I read plenty of books about motivation, trying to understand the human mind and how we as instructors can use methods to increase our riders performance. Today I delivered a class which is a tough ride, mainly at Threshold, RPE 4/5 and then having peaks of 7/8 with minimal recovery between these peaks. So before I start this journey it is important, as with every class, I warm my riders up thoroughly. Here I use a 6 minute drum n bass track followed briefly with some jumps to get the warm up to 10 minutes. During the week a couple of riders had commented on the warm-up track, which as instructors irks us, because this is before they have even experienced the training session. Then today two more riders commented about the track, one saying ‘It isn’t very motivational!’

Taking a deep breath I politely replied ‘It’s just the warm-up track it will change.”

As always the riders don’t understand what we, the instructor go through to create our rides. They just expect you to play Justin Bieber or whatever is being played non stop on the radio, and it would be so much easier for me to just plug in Spotify and let it randomly choose tracks, but I didn’t get where I am today from being lazy with my music choice.

What I really wanted to say was…’What you need motivating now? At the very beginning of the class?”

Today in London we had a slither of snow. If you are reading this and are from outside the UK; just so you are aware a slither of snow is enough to bring this country to a standstill. So these two riders had already motivated themselves to get out their front door and come to my class. They already have enough motivation to understand they needed to train to obtain whatever goal they have set for themselves this year. People always under estimate their own internal motivation.

This is a 45 minute class, I should not need to stand at the front of my class and start delivering an Epic Football Pump Up. ‘Are you ready for this? I said are you ready for this?!” For one in the UK only a few even speak to you when you ask them ‘Is everyone ok today?” Otherwise normally it is just tumble weed drifting across in front of the stage. It’s an indoor cycling class; it is not a boxing match where I may want my fighter to come charging out of the corner and deliver a first round knock out. If  I hype the class up and then let them go, most of them will burn the toast within the first two tracks and then not be able to complete the ride. Especially as this is when I’m just beginning my ride.

No this piece of music was chosen for a reason. With most things in life, a music concert, a film, a presentation, there is an introduction and then everything builds to a climax. The crescendo in music, the dramatic or action packed finale in the movie, or the jaw dropping moment of realisation in a presentation. Yes of course some movies, or pieces of music start with a bang, but then have to lower the intensity to rebuild tension or to advance the plot,  and sure enough some of my rides start with a dramatic piece of music but then settles down.

A good example of this recently is Star Wars – most of us know it starts with that amazing fanfare music as the story scrolls off up the screen then the music drifts away, as it gets ready to build up the tension again.

So my choice of music, a drum n bass track as it enables me to maintain cadence at 85 – 90rpm, ‘elevator music’ as it was described, so I could keep the intensity down and keep them riding at RPE 2/3. Of course it’s a gamble because we generally know within the first 10 minutes if we are going to enjoy a movie, or if you are delivering a presentation, you don’t want people drifting off in the first 10 minutes, you want to keep them intrigued before you reveal your solution.

During the warm-up the riders should be getting into the zone, allowing their bodies to warm-up and their muscles to be primed, they should be focusing on form, pedal technique and breath. The music is really, at this stage of the workout inconsequential. Also as an instructor we have a lot of information to get over to our class. I don’t want to be competing with Adele’s amazing voice. Another thing is some riders come in late and also some of the class are chatting to themselves which I’ve discussed before doesn’t wind me up as I understand we are just warming up.

I understand better than most how important music is, however music is an external motivator, the real motivators are ‘Why did you venture out in the cold?” “What are you hoping to achieve?” You didn’t come and ride a bike to listen to my playlist surely?” Working out and getting results takes more than just a ‘party on a bike’.

As an instructor we need to place our motivational cues during the periods of high intensity of 7/8. Even if we ask them to do a 5 minute ‘surge’ we can’t start motivating the riders until perhaps the final minute when we understand the struggle is real; internally their own minds are beginning to doubt themselves. This is when we are needed to help reinforce their positivity and self belief. Not during the warm-up track. As always they have the ability to give me feedback, but I want feedback not criticism; on the entire journey, not just my choice of ‘warm-up’ track.

Thoughts and feedback are welcome.