
(4 intervals) 4 minutes best effort to 2 minutes recovery
(4 intervals) 1 minute best effort to 1 minute recovery
(6 intervals) 30 seconds best effort to 30 seconds recovery
(8 intervals) 20 seconds best effort to 10 seconds recovery
Cue your riders to give their best effort for the first interval and look at their average watts, then challenge them to repeat or beat that number in each of the subsequent intervals. Once an initial average wattage is noted, riders will naturally want to go bigger! Visualization of an actual numerical goal on their console puts something at stake and is a profound motivational tool.
Incorporating a range of work intervals from longer endurance effort (Zones 1-3) to super short max neuromuscular power effort (Zones 5-7) provides riders the ability to observe their watts and learn about their own zones, associated rate of perceived exertion in each zone, and understand pacing. Of course since all of the data on your console is predicated on watts, once your classes are dialed into using them, then you can start to incorporate other fun metrics into your profile design like distance and speed.
The benefits of using power meters and metrics in your cycle classes are numerous. Knowing personal power data is, well, empowering. It puts a metric to perception, unites varying ability levels by creating personal goals, motivates, and generates focus and a sense of accomplishment. Bring out the inner competitive spirit in all of your riders by establishing power as a foundation for performance improvement.
Kimball Theoret is active in the fitness industry as a Master Educator with Stages Indoor Cycling, a performance coach with Equinox, gym design consultant, and fitness model and has numerous product endorsement agreements. She holds a B.A. in Communication and multiple certifications in group exercise instruction and cycling and develops innovative fitness programs for companies and triathletes around the country. Outside the gym, she's a road cyclist and distance runner and works in the TV and film industry as a producer. Her philosophy about fitness focuses on quality of life and optimizing human performance.