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Indoor cycling is not going away anytime soon. Here in D.C. there has been an increase in the amount of studios throughout the city. Leaving the consumer with plenty of options, though brand loyalty is fairly strong. If you have ever taken a cycling class, then you know how addictive the high can be from a sweat-inducing workout fueled by a collective energy in the room and basslines strong enough to be felt in your fast-pumping heart. As you approach your 100th, or 50th or tenth class, what will you do to challenge your body? Here are some indoor cycling resolutions to start your year on the right foot, I mean pedal:
Try out different studios and instructors. -- Yes, we all have our favorites, but why not branch out and see how your body reacts to different? Ask an instructor “Whose class(es) do you take?” Then ask, “What instructors would you take even if you had to pay for the class?” Tammar at OffRoad DC, Leti at Wired Cycling and Eddie at Rev Cycling Studio in Baltimore are my personal favorites.
Track your performance. -- Fitness trackers maintain a history of your athletic pursuits. Many offer the ability to bookend an activity, so you can monitor each spin session in isolation. Offroad DC is among several DC studios, including Mint DC, SweatBox DC, Equinox and coming soon to CycledMD, that will email results post-class. Checkout OffRoad DC’s (on right) next generation performance tracking system based on your personalized performance profile. After an on-bike assessment, ‘working zones’ are generated to guide your level of effort.
Embrace climbing. – Life isn't a sprint. How often do you really find yourself sprinting anywhere? How about long extended efforts? That sounds more like the real world. Turning the pedals at excessively high rates is a visually satisfying achievement. Adding resistance, to work muscle as well as joints, is more instructive to the body. Next time you’re about to reduce resistance, pause and ask yourself why. Remember: “Hills build character.”
Take back to back classes. -- Your body adapts to change. It also adapts to lack of change. It’s difficult to call a 45 minute ride an endurance effort. Adding a second 45 minute ride, with a small snack to refuel in between, challenges your body in a new way. Naturally, you might adjust your effort during the first ride. Understanding how your body works is a secondary benefit of ‘doing the double.’ Several D.C. studios offer longer classes. , Flywheel and SoulCycle offer 60 minute classes. Soul Cycle and Wired Cycling each occasionally offer a 90 minute ride. OffRoad D.C.'s Sufferfest, voted one of the toughest workouts in DC, can reach 100 minutes.
Stop swaying out of the saddle. -- When swaying left and right, you use your body weight to your advantage to achieve a satisfying visual effect. In actuality, a cyclist may swing their bikes, but their hips remain squarely over the pedals. At right (photo credit, IG/Strong_cycling), Tour de France riders accelerate to the line. Their bikes may be at varying angles, but their collective center of gravity are not.
Instead of taking the work out of your workout, lower the resistance, stop the pendulum, and focus on turning the pedals in circles, like the sweeping line on radar. Trust your legs. That slight feeling of discomfort is your legs thanking you.
Ride with power at least once. -- Sweat is not a metric, so let's eliminate that. RPM or cadence have merit, but don’t guage effort. Miles per hour can be instructive, but consider your speed pedalling quickly while out of the saddle. Lost in your artificially high speed is the lack of exertion from your muscles. Power, or watts, is the cure to this conundrum. Power measures the amount of energy you are putting into the bike. It’s the metric professional riders focus on. It makes a climb a climb and a flat a flat. Watts equal to your body weight is a good first barometer.
Turn it into a game. -- Competition is inherent to cycling. New technologies such as The Pursuit by Equinox (on right, photo credit @IG/equinox) tracks progress as riders participate in speed or endurance based games. The 45 minute ride consists of multiple rounds with individual and team based challenges. Rider’s effort (cadence and resistance) are animated by bike number.
OffRoad DC creates routes via Google Maps and displays the ride on a big screen.
Wired DC and Flywheel display user progress via leaderboards. Mercifully, they only show the board intermittently and not throughout the entire class. In case this makes you nervous, each studio allows riders to hide their results, but make this a resolution for the later part of 2017 once you’re truly confident in your abilities.
Try a few, if not all, of these resolutions in 2017. If I can help, feel free to reach out via the social channels below. And don’t be selfish, share this with a friend, that way you can hold each other accountable!