Another Reason That Running Rocks my Socks – Or, My Spin Instructor Training – Movement Labs

Another Reason That Running Rocks my Socks – Or, My Spin Instructor Training

So, in addition to holding out on the marathon news, one of the *other* things I neglected to share with you in advance were my plans for this weekend.  Essentially, I’ll be making lots of work for myself on Monday:

Goal for the weekend: As many sets of sweaty, stinky workout gear as possible!

Goal for the weekend: As many sets of sweaty, stinky workout gear as possible!

Normally, my plans wouldn’t be particularly notable, really (I’m usually running, cleaning, and hanging out with KMN) – but THIS weekend, I am taking my initial (emphasis on initial) Les Mills RPM Spin Instructor training module.  !!!

According to the course manual, I am/will be learning “secrets to changing the world one class at a time”.  I’d make fun of this, except I’m the one who touts all over her website that “Running changes lives!”  So instead, I’ll just say that LIVES had better watch out, because I’m coming to CHANGE THEM.  [In a little while.  I’m still an uncertified newbie instructor.]

So today looked something like this:

1. Wake up early.
2. Pack 7 zillion snacks/lunch, 6 changes of clothes, cycling shoes, and lots of technology into several bags.  I should report that the infamous jelly actually made quite a nice PB&J sandwich.
3. Go to the gym to (successfully) stake out THE bike I wanted to ride.  Trust me, the way the spin bikes get packed into the room, I DEFINITELY wanted the “window seat”!
4. Master Class.  For additional comments on this, see RWH on Facebook.
5. Intro to RPM “Choreography” (integration of music, cues, and moves).  Bottom line: Very scripted, but learning to read the keys/cues is like learning a foreign language.  Thankfully, it took about 5 minutes to pick up, rather than 5 years.  Each student is assigned one track to present in a Final Assessment on Sunday afternoon.
6. Interactive Technique Lecture, and LLoAL: Learn Lots of Acronyms Lecture.
8. More technique.  Very sweaty.  Air con, where are you…?????
9. Practice calling cues for each other for our presentation track.
10. Realize that although RPM Instructors make this look VERY easy, it’s HARD.  Especially the first time.  When I’m fighting with someone else’s iPod so the screen stops turning off.  And trying to listen to the music, and myself, at the same freakin’ time.
11. Get frustrated and slightly panicky, but realize I’m in too deep to stop now!
12. Move spin bikes to cooler room.  Aaaaahhhhhh….
13. For about 5 seconds, until we start an intensive spin session.
14. But not before I grab some Sports Beans and lots of water.  Hey, don’t judge.  I knew they’d sit in my stomach just fine, despite the upcoming activity.  Thank you running, for teaching me how to stay energized and hydrated during intensive athletic endeavors.  [There was Nuun consumed today, too.]
15. Feel tired, but STRONG during this challenging ride.  Give MASSIVE thanks for being a well-trained endurance runner.
16. Repeat #15, about 10 times over the course of an hour.
17. Coursework DONE for the day.
18. Return home, and inhale: 10 Pringles, 1 slice banana bread, several glasses of water.
19. A Great Technology Battle: Struggle to get music onto my iPhone.  Persist, albeit very grumpily.  Snap at husband.
20. SUCCEED!  Feel immediately better.
21. Catch bus, and spend the 30 minute ride rehearsing song and cues (“choreography”) for tomorrow, while trying not to bounce, bob, gesture, or sing out loud TOO much.
22. “Sneak” into the empty spin room at the gym (different gym: had to relocated somewhere that was open laaaate on Saturday).  Except the lights are off, and I’m afraid that if I ask for them to be turned on, someone will tell me I’m not supposed to be in the room.  And I NEED to practice this choreography!!

90% of the room might be dark, but there's light coming in through the door.  Good enough for me!

90% of the room might be dark, but there’s light coming in through the door. Good enough for me!

23. Spend the 45 fastest minutes EVER on the spin bike, rehearsing 7 minute song approximately 45/7 = 6.5 times.  [Lie. I actually rehearsed the beginning more than any other part. I think a strong start is important – plus, the end is pretty repetitive.]
24. Zip out just before gym closes.
25. Take my sore tush (and a few other bits…chafing isn’t just for runners, ya know) home.


Despite some panicky moments earlier today, I’m actually feeling pretty good about this.  I know my song (keep in mind that this is just 1 out of 9 that go into a full-length class), and feel moderately confident in the choreography.   I am by no means an expert, or anywhere near ready to teach a class myself.  That’s why this is just the first step in my training.  Provided that I pass tomorrow, I’ll work with a mentor for a few months, before submitting a final teaching sample for evaluation.

