Profile Design Tips

Just Got Certified, Now What? Part 2: Profile Design Tips

Part 1 of our new instructor series focused on providing coaching tips to ease you into your first couple of classes. This article will focus on profile design tips. 

The general rule of thumb for new instructors (and not a bad rule for all instructors) is to keep it simple. Keep your profiles simple, keep your coaching simple. Take some time to learn what works and what doesn’t before you add any complexity, then gradually start adding to your repertoire.

Use prepared profiles

As a new instructor, you may want to start off by using profiles created by another source (why not try ICA?), but make sure your source is reputable and reliable. I’ve seen some profiles on online forums or blogs that are very confusing, both in how they are written and in how the elements of the ride are put together. I’ve even seen poorly constructed profiles that have been released by a major indoor cycling program (though not created by a master instructor). They may even be completely safe and within proper guidelines technique-wise, but the intensity is all over the place, there are too many changes with excessive variety and movement, and often, there is too little recovery. Unfortunately, with many of these profiles, the music doesn’t always match what they are doing, both in energy and tempo (that’s the subject of another post!).

Another problem I’ve seen with some of the freely available profiles on forums is that at times the intensity and the terrain do not fulfill the purported objective, which means the creator of the profile is lacking exercise science knowledge. Examples of this are profiles that claim to improve VO2 max or anaerobic threshold, but on deeper scrutiny, the intensity and duration of the efforts do nothing for either of those physiological markers. This means it doesn’t do what they say it’s doing.

This is not to say there aren’t some excellent instructors who post solid profiles on online forums or blogs. There are, and I’ve happily used some of them in my classes, or have been inspired by them to create something similar. But new instructors may not know how to separate the good ones from the bad ones—too often, they focus more on music they like and not on delivering a sound class.

Once you’ve found some well-designed profiles from reliable sources, get your feet wet teaching these for a few weeks or months. Pay close attention to how they are put together; notice the duration of the work efforts and how much recovery is provided. Notice how much time you have for cueing.

Sooner or later, you’ll have to start putting your own profiles together. This may be one of the most important skills you develop as an instructor because it lays the foundation for everything you do.

Next, I will cover the four top rules for profile design:

  • The profile comes first, then music
  • Don’t squeeze everything into one class
  • Limit your sprints
  • Start with an objective (the most important rule; we provide dozens of examples)

Rule #1: The profile comes first, then the music.

It’s like putting the soundtrack for a movie together; you need to know what’s happening in the movie and understand the emotional quality of the screenplay first. Same with your profiles: your playlist is the soundtrack for your screenplay. 

That doesn’t mean that a song or album can’t inspire you.

By the way, all yearly members of ICA receive the free 18-page e-book How to Create Profiles. It includes sample rides, many more objectives and sub-objectives, and tips on putting music to your profiles.

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  1. Thanks Jennifer,
    I think this is great information for instructors who haven’t taught for awhile also.

  2. Jennifer, your posts could really use some social media sharing buttons for an easy click to share.
    I just feel like sharing-sharing-sharing them!
    Thank you for great advice and thinking about us newbies.

  3. Great advice ! If I was brand spanking new, I’d try the Hill repeats. As you said, they are very simple. Everyone in the class understands climbing, it’s easy to fit your music with the hill. One doesn’t have to think too much: new song, new hill or recover. This will help a new instructor develop some confidence, get settled in and comfortable.

  4. I am so envious of new instructors who have so many resources at the click of a mouse! I think back to my early days as an instructor and remember wishing I had more mentoring available. Here’s my advice to all new instructors that are reading this: Stick with ICA profiles for starters. You will get SOLID ideas on how to construct your own profiles and you can build from there. Good luck and have fun!

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