A Fresh Spin on Things

One of my favorite bloggers and amazing sorority sisters, Danielle (aka T-Rex Runner) reported on her Instagram Stories last night that she was attending her first spin class in some time. She got to try out the new CycleBar studio in Greenville, SC, which is part of a chain of studios around the U.S.  Over the summer I finally took the plunge and went to my very first spin class, also at CycleBar in the Denver metro area, and boy was I in for a wild ride (literally)!

I wouldn’t particularly call myself an adventurous person. I am very much a creature of habit, and I plan out everything from my vacation leave for the next year (I kid you not, I have it all planned through July) to what I am going to wear tomorrow for work. It usually takes quite a bit of convincing, or at least a solid explanation for me to try something new. When I started running, it was because I had researched the benefits, training plans, and feasibility, along with recommendations from friends and family with detailed accounts of how they got started. Similarly when I started going to yoga sculpt classes, after getting the recommendation from one of my dearest friends and workout buddies, I had her explain the flow, the types of exercises and her own experiences with excellent precision.  I wouldn’t say I am a control freak… maybe more like a control enthusiast.

So when my friend, Samantha, came to visit over the summer, she being a certified cycling instructor, I made her go with me to my very first cycle class. I can’t lie, it terrified me. Maybe I had visions of that episode of the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in my head, or the fact that I didn’t even learn to ride a bike until I was 13 thanks to my neighbor, Lauren, but whatever it was, I assumed this would end me.

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Seriously terrifying. This is how I die.

Everyone should go to their first cycle class with a certified instructor. It’s the best ever. Samantha showed me how to set up my bike, explained tap backs, the positions on the handle bars, the push-ups and side-to-side movements, and everything in between.  She even explained not only how to clip in, but how to unclip from the bike (which after an intense class with very wobbly legs is easier said than done).

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I don’t think I could have made it through that first class without her!

Cycling is such an incredible form of cross-training that has been essential in my marathon training plan.  Furthermore, cross training is a huge component for any runner, enhancing power, efficiency and very often speed.  It also helps prevent injuries by balancing the muscles you utilize.  Check out this awesome article by Runner’s World about the eight major benefits of cross training.  I know that for me personally the combination of yoga, sculpt classes, Zumba and cycling, it’s significantly improved my endurance and speed in running.

These classes typically flow between speed work and endurance (“hill” climbs). The higher your resistance, the harder it is to pedal, and it can mimic an actual hill climb.  The playlist is crucial to a good class. The songs themselves need to have a great and easy to find rythm that dictate the RPM (revolutions per minute). The faster the beat, the higher the RPM, and often lower the resistance. The slower the beat, the lower the RPM, and the higher the resistance. You get the idea.  A great class flows through these two ideas, and even better, can utilize one song to work for both concepts.

Since my first class back in July, I have begun cycling more, both at CycleBar, as well as StarCycle, another national chain of cycling studios.  The two are quite different in their approach. CycleBar is more about stats, technology, and a modern club-like atmosphere. CycleBar tends to be more about the community, skill-building, and personal experience. Both are amazing for different reasons, and both have given me an amazing workout. Depending on your preference, there is a cycling studio out there for you too! I definitely know this to be true, because I somehow managed to convince the hubs to join me (he too was a novice cycling class participant), and now he keeps ending up with the highest stats in the class!

What cycling studios do you like? Do you prefer your classes to be more about stats and competition, or to maximize your own ride?