My favorite local gym, Crossroads Fitness, who showed interest in the spin video idea has been very gracious allowing me to use their facility for testing. As a matter of fact last year I was there as a customer & the spin instructor was not able to make it so they were sending everyone home. I volunteered to lead just so everyone could get a ride in. It was actually fun, scary but fun. My first attempt at it with zero preparation I implemented some of the more dynamic sprinting style with recovery periods I used for my personal training. People seemed to enjoy it & offered complements at the end. So gearing up for my "Video Assisted" class was not a complete shock. I knew a little of what I was up against.
Preparing for the first class I had to get my audio video system sorted out. I found a short throw HD projector & a portable 120" screen. I didn't really like the mic & sound system in the spin room so I brought my own. I built up a rack of amplifiers, mixers & a high quality wireless headset mic hooked to a 15" subwoofer & commercial Klipsch speakers. I really wanted to deliver the entire package & It rocked!
Since I was a new spin instructor teaching a new class we promoted it quite a bit. Using social media & flyers around the gym we attempted to create interest & target real cyclist. The gym owners & I were all excited & had hopeful expectations for the turn out. We had over 30 bikes set out ready for the crowd. The turnout was a little disappointing...I think we had 5 or 7 people. None of whom were cyclist. It was comprised of older mostly out of shape people who really had no idea we were trying something special. They were just showing up for A spin class that fit their schedules.
Overall the class went well though. A little humbling but I & the attendees had fun & got a great workout. I was just speaking freely describing how the trail felt at different points & leading the people through a random routine just following the video. I learned early on that I needed to be better organized with how the segments felt. I knew I wanted on screen data of some type but was not sure what that would be.
For the next weeks class we worked on video overlay on screen data to help guide me & the classes as to how the trail really feels. I dissected the video/trail over many hours of painstaking work & came up with 59 resistance changes through the course of the video ranging from as little as 10 seconds to 7 minute continued efforts. These ranged from standing 10 out of 10 sprints to completely stopping pedaling to get a full recovery. It looked & felt strange compared to a normal spin class but it was authentic to how it felt out on the trail.
We used an on screen countdown timer & level 1-10 to show what perceived resistance you should be at & for how long. All of the quick adjustments at our first go around were difficult to deal with. As a participant you would get caught off guard & miss a level change or get behind or out of sync somehow. For the next weeks class our solution to this was to add a "Next" data field. This would show what level was coming & for how long. This was really the fix. The 2 data fields showing current time & level & what was coming up next made it so it was easy to follow along & budget power to deal with the coming challenge. It was starting to work.
The randomness of a real mountain bike trail ride idea was starting to work. I started out just wanting visual entertainment but what I found is the genuine dynamics of a mountain bike trail made for an exceptionally hard workout! We would be climbing for several minutes at a hard pace & then have to stand & sprint to the top of a short steep hill to make it & the visual motivation to get there would push you harder than you could push yourself.
As we got better & kept at it word got around. Each week we would have a few more participants. After several weeks when winter really set in we began having some of the real cycling community showing up. Since not all of them were members to this gym they would pay per visit to take the class. Before long we had entire groups of friends going out of their way to make it to our class not unlike meeting at a trailhead for a group ride in the summer. We started running out of bikes & having to turn people away!
What fun. There was a catch though. We had been watching the same video for 2 months now. Everyone including myself was sick of it. One night I used a road bike video I bought from another company to break things up & got complaints afterword that they came to see a mountain bike video.
It was time to make another.