IHRSA Show Oozing With Technology But Cycling Fusion Leading the Way!

Below is Gene Nacey’s report on what’s new and exciting at the annual IHRSA trade show going on this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. You are going to start seeing more and more technology employed by clubs and in indoor cycling classes thanks to the manufactures finally getting the message that the status quo was not going to work. Cycling Fusion can accurately say that they were one of the first to bring tech tools into the hands of both studios and instructors, from virtual rides (through Global Ride DVDs as well as their online library of classes) to Class Builder® to Ride Journal®. Together, the Indoor Cycling Association and Cycling Fusion make a formidable force, as we change the face of education for cycling instructors. If you are unfamiliar with Cycling Fusion’s online certifications, read more about it here. And of course, the Indoor Cycling Association is the global leader in convenient, inexpensive, and science-based education delivered to your computer, as well as the creator of the industry’s first fully online conference, the Indoor Cycling Summit coming next month.

Our world is changing folks, right before your eyes, and it is very exciting! Be a part of these groundbreaking changes! Read on…

Indoor Cycling Technology–Just Fashionably Late
By Gene Nacey, Founder Cycling Fusion

I just returned from the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) annual trade show after skipping last year, and what has transpired in just the last two years is nothing less than astounding. It’s like everyone got their invitation to the technology party at the same time, but they all couldn’t decide if they wanted to go or not. Well, seems like this party is finally getting started.

Power Bikes Started It

Two years ago, my report back by video regarding what I saw at IHRSA 2011 was that almost every bike manufacturer had at least a “prototype” power bike to show. I had said in my first blog writings in 2009 or 2010 that within five years power would be the new “standard” despite the fact that only one or two power bikes had hit the market. It was clearly inevitable.

Outside of power, though, the only other piece of “tech” was some video (heart rate monitors notwithstanding). Even in that video, you’ll note that Matrix was showing their big screen virtual riding/running videos. At that time, they were the only one making noise with video for the indoor cycling room outside of Global Ride or Cycling Fusion (who were not there with a booth, only as an attendee).

Group Heart Rate Training Without A Plan

Suunto had the market cornered at the time on group heart rate training, but there was a fundamental flaw to their offering. They had no program behind it. The question I could not get a good answer to was “How are you using it for training?” They were pretty content to let the customer decide that on their own, and as we now know, the customer in this space typically looks to the technology providers for guidance. Consequently they gave up, and went back to just making heart rate monitors–something they did well–and left the education solutions to those better suited.

Now It’s Group Power Training Without A Plan

This year, I saw no less than four different companies with group power as well as heart rate. I think one of them even had a plan for how they were using it. But more to the point, I saw a lot more indoor cycling players with technology, including video, that are beginning to realize that leaving the cycling room as it always has been is no longer good enough. That being said, many are still struggling with making the jump from making technology, to knowing why they made it.

There is a consistent tendency among technology providers to make “stuff” just because they can. While that is true in any industry, it was glaringly obvious at this year’s show. In my opinion the best example of this is the computer-generated roads from Google maps that were shown at a number of booths, and in fact some small companies are building their total business around that concept. If you are a real cyclist, try to ride to one of those simulations and you tell me, does that really “put you there”? Does it help you engage in the training more?

I was fortunate that my professional career started in operations, and technology was just a personal hobby. Consequently, I didn’t develop that bad habit of just building something because it could be built. When I needed a solution to a problem, I first found a way to solve the problem, then looked toward technology to see if it could enable that solution. Most of the time, we had to make sure that manual versions of the solution worked before we automated it—now there’s a concept! Form must follow function and not the other way around.

A good example of this is managing training load by amount of time spent in each heart zone. Before I even put a spreadsheet around it, I used it straight out of Sally Edward’s book along with some consulting with her, and calculated my points in each zone for each workout by hand, and added them all up for the week, for every week of my training plan until my event. Once I saw the training effect was substantial, and I was able to do more than I thought possible, I knew I had found the solution. (Note: I didn’t create the solution; Sally did that.)

It was only after this experience that I put a spreadsheet in play so I could automate at least some aspects of it. From here I could also use it with others to ensure that it works for more than just me. Once that was validated, I could move to automate more of it, and so the process continued until we created Ride Journal. This is purpose-driven technology development, not technology-driven development looking for a purpose.

iPad & iPod Apps Will Be Next

Just as two years ago video and group heart rate training was scarce but present, this year I saw “apps” in the cycling room in the same way. Watch for every indoor cycling player to have apps next year. Whether any of them will come to the table answering the “so what?” question up front is yet to be seen.

With our initial patent filing on Class Builder® approaching the two-year mark, we are hopeful that the players in this space will let us build a private label version of Class Builder for them since we know they all use instructors, and this way they won’t have to re-invent the wheel.

In any case, even though the rest of the industry is fashionably late to the party we’ve been throwing for the last five years, we are really glad they decided to come. Now it’s time to get our party on!



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