Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Customers Need Value in Exchange for their Information

Today, more and more companies aim to monetize the customer information they accumulate. They do this by targeting ads and promos based on customer preferences and history, or by sharing it with commercial partners. But before all that happens, the customer must first give their data willingly. How in the world will that happen? For starters, businesses must gain the trust of their customers first by ensuring that the advantages of signing up for a service, filling a survey, or getting subscription are clear for everyone. They must willingly give their data, and they won’t do that unless they see what’s in it for them.

Over the years, having detailed customer information has proved to be very powerful for many brands. Personalizing your campaigns leads to effective rewards program. In addition, with this data, you can make improvements for an overall improved customer experience.

Exchanging Value between Your Brand and Customers

Part of the basics of modern marketing today is the way businesses and customers communicate freely and quickly. There are three main points to creating this exchange that includes:
  • The exchange of money for products and services
  • Customers sharing information in exchange for a reward, freebie, discount or exclusive access
  • The commitment and delivery of an enhanced customer experience
Making Customers See the Benefit

When you are collecting data for customer rewards, it is important that your target market see the clear benefit in providing and sharing their data with you. Of course, there are always others out there who aren’t comfortable with divulging their personal information and that is okay. Make it known as well that there is an opt-out option and providing their information isn’t a requirement. Here are some tips to your customers see the benefit:
  • Provide an incentive – this could be a free gift, discount, etc.

What is a Century Ride and How to Successfully Complete One

For recreational cyclists, century rides are the ultimate test for endurance. Organizing your training for these rides doesn’t have to be challenging, if you do your planning well. If you are new to cycling, then you need to understand that these century rides aren’t something just anyone can do. A lot of training is involved and you really need to be tough both physically and mentally.

A century ride is essentially a bike ride that is 100 miles long, thus the term century. Many cyclists make the mistake of thinking that 100 miles of cycling is a piece of cake, but if you really want to get a better picture of how far this distance is, it is approximately the distance between New York City and Philadelphia. It’s like biking around a running track in high school 400 times. On average, a cyclist can complete this ride in seven to eight hours. But really, completion time will depend on the skill level of the cycler. Inexperienced riders will need much more than 8 hours to complete this!

Endurance is Your Ally

Completing a century ride is a momentous event that practically all cyclists attempt to complete. The problem is finding time to prepare for such event. Since many people spend their days working and resting, freeing up time to ride is limited, if not impossible. To complete this ride successfully, you can follow the eight-week plan below for preparation.
  • Ride Long - During this first week, ride 1.5 to 2 hours and develop from there. When you are comfortable already, increase to 2.5 to 3 hours. Make these long rides steady but not too tiring. Speed isn’t important here, what counts is how much time you spend on the bike.
  • Steady Ride – When doing these rides, target 2-4 longer efforts that are 15-30 minutes in length. These types of rides are great for stimulating your goal to do the century ride by training your body to ride briskly.
  • Speed Ride – Some riders try to skip speed riding, but this type of ride is important because speed riding improves your endurance. Try to do 4-6 hard efforts extending from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Other Tips to Help With Your Ride
  • Keep moving –change your position every 5 minutes to prevent pains and aches in your body.
  • Keep your breaks short – make sure to use the rest stops by using the toilet, grabbing food, and refilling your water bottles. However, don’t stay too long. Don’t take more than ten minutes so that your legs don’t stiffen up.
  • Pace yourself when pedalling –  pace yourself so that you can last throughout the ride.
  • Consume water steadily – have at least a bottle of water each hour to keep yourself hydrated throughout the ride.
A century ride is certainly a great achievement that all cyclers want to accomplish. It doesn’t have to be as challenging as you think. If you are interested in getting this done, simply follow the tips and pointers we have here to get you through the ride of your life.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Group Drills and Positions that Prevent Injury

Although indoor cycling may seem easy, there really is more to it than just riding a bike. You will be prone to injuries if you don’t pay attention to your posture while riding. It can also lead to bone misalignment and discomfort. The best way to get used to the proper riding forms is to tackle the body from head to toe in four different zones. Group cycling drills can help you practice these positions by concentrating on each zone.

