What do you get from three hours of spinning, besides sore legs?

It took a few days, but my legs eventually recuperated from the three-hour spinning extravaganza. While I may have been silly to sign up for such torture in the first place, I gained some valuable lessons.

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Learnings from spinning’s heart rate workshop

  • I can complete a three-hour spin class.
    Similar to the feeling of accomplishment one gains from finishing a race, it feels good to know I did it. There’s a feeling of self-confidence you get just from learning that you can do something hard.
  • My max heart rate is 195.
    This information will help me make my workouts more efficient and precise, as I can now work to different percentages of my “max.” The calculation of max heart rate was, for me, much different than I would have gotten with a standard suggested estimate of 220 minus your age. Now I just need to learn how to work all those fancy buttons on the heart rate monitor arm band!
  • I know more about how to raise and lower my heart rate, as well as how to arrest a “heart rate freefall.”
    For example, I’ve learned that I can raise my heart rate quickly by standing up to pedal, but maintaining it at a certain level is easier when seated, or in biker-speak, when you’re “in the saddle.” I also realized I have to stop slacking off before I reach my “recovery beats per minute,” or else my heart rate will fall too far and I’ll have to work to raise it up again.
  • I need to work harder during “recovery.”
    This is a depressing one. During our three-hour class, we were not supposed to let our heart rates drop below 70% of maximum at any time. Although 70% is nominally an “endurance” or “working recovery” heart rate level, it’s actually hard to maintain when you’re wanting 45 seconds at, say, 60% of your max — so you can drink water, ease up on your legs, wipe away some of the sweat. However, the workshop taught me to push myself more uniformly during my regular classes.

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Spinning and tennis

When I hobbled off the bike that day, the calorie counter read 1493, and I was sweatier than I ever get while playing tennis. To make things worse, I played a singles tennis match the next day — which probably wasn’t the smartest idea, since my legs were so sore I could barely move across the court. But in general, the conditioning and heart rate info I’m gaining from spinning ought to benefit my tennis game — or at least my ability to survive three long sets.

Now I need to incorporate heartbeats per minute variations into my tennis workout — and I’m not referring to the way my heart races after after my opponent makes a poor line call on an important point!

That, however, is a subject for another post.

Do you measure your heart rate? If so, what do you do with the information?

 

Image credits: lemondfitness.comcbdilger via flickr

Three-hour spin heart rate workout, but not ready for the Tour de France

Last weekend I did a three-hour spin heart rate workshop at Uforia Studios in Palo Alto. The monotony of spinning for three hours didn’t bother me, but I’m not in shape to ride a bike for that long. Alas, no Tour de France for me — not yet, at least.

Spin heart rate workshop

We did a test to determine our maximum heart rate, then spent the rest of the time working at different percentages of our max — learning how to increase/decrease/maintain different heart rates, etc. I was probably a little crazy to have signed up for the class, and I had to remind myself more than once during the three hours that it was actually something I had chosen to do. After awhile it was easy to ask myself, why am I spending  three hours in a dimly-lit room, peddling a bike that’s doesn’t go anywhere?

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Finding your max heart rate

Although testing to find your max heart rate sounds difficult, this was actually the easiest part of the morning. Maybe because it happened first, before I got tired. Everyone was wearing a heart rate monitor, and most of them synced with the bikes’ computers.

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Indian Wells fashion: the fans

Part of the fun of attending a live sports event is observing the other fans. While tennis fans’ behavior is typically more controlled than you find at a football or hockey game, their fashion choices cover a wide range. I saw plenty of “RF” and “Vamos Rafa” T-shirts at the BNP Paribas Open, but in general, Indian Wells fashion options at their most interesting incorporate a sense for the hot climate and Southern California desert atmosphere. This post records my observations during the three days I spent at the tournament.

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Indian Wells fashion must: a hat

While baseball caps proliferate, other choices include flaps to protect the back of the neck, or broad brims that make it difficult for the person standing or sitting behind to see. But with sunny conditions and temperatures that climb into the 90’s, you need sunscreen and a good hat.

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Not sure how the backwards visor helps with sun protection, but it’s her unique look

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Indian Wells fashion: the players

Indian Wells fashion doesn’t generate the same excitement as fashion does at a Grand Slam event. The BNP Paribas isn’t a tournament where the pros’ sponsors supply them with new outfits to generate buzz and drive sales of their merchandise when TV viewers buy online or visit their local tennis shops to refresh their gear. However, I still enjoyed seeing the player fashions up close, and a few of them were even sporting new outfits.

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Jelena Jankovic’s Fila Heritage Carwash Skirt

One of the most talked-about fashion statements was a new skirt design by BNP Paribas Open sponsor Fila, for Jelena Jankovic. Dubbed “the carwash dress,” owing to its front fabric strips resembling the felt runners in brushless carwashes, the skirt or dress (it comes in two versions) is one of the more innovative tennis fashions this year. When the player is standing still, the fabric strips look like pleats in a cheerleader dress. But when she moves, you can see they are strips of fabric. Thankfully, Fila put these fabric strips only in the front — the back of the skirt has neither slits nor pleats. It looks great on Jelena, but I’m not sure the carwash skirt is a look I’d want for myself.

 

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Indian Wells Tennis: a newbie’s guide

I just got back from three days at the Indian Wells tennis tournament, or as it’s officially called, the BNP Paribas Open. It was my first year to attend, and I’m already planning to go back next year. This post gives my newbie’s guide to the tournament and why I think it makes an excellent getaway for tennis lovers.

 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells

The Indian Wells tournament, owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, is an ATP Master’s 1000 event as well as a WTA tournament, and nearly all the top pros participate. It’s a great place to see your favorite tennis pros in action while you enjoy typically great weather in the Palm Springs area. A contender for the so-called “Fifth Slam,” Indian Wells offers tennis fans a chance to see their favorite pros in a smaller venue that nonetheless has great “creature comforts.”

Getting There

You can fly into the Palm Springs airport, which is about 20 minutes from Indian Wells, but a lot of people go through Ontario, as the prices are much cheaper. And, since Ontario is served by Southwest, there’s more flexibility if you need to change your flight (for example, to stay one more day and see just a few more matches). The Ontario airport is about 1.5 hours away from Indian Wells. Once in the Palm Springs area, there are plenty of hotels in every price category. Your hotel may even offer a shuttle bus to the tournament venue, which will help you avoid traffic and parking lots that are sometimes far away from the tennis courts.

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden

The IW Tennis Garden is spacious but walk-able. The main stadium lies at one end, and the food court at the other end. They plan to build a second stadium next year. The ground-breaking for Stadium 2 occurred while I was there, in fact. Plans look exciting, and improvements will likely generate even more interest in this tournament — at least that’s what Ellison and others are likely counting on.

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Show Courts and Practice Courts

There are eight show courts at Indian Wells, and early in the tournament you can see great matches on all of them. Later on there are fewer matches, so they don’t use all the courts all the time. Until the construction of the new stadium, you have been able to enter the tournament grounds with your Stadium 1 ticket, then wander to any of the other courts on a general admission basis. This policy will still be in effect next year, although since Stadium 2 will have reserved seating, there may not be general admission spots there in the future.   [Read more…]