Survivor Jerseys.

As many of you know, last year I rode my first "Century Ride" (100 miles) in Pelotonia, which raises money for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

It was one of the most incredible experiences I've had, and I am thrilled to be gearing up for my second year, and this time with Alex riding by my side!

I thought I'd share a story from last year's ride.

It was about two weeks before the big day, and I was in a local bike store (Roll:) getting some gear. I ran into a young couple who were regulars at the cycling class I teach at Cycle614. I had hosted a Pelotonia fundraiser ride at Cycle614, but they couldn't make it due to schedule conflicts. They said they'd still love to donate, and asked for the spelling of my last name so they could look up my donation page.

I left the store touched by our conversation.

One of the amazing things about my Pelotonia experience was witnessing the generosity of friends and family near and far, and even people I hardly knew or haven't seen in years. 

Fast forward from that day at the bike store. I'm at mile 45 out of 100, on the Pelotonia route, when all of a sudden two riders zip past me and shout, "JULIE! OUR FAVORITE CYCLE INSTRUCTOR, HI!"

Needless to say a HUGE smile erupted on my face, and when they looked back waving at me, I see their faces: it's the couple I ran into at the bike shop. 

The woman is wearing a "SURVIVOR" jersey.

Last year, I was inspired to ride in honor of my best friend's dad, who we lost to brain cancer in 2014. But as the donations rolled in, "in honor of:....., in memory of...." my purpose and dedication became even bigger. I rode for so many family members and friends who have been impacted by cancer.

This year, as I gear up again, one theme keeps popping into my head: SURVIVOR jerseys.

This year, I ride for a future filled with "SURVIVOR" jerseys.

I ride for a future where cancer is a thing of a past.

I ride for a future where Pelotonia no longer needs to fund cancer research, and instead celebrates the cure, the lives being lived.

Take a look, and see for yourself the incredible work Pelotonia funds. Every dollar donated goes straight towards groundbreaking cancer research. 

Every donation counts. Whether you are able to give $10 or $100, it all matters.

I am excited to be teaching another fundraising ride at Cycle614 on Sunday, June 25 at 11:30am. The ride is 45 minutes, and the cost is a $30 donation at the door. Thanks to a donation by our Grandview neighbors, we'll be offering complimentary Fusian sushi after the ride! You can sign-up today and reserve your bike (then pay at the door!)  

I would LOVE to see you all there! However, if you're not in town or have other scheduling conflicts, you can ride in spirit with a donation.

I thank you so much and look forward to sharing more of this experience with you all.

If you would like to donate to our rides, click on the links below:

www.pelotonia.org/juliewojno
www.pelotonia.org/alexohlemacher

PSA: Our Bodies Are Not Machines

The Annual Cycle614 Spring Break Challenge is upon us... which means if you're a Cycle614 rider, you're contemplating... to ride... or not to ride...

And with this question I have an important message that might sway your decision. And it's a message that is much broader than Cycle614 and the Challenge - so if you aren't one of my local riders, this applies to you, too. And yogis, and CrossFitters... WHOMEVER.

But first, for all yall who don't know the challenge it works like this:

  • If you ride 4x a week for 2 consecutive weeks, you earn 2 free rides
  • If you ride 4x a week for 3 consecutive weeks, you earn 3 free rides
  • If you ride 4x a week for 4 consecutive weeks, you earn 4 free rides

So basically, when the Challenge comes up, the biggest thing I'll hear is something along the lines of, "that's a LOT of riding, I don't know if I could do that!"

And yeah! It SO TOTALLY IS A LOT OF RIDING. That's why it's a challenge. Riding 4x a week for at least two weeks in a row is HARD.

But ya'll... the challenge, ultimately, is about SHOWING UP. The challenge is about commitment to yourself and to your goal. The challenge is NOT about hitting a certain Energy Number by the end of class.

All you have to do is show up 4x a week. 

Often times, we hear messages like "ALWAYS GIVE ALL YOU GOT!" and "ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST." These are good messages, don't get me wrong, they're GREAT, but I think they are often misinterpreted.

Try your best, hell yeah, that's key, always try to do your best. Always give all you got, but recognize that somedays you'll naturally have more or less to give. Know that especially when it comes to physical activity, actually DOING your best every single time is not actually feasible. 