Zone #1 – Head and Neck
In most cases, indoor cycling instructors usually concentrate on your legs and feet. Straining your neck to get a better view may cause head and neck injuries. You can avoid these injuries by keeping your head centred. Also, don’t gaze too high or too low, which may throw your head back. Stay relaxed and stay focused by looking straight ahead.

Zone #2 – Hand, Elbows, Shoulders, Chest, and Upper Back
Putting your attention to this zone area during group cycling drills will prevent injuries, particularly in your shoulders and upper back. The key is to keep your spine long chest as open as you can to develop an effective breathing rhythm. It is also important to keep your chest and shoulders strong to maintain good posture. Remember, chest out and relax your shoulders.

Zone #3 – Hips, Abdominals, and Lower Back
In group cycling classes, the core of your body is always a crucial focus. If you don’t know how to use your core muscles during the ride, you will end up bouncing around the bike. This can bring about pain and discomfort, which could stop you from cycling again. By focusing on this zone, you can enjoy riding more comfortably. To maintain proper form, keep your hips stable to support your knees. Exercise your abdominal muscles regularly to avoid strain and pain in your lower back. You should also keep your normal spine position when riding and keep your hips properly aligned to the bike.

Zone #4 – Feet, Shins, Knees, and Thighs
Although this is an important area in indoor cycling, sometimes riders still neglect their posture sometimes. You can avoid foot, ankle, and knee injuries by practicing efficient pedal strokes, rather than focusing on your speed. When pedalling, make sure that the power is coming from your large muscles at the thighs to avoid any strains. Don’t let the flyweight of the bike to do all the work for you.

Always practice safety first when you are taking part in group cycling drills. Practice one zone at a time in every session until you get the hang of it. Indoor cycling is an excellent, therapeutic cardio exercise but it is important to do it right to prevent serious injuries.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 16 November 2012

Cadence vs. Watts: Which is Which?

Indoor cycling is a popular workout activity since the 90’s. Riding a stationary bike may sound boring for the adventure-loving outdoor biker, but it has its benefits. It’s also a good time saver, as you can get the maximum health benefits in less than the time needed for outdoor biking.

Indoor cycling beginners usually get confused with the cadence vs. watts debacle. Which is which? Both are measures usually provided by stationary bicycle equipment, but there’s a big difference between the two, both in technical terms and in benefits. To simplify the cadence vs. watts confusion, let’s discuss each term and show their benefits point by point.

Cadence is the Pedal Rate

To put it simply, cycling cadence is the rate in which the pedals of the bicycle you’re riding turn. In short, cadence is a measure of pedal turn per minute.

Noticed how indoor cycling classes usually involve increasing the pedalling rate? That’s because these bikers are training to increase cadence. In the cadence vs. watts argument, cadence gets the reputation for improving cycling speed and acceleration.

When training to increase cadence, you can use stationary bikes that can simulate slopes. As the bicycle’s elevation increases, your cadence will naturally slow down to something like 50 to 60 RPM (rounds per minute). Training yourself to pedal faster in higher slopes will improve cadence.

There are also specific bicycle trainings in which your goal is to maintain a steady cadence. Such training is essential for distance racers, as it improves their ability to control their pace and enable them to maintain speed consistency throughout races.

Training to increase cadence is recommended for those who seek to improve their pedalling skills and their speed for bike races.

Watts: a Measure of Power

Meanwhile, watts usually refer to a specific measure of power that you exert while riding a bike. Unlike cadence, it is not dependent on pedal turns. Instead, watts measure the force that you exert while pedalling. See the difference?

Training to increase watts exerted during a bicycling session improves speed, force and acceleration. Unlike cadence, which can vary at various points of your cycling, watts measure the overall effort you exert during the biking session. Thus, in the cadence vs. watts debate, watching for watts should be your priority when hoping to improve cardiovascular endurance and stamina.