Today’s experience has also reminded me of what it’s like to be a student – the moments of panic when you think you can’t possibly master this, then the moments of insight and pride when you realize that maybe you actually can.  It has also made me exceptionally grateful that I have the strong legs, heart, and lungs of a distance runner!!  Annnnd…My fingers are crossed that the time tested method for drying wet sneakers (stuffing them several times with newspaper) will work just as well on my sweat-soggy cycling shoes.  Otherwise, my toes are gonna be very prune-like tomorrow!

I’ll be back to all YOU blogs soon – as soon as tomorrow’s course is over!  Until then…happy running!  (Or spinning!!)

Runners: When was the last time a situation made you REALLY thankful that you were a runner?

Anyone: What was the last NON-running challenge that you conquered that left you feeling really, really accomplished?
[And give yourself a pat on the back for it.  Good work!]

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  1. Hilary Francis July 21, 2013 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Sounds terrifying to me but you have it under control. Good luck for tomorrow.

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      If push came to shove (pull?), you’d be just fine. You’re a pretty intense runner. With some practice, you could probably be a spin master, too. 😉

  2. stridingmom July 21, 2013 at 4:53 am - Reply

    Wow! That was definitely stepping out of your comfort zone eh? I stepped out big style (non-running) last year by attempting a sprint triathlon. It went okay, but I still have residual conflict with my bike as a result 🙂

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      Every so often I get itchy to push myself in a new way. It was scary/fun, and has ultimately turned out well.

      Maybe you and your bike need counseling? 😉

      • stridingmom July 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm - Reply

        I think we need more than counseling. I still have to get the darn thing put back together from a tragic kid-related incident!

        • Holly KN July 22, 2013 at 8:30 am - Reply

          Oh, dear.

          Hopefully it was only tragic for the bike, not the child…. 🙁

  3. Mom July 21, 2013 at 5:37 am - Reply

    I was thankful for being a “runner” (and wearing my workout gear) in Publix Thursday night when we were at the check-out and I remembered I wanted garlic! Mom-style sprint to produce!

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      I might be biased because you’re my Mom – but I think that’s the best use of “runner-ness” that I’ve heard! 🙂

  4. Jules July 21, 2013 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Woohoo! Good luck holly, you’re going to be great! Love how you decided to sneak in extra practice time. Really looking forward to hearing how it goes. 🙂

    I was thankful to be training for a marathon the last two times I went skiing. I’m pretty much a newbie skier but managed to keep up with my much more experienced companions solely because of my level of fitness + sheer perserverence!

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Hahaha – gotta keep up with the intense Singaporeans. 😉 Seriously, though – those 45 minutes made me *SO* much less stressed, they were totally worth the trip! (and the extra set of dirty running clothes…)

      YES – Totally agree. Being strong and fit helps me turn to try new sports/classes/etc. with (relative) ease. Zumba excepted. 🙂

      • Jules July 23, 2013 at 6:46 am - Reply

        Yep definitely worth it from the sound of your recent post! Yay!

  5. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama July 21, 2013 at 8:25 am - Reply

    You are going to rock your choreography tomorrow! One of my good friends is a spinning instructor, and she always makes it seem so effortless. I’d be huffing & puffing up a storm if I tried to spin & talk at the same time. There’s no way I could do it to music!

    Every time I sit down to a delicious meal and eat WAY too much, I’m thankful I’m a runner so I can burn it off later!

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      I think I saw a statistic once that “so I can eat” was the reason that something like 60% of runners answered to the question, “Why do you run?”

  6. Jess @thefitspirit July 21, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Goodluck! I’m sure you’ll have fun and do well! Jealous, I love spin!

    • Holly KN July 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      If you love spin and ever have the chance, I’d suggest trying a weekend-long instructor course. I got a behind-the-scenes view of building, choreographing, and conducting a spin class – and I spent over 6 hours on the spin bike this weekend!

  7. Woaa! Didn’t know you were doing spin class instructor training. So cool 😀 But it does sound uber tiring 0.0

    It reminds me of the times when I did my swimming instructor and lifeguarding courses. T’was brutal tiring days but you do feel so accomplished afterwards. Plus get the best sleep of your life 😛

    • Holly KN July 22, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply

      The whole experience was awesome – I haven’t taken on that kind of challenge in a long time.

      And yes…I slept VERY soundly the last 2 nights. That should put to rest (ha, ha) any pesky lingering jet lag issues….

  8. Jean July 22, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

    You’re crazy. Spin instructor AND marathon training? I’m exhausted just reading about it.