Say huh?

Ok. Doing your best. Semantics, but whatever. If you think about it literally, doing your best means just that: you just did your BEST, you performed to a equal or better value than last time. 

I mean if we were to look at your metrics at the end of a cycling class, you would have reached your previous PR or beat it. Every class.

But that's just not possible. OBVIOUSLY. 

I think we all recognize that it's not physically possible to keep your performance at peak level with increased frequency. When I look to my marathon running boyfriend, I've seen him PR, and I've seen him run his 26.2 30 min slower than usual. But did he try his best both times? You better believe it! But we're talking about the human body and with that comes external elements that we can't control.

I think the message, "DO YOUR BEST" gets to us subconsciously. If we don't PR or come close to a PR, we feel bad about ourselves and our performance. I say this because I see it every time I teach.

I hear riders get down on themselves when they see their metrics on the beat board, "Ugh I sucked today..." just because their energy didn't get as high as it has in the past. But do I KNOW that they absolutely tried their best? Hell yeah. You better believe it.  So when I hear these self-criticisms, I'm like GAH! NO! YOU CAME! YOU PUSHED! YOU GAVE WHAT YOU GOT TODAY! That's what matters!!

Some days, we will be more rested or we'll just have more energy, and we'll be able to DO OUR BEST. But other days our bodies are tired (probably from that amazing YOU DID YOUR BEST day)! So cut yourself some slack please. 

Our bodies are not machines.

Always TRY your best. YES. But be kind to yourself and put an end to unrealistic standards.

As you think about this challenge (or any physical challenge), stop being so overwhelmed by the idea of riding 4x a week. We aren't asking you PR 4x a week. We're asking you to commit to showing up. 

And I, personally, am asking you to be KIND to yourselves, and stop being so critical when your power isn't your highest. You came, you rode, you showed up.

Be proud of that.

 

 

Ok. So You're Brand Spankin' New to Indoor Cycling...

Great! Glad you're here!

One of my fave things ever is welcoming in new riders. Even better is when I meet someone who I can tell is nervous, and then by the end of our convo, I already feel them loosening up, laughing, and relaxin. Bingo. Mission complete.

So I thought why not put my "New Rider Pointers" on the blog?!

Walking into a new studio of any sort is nerve racking, right? Right. But listen, we're here for ya. And every person in that room was once a newb. So that's cool.

Ok, so here's what I tell my new riders:

First of all: WELCOME. So freaking glad you're here. But really. I've met a ton of rockin' people on the bikes - so I'm pretty pumped when I get to meet another awesome person.

Second of all: that saddle? Yeah, unless you're an outdoor rider, it hurting your lady/man parts is normal. Totally normal. So if you're like 20 min into the ride thinking, "OMG AM I THE ONLY ONE IN PAIN?" Don't worry, we've all been there. 2 or 3 rides later, you'll be fine. I dunno if we develop muscles down there or what... but....you do get used to it! Just... trust me on this one.

*however there are some people to whom the saddle doesn't hurt at all the first ride, this is a new phenomenon I am just learning of and it's rocking my world, I hope that person is you, you lucky dog you*

Third: that red knob? That's your resistance. YOU CONTROL YOUR RESISTNACE. Holler. First ride? Add on a shit ton at least once. Just to see what it can feel like! Just to know how heavy it can get, and how light. Test out the waters. 

Fourth: this is YOUR RIDE. You can crank up that resistance if you're feelin pumped, or take it off if you need a break. **I PROMISE NOBODY AROUND YOU EVEN KNOWS WHAT YOU'RE DOING** SO DO YOU! *always.

Fifth: When you stand up, out of the saddle? Yeah, add on a lot of resistance. It'll support you + slow you down. Otherwise your legs will feel cray. Oh, and you men out there? Keep your hips and body weight over the pedals/saddle please! I've coined the term "Beyonce Bootie" for when my dudes (and for some reason it really is only dudes) stand up the first time and put all their body weight in the handle bars and stick their butts out like the Queen Bee. True life.

