Monday, August 26, 2013

How Not to be a Spin Instructor

Today's post is brought to you by Barry, this morning's sad excuse for a spin instructor.  For visual purposes imagine the following: a 60-ish year old man wearing very short women's-styled bicycle shorts (note as you form your mental image that I didn't say cycling shorts), rocking a Richard Simmons-esque yet much more flacid perm, and a cut-off shirt, all coupled with a deep baritone voice (think Rocky meets Barry White: "Yo Adrian, can't get enough of your love).

I'm a member of LA Fitness and have been for over seven years.  My relationship with LA is love and hate, but mostly hate. I love my membership fees; for what I pay it is incredible to have access to so many facilities most of which have a swimming pool. I also have access to all their fitness classes which provides me with spin classes to supplement my riding (and replace it in the winter).  Hmm...anything else?  Nope, I'm out of positives. 

On the contrary, it seems LA cares about one thing, and one thing only: getting members signed up. The care, or lack thereof, that they put into maintaining their facilities is lackadaisical at best and more like negligent.  You want examples?  You got it: despite being among the earliest crew at the gym (pre 6am on many days) the garbages are consistently stuffed and overflowing, several weeks ago a smoke detector began sounding its low battery alerts yet it still continues to cry for help, shower curtains are moldy beyond even the lowest sanitary standards, but I will stop there.  As far as classes and instructors go, LA is totally hit or miss. There are some great instructors, along with some horrific ones.  Dealing with these issues (petty though they may seem) and the myriad others is the price I pay for not paying much at all. 

Back to the task at hand though. What made this morning's class so epically bad that I felt compelled to write about it?  Rather than describe the class I think I will sum it up in the following list of what not to do and what to do in order to be a terrible instructor.  Keep in mind this is Barry-inspired and not Barry-specific. 

How to be a Terrible Spin Instructor
Don't: by any means, introduce yourself. 
Do: completely stop pedaling and close your eyes (this is particularly motivating to the class).
Don't: ask if anyone needs help with their bike setup. 
Do: tell people precisely what gear to be in despite their inherent differences in size, power, and fitness.
Don't: give people any idea of what's coming next; instead just randomly yell "jumps" or "climb." 
Do: speak softly so that no one can understand you.
Don't: tell someone when their seat is so low that they are at risk of injury.
Do: tell people to spin as fast as they can (bonus points pushing them to go above 120RPMs or higher than the bike can even calculate).

Just to put this all in perspective, I get that not all spin instructors (or participants) are cyclists, nor do they need to be.  I think, however, that they have a responsibility to run a class that motivates participants and guides them through a class that is both safe and will promote fitness gains.  In order to do this some level of understanding about resistance, cadence, power, and heart rate is necessary.

It's not too difficult to spot the good vs. the bad classes, just take a peek in the window.  Aside from typically being pretty packed (the really good classes sometimes run out of bikes), another sign of a solid instructor is a class in sync.  This shows that the instructor is leading the way; this morning was the opposite.  Barry was lost adrift in his own sea of weirdness leaving us to find our own way (only to be reprimanded when I quietly called out our own intervals).  

I've toyed with the idea of becoming a cycling instructor myself and it is still on my to-do list.  I don't think it will be easy by any means but I think that right now I can run a better class than half the folks teaching at LA Fitness.  And, if I put in the time and effort, I think I can be a damned good instructor.  For now though, I'll have to settle for what they've got and keep building the list of the good and the bad and scheduling accordingly.

For more fun reading on the joys of spin instructors, check out:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gear Review: Adidas Adios

As the time has come to say goodbye to my pair of Adidas Adios I figured that I've logged enough miles in them to give my $.02.  I purchased the Adios at Paragon Sports in NYC during the weekend of the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon in 2012.  I'm typically a heavy researcher for all my purchases but these were an exception and basically an impulse-buy due to the coupon I received at the race expo.

The Adios were only the third make of shoes that I'd purchased since I'd begun running.  At the time I had just about finished burning through my second pair of New Balance MR1400s and was in the market for something more durable.  I'll admit that I was drawn to the sole of the Adios which is made by Continental; seeing as how they manufacture car tires I hoped the shoes would wear well.  Once the sole drew me in, the weight and fit of the Adios sealed the deal.

The Adios is a fairly narrow shoe and is probably not suited for runners with wide feet. It fits me snugly but comfortably through the mid-foot and has never felt too tight. The toe box is not as roomy as other shoes I've owned but I never found that to be a problem. 

At the time I bought the Adios I was sort of obsessed with heel-toe drop; I've since realized that - with the exception of the massive-heeled, overly cushy variety - my running form makes drop less relevant.  I am a forefoot striker and the wear pattern on my shoe proves that I almost never land on my heel. Regardless, for those concerned: the drop is about 12mm which is average-to-highfor a typical racing flat.

The Ride
I find the Adios to be a pretty stiff shoe and as a result they simply like to go fast.  I had never really planned on using them for my slower, longer runs and my first run in them corraborated that intention.  It's not that they are unforgiving (they do have a bit of cushion) but due to their firm sole they are much more suited to the quicker turnover and lighter foot strike I tend to favor when running fast.

My first couple of runs in the Adios left my feet a little more worse for the wear than I was used to them feeling.  My previous flats (the New Balance MR1400) were much softer and more forgiving.  What the Adios give up in comfort (at least initially) they make up for in speed.  The more I ran in them the more I came to appreciate the stiffness which seems to rebound the energy in each stride right back into my legs.  By comparison, the few times I have run in the New Balance since owning the Adios they now feel too soft, squishy, and almost sloppy. 

I mostly use the Adios for my faster workouts and have run up to about 10 miles in them.  I have also done the majority of my shorter-distance racing in them including several 5Ks, Sprint triathlons, and a couple of Olympic-distance races.  I think I could easily run a half-marathon in them and plan to do so in my next pair.  A marathon is probably pushing it for the Adios; I think at that distance I'd rather have a bit more cushion.

Final Thoughts
My first pair of Adios are officially retired now (after logging upwards of 300 miles).  I shopped around several times for new flats and came home empty-footed each time.  I tried on several pairs of flats, none of which felt good enough to steer me away from just buying another pair of Adios.

In the end I decided that if "it ain't broke" I should just get another pair and so I did.  I am currently breaking in my new set of kicks and have no regrets with my decision.

For additional (more thorough and technical) reviews of the Adios 2 check out:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Otro Eve (A Timberman Haiku)

My mind is racing,
thoughts of the day which waits,
tomorrow I race.