Thursday, March 31, 2011

Battlefield, Minus the Battle

Yesterday was ok.  I don't think I committed to the imagery as well as I maybe should have, but what can I say? Teaching spin is fun...riding on my own is mental.  Maybe I made the ride too personal too fast or something.  It wasn't bad,and the profile certainly kicked butt, but I'm not sure everyone was as into the premise as I'd hoped.  Or maybe they all left exhausted and depressed, I dunno.  In any case, I'm doing the same profile tonight (poor Dan) but with new music:

I feel like there's a good chance I'll end up switching the order around some, and I'm not sure I'm convinced that Bring Me to Life belongs to this group, but for now I'm feeling ok about it.

In case I ever get the nerve up to tell more people about this blog, I'm going to start a "folks who inspire me" highlight.  Last night's rockstars were Dan and Hillary.

Dan has been coming to *every* spin class available for about 3 weeks now, and has even started going to Pilates after Tuesdays (maybe I'll get him to come tonight too).  He's a hoss and I haven't seen him quit yet.  Talk about inspirational. 

Hillary is just the sweetest thing.  I adore how positive and enthusiastic she is, even when she's talking about a sore tush after her first class.  She just started spinning last week and has already come to 3 classes!  I'm looking forward to seeing her more (and hopefully to convincing her the back row isn't the only row in the class! :-P)

I'm really excited for this weekend...I've got a couple of CEU classes coming up (including Race Day, gulp) that I'm hoping to find inspiration/motivation from.  I'm also hoping to start finding time to spin on my own, to run through these profiles a little before teaching them.  Problem is, all my evenings are either teaching or riding already, and I am simply not a morning person enough to get my butt up to the gym half an hour away, ride for an hour, then shower and get to work at a reasonable hour.  Anyone want to buy me my own spin bike?  :-D

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Strength Profile: Battlefield

April is Stress Awareness Month, did you know that?

This graphic (courtesy of Fast Company) has some interesting statistics and numbers on it.  Some I think are a little skewed...for example, mental health issues being 5 times more prevalent among high school and college students now than in 1938...well ok, but how many *more* students are there now than there were back then?  And how much more emphasis is there now than back then is there on getting a good education? I tend to take unqualified statistics with a grain of salt...but that's just me. :-}  However, 80 of the 15,000 words spoken are swear words, 2/3 of which are said out of stress?  That means on average we're cussing from stress every 20 or so minutes (assuming a waking time of 16 hours out of 24).  Working in software, I can see how that's not an unreasonable estimate, but it really gets me cathartic as a well-placed expletive can be, there have to be more effective (or at least more socially acceptable in an office setting) methods of immediately venting steam.  Maybe instead of an expletive, taking an extra second to come up with a completely ridiculous word that *sounds* obscene to yell instead would be even better...then you get not only yourself but all coworkers within earshot giggling at whatever nonsense you've just yelled.  In fact, just to help with this goal, here's a list of silly cussing alternatives (courtesy of this guy and some other sites around the interwebs):
  • Beeotch
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Cheese and Rice
  • Cheeses
  • Crud
  • Dag Nab It
  • Darn
  • Diablo
  • F-ing
  • Farging Icehole
  • Fiddle Sticks
  • For Rice Cakes!
  • Freaking
  • Frickin 'A
  • Fudge
  • Geez
  • Gosh Darnit
  • Heck
  • Holy Cow!
  • Horse pucky
  • Jiminy Crickits!
  • Judas Priest
  • Kawabunga
  • Piddle
  • Pluck it
  • Poo
  • Shaving Cream
  • Sheesh
  • Shiitaki mushrooms
  • Shiznit
  • Shucks
  • Shut the front door
  • Son of a Gun
  • Son of a Mother
  • Son of a biscuit eater
  • Son of a motherless goat
  • Sons a' Guns
  • Sufferin Succotash
  • Sugar
  • Sunny beach
  • Tinkle
  • William Shatner
  • gee willikers
  • gracious me
  • great scott
  • heaven's to betsy
  • gee whiz
  • durn
  • balderdash
  • cripes
  • blimey
  • shoot
  • drat
  • land sake's 
  • jeepers
  • blast and tarnation
  • jiminy
  • gadzooks
  • huzzah
  • by jingo
  • pshaw
  • hot diggity
  • criminy
  • my word
  • egads
So there you go, it's a start.

Personally, when I'm stressed I have a tendency to get fighty.  I don't like feeling out of control, so I tend to fight with whatever (or, unfortunately, whoever) is available.  It's a bad habit that's taken many years to overcome, but with some self-patience and a whole lot of exercise, I think I've managed to get reigns on the beast and use that habit for good...for the most part.  (Disclaimer: all claims of personal habits come with an implied "but I'm not perfect, so don't fault me if I slip up from time to time".)

To that end, I give you: The Battle

This profile is based on one I got from, tweaked to fit a 45-minute format.  This is week #3 of strength rides for us, so it's a series of 3 hills with power surges scattered throughout.  I left the cues on the card (I print these on index cards) pretty vague, since it's a profile I can definitely use later on, with a different theme. The point of this ride is to challenge yourself, make yourself stronger, and fight to overcome whatever it is that's causing you stress today.  It could be as simple as fighting with your hair this morning, or as complex as tough family/medical/work/life situations.  Whatever is making you angry today, bring it to the bike and leave it there.

There are only 8 songs to this playlist, including a couple epic scores that are over 10 minutes a piece.  I won't lie...I'm nervous about this, and I have a back up playlist, in case the vibe is wrong tonight.  The last hill is basically the entire climactic battle scene from POTC: At World's End.  There are no words to any of the songs after minute 8, giving this potential to be either really boring or a very very personal ride, depending on who's in the mood for what.  I'm going to head to the gym early tonight to ride some of this on my own first and see if it works.  If it doesn't, I have backup rides I can use (I'm looking at you, Sawtooth). 

So, there ya have it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Letting Go

So after all that fuss about how I put music to my profiles, that last playlist was just...meh. Honestly, the whole ride was.  Well, no. I take that back.  The profile itself I loved.  The music was just ok.  I've been feeling disconnected with my music lately, which makes me really self-conscious when I'm teaching.

To that end, for Saturday's ride I decided to pick the top 10 or so songs off my personal workout list and make them work for Wednesday's profile.  I have never gotten more compliments on my music!  In fact, one woman specifically told me that was the best music she'd heard in a spin class in a long time!  Score!  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disturbance in the Force

Playlists are kind of an artistic expression for me.  When I put them together, the method I use is sort of similar to how I put quilts together. There's sort of this intangible undercurrent that needs to flow smoothly between each song, and needs to stay laminar, or at least consistently turbulent.  I guess you could say the list needs to have harmony.  I think that's true of all art, which is why the piece we may view as peaceful and soothing today could be traumatic or at least obnoxious tomorrow - our definition of what's harmonious changes daily, since our experience of what the world is like changes daily.

That said, picking a list that's "harmonious" is a pretty vague way to put it.  The process is a little more concrete than that.  I put together my profile first, always.  The point of Spin is the exercise - the music is a means to an end.  The profile arrangement is another discussion entirely (and frankly, right now I do a lot of borrowing on those).  Once I have the profile decided, I pull songs that roughly match the lengths of the segments (for example, this week each hill is a 6-3-6-3, so I pulled a bunch of 3-, 4-, and 5-minute songs, thinking I could combine them in a way that they'd just about line up with cue changes).  I don't put them in order right away - I just skim my iTunes library and see what catches my eye.  Once I've either skimmed the whole list or hit a point where I feel like I have enough songs to grab from, I go to the playlist and start ordering.  I look primarily for song length, trying to line up song breaks with cues as best I can (that doesn't always happen smoothly, so it's not crucial).  I'll then play through the playlist, sampling the transitions (first and last 10 seconds of each song and how it flows into the next song). It's a pretty iterative process, and on occasion I'll hear one song and think of another that's not on the list, and pull it in too.   I move stuff around to make the transitions right, then listen to the whole list at least once or twice through before calling it good enough. I check for volume levels, making note of what songs might get loud fast (our gym requires headphones for Spin classes, so this is critical) and what songs might need bass/treble adjustments.  I usually also include a few songs that didn't quite make the cut but that gel with the rest of the playlist well enough, at the end of the list, just in case I feel like making changes during class. Finally, if I'm happy with it all, I export the list for later use, just in case iTunes does what it does...again.  :-)

All this to say, I had a playlist yesterday that had a lot of songs I liked, but that didn't play well together.  It would have been ok.  I like to have a profile and a playlist on hand every time I go to the gym, just in never know when the bat symbol is gonna fly, right?  Kidding.  Seriously though, I always have a ride in the back of my mind, just in case.  Last night, if I'd needed to teach, I could have used this playlist (well, sort turns out iTunes had kindly erased the whole thing on me, just because) but it wasn't...right.  It didn't feel good.  There was, as the title states, a Disturbance in the Force.  Fortunately, iTunes did what it does sometimes and deleted my playlist for me (I had it written down elsewhere, don't worry) so I started from scratch and came up with what I think is a winner.  Without further ado, I present to you the musical accompaniment for tonight's ride, "Just Two Hills":

See  you there!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wednesday Woes

Oh guys don't know what's about to hit you.  Christina's asked me to sub again, and I just found/tweaked a profile that's misery on wheels (but with a purpose!)  You guys are going to long for the days of endurance rides.

But enough of my smack talk.  Realistically, this isn't so bad.  I mean, there are only two hills.  And you get a really long (3 whole minutes!) recovery in the middle.  How bad could it be?  As bad as you want to make it, as always.  It's so simple, it fits on a 4x6 card with room to spare. 

I haven't developed the playlist yet, but for some reason "Final Countdown" (Europe) is sticking in my head, so that might be the lead song.  We'll see. 

Wednesday (tomorrow) night at 6:30!  Be there! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Pyramid

God bless Christina, I think she's just making up excuses to let me sub her classes now.  Not that I'm complaining at ALL.  :-D  I'm teaching again tonight, and since tomorrow is St. Patty's day, the musical selection will have a definitive Irish slant to it.  So far, all I've managed to do is put my Flogging Molly discography on shuffle and smile.

We've moved into the strength part of periodization, which was a shock to my poor, endurance-spoiled system last night.  I didn't realize how luxurious those purely-aerobic workouts were until we went above.  Yikes.  In light of that, here's what tonight's profile looks like:

 Unfortunately, the best way I could come up with (in 5 minutes of hacking around) to get this info to the interwebs was to print my profile to a PDF, then save that PDF to an image file, then upload it.  Hooray cludgey!  If you know of a better way, I'm all ears.

This is tonight's playlist.  As you can  see, I'm abusing the fact that tomorrow is St. Patty's day, but I did try to add some other stuff (and by other stuff I mean British that PC?) as well.  What's on your green playlist? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quick Post

I just got word from my manager at the gym that she wants to put me on the Saturday 10 AM rotation, starting 3/26!  Woohoo! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Maybe not the best decision I've ever made...

Tonight I decided to go full stupid and go to back to back group ex classes.  Monday nights are "Tony's night" in spin, and I've only ever heard stories about his workouts.  Tonight I managed to actually make it to his class, but not before attending what turned out to be "circuit night" at bootcamp.  Oy.  Good news though!  I survived!  That makes the rest of the week an easy slide on into the weekend, since Monday is the hardest day for back to backs.

Tomorrow night is another spin, with Christina (my mentor, who I adore).  We're doing some periodization right now, and last week was the last week of my aerobic base is built and ready to be strengthened!  Hooyah!  It's funny, I'm starting to find that I'm actually having a hard time *not* controlling my heartrate anymore.  Tonight's spin was rough.  A lot of jumps, and pretty much the whole time was out of the saddle.  But I compulsively kept my heartrate around 80% the whole time, letting it slip up to 85% only during jumps.  During recoveries, I was shocked to find I was back down to below 60% within a minute, without even trying.  Before I got certified to instruct (in November), I'd never paid any attention to my heart rate or what it was doing while I was working out.  I can honestly say I will *never* train without a monitor again!  I may workout without one from time to time, but as far as actual *training* goes, I'm a believer. 

In any case, I'm off my soap box.  I have a strength profile I'm stoked about, and I'm building a playlist around the theme "pick your battles".  I'm looking for any kind of music that's focused on fighting a far this is how it looks:
This Is War - 30 Seconds To Mars
Bulletproof - La Roux
Uprising - Muse
Don't Give Up - Chicane
This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race - Fall Out Boy
Take On Me - Reel Big Fish
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
Maneater - Nelly Furtado
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Battle Without Honor Or Humanity - Tomoyasu Hotei
Top Gun Techno
We Will Rock You - Queen
We Are The Champions - Queen
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Mashup Green Day vs. Oasis
Red Warrior - The Last Samurai

I won't lie...I love every song on there, but I'm not crazy about the order.  I'm also not convinced Maneater belongs on this list, but it filled the time with the appropriate tempo.   Thoughts?  What's your favorite "battle" song?  What takes you into the fight screaming your head off?  Lately, my favorite has been 30 Second to Mars' Hurricane (with Kanye West), but that's sort of a personal song, not really one for class. Do you have songs like that? 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Because I needed another blog...

The thing about blogging is that you write for a given audience.  Currently, I write one blog for a cooking audience, one blog for a quilting/crafting audience, and one blog for, well, my eyes only.  Sorry folks, that one's all mine.  Lately though, I've started feeling the need to document my journey into the realm of group fitness instructing.  I'm sure it's not nearly as interesting to anyone else as it is to me, but maybe I'll be able to inspire people from here, eventually.  I plan to post thoughts, profiles, playlists, frustrations, confusions, and (of course) successes.

For now, that's all I've got.  Stay tuned for more though...all you crickets.  :-)