As such, training to improve watts is recommended for long distance cyclists, as the focus is on improving power exertion and longevity, not on speed.

Indoor cycling is a worthwhile workout, whether you’re training for outdoor cycling competitions or just needing a worthwhile physical activity. With regard to the cadence vs. watts debate, remember this: If you want to improve strength and endurance, focus on improving watts. However, if you want to improve speed, aim for increasing your cadence.

Cycling is a good cardiovascular exercise, but even if you do it indoors, you should remember to take precautions! As cycling classes are usually intense activities, consult a doctor first if you’re fit for it. Enroll in classes done in spacious and well-ventilated rooms, and bring lots of fluids to stay properly hydrated throughout the workout. Happy cycling!

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

5 Core Exercises for Cyclists

Legs are the major power source for cyclists, but this doesn’t mean that cyclists don’t need the other parts of their body. The lower back and abs also play a crucial role in cycling, as it helps with the body’s movement and balance while cycling. These muscles should get as much exertion as your legs are getting, or else you’ll get overdeveloped legs and flabby abs. You can easily prevent this by doing some core exercises in between your indoor cycling classes.

Here are Exercises to Build Your Core Muscles
  1. Boxer Ball CrunchThis exercise for cyclist’s works out your abs, lower back, and oblique muscles. To do this exercise, lie on a stability ball with the centre of your back to the ball. Bend your knees in a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat against the floor. Put your hands at the back of your head to prevent neck strain. Squeeze your belly then lift your back out of the ball and while in this position, make a clockwise move with your torso. Use your lower back to keep the ball still. Do 15 reps clockwise and 15 counter clockwise.
  2. Plank - This exercise works out your abs, upper back, and lower back. Lie on your belly, using your elbows and forearms for support. Raise your hips away from the floor and keep your back straight, your abs tight, and rest your toes.
  3. Transverse Plank - With this exercise, you will be working out your front and side abs. Lie on your right side, keeping your elbow and forearms for support. Stack your right foot to your left and keep your right arm over your head. In one move, raise your hips to make a straight line to your right side. Lower your hips and repeat. You can do 10 or 15 repetitions and switch sides.
  4. Catapult - This exercise for cyclists works your entire core muscle group. Sit with your knees slightly bent and your heels pressed on the floor. Stretch your arms forward and keep it at the same height of your shoulders, keeping your palms facing each other. With a straight spine, inhale deeply, and then exhale while slowly lowering your torso to the ground while you take a deep breath. Keep your arms overhead and with one smooth move, exhale and explode to the start position. Do 20 repetitions.
  5. Boat Pose - You will be working out your lower back and abs with this exercise. Sit up straight and rest both your hands gently behind you. Lean back until you reach a 45-degree angle. Keep your legs together and raise them away from the floor while you extend your arms forward. Your thighs, abs, and torso must be kept tight. Hold the position for 60 seconds. This exercise is very tiring, but it can do wonders for your abdominal muscles.
No matter how strong your legs are, it will be irrelevant if you don’t have a stable core. It’s like having a really nice car on the outside but with a low quality engine. Having a good core will help you use your legs properly, and get rid of any unnecessary upper body movement when cycling. All this contributes to your stamina and smooth pedal stroke.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Drawbacks of Pedalling Like a Mad Man

Plenty of cyclers pedal fast during their workout. They do this for a number of reasons, for one; it is easy to pedal fast indoors. It also makes cyclers feel that they’re exercising efficiently. Faster pedalling is also thought to burn more fat compared to slower pedalling. However, these benefits are far outweighed by the disadvantages of pedalling like a mad man. Read up to find out how your indoor cycling form and speed affects your exercise.

Speed and How it affects Your Form

You have probably noticed that you can easily keep a high tempo easily when indoor cycling. It’s the same exercise as outdoor cycling, but why does it feel easier if you’re cycling with an indoor bike? This is because of the weighted flywheel in indoor bikes! This flywheel causes unskilled riders to “pedal” faster at a low resistance, causing riders to go bouncing all around the saddle. They don’t exert much effort to maintain a high speed, because the flywheel causes the pedal to move so the biker doesn’t need to do much legwork to get the bike going.