Sixth *and this applies in my class and all Cycle614 classes... but perhaps not all studios*: when the ride starts, it will be darker than it is when we set our bikes up. The music will be louder. And I'll be up there coachin and yellin and woo-ing like a mad woman. Your job? To soak it all up. Have some fun. Move. Enjoy the ride. Don't worry about doing EVERY SINGLE MOVE! Just do what ya can the first ride and have fun with it! The more you come back, the more everything will fall into place. I promise. So relax. And just move.

You got dis.

WELCOME TO INDOOR CYCLING, YA'LL!

xoxo -- Jules

 

#PedalCheck Your Form: SPRINTS!

Ahhhhh SPRINTS. A sprint = speed + resistance. And guess what? People ALWAYS forget about RESISTANCE! Your RPMs (rotations per minute) should be 95-110, and you want to add on as much resistance as you can and still be in that range. If you're flying way above 110, you need to add more resistance. On the other end of the spectrum... if you're pushing as hard as you can and still can't hit 95.... take OFF some resistance!

BAM POW. There ya go. Watch to see more.

Who Are You Riding For?

This week one of my riders messaged me about my ride she came to on Tuesday evening. She teared up at the end of class.

While you may be thinking to yourself.... "Someone cried in your CYCLING class?" I've actually gotten this comment a lot.

The room is dark, mind you, so I never actually see people cry. But I've heard those same words from my riders ever since I started teaching at Boston College circa 2012.

Why? Why do people cry? Well, at the beginning of every ride, when we close our eyes and center ourselves on the bike before beginning the crazy work, I always ask everyone to really, truly focus in on WHY they are riding, what they are riding for, what gives their ride purpose.

Some days, I also ask them to think about WHO they are riding for. This whole week leading up to Pelotonia, I decided every ride we'd dedicate to SOMEONE. So rather than just thinking about the why and the what, we all think about the who. We make our rides mean more than just us. We ride for someone. We send our good energy and love their way.

And let me tell you what: it's powerful.

It's so powerful that at the end of the ride, when we again close our eyes to cool down, and do a mindfulness meditation... by the time I ask people to think back to who they rode for... sometimes people find tears in their eyes.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has someone, and maybe that someone is themselves, but everyone has someone they need to ride for.

Throughout my Pelotonia fundraising, I've heard story after story from people who donated to my ride about who they lost, who they're donating in memory of, in honor of.

And tomorrow, as I mount my bike along side my best friend Vince, to ride in memory and in honor of his dad Rocky, who we lost just over two years ago to a nasty brain tumor, I'm also riding for each and every one of them. I'm riding for people's moms, dads, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, friends, sisters, brothers, who were all taken from us too soon.

Tomorrow I ride along side thousands of people who share similar stories. I'm riding among survivors. I'm riding alongside people who have held hands, said prayers, and supported loved ones through cancer.

Tomorrow, when my legs are tired, when my butt is aching on that saddle, when my back hurts and my hands are practically numb... all I have to do is think about who I am riding for, and none of the physical pain will matter.

I'm not riding for me. I'm not riding for a workout. I'm not riding to say I did it. 

I'm riding for every story I've heard.

I'm riding for Rocky. 

If you still want to donate to my Pelotonia ride, THANK YOU!! But I've actually reached my goal, and I'd rather you donate to Vince's ride, as he is ALMOST there: www.pelotonia.org/vincewilliams. 

 

Your one-stop guide to indoor cycling: from beginner to advanced.

There's a LOT going on in an indoor cycling class. It's loud, and fast, and dark, (and obviously super fun) and sometimes you're just trying to keep up, let alone think about things like 'is my form ok?' From a brand sparkling new rider to advanced, I've gotten lots of great questions over the years -- so from these, I've crafted a guide to the essentials about form, function, and how to have a safe, fun and POWERFUL ride. You're welcome ;) 

Contents: Part One

  1. Brand new to indoor cycling? Awesome, here's why.
  2. How do I set up my bike?
  3. What does good form on the bike look like?
  4. What's a touch back???
  5.  How much resistance do I add? SOS!

Coming Soon: Part Two

  1. We use weights? WHAT?
  2. What are the beat boards and what do those numbers mean?! 
  3. How do I maximize power?!
  4. How do I get the most badass, powerful sprint ever?

