Ever since the early days of my tenure as a Master Instructor for the Spinning® program (1997), I was enamored with using visualization techniques to help my riders get into the state of flow. I would have them close their eyes and picture a scene in their mind’s eye, absorbing the emotions of that scene and letting it translate into a relaxed state of being. Visualizations like this are excellent for perfecting form and ensuring that riders are in the present moment, and not distracted by irrelevant thoughts.
My favorite visualization has been that of a cheetah running in slow motion. I got the idea many years ago when watching the Discovery Channel on television. I would use this visual early on in an endurance ride when I wanted to focus on seamless, flawless, and relaxed pedaling. I would tell them…
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths; settle deep onto the saddle and just let your legs go on autopilot. Now, let’s change the channel in your mind to the TV station, the Discovery Channel. Imagine you are watching a cheetah running in slow motion. Watch how graceful and purposeful every motion is; the front legs reach out almost effortlessly, they contact the ground and the beautiful cat moves forward; the hind legs surpass the front legs. As they find purchase on the ground one at a time, they push off powerfully and propel him forward, the source of this animal’s great speed. As the hind legs extend behind him the front legs curl underneath him to then stretch out as far as they can to the front, once again in perfect harmony. All the while, his tail extends out behind him, keeping him balanced. This happens over, and over, and over. Notice how powerful, yet how relaxed he is. He’s moving at 60 mph, yet he’s seemingly suspended in space at this slow motion. There is no wasted movement at all; only the muscles that are needed for the movement are contracting, and just the right amount. Absolute perfection in motion.
I want you to become cat-like in your motion. Everything you do is on purpose. Every muscle you engage is only for the purpose of turning the pedals. If a muscle isn’t necessary for the pedal stroke, it is relaxed. Make sure you too have no wasted movement. You are absolute, harmonious perfection in motion. Rhythmic, powerful, relaxed, graceful. Beautiful to watch…as beautiful as the cheetah.
Then I shut up and let them ride in silence as they pictured that scene.
Cueing a visual like this requires a calm and soft voice. Speak slowly, and give them time to absorb each sentence before moving on to the next.
One day on Facebook someone posted the most amazing video and I had to share it. It’s like it was created for me! I cannot stop watching this:
Isn’t that sublime? The moment I saw it, it almost brought tears to my eyes. I was transported to my early Spinning® classes, the sound of the drum beats echoed in my head, and I could see myself with my eyes closed, picturing this beautiful animal running exactly as it appears in this video. It’s been fifteen years that I’ve been using this visual—it’s almost as if someone read my mind!
Make sure you watch it through to the end, where they show how they made this video. That in itself is amazing!
Wouldn’t it be incredible to project this video on a screen for this visualization? I would do two songs. One to use with this video, then I’d turn it off and have them close their eyes and conjure up that image again in their mind’s eye.
It really helps to set the mood if you use a song that has an African feel to it, one with rhythmic but not overpowering drums. The song I usually use for this visualization is “Wall of Drums” by Brent Lewis from the album Primitive Truth. That is my favorite song on the album but he has many others.
What other rhythmic African songs do you have that would be good for this visualization?
WANT MORE GREAT VISUALS AND CREATIVE CUEING JUST LIKE THIS?
There are many more great visualizations and imagery cues in the ICA archives just like this. We have a 5-part series on creative coaching and visualization. It’s a veritable Continuing Education Course that will greatly expand your coaching vocabulary and lexicon (there are literally hundreds of creative cues in the five-part series below)! If you’re not a member, you too could have access to all the articles below (and almost 600 more articles on every topic important to instructors)…click here to find out how.
If you are an ICA member and haven’t yet seen this series, check out the articles below: