On a recent Southern California expedition, I scheduled time each day to ride at the area’s “hottest cycling clubs.” Each was new, shiny, technologically savvy, and, of course, costly to attend. I only made it to day four. Between Tommy’s tap-backs and Lucy’s figure-8s, my head wanted to explode from the insanity swirling around me. I left fearful that the cycling craze I had discovered would eventually make landfall in the Midwest, becoming the expected indoor cycling experience.
I’m happy to report I found some sanity this week. In fact, I found A LOT of sanity! An oasis—a sanctuary centered amidst the rough terrain I’d recently encountered. Just a few miles up the road, I discovered “the insanely sane” Shirin Beckett. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone as passionate about discovering new knowledge and ensuring that correct, proven, and useful information is taught to each of her indoor cyclists. (Or “teamsanity,” as they are known.) That’s why I call her “insanely sane.”
SPINNING® is her passion and SPINPOWER® is her plea. Why? “Because science works.”
“Spinning is not about winning, it is about reaching.” As Shirin recalled this statement made by SPINPOWER® master instructor Angie Sturtevant at the 2015 WSSC Conference, I could sense Angie’s impact. “It’s about all of us REACHING our goals. Like they say, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Likewise, if you CAN measure it, you can improve it.” Furthermore, “How can anyone reach any goal if they are performing ineffectively, or worse, doing hazardous, non-measurable movements on a bike?” The insanely sane refuse to back down to any surrounding pressures that seem illogical, irrational, or unwarranted.
Unable to conform to the indifferent attitudes of the big box clubs and feeling suffocated by smaller studios, Shirin opened CycleinSANITY in January 2015. Her mission? To create a studio where the science behind cycling leads to real results from fun, exciting, and targeted training. Weight loss achievements, improved race times (both from cyclists and runners), and wellness improvements are a sliver of the testimonial highlights shared on her studio’s website. [Read the details at cycleinSANITY.com.] And, Shirin’s personal badge of honor? “People who have never been on a bike before are now riding outdoors! It’s magic. That’s indoor cycle training.”
Magic seemed to reverberate throughout our conversation. No doubt the result of a passionate instructor/studio owner. Her passion infuses everything. Her preparation. Her leading. Her understanding and influence upon members. Her investments. Her sacrifices. Her staff.
“I wish I could instill passion in all leaders,” she says, “but you can’t—it’s fluid, like energy. You either have it or not. You give it or take it away. I am doubly blessed to have the joy of finding it lingering day after day when I open and close my studio.”
Shirin’s dialogue became a little more heated when we discussed education. She knows education makes you a different person, but it’s also something you cannot force others to seek. “Cycle instructors MUST have an internal passion for learning. They have to want it. They don’t realize that knowledge helps all instructors deliver.”
“They can join ICA (Indoor Cycling Association) with ONE CLICK!” (All caps indicate the rise in her volume.) “And it’s ALL there. I hear, ‘It’s too expensive.’ REALLY? FOR A WHOLE YEAR? You have access to research, dialogue, profiles, opinions, and education from the industry’s best sources. People go to a one-day certification (or four-hour workshop) and think, ‘That’s it!’ And they never become a more complete trainer. They never become one with their own bike.”
(Can you tell Shirin’s a big fan of ICA and has been a member since day 1?!)
No matter the format or day of the week, Shirin delivers each ride as a new journey. Her desire for all who depart her studio is to simply spread love. “As instructors we are there to help de-stress, motivate, inspire, and bring their attention to what is real. It’s all about love and passion for me.”
When I asked Shirin for advice on how to create an impactful, magical ride, she offered her quieting process, as she sits in front of the computer and lets the creativity flow. “Every ride I do is a journey. No matter the goal, a journey requires planning.”
The following are Shirin’s thought processes as she plans her rides:
- I remember where I took my riders the last time
- I think about who is on the floor of my studio; each specific need and fitness level
- I question where I want to take their bodies this week
- I ask myself, “If I was going to ride, what is the general idea of where I would like the ride to go?”
- I want them to warm up, and warm up efficiently. So I decide how much warm-up is appropriate for the ride design.
- I let my riders know:
- The overall ride plan.
- How to budget their energy and what to expect (number of intervals, climbs, time in saddle, etc.).
- The goal or purpose of the ride so nothing is left to surprise—
making it rider-friendly.
- And I bring their attention to what is real. What have riders been going through this past week? How does it relate to this journey? Know your people and include them in each and every journey.
- I plan my music. I always chose music that works with the cadence for the ride plan; never chose music that is contrary to the ride plan. If your riders are hearing a different rhythm than what you are asking them to ride, how do you expect their legs to stay connected to their ears? I also use music that is appropriate for any theme I have established or want to convey.
- Let the ride evolve and climax.
- Kindness and discipline are key to each plan.
As I grappled for a descriptive label to differentiate CycleinSANITY’s sanctuary against the barrage of studio offerings in our industry, she gently reminded me, “We are…an indoor cycling studio.”
Yes. Yes, that is exactly what you are, in the very purest form. You see, insanely sane people are known for changing the thinking of the status quo and moving the world towards progress, making our world well. Their passion encourages the passion in us. And they change the expectations.
Through her initiatives, coupled with the truths of science, it is evident the human spirit is lifted in Shirin’s presence. Especially where she is most at home, tending to her “jewels,” at 2855 Foothill Boulevard, La Verne, California.
We hope you’ll all go visit Shirin at CyclinSANITY!