Ok, so you've never ever cycled inside before? No big! Indoor cycling is actually the perfect fitness class for a newbie...here's why:

  1. At Cycle614, we'll take care of you from the get-go. From the moment you walk into the studio, we make a point to welcome you in and learn your name. Your instructor will show you your bike, and get you all set up, so that there's no guess-work involved. We'll make sure you're all good for class, promise.
  2. The room is DARK. People LOVE this. I love it. Our bike room is lit by a black light and disco ball. Aka it's a fun, party-like atmosphere, and you don't have to fret about sitting under harsh fluorescent lights. (Thank GOD).
  3. You go at YOUR own pace. This is the beauty of indoor cycling. You control how much resistance you add to your bike. If you're brand new, and are just getting into fitness, no, you don't have to add a sh*t ton of resistance and kill yourself. You add on an amount of resistance that challenges YOU. You're in control. And guess what... the person next to you doesn't know how much resistance you have on your bike... so if you need a break and want to lighten the resistance to rest, nobody will even notice! Holler! Do what feels good for YOU.

Ok, so bike set-up.

Let's just talk about this real quick. Your Cycle614 instructor will help you... but just in case you are going elsewhere or something... please know this:

  1. YOU WANT TO BE AS TALL AS POSSIBLE ON THE BIKE, while still having a small bend in your knee on the downstroke of your pedaling. You want the saddle to be as high as it will go before you start to feel like you're reaching for the bottom of the pedal stroke or if you start to feel a teeter-totter from side to side on the saddle. Ok then you're too high. Being too low, on the other hand, will cause stress on your knees and hips. And honey, we already get enough of that already. So please, make sure your saddle is high enough! People ALWAYS ride too low. But it's hard to tell for yourself! So that's why it's awesome to have an instructor look for you. We know the exact angle to look for in your pedal stroke.
  2.  In terms of where the saddle should be going forward or backward from the handlebars, when your front pedal is parallel to the ground, your knee should be over the middle of your foot.
  3. HANDLE BARS: handle bars on an indoor bike should never go below the saddle. It's bad for your lady parts... and I'm guessing painful for your dude parts? It's also going to be rough on your low back. They can be, however, in-line with your saddle. This will provide a more challenging core workout. The higher the handle bars, the less your core will come into play. If you're pregnant: you'll likely want higher handle bars for additional support. 

Ok, so what does good form look like on the bike?

This is so important. If you've come to my class, you know that I absolutely drill the class on good form. Maybe it's the former dancer in me, or the yogi in me... But what can I say, good form leads to a safer and more POWERFUL ride. So that's why you'll always hear me yell, "HIPS BACK, CORE STRONG, CHEST UP!"

  1. When seated in the saddle: 
    1. Roll your shoulders up to your ears, then pull your shoulder blades slightly down and together. Squeeze them. Ahhhh. Feel your chest and heart open up and a nice long neck. Rule 1: Avoid hunching at all cost. The word hunch does not belong in an indoor cycling class: ever. Opening your chest will start to engage your core and protect your low back and your shoulders.... most of us hunch all day at work, rounding our shoulders forward, this will help to counteract that.
    2. To engage your core even more, on your exhales, think about pulling your belly button to your spine. Heck, try it right now. Feel that? Money.
    3. Try to keep your body weight out of the handle bars as much as possible. That means you need your core to help keep ya lifted. Handle bars should just provide a little support and balance. Nothing good ever happened to anyone who dumped their body weight into the handle bars. 
    4. In the pedal stroke, push your heals down. Then really think about that strong pull up. Fluid up and down motions.
    5. LASTLY: NEVER EVER EVER BOUNCE IN THE SADDLE. Make sure you have enough resistance. More on this in the section on resistance. 
  2. When standing straight up (in position 2):
    1. Same concepts apply for opening your chest and keeping your core engaged!
    2. The goal is to put as little weight as possible into your handle bars. An engaged core helps ya there...
    3. Think: stay low. Always avoid the up and down bounce whenever possible. Think side to side instead. Push those heals down.
  3. When standing in position three (hands out to the farthest grip):
    1. Hips back! Seriously, get sassy with that booty and push your hips back to feel a nice long spine.
    2. Core here MUST be engaged here, pull that belly button up and in.
    3. Same concepts apply for opening your chest -- avoid that rounded hunch! Pull shoulder blades together onto your back and reach your heart and chest out and up.

