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Aerobics Journal #1

IDEA Fitness Fusion - Chicago, 2005

Operation Silver Hammer

The Adventures of an Aerobics Instructor, Variously Known to the Web as Scott Eiler, or Eiler Technical Enterprises Fitness Division, or the Guard of the Domination of Eiler, Hereafter Referred To as "The Eiler Aerobic Force" or Simply "The Force"

To The Presenters, My Fellow Aerobics Instructors

I've come to your forums, and sat at your feet to learn what you know. If nothing else, you've gotten off your asses to make yourselves accepted as presenters at a major fitness convention. And I respect you all for that.

Now, you've come to my forum. Here I offer you feedback and motivation to better inspire the entire world to fitness, even unto the ones who need it most. Maybe they aren't your target audience... but if not, why not?

Please accept what I say here as constructive criticism. I know we can't be perfect, but even the best of us can always improve.

Years ago, the Eiler Aerobics Force got nagged into getting itself certified as a provider of aerobics group fitness instruction (and thereby a ready source of substitute teachers). As sometimes happens with Eiler hobbies, this hobby got so far out of control, the Force made money at it.

But let's face it. People at most gyms could benefit from knocking off the workout early and going to the pub. The hyper-fit turned out not to be the best target audience for the Eiler Aerobic Force. But a good audience eventually revealed itself.

You see, there are apartment complexes huge enough and affluent enough, to hire aerobics instructors to teach their residents for free. Those are, by definition, the people who'll never pay to get fit. That is the frontline of fitness. The Eiler Aerobic Force has served on that frontline, and seen the value of its service. This makes an excellent target audience for the Force.

To keep up its aerobics certification, the Force has therefore deployed to the nearest fitness convention, held near Chicago O'Hare Airport by an organization called "IDEA". Don't ask what that stands for; the Force didn't pay attention when it read the convention brochures.

Since the convention is a three-day weekend which required much planning, this is treated as a full-fledged Eiler Force operation. Therefore, it gets its own journal, similar to many others, except filed under "Aerobics". Operation is titled, "Silver Hammer", after a Beatles song which is amazingly suitable in tempo and attitude for a step aerobics class.

So, what is the Eiler Aerobic Force learning at convention?

Day 0: Thursday 28 April 2005

Not exactly a learning experience. The Eiler Force already knows not to pay $200 extra for an extra day at the convention, especially when the con already costs over $200 for a three day weekend.

Day 1: Friday 29 April 2005

The convention is in Rosemont, convenient to the Eiler Force's home base - except during rush hour. Instead of fighting Chicago rush-hour traffic and convention registration lines to make the Inspirational Welcome at 7:30 and the first session at 8:15, the Force chose to sleep in and show up stylishly late. Good decision.

This being the Force's first fitness convention, suitable attire was in question. (The last time there was this much doubt about clothing on a Force mission, it was dinnertime in Bermuda.) For this mission, street clothes on top of workout gear were chosen. Good choice, but jeans should be avoided in future, just because slacks are easier to stow in a gym bag.

Music and Cueing, Jayme Zylstra, MS. The Force breezed through registration and was on station by 9:30 am, thereby giving time for a partial first session. This partial session gave more information than many of the other sessions did in full.

Community Relations and External Marketing Initiatives, Sherry McMillan, B.H.K., M.Sc. Useful for those who want to market directly to the public... which the Eilertech Fitness Division usually doesn't, but the Stickcarving Division does.

Lunch Hour and Expo Room. Plenty of free swag, but huge lines for lunch. Nearby hotels have better service, if one sits at the bar, but that might be a bad idea for a fitness lunch. Brown-bag it from now on!

Zen and the Art of Group Fitness Programming, Sherry Catlin. Target of opportunity; not pre-booked, and about 10% full. Useful for Fitness Directors, or those who want to know more about Zen, or both.

This one had better go see the disclaimer.
Step My Way, Patrick Goudreau. Real exercise! But practical is the wrong word, for advanced step training by an instructor who displayed few cueing skills. The best lesson from this class was, smile and keep moving.

Dufus Sez: Just watch me, okay? Now face the back of the room...

Happy Hour, Jennifer Renfroe. More real exercise, and much more practical than the last session. The only thing the instructor could possibly have done better, is stay to the 32-count instead of the 8+24-count at times. But that's just a quibble.

Reception and Networking Party, Lifetime Fitness. Featuring cheese and crackers (a.k.a. "high energy nutritional supplements"), and loud microphones with continuous fitness ads (to drown out networking and other conversation). Not exactly bad moves in the self-interest of Lifetime Fitness, but still kind of ironic.

Day 2: Saturday 30 April 2005

Warmup by riding the bike 15 miles from Scumburg to Rosemont. An expeditionary Eiler Force was assembled for this purpose.

Saturday morning traffic was light, and the ride was without incident. The fine airport hotel "Travelodge" will prevent the need to ride back home tonight, for only $33 more than two days of parking in Rosemont would cost.

