Review and Interview: PAINCAVE Streaming Trainer Videos
We previewed PAINCAVE back in October, but in case you missed it, PAINCAVE is a subscription based online interactive training tool offering streaming videos that combine race and workout studio footage.
Now that they’ve launched we’ve had a chance to try them out and talk about some forthcoming additions to their training videos. Partnering with an ever expanding cadre of bike brands like Cycle Ops, Fuji, Go Pro, Verge, and Walton Endurance, PAINCAVE brings high quality training videos to just about any web enabled device with nothing to download. The videos are offered in both SD and HD formats and consumers have reported success with computers, phones, Apple TV, and various tablets from iPads to Nooks and Kindles. As co-founder Michael Egan notes, “It’s not 2008 anymore. We had to have high quality video to match current times.”
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PAINCAVE employed cycling coach, former professional cyclist, and silver medal Olympian Brian Walton to write the workouts.
“We couldn’t just have high quality race footage, we had to have high quality workouts to match,” Egan continues.
After trying out the videos I’d have to agree. They got me to do important form drills such as single leg and high cadence spins that are otherwise all too easily cut out. And they got me to add intensity through various sprinting intervals, overgear climbs, etc., with just enough intensity and variety to keep me working and focused for the full hour. And when attention and motivation was an issue, (believe it or not some of us have a hard time hitting the trainer every day even though we’re serious about our training) the format of their workouts, with a sidebar showing what you’re doing, how much time is left, and what’s coming up, made it easy enough to stream my own music, or even podcast, without losing the quality of the workout.
I even had the sound up on both the music and PAINCAVE windows and it worked fine. The ambient techno background they use as filler was completely drowned out and imperceptible while the verbal instructions and reminders of what’s coming up were perfectly audible. Egan says they’ve even thought about this and would like to incorporate a Pandora style choose your own playlist in the future to help keep the rider engaged and motivated. This would mesh well with the social aspect PAINCAVE is trying to build. They already have a blog, forums, personal user dashboards and profiles, and are developing messaging and groups.
This social media aspect will allow the user to connect with other athletes with similar goals or to remain anonymous and independent, all with the idea of allowing the user to interact to the depth and level he or she wants.
“We’re trying to appeal to a community of athletes who are trying to achieve various goals, whether it’s to lose 10 lbs, finish an MS 150, or become a faster racer [ . . . ] PAINCAVE highlights great events while providing structured training to reach various goals.”
Having gone through the seven videos, I’d have to agree. The workouts are challenging enough for an experienced rider, yet they explain the importance and technique involved in the various drills for the beginner. My goals revolve more around endurance single speed mountain biking, but everything we did in the workouts was applicable to my goals. The workouts rely largely on perceived effort, so the true beginner could tone it down a bit, theoretically. It was a bit tough to find a good video for an off day with sore legs, but that’s why they’re responding to user feedback and rolling out 30 minute videos.
PAINCAVE currently has seven training videos, each about an hour long, tracing the 2011 tour of California, but should be adding 30 minute episodes in the next week or so to match consumer requests. Egan tells us that they have the ability to churn out new videos about every seven to ten days in order to keep the content fresh, as long as they can find high quality race footage. They are currently negotiating race footage for the Tour of Utah and the Tour of Colorado, but want to make sure the race footage matches their quality standards so they aren’t just churning out videos for the sake of churning out videos. This can be a good way, Egan says, to highlight and help promote some great, but lesser known, races. They’re also looking to pair with triathlons in order to incorporate cycling and running in the future. The current episodes contain a commercial or two played during recovery segments, but they are cycling specific and at a rate of two minutes per hour, they don’t distract from the workout. “We can’t have quality if we’re turning the user into a product to sell to our advertisers,” said Egan.
What else can we expect in the future? The data tracking component should be rolled out in the next month or two. It’ll track the episodes you’ve done and capture those metrics in order to build and foster a Strava-esque competitiveness. And hopefully it won’t be long before this data tracking component will track the user without having to manually input metrics. Sounds like a nice match for the Wahoo Fitness Kickr we recently reviewed.
There’s also talk of an app in the future (one that goes beyond just a link to their web content, but that incorporates goals, training calendar, etc.) and personalized coaching and training programs through Walton Endurance. Still on the fence? They’re offering a free trial episode and at $10 a month, it’s not a bad idea if the weather or your schedule is putting a cramp in your training.