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The winters in Boulder can be downright nasty, and the hopes of a consistent spring training plan are often dashed by inconsistent weather and brutal Colorado winds.
To help alleviate some of that inconsistency and to help me build solid base going into the off season, I spent two months at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine riding in their PowerMax classes.
Let me tell you, this is no spinning class.
The program is an awesome training tool. You ride on your own bike, on Computrainers, in a PowerMax Multi-Rider workout format.
All the bikes in the class, 10 in my case, are synchronized with a central computer. The trainers measure your wattage output, speed, distance, and can accommodate cadence and heart rate as well.
Once you’re clicked in and calibrated, all of your data (and the data of everyone else in the class) is instantly projected up on the big screen for everyone to see.
So, unlike in a spinning class where you can sit in the back and slack, when you’re slacking here, everyone knows it—it’s an excellent motivator.
The coaches for the classes are world-class and they have designed a wide array of course layouts to alleviate boredom.
If you want to ride L’alp d’ Huez, you got it. Tourmalet? No problem. In fact, you can ride the entire 21-day Tour de France from last year, if you think you can handle it.
For the rest of us mortals, the courses are designed for a variety of purposes; we do intervals one week, climbing the next, sprinting, and everyone’s favorite in my class, the time trial.
There is even a time trial series where you compete against the members from all of the classes during the week. The sheer variety of the routes offered, coupled with the fact that you can actually measure your progress against other riders in your class (and the other classes during the week) provides an effective tool to motivate and track your progress over the early part of the season.
Those who sign up for a course (usually 6-12 week sessions depending on the time of year), are eligible for a discount on a series of physiology tests including VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold, Wingate, Fuel, and others.
I personally ran the full battery of tests, which I had never had done before, and it was an amazing assessment of my early-season fitness level.
The program at BCSM started five years ago and has grown exponentially over the years. The classes are taught by exercise physiologists, gold medal Olympians, medical doctors, world-class trainers and coaches, and they are all right there, riding with you, coaching you, and giving you advice and guidance throughout the class.
These are not just hammering indoor rides, the routes are carefully planned to maximize your early season gains. They focus on fitness, skill and education.
They have junior classes as well to teach kids about the fundamentals of training, proper form and recovery. Again, you simply cannot get this experience in any spinning class.
The seven-week sessions are $140 for the session, which is once per week for 90 minutes. BCSM also offers personalized sessions with coaches in a one-on-one setting, and also team training sessions are available. During the spring as the weather improves, classes are occasionally held outdoors.
The PowerMax classes are an exceptional way to measure early season progress, avoid the headwinds, and have access to phenomenal coaching. It’s a good way to spend the cold winter days.