The mighty mountain bike of the Eiler Force was parked just outside the main entrance of the convention hall, to inspire all conventioneers to even more fitness.

This one had better go see the disclaimer.
Lego Blocks, Pamela Cosmi, M.A. Real exercise, and fairly practical too.

Bag Lunch in a quiet corner of the convention hall, convenient to a table, an electrical outlet, and a window. Conducive to journalling, and very relaxing.

Gold Star! Recommended.
Schwinn Cycling Advanced Coaching Clinic, Jay Blahnik. Real exercise is available in this presentation, but it's optional and only for demonstration purpose. The education is mostly lots of pointers.

Our objectives as cycling coaches are, in decreasing order of importance:

  1. Cadence control.
    • In biking, the goal is intensity (wattage, that is), not resistance.
    • All activity should be 50-100 rpm. (Lance Armstrong averages 86.) Beyond that, fewer calories are burned. There is much more research to support this, than AFAA has for its step limits.
    • (The Force showed itself the best at guessing the cadence when it was 120 rpm! Thank you, Maxwell's Silver Hammer.)
    • The four best ways to measure pace are: Easy, Medium/Comfortable, Race/Uncomfortable, Out of Breath. (Does "About to Puke" count?) More than that, the customers get confused.
    • The best measure of intensity is perceived intensity. The famous Karvonen Formula for intensity is crap, because if you're awake, you're never at the perfect resting heart rate. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
  2. Triple Link. To be more clear: Add clarity. Tell your students what the plan is, and how long this hill is!
  3. Dimensional Cueing. Full-dimensional examples: "There are three people in the room who haven't touched their knobs. Are you one of them?" Or, "Is this what it would feel like to finish the race next to your greatest competitor?"
    1. One-Dimensional: Just the facts.
    2. Two-Dimensional: Compare, contrast, look, touch, feel, story, analogy with something.
    3. Three-Dimensional: Ask questions. People may not respond, but they'll at least think about it.
  4. Mind-Body Link. Put your mind on intensity, or take it off. One or the other.

And show some common sense in cueing. If one cue doesn't work, try another, but be ready to let the bad form slide sometimes too.

Dufus Sez: I've already ridden my bike fifteen miles today, maybe I should skip the workout and let someone else ride.

Then, the workout... Brutal! Sprinting, and sweat dripping, and "About to Puke" (should we blame the bag lunch?) and everything. Good thing the Force had some clean clothes ready afterwards, and that there was a visitors' shower on site.

All in all, the most excellent presentation of the lot.

It turns out Jay Blahnik is a champion aerobics teacher! And also a dot-com.

Summary: The lesson which the Force will add to its doctrine from most of the presenters here is: They're only human, and the Force can already do as well as them. Many people can! It's just that these presenters get off their asses and do it.

After a heavy shower: The Fitness Pub Crawl!

  1. Sofitel Hotel Bar. Sofitel is a French chain, so it's no wonder they don't know how to mix a Black and Tan. And at $7 a Guinness, it's obvious this place isn't the major fitness post-convention gathering place. The Force therefore deployed to...
  2. Checkin at Travelodge in nearby Des Plaines, literally on the edge of O'Hare Airport. The room really is as quiet as one can expect with a close-up view of Interstate 90! To be recommended, especially at $55 a night. (But Orbitz has once again gotten a rate $5 above the walk-in rate. Ask for $50!) Then dinner withing walking distance, at...
  3. Harry Carey's. It is a Fancy Place and not cheap, but has good beer on tap. Like many places nowadays, it monetarily discourages the consumption of beef, but the Chicken Italiano was tasty. Then, dessert at...
  4. Shoeless Joe's Sports Pub. Cheaper, with better beer, and barmaids cute enough to be on Baywatch! Waaah, the Force already had dinner! But still good for dessert. To be recommended.

One or two other Fancy Places are available in the neighborhood, but this should be quite enough for tonight.

Day 3: Sunday 1 May 2005

Bridges and Band-Aids, Pamela Cosmi, M.A. Instructor was rested and much more healthy this morning than yesterday.

Gold Star! Recommended.
Low-Impact Labyrinth, Marla Ericksen. Last session of the con, which is always fun. Music by a Canadian company, burntrax.com.

And so the Eiler Aerobic Force was fortified and motivated for that long, lonely 15-mile bike ride home. Into the cold, wind, and a bit of rain. For sure, the Force is not the fittest of the fit, but it will go where not even the fittest would dare. And hopefully, inspire others to do likewise, each in their own way.

All praise to the One Maker.

(signed) S. Eiler for the Eiler Aerobic Force

The Eiler Aerobic Force believes in free sharing of information. And it hopes that the presenters of IDEA Fitness Fusion do too. But if you wish to reproduce significant parts of the commentary within, be aware that it is © copyright 2005 by Eiler Technical Enterprises. And have a niiiice daay.