There’s less than a week to go before Zwift Academy begins! Time to dust off that trainer if you’ve been outside, collect your favorite pump-up jams, and get ready to roll.
The Academy starts August 5th and runs through September 29th, but you still have time to sign up before enrollment closes on September 1st. To graduate, Zwifters must complete a series of 8 workouts and 4 races or social rides during this time period. Graduates who meet certain requirements have the chance to earn a pro contract through the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy for men or the CANYON//SRAM Racing Zwift Academy for women.
But what if you’re not anywhere close to being a pro cyclist? What if you’re not a fast rider, or you’ve never done a training program before? Don’t worry–the Academy is for anyone who can ride a bike on Zwift.
Why participate in Zwift Academy? Here are just a few of our reasons, along with some thoughts from previous graduates:
To Get Fitter and Stronger
Want to add some structure to your training, but don’t think you can follow a strict plan? The Academy gives you a varied menu of workouts you can do on your own time, at your own pace. There is a recommended order to get the most out of your training, though. If you follow it, you’ll be in good company with other riders who are going through the same thing!
As a bonus, all Zwift Academy participants get a free premium subscription to Today’s Plan while the Academy is running. Not only can you track and analyze your own data, but you’re also able to see how you compare to other participants in your age group and overall.
You also get a sharp-looking Zwift kit. Graduates in 2018 had the chance to purchase a limited edition real-life kit to match.
“Still my favourite kit to wear as it was the most difficult to earn. Makes you a stronger cyclist. Just do it. You won’t regret it.” – Edward Albert Oliver
To Challenge Yourself
Each year, a few of the Zwift Academy workouts have been designed to bring you to your breaking point–then see if you can go past it. Just a little longer. Just a little harder. Just one more interval. Keep it up! In 2018 there were some maximal-effort tests, where the goal was to see how hard you could go over a certain time period.
Zwift races also can help you push your limits. The Academy is making races optional in 2019, but it’s a good idea to do at least one. When you’re chasing others on those virtual roads, sometimes you go deeper than you would during a structured workout.
“Want someone to kick your butt into shape for free? Join Zwift Academy and they’ll make a man (woman) out of you.” – Ryan Downey
To Find Support and Motivation
Group workout events are part of the Academy, allowing a bunch of riders to do the same workout together. As long as you’re following the workout, you’ll stay with the bunch no matter what pace you’re riding. You can encourage each other, distract each other, share tips for the workout, and even indulge in some complaining to know you’re not alone in your suffering.
During group rides, you can get to know other Zwifters. Have some fun and enjoy yourself! For anyone new to Zwift, these will help you prepare for other group rides and races as you learn how to ride with the bunch.
If you have a Facebook account, make sure to join the corresponding men’s or women’s Facebook group when you sign up for Zwift Academy. (You should get a link to it once the Academy starts.) You’ll get to be part of a community that helps each other out. Having a hard time with that set of intervals? Talk to others about how they dealt with the challenge. Running into a technical problem? Chances are, someone in the group knows what to do.
“The community around ZA is great! Even if I don’t join the group workouts, I still have the support and fun sharing experiences with the other women. And because of that support, it’s even ok to join in group rides where you know you can’t keep the pace or races where you know you will finish dead last. And it is ok, because you’re in a group with the same goal: finishing the Academy and having fun together.
For me, ZA is not about winning the pro contract (I don’t stand a chance), it’s not about gaining fitness (nice bonus though) or increasing my FTP. It’s about challenging myself, doing things that are out of my comfort zone and sharing experiences with the other women. The community is the most important reason for me to participate again. The fun we have together, the support and virtual cheers, even the shared suffering and complaining about tough workouts. No matter what level of fitness you have, we’re all in it together.” – Jeannette Rosbach
To Learn and Have Fun
What does lactic acid do, exactly? That sounds like dairy… is ice cream a good post-ride treat? You can find answers to questions like these through guided workouts and group discussions.
“For me, ZA opened up a whole new challenge that was brand new back in 2016. It was very hard but the support and the knowledge sharing across the world was fabulous. [People shared] what to expect from the workouts if you’ve done them or what to expect from a race. Also recovery food and cake tips too! Now as a ride leader I love supporting women in their journey and helping them get the best out of the experience.” – Michelle Crick
To Support a Good Cause
Zwift has pledged to donate one bike to Qhubeka for every 10 graduates of the men’s Zwift Academy. This nonprofit gives bikes to communities in South Africa to connect people to schools, clinics, and jobs.
The women’s Zwift Academy does not have a charitable partner… yet! It would be a great idea for the future.
To See a Dream Come True
Every year, three people from each Academy are selected to attend a training camp with Team Dimension Data (men) or CANYON//SRAM Racing (women). They get the chance to ride with the pros and meet the team staff. Finally, one of them is awarded a professional cycling contract, either with CANYON//SRAM Racing or Dimension Data’s U23 team.
Three women and two men have seen this dream become a reality. Could you be next? Or will you cheer on your training partner?
How to Enroll
Enrollment for the 2019 Zwift Academy is now open. To register, head to www.zwift.com/academy and choose your academy, or sign up in-game.