What the heck is a touch back?

  1. It's a badass core workout that also fires up your hammies, glutes, and quads. Oh, hello.
  2. You stay standing in three the WHOLE TIME, you don't sit down (that's a jump).
  3. You simply squeeze your core super strong and push your hips to the very back of the saddle. Then draw them back to the center. 
  4. That's it! We'll do all different paces of these bad boys. 
  5. The key here is CORE (are you noticing a trend...?)

Resistance: let's chat. Little red bike knob, hey girl, hey.

Excuse me, but this is a giant pet peeve. So yes, I'm going to rant. I've been in cycling classes (and seen them on TV) where even the instructor does this... and it makes me want to scream.

People. ADD RESISTANCE ONTO YOUR BIKES. You really should never be riding without any resistance. Ever. 

If you're starting to speed up, and you find that your butt is bouncing up and down on the saddle... ADD RESISTANCE, and LOTS OF IT! This is what I see all the time: bounce, bounce, bounce. When I see instructors at other studios do it, I think they do it for two reasons, 1. to look cool going super fast (eye roll, hair flip, sigh) and 2. because they honestly might not know what they're doing (sorry to say, but it's true...)

Here's what happens when you go super fast with no resistance and your butt bounces:

  1. Nothing... in terms of building strength and endurance and being powerful and actually getting a workout... because at this point you're not actually working. At all. The flywheel on the bike is actually moving YOU. It's all momentum at that point. 
  2. You put yourself at risk for blowing out a knee. Seriously: without being in control of the bike and going super fast like that... yikes. And OMG: if you stand up with out resistance going that fast.... AHHHHHHHH!!!
  3. Your crotch will likely hurt from all that damn bouncing.

How much resistance do I add when...

  1. Sprinting? -- Great question! In a sprint, you want your RPMs (rotations per minute, aka your speed) to be about 95 - 110. You then want to add as much resistance as you can while still being able to hit that RPM range. The goal: not so heavy that holy crap you can't even touch 95... and not so light that you're zooming over 110... or not so light that 95-110 feels easy... find that magic spot: where you feel that power, you feel your strength and your speed... you're strong and in control of the pedals...you're able to push your boundaries.
  2. Standing? -- Here you basically just need enough resistance to support your body weight. So you do need some good resistance, likely more than you had on in the saddle... and from then on, it's all about what your instructor is cueing. Giant heavy hill? Or a quicker run? Just have enough resistance to keep control of the bike. Often, I'll teach to the beat of the song. At that point, I call out the beat to help you find it, and you're going to want enough resistance on the bike that makes that left/right beat feel good and strong.
  3. Climbing a big hill in the saddle? -- Dude, add as much as you want! Well, you don't really want to drop below 50 RPMs. So... if you've added so much that you can't push in the 50's, ok then you can lighten up ;)

Ok, so this is a lot to digest for now. So I'll stop here. Hope at least one person found this helpful =) Coming in the next few weeks I'll touch on all things Beat Board, power, weights, and sprints... all that good juicy stuff:

Coming Soon: Part Two

  1. We use weights? WHAT?
  2. What are the beat boards and what do those numbers mean?! 
  3. How do I maximize power?!
  4. How do I get the most badass, powerful sprint ever?

 

 

There's certainly a lot to be said about cancer.

There are some people you meet, who you're just drawn to immediately. There's something about them that's different. You usually notice that everyone else gravitates to them, too.

Often times these people give off a certain light and uplifting energy that is contagious. If you're lucky, you get to know them, and if you're really lucky... they become your lifelong best friend.

That's Vince. I've been known to brag about Vince like this: "he's the most hysterical person I've ever met and can sing like an angel."

Here's Vince and I being SUPER cool 17-year-olds.

Here's Vince and I being SUPER cool 17-year-olds.

Side note: Vince, I know you would love to know that I had to look up how to spell 'angel'... I almost wrote 'angle' ... ladies and gents, my STELLAR SPELLING SKILLZ.

Anyways, back to the point of this post.

When we were in high school, Vince's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a survivor. 

In the fall of 2013, Vince's dad Rocky was diagnosed with a brain tumor that took his life only months later in March 2014, actually, two years ago today.