Cyclists, who pedal furiously without maintaining the right form, also miss all the great benefits offered by cycling indoors. A high heart rate doesn’t necessarily mean that you are burning calories, so in reality you aren’t putting a lot of effort by pedalling fast. Pedalling at a high speed with minimal or no resistance leads to a lower power output, too. The reason for high heart rates isn’t the calories you’re burning; it’s the flopping and bouncing on the saddle, the inability of the muscles to contract quickly, and lack of technique.

Instead of cycling furiously with little to no resistance, you should pedal slowly at a resistance slightly higher than your comfort zone. Pedalling with a bit of resistance will force you to use your leg muscles and exert more effort, and this will directly translate to the calories you will burn. Start with 80 or 90 rpm, and train yourself to maintain the proper position. Maintain proper form by focusing on the upper and bottom halves of your pedal stroke. Relax your hips and upper body; concentrate your efforts on your leg muscles. Once you can confidently pedal without getting the feeling of being pushed by the bike, then you can start cycling faster, say 100 rpm.

Advantages of Pacing Yourself
Pacing yourself allows you to maintain proper form- preventing that feeling of being dragged around like a rag doll. It will also give you the energy and longevity to pedal at a higher resistance.

As you can see, pedalling like a mad man certainly isn’t the way to get the most out of your exercise, especially if you’re a beginner at cycling. If you are wondering what speed you should be pedalling, it really depends on your stamina and leg strength. It all boils down to your fitness level. Don’t be afraid ashamed of pedalling slowly when you’re in an indoor cycling class.

Photo Credits: Self.com

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Your Quick Guide to Indoor Cyclist Accident Prevention

Indoor cycling is one of the most popular workouts today. It has long become attractive to many because it is proven to be more stress-free, compared to biking outdoors. However, just like any other fitness training, indoor biking also has its shares of possible injuries. Even with extensive precautions in preventing accidents, there are still a few possible biking injuries that can be encountered while cycling indoors:
  1. Handlebar Palsy- Otherwise known as Ulnar Neuropathy, this injury happens when there is compression in the ulnar nerve located at the hand and wrist. This condition because of the biker’s tight gripped hand on the handlebars of the cycle. Symptoms of this ailment last from several days, to a couple of months. The treatment typically includes rest, anti-inflammatory medicines and stretching. For more severe conditions, surgery may be necessary to relieve the compression of the nerves.
  2. Patellar Tendinitis- During the workout, the shinbone is under constant pressure. This can occur because of knee-overuse, incorrect execution, position, or poor bike set-up. The biker  can only be relieved from this condition through rest, some stretching, and frequent application of cold compress. Other cyclists who hastily want to get on the bike resolve to surgery for a faster recovery.
  3. Achilles Tendonitis. This is the most common case for bikers who neglect to set-up their bike accordingly. The Achilles tendon is located on the back portion of the ankle, which receives most of the pressure during pedalling. Initially, pain is usually felt followed by swelling at the injured site. This can be prevented by placing the bike at the right height, proper feet alignment and appropriate execution of warm-ups.

Tips to Prevent Indoor Cycling Accidents
  1. Wear the right gear for the workout. It may be pretty tempting to wear slippers, or go barefooted while cycling indoors, but the risks are not worth the extra comfort you’ll get. Cycling shoes are highly recommended not only in preventing accidents and cycling-related injuries, but also to provide cyclists with the maximum comfort during the exercise.
  2. Perform a smooth and continuous pedal. This is done to minimize strain on the balls of the feet or the ankles. Keep both feet flat on the pedals, instead of letting the heel push up during pedalling. Optimize this move most, especially during standing intervals.
  3. The hands must be shifted regularly. Hand stiffness and sore wrists can be avoided by constantly moving the hands around the handlebars, and by keeping the shoulders relaxed at all times. Loosely grip the handlebars, that way the body weight is solely carried by the feet and not the hands.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons