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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A non-cyclist’s guide to spinning, part 2

In my last post, I went over some spinning terminology and outlined a few of the reasons I keep going back to spin class, even though the workout is punishing and leaves me with tighter hamstrings than a three-set tennis match.

Today’s spinning “benefits” might be thought of as negatives, depending on your point of view. Going over them can help you decide whether spinning’s really for you.

Spinning fashion is boring

Compared to tennis fashion, most sports lag in terms of fashion interest, and spinning is no different. One test of fashion-worthiness: you wouldn’t want to run errands after class in your spin clothes, even if you didn’t get all sweaty — no one’s derrière looks good in those padded shorts. A cute tennis skirt with matching top and jacket, however? I’ve actually been asked if I got dressed in tennis clothes just to shop at the fancy grocery store in town (the answer was “no,” by the way — although I do like tennis outfits better than some of my other clothes).

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Plus, who wants to own more than a couple of pairs of those bike shorts anyway? It’s no wonder they come mostly in black, leaving possibilities for interesting color combinations limited. The best we can do is to wear a good top and maybe some lively socks. But it’s all going to get soaked in sweat, so what’s the point? Maybe spinning’s non-emphasis on fashion is actually a benefit, after all.

Spinning is social. Well, sort of.

There’s a regular crowd that attends our Tuesday/Thursday class. People have their usual bikes, even. The same gals are always in front of me — they never miss a day. One of our class member’s friends saves her a bike so she can arrive late. Another one sings to the music — and she has a good voice. People visit a bit as they’re changing their shoes and setting up their bikes. But once the lights go down and the music goes up, no talking is allowed. If you’re talking, you’re considered to be slacking off. Which leads me to my next point.

 

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A non-cyclist’s guide to spinning, part 1

In a previous post, I talked about going to spin class after trying (and failing) to find easier ways to stay in shape while tennis elbow prevents me from playing my favorite sport. It’s true, spinning produces endorphins, those amazing neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals that decrease sensations of pain and increase feelings of well-being, often referred to as the “runner’s high.”

But it’s not just the endorphins that keep me coming back to spin class. There are a number of other reasons spinning works for me.

Spinning burns serious amounts of calories

Since I don’t run  (bad knees), there’s no other exercise I do that provides me a comparable workout. I love the fact that, on days when I go to spin class, I don’t worry about having dessert or an extra glass of wine — I earned it!

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Spinning doesn’t require a ton of physical coordination

Yes, there are fine points of weight distribution and balance, but face it: you’re pedaling a stationary bike. You can’t fall over, can’t run into a tree or a ditch. You fix your feet to the pedals with clips on your bike shoes, or by putting your toes into cages that hold them in place — you’re not going anywhere. So much less embarrassing than having to lunge and kick and spin, all on the count of four that repeats before you figure out how to do it properly.

There’s a spin class at Uforia in Palo Alto called Revolutions that incorporates dance moves to give a full-body workout while riding the bike. You lift some weights and do pushups on the handlebars. Some people prefer it or find it more efficient and/or fun, I suppose. For me, however, dancing on a stationery bike is not spinning.

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