Sometimes, life just isn't fair. No, everything does not necessarily happen for a reason.

And now, Vince and I are determined to do something to end cancer once and for all, so that nobody has to fight. So that nobody has to lose their dad so young.

This August, Vince and I are gearing up to ride 100 miles in Pelotonia in memory of his dad, in honor of current fighters, and celebration of survivors like his mom.

We both have pledged to raise $2,000.00 each for this ride -- 100% of which will go towards The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute which contributes to the global war on cancer by conducting scientific research that translates to leading-edge cancer diagnostics, treatments and prevention strategies.

I wanted to share a little bit that Vince wrote for his Pelotonia fundraising page:

"There's certainly a lot to be said about cancer. 

It's mean. It's unexpected. It's unwarranted. 

It also doesn't judge. Not by race, status, gender, religion or anything else.

Cancer isn't something you can vote against.

In August of 2016, I will be riding 100 miles with one of my oldest and closest friends, Julie. We will be riding not only to raise funds, but awareness.

I'm riding for my mother; a survivor.

I'm riding for my father; who we lost too soon.

I'm riding for countless others whose stories can't be heard.

LET'S DO THIS!"

- Vince

Water bottles raised, people. I need to say no more. Columbus to Gambier, here we come.

If you would like to donate to help us reach our goal to END CANCER once and for all, visit our Pelotonia Pages. Even $5 makes a difference!

Click here for Vince's donation page

Click here for Julie's donation page

 

Pst: keep your eyes out for donation based yoga coming soon in Columbus. Every dollar will go to Pelotonia.

 

And.... here's a more redeeming photo of Vince and me at our awesome high school, Walsh Jesuit, for it's 50th Anniversary celebration last year.

And.... here's a more redeeming photo of Vince and me at our awesome high school, Walsh Jesuit, for it's 50th Anniversary celebration last year.

Cheers to You.

This post goes out to my amazing riders.

People have always asked me how/why I teach so much. Through college, grad school, and now in the "real world" of having a full-time job... it's a question I get all the time: how do you teach so much... and why?

Actually, when I graduated from THE Ohio State University last May with my Master's and started my job, most people thought I'd stop teaching.

OH HELLS TO THE NO! Stop teaching? Give up the thing that brings me the most beautiful, absolute, pure joy on even the toughest of days? Um... not happening! Pass. Hard pass. NEXT.

The reason I keep teaching, the reason I go from working my full-time job to Cycle614 four to five times a week is quite simple: my riders.

I can walk into Cycle614 after having the most stressful day, I can be feeling pretty crappy, shit could have gone DOWN, but then you all walk through our doors and hop on the bikes, and it's like any and all stress and bogus that weighed me down evaporates immediately. 

From the bottom of my heart, meeting you all has been the single greatest joy of teaching. From when I started back at Boston College (SHOUT OUT, PLEXERS) to here in Cbus at Cycle614 and every studio in between, I have met some of the most inspiring people and some of my best friends.

I've witnessed first hand how powerful you all are, what strength you have. I've gotten to meet so many of you who have changed your lives by making a choice and committing to it. Every time I hear another one of your stories, I'm blown away. I've had the absolute privilege of being a small part of your journeys, and for that I am filled with a beautiful sense of purpose and gratitude and love. 

I love watching a timid first-time-rider become a regular. 

I love watching regulars tackle goals.

I love seeing the spark when you have various breakthroughs: when you realize that working out can be fun, when YOU realize how strong you are, when you hit a PR, when you finally conquer that touch-back, when you make it through an entire five-minute-long arm sequence.

That's why I teach, and that's why I keep teaching. Because in a world where you turn on the TV and open newspaper and there's a ton of absolute shit happening all around us, I get to witness people being great every single day. 

I get to be inspired.

I get to laugh with riders-turned-friends.

I get to cheer you on; and, I've gotten to be cheered on by you.

So, as I say at the end of every ride: cheers to you.

To everyone who has stepped into one of my classes and graced me with your glory, from back on Court 10 in Chestnut Hill to the bike room at Cycle614, and now into my yoga adventures, I thank you.

Thank you for allowing me into your life, and for being a part of mine.

I'm a better person because of every single one of you.

Water bottles up: salute.