What is it?
Josh Horowitz, founder and head coach of Liquid Fitness has recently collaborated with Australia's foremost mind clinician, Rick Collingwood, Ph.D., on a new audio CD, The Ultimate Cyclist, to train your mind to make you a better cyclist.
The CD combines progressive relaxation techniques, positive affirmations, guided imagery, and Rick's patented theta rhythm audio technology which helps induce deep relaxation.
The CD is designed to help cyclists improve their relaxation on the bike (a key element to improving efficiency and avoiding mishaps), their motivation and their overall enjoyment of the sport.
Addressing the cyclist's needs
Horowitz, a Cat. 1 cyclist, suffered a horrible wreck at the Redlands Stage Race in 2004, leaving him with a severe concussion. He overcame the physical injuries, but Horowitz found that he was petrified to return to the bike. That's when he sought the expert help of sports psychologist Michael Madison. Josh learned that the root of his crash was an inability to relax and focus on the bike.
Along with several different sports psychology techniques, Horowitz started listening to Collingwood's relaxation CDs. He found them very helpful, but wanted something specifically designed for cyclists.
Finding nothing that remotely addressed the mental aspect of cycling, Horowitz contacted Collingwood, and they worked together to create the first CD focused entirely on the mental aspect of cycling.
But is it science?
Using mental imagery to enhance physical performance is nothing new. A 1932 study by Edmund Jacobson showed that visualizing an activity produced small but measurable reactions in the muscles involved in the imagined activity. When you go through a guided meditation or hypnosis session, you're implanting a learned memory of a successful action. The amount of nerve activity is so slight you might not be aware of it, but sensitive electronic equipment can pick it up.
There are many examples of top athletes using guided visualization to improve their sports performance. Jack Nicklaus has said that golf is 90 percent mental and only 10 percent physical. He prepares for matches by visualizing and mentally rehearsing the toughest holes on the course. He's claimed that he's never hit a ball in practice or in competition without seeing the swing and the outcome in his head before actually taking the shot.
Lance Armstrong talks about visualization during his fight against cancer in his book, It's Not About the Bike. These are both examples of using imagery and visualization to overcome obstacles when a simple physical approach is not always adequate.
The Ultimate Cyclist CD utilizes the "latest scientific audio technology" through Dr. Collingwood's clinical techniques in advanced trance hypnotherapy -- namely, positive subliminal messages, trance inducing frequencies and mantra. The CD is taken directly from Collingwood's sessions, and you get the privilege of being hypnotized by one of Australia's (and possibly the world's) leading and most experienced therapeutic hypnotists at less than half the price of a professional sports psychology session.The 60-minute CD contains a number of levels which flow seamlessly from one into the next:
- Level 1 incorporates spoken voice to induce hypnosis and re-educate the subconscious mind.
- Level 2 is a constant F sharp -- scientifically proven deep trance-inducing frequencies.
- Level 3 uses subliminal impulses as a subliminal positive message program.
- Level 4 comes at the end of the CD and uses Dr. Collingwood's theta rhythm, which is an effective frequency to sustain the trance.
Go to sleep?
Personally. I've never put much thought into the mental side of bike racing, and I'm willing to bet many cyclists haven't either. In fact, I probably put more thought into picking my breakfast in the morning -- which is always cereal. I get on my bike and ride. Evidently, I have the ideal background to test for this product.
It's commonly known that physical adaptation from training takes place mostly as we sleep and our muscles repair themselves. The mind is no different. I've found the easiest and most effective way to use this CD is to play it when you're getting into bed at night.
Rick's voice and the theta rhythm should quickly put the most die-hard insomniac to sleep (it worked for me), but the CD's positive messages will work on the subconscious mind even if you're not consciously aware of them. You can even set the CD to repeat so you can hear the messages several times during the night. You're directed in the first part of the CD to listen to the entire CD every day for a week, and then afterwards as needed.
What about me?
Has it helped me? No question -- Yes. How do I know? Right as I got the CD, I came down with the worst illness of my life -- I was sick for about two weeks, and when I got back on the bike, my fitness level was comparable to where it was two years ago. I was a wreck physically and mentally, and was getting destroyed in races. The CD arrived at just the right time.
It took me awhile to figure out how it was helping me, since I fell asleep within the first 10 minutes for the first week. This was incredible in and of itself, as I had been having trouble falling and staying asleep. Once I started using the CD, I fell asleep almost instantly, and slept well for ridiculous amounts of time.
Good sleep, though, isn't the point of the CD. Sure, it's a nice byproduct, but what about on the bike and in life? I didn't notice it day-to-day, but after a week I noticed I felt completely different on my bike -- I was relaxed. My elbows just naturally stayed bent and loose, my shoulders relaxed and allowed me to stay lithe on the bike. Grinding big gears suddenly didn't feel right; I started to spin more, not a jolty lurch, but a smooth rotation -- like my legs and cranks were one.
It might sound crazy, but it's what happened to me.
The biggest change I noticed was in high-stress riding situations. My on-bike persona has been suffering from personal doubts. Whenever I'm near the front, I feel like I'm not supposed to be there; I'm not good enough. When things get really tough, I focus on the pain and how much I'd rather be sitting on the side of the road than suffering through this chore.
Since I've used the CD for the past month, I've noticed that my thoughts of self doubt have disappeared almost completely. I can't say that I've gone out and kicked some crazy ass, but I can definitely say that I'm not as fearful as I was. I don't back down because I don't think I'm good enough, and I definitely don't see myself failing anymore.
I followed the seemingly ludicrous directions on self-affirmations and I can't stop repeating "I ride the best, because I'm a winner." I started saying it in my head in the middle of a race last weekend, it was insane, but for some reason, it gave me this kind of ethereal peace in the middle of an incredibly tough criterium.
No matter how airy-fairy this type of "training" sounds, it's the kind of stuff that can benefit almost everyone. It works in ways that you really can't define or touch, and yet, you'll likely know something is happening, creating a definite positive change.
Josh has big goals for his product, and rightly so -- it's a perfect addition to a previous black hole: "I have a vision, that if every cyclist in the country listened to this CD, you'd see a big improvement in the overall level of the sport: fewer crashes, better riders and more Tour de France winners! That may be a fantasy, but I know the CD has helped me overcome many of the mental barriers that were holding me back, both with cycling and in life."The Ultimate Cyclist CD retails for $34.95. A CD for triathletes, The Ultimate Triathlete, will be available late December 2005. For more information, visit LiquidFitness.com.
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