This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The OTHER Johnny G!

I've been taking John G's Body Pump classes at The Pacific Athletic Club (PAC), and I really like his style. I even introduced myself to him as a fellow instructor last week. He told me he also teaches Spinning cycling and he joked that he *is* Johnny G! I haven't cycled in months - either indoor or outdoor - so I took the opportunity to try John's cycling class and get back into cycling form. I didn't know what to expect but I thought my odds were pretty good at "Aerobics Roulette".

Aerobics Roulette = Taking another instructor's class. It can be a fantastic experience where I have a great workout and learn a lot, or it can be a complete disaster.

Like many other gyms, PAC has a dedicated Cycling Studio so you don't have to waste time setting up/putting away bikes before and after class. They use Star Trac spinner bikes (thank goodness) so you can adjust the fore/aft position of both the saddle and the handlebars.

I always thought that one had to be a World Class Spinner to be a great cycling instructor. Here's how the logic goes: to get people to work harder, you should be able to cycle like Superman to "show them how it's done". But John really opened my eyes to a new way of instructing -- aside from the warm up and the cooldown, he didn't do any cycling. Now I don't know whether this is John's usual style of teaching or whether he's taking it easy because he's injured (which I know he is). In any case, it was FINE that he didn't cycle. It was still a great class.

Instead of cycling, John walked around the class correcting form. In general, he reminded people to keep their elbows and during standing climbs to (1) maintain weight above the saddle (as opposed to the arms) and to (2) concentrate on a side-to-side motion rather than up-and-down. (2) was a new cue to me, and one that I may use in the future because it helps people visualize and prevent them from bouncing and killing their knees. John also made a point to go around and encourage individual participants BY NAME. I think he knew everybody in that class and gave personalized feedback. That was cool.

John perfectly coordinated his drills with music selection, i.e., fast songs for sprints, slower ones for climbs. I recognized about half of the songs he played. He encouraged people to "cycle to the beat", so I did. The resulting cadence seemed a little on the slow side, but I'll count next time to make sure. Even if it is slower, it's easier to monitor your cadence that way, i.e., you're slowing down if you were on beat but now you're moving slower than the music. He also coordinated his drills perfectly each song. For example, we would sprint only during the chorus, or coordinate our jumps to a refrain. John was familiar enough with the music so he knew exactly when to cue us for it. That was impressive. It may be from his Body Pump training since with that format, you're forced to match choreography with the music exactly. Contrast this to how Dino teaches: he doesn't follow the music's BPM but since he cycles when he teaches, I can try to match his leg speed. I'm not saying that John's method of teaching is better than Dino's or vice versa. Both methods are effective.

With regards to resistance, John would occasionally tell us to "add/remove a gear" which was rather nebulous. What does that mean exactly? How many gears are there in total? Are we on gear 2, and we're supposed to increase that to gear 3? Or gear 5 moving to gear 6? I should have asked -- it could have been that everybody else knew what he was talking about since they were regulars so he didn't feel the need to elaborate. But he did touch on the important stuff - like reminding people to add enough resistance to support their weight when moving from sitting to standing positions. Consistent with his "cycling to the beat" theme, he also asked us to use the music to determine resistance level. For example, if we were cycling faster than the music, we should add resistance. On the other hand, if we couldn't cycle fast enough to match the beat, we should reduce resistance level.

Overall, class was great so I plan to attend it regularly. Out of all the cardiovascular group exercise formats, I find that cycling is _by far_ the hardest. I hope to get back into cycling shape soon.

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