For Instructors

All This Talk about Endurance, Part 3: Coaching

In Part 1 of this Endurance series we considered the scope of the problem. If you would like to read it, you can find it here: community.spinning.com/.../all-this-talk-about-endurance-1-the-scope-of-the-problem.aspx In Part 2, we looked at a little of the science. Upon re-reading this blog (found here: community.spinning.com/.../all-this-talk-about-endurance-part-2-the-science-etc.aspx ) I know that I have not done a great service to the science behind endurance training. At most, I am using my own body as a sort of live lab to explore the benefits of training for endurance, as opposed to my more traditional approach of training hard as much as I can stand it, recoiling with injury and fatigue, then starting all over again. I have the great luxury of training with 2 ?IronMan? athletes who continue to push the notion of simply ?building the engine...? They keep the reigns on me when I feel I want to sprint, and break out into song and dance. . . If you can consider the target audience (instructors) and offer up articulate scientific rationale for training in the Endurance Zone (to support Spinning® EEZ: www.spinning.com/.../Endurance_Energy_Zone.pdf ) I welcome your input. The better we all are...the BETTER we all are. So let?s look at coaching. I don?t want to nit pick here (and believe me, I have in previous blog posts) about being a teacher, an instructor, a coach, a leader.... here...you?re the one with the mic. I?ll start by asking for some introspection: When you look at your style of coaching, how do you elicit work from people? The thing is, in my humble opinion, to push someone (or 20 someones) by lighting a verbal fire under their heals is one thing, but what does it take to light that fire within your client? This is the challenge that lies before the endurance trainer, even more so than the strength (SEZ) and Interval (IEZ) trainer. Anyone can shout and push and drive, but how do you motivate someone to care and to try while you let go of externally motivating them? Have you ever noticed that when you stop talking, your clients look at their watches, text a little sumpin sumpin, talk to their friend, stretch and re-tie their do-rag. They do this because the rely on you for their motivation. You stop...they stop. You know that old truism in Peace Corps? You can give a man a fish and he eats today, or you can teach him how to fish and he eats for a life time... the same can be said about stoking that internal fire of self motivation. You can tell the participant how to get the most out of this workout and he leaves thoroughly satisfied. . . for the day. Or you can offer tips and techniques and more importantly, space for self discovery to construct bridges between his body and his mind that he can cross over any time he is exercising or facing challenges in his life. Bridge building, I believe, comes from asking. . . not telling. The power of rhetorical questions is unmatched for eliciting self driven work. Questions like - ?If I asked you to just be honest in your gear/resistance, could you dig a little deeper and make any adjustments?? You might see 40% of the hands headed down to the knob; some will add, some will decrease, and the other 60% of the class will have a soft little glowing smile on their face because they were being honest (or are continuing to lie, knowing that you don?t have a clue...and what?s it to you if they?re cheating themselves. Nothing. Spinning® is not a performance based class; non competitive. The consequences of his cheating has no bearing on your ability to do your job, only on his ability to stretch his fitness. If he says ?Spinning® isn?t doing it for me...? then coach him to negotiate that resistance knob a little more honestly.) Isn?t this, in fact, the beauty of laying out opportunity? Wouldn?t it be great to go all tasmanian-devil on them and crank it down good and hard...demanding that honesty? Well, I think we all know the answer - the honesty has to come from within. . . and to be vague about your expectations allows people to make decisions. . . and come to realizations for themselves. And, don?t forget: For some of your clients it might be wholly honest to release the gear a little. Rhetorical questions can be used in any profile, but we are specifically considering the Endurance Energy Zone (EEZ, from Spinning®), so we have the added burden of making sure we?re not just always eliciting more from our clients; we want to draw out an appropriate level of work knowing that sometimes less is better for them. We?ve already talked about the challenge of teaching a specific heart rate expectation to people who are not wearing heart rate monitors. Help me out, MI?s...is it just me? It irritates me to no end when an instructor says... ?okay! let?s work at 70%!? 70% of what? MHR? I implore you: Ask for a show of hands of people in your class who are wearing a HRM and who understand what 70% is, look them in the eye and tell them to ride there. For all others, you need some other type of coaching. So, EEZ is 80-110rpm and 65%-80% (traditionally only up to 75%, but newer protocols allow for 80% for people who can sustain that for the duration of the EEZ class.) Cadence checks can be manually done - I think Sabrina posted about how to do them... not sure, but write and ask if you don?t know how. But how will you know if a person is staying in the HR parameters if they?re not wearing HRMs? Your coaching will have to allow for some quietness for your participants to do some checking in. Pushing above 80% translates into several physical responses. You might see it in their grip or the tension in their face. You might notice that the chatty class goes quiet - talking over 80%mhr is not especially pleasant. So, your clients should be able to talk, though you don?t want them to. Why not aim to get them focused on their breath? ?Can you ride with your lips sealed, breathing through your nose?? There?s a question you can pose and just let it hang out there. People who are struggling because their heart is racing will drop back their HR simply with the aim of nasal breathing. Or: ?Let?s not change anything about our breath, but let?s notice how many times our right leg pedals per inhale and see if it is the same number with our exhale...? Then, just let them go. For a long time. In my experience, when I?ve been in cycling classes, the instructors who come from the fitness world like to talk and elicit direct feedback from the participants. A whoop, a holler and a whoo hoo go a long way toward validating our efforts to deliver a good class. Cyclists are a different breed in the gym. The ones I?ve had, at least, don?t seem to care if they?re making you happy. They have a different approach, like ?let?s just get this job done...? I am both - please don?t add any value to these gross generalizations. I worry that aerobics instructors don?t get the periodization aspects of seasonal training (and hence the value of endurance training) and that cyclists aren?t so great with class management, but hey, if this doesn?t apply to you, then I?m not referring to you. I am a firm believer that your best inspiration for coaching will come from what you personally want to master. If you feel your toes are gripping in your shoes as you ride, offer the check in. ?As we pedal, let?s draw our attention to our toes. Are they gripping or are they relaxed. Lets release the tension from our toes...? Maybe technique isn?t your issue. Maybe shutting down work woes is - you can be sure you are not alone. ?If this is the only hour you offer your body this week, reaffirm that you are here totally and completely to give your head a rest and let your body shine. As thoughts draw you outside the studio, draw them back by tacking on a slight gear on your bike and noticing what changes your body experiences...? Keeping this blog a dialogue (diablog?), rather than a monologue, I know some of you are totally awesome coaches and have stuff to share with new, and maybe tired, Spinning® instructors who could use a little infusion of your experience. Please share openly here and contribute to the on going discussions. One thing is for sure true about coaching - you spend your time looking for what you don?t want to see. Don?t grow weary of this - embrace it and elicit and coax the change you want to see. What a gift to have the opportunity to support personal growth in your clients, to kick open doors rather than shove them up against the wall of compliance. Next blog about music, then one final one from me to participants which will be written in a way that you could share with your clients if you haven?t already driven them to this site. thoughts? post away!
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