    I didn’t realize so much went in to being a spin instructor. I’m sure you’ll be way better than any I ever had when I used to do it in New York. They just played the same songs in the same order and had us do the exact same thing (climb for 5 minutes then sprints for 5 more minutes, repeat again and again and again). Surprisingly, I still enjoyed them. It’s probably the only form of crosstraining I enjoy!

    • Holly KN July 22, 2013 at 11:12 am - Reply

      I have to admit – the first day of training was humbling (much harder than I thought), although things did magically get easier on the second day.

      There is HUGE variability in spin programs, depending on the gym. There are different licensed programs (I’m getting trained in one, Les Mills) – the program provides the music and choreography (when to sit, stand, climb). Les Mills does alternate climbing and sprinting tracks, but the moves in each are varied (sitting, standing, pace changes, etc.). A new release is put out every 3 months. However, lots of gyms allow instructors to mix songs between releases, although that puts the onus on the instructors to choose the songs and review/relearn the choreography. Other spin gyms do freestyle spinning, letting their instructors make up their own workouts.

      In short, instructors have a different amount of control depending on what program (if any) they are teaching with, and how much time they are will to put in to prepare. Like anything, some people do it well….others do it not as well. That’s life, I guess. 🙂

  9. Debbie @ DebRuns July 22, 2013 at 11:06 am - Reply

    That’s so exciting! Good luck to you!

    I know that last weeks Cruisers’ ultra event was a run, but looking at it from planning an event, I was thrilled when it was over and I could look back at how all the hard work I had done planning it and everything fell into place perfectly. It all went so smoothly!

    • Holly KN July 22, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

      I understand that feeling, believe me! 🙂 I worked with a group that produced a trail marathon while I was living in upstate NY. Between the training runs, and everything that went into putting on the race…by the time it was over, we were exhausted. Once we recovered, there was an awesome sense of accomplishment. And a great big, “WHEW!”

      So the real question is…will you do it again?

      PS Your blog coverage of that event was so much fun – it definitely made me want to be there, riding along and switching off running, riding, and driving duties. There’s something indescribable about being part of the support team for that kind of effort, isn’t there?

  10. turkeyrunner July 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    That sounds like some intense training! You must have been exhausted after a whole day of spin like that. How did others in your training course hold up?

    Without revealing what I do/who I work for (because I haven’t cleared it with them and have no desire to do so), it is not uncommon for me to spend an 8-10 hour work day in a very warm or very cold climate while walking around in steel toe boots and a hard hat, and climbing up and down multiple levels of stairs, and ducking under things. I am always thanking my running fitness for keeping me strong and giving me endurance, so that I can focus on my job and not on all of the climbing and ducking and time on my feet.

    You sneaking into that dark room to practice your spin routine cracks me up!

    • Holly KN July 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Surprisingly well, for the most part. About half the class had been certified in some (or many) other Les Mills classes, so they knew what to expect from the course. There were a few yoga/pilates folks without much spin experience who were definitely suffering – but all but one or two people really held up surprisingly well. Training, for some – and peer pressure, for others – is a powerful motivator, I guess!

      Ah, yes – definitely sounds like being in good shape helps you do your job better. This isn’t very politically correct to say, but I often think that fitter people should be compensated at a slightly higher rate, especially in a job like yours, since you can probably work faster and more efficiently, as you aren’t being bogged down by your fitness (or lackthereof)…

  11. Kristen L @ DYL July 23, 2013 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Sounds like quite the day, but also a great one! Definitely should feel accomplished for that. Spinning is so much fun. I like working on a fast leg turnover, and using some different muscles from running.

    I have been working on swimming lately, which is the most challenging of the three in triathlon for me. Yesterday we went out for an open water swim, and tried out our wetsuits for the first time.

    • Holly KN July 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Oooo! How did the wetsuit test go? Are most of the tris in SoCal wetsuit legal? Seems like water temps would be just on the border…

      And yes – I’m actually using spinning as a substitute for interval training on this marathon cycle. It lets me get up some speed and sprint, without worrying about hurting my running legs!

  12. Logan @ Mountains and Miles July 23, 2013 at 3:49 am - Reply

    I had some really unfortunate chaffing on my bike a few months ago. Cringe.

    Wow, I am exhausted just reading about that all. I bet you are going to be such a fantastic spin instructor, though!!

    I had whitewater kayaking lessons this weekend and it was a struggggggleeee. Way harder than I thought and it made me way more anxious that I ever expected to be.

    • Holly KN July 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Whitewater kayaking! So exciting! And yes, a bit scary… The thought of those suckers tipping over makes me just the *tiniest* bit nervous… I know how to swim, so it’s not the falling out that bothers me – it’s the thought of being stuck IN! And UPSIDE DOWN! Eeep….

  13. […] Saturday: Spin Instructor Training Day 1 […]

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