Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Shake It Up

May 2, 2016

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Lately, I have been feeling like my workouts need shaking up. I have fallen into the habit of taking a variety of cycling classes four times a week, and an endurance based weight circut class, followed by abs class once a week. I toss in a post-cycling pilates class when I can. I take one day off, where the most strenuous exercise I do is walk. That leaves one day per week to fit in weight training, running or another much needed rest day. With my regimen of extremely healthy eating and tough, consistent workouts, I seem to have hit a plateau, even sliding down the mountain a bit, if you will.
This week, fate seems to be taking my need to shake it up into their own hands.
About a month or two ago, one of my favorite instructors dropped many of his morning classes, two of which were mine. I found great replacements and continued my regular schedule with minor tweaks. This week, two different instructors announced their recent promotions to corporate, which means they are dropping my classes. I have been feeling like one of my other classes with a longtime favorite instructor is getting stale. The workout feels punishing and exhausting, rather than envigorating, while pushing my body past it’s limits, and out of my comfort zone. Maybe this is the universe telling me to lift more and spin less.

Truth be told, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again without results, I am at the precipice of crazy town. It is time to move along. 

Starting a new month is the perfect time to re-evaluate my fitness goals and how to achieve them. I am exploring new classes, other gym locations and plan to get into the weight room instead of the cycling studio a few days a week.
I don’t want to give up the blood pumping, heavy breathing and  exhilaration of cycling. I just know that I need to mix it up to get better results.

Do you ever get in a fitness rut? Share you experiences in the comment section.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Air-Heads

April 12, 2013

Airbags have saved the lives of countless people involved in car crashes.

Hard shell helmets, often worn by cyclists to protect their heads, are unattractive, and wreak havoc on the hairdo.
A new product designed by a Swedish team, may just be the answer to the helmet hair problem.

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The “Chieftain” or “Hovding” is an airbag, encased in a fashionable folding collar. Prior to an accident, the collar’s built in accelerometer and gyro register abnormal head movement, which trigger gas generators to fill the airbag.

Six years of research has helped identify the types of movements that trigger the airbag, and prevent it from deploying unnecessarily.

The collar is charged by a USB, and contains tiny LED lights to indicate when the power is low.  It also has a “black box” to record data before and after an accident to help the technicians develop more accurate models.

The inflatable airbag is positioned to provide fashionable, easily portable protection for cyclists. Would you wear the Hovding airbag instead of a helmet?

Cycle Snob

August 21, 2012

I admit it. I am a cycling snob.

I am a devoted follower of just 3 instructors, who are all known to be among the best in their field.  Every time I try a substitute, I am disappointed and vow never to stray again. With my knee still not quite ready for primetime, having 2 of the 3 on vacation this week posed a fitness dilemma. Should I be open and give someone new a chance? Maybe this time they will be great.
I open-mindedly (okay, very skeptically) approached classes last week with new teachers thinking it might just provide a shock to my system or at the very least a new experience. Once again, I was disappointed.
I have been trying to figure out the delicate balance between a great instructor and a less than stellar one. I mean, we are essentially riding a bike to nowhere for a designated period of time, with loud music playing. There is only so much variation that can take place. So what’s the big difference?

Pedaling away on a bike that doesn’t move requires motivation and variation. The great teachers keep you going with a constantly changing menu of sprints, standing runs, climbs and flat roadwork. For me, terrain based classes make the ride a more realistic experience.

The lesser instructors get you moving but the responsibility for your intensity is entirely in your hands. The work is often monotonous, with long stretches of single speed, unchanged resistance and not much encouragement. In order to work up a sweat, and get your heart rate up, you need to crank the intensity on your own. The 45 minutes of class feel like an eternity, and often leave you tired, not energized.

The great teachers plan each of their classes out in advance to ensure that you are challenged and get a well-balanced workout. They are often training vehicles which help you build strength and endurance, versus someone who just gets on the bike and pedals away with little thought to how the participants might evolve to meet their fitness goals.

The great teachers push you beyond your limits. They somehow motivate you to move out of your comfort zone and into a place where you never thought you go. They aren’t sitting quietly on the bike. They are walking around, screaming, coaching, encouraging and making you fight for every pedal stroke and every breath. These classes are crazy hard, and without them pushing me, I know I wouldn’t be able to achieve that intensity.

The not so great ones are spinning away on their little platforms, offering very little in the way of guidance or motivation.

As a fellow cycler said today,” I feel like they are talking to the wall or ceiling, and not really resonating with me.”

The great ones let you know where you are in the ride. They tell you what is coming up, and lead you through the segment. They let you know how much time you have left in the intervals. It makes it easier to really push your boundaries when you know you only have 30 seconds to go before you can back off and catch your breath.

The music is important, and very subjective. Even if your taste in music is different from the instructors, variation between songs and a good strong beat is key.  A 45-minute playlist of house music tends to blend together into one long song.  The average not so great teacher tends to have the class do a lot of tedious standing runs with a sprint or two thrown in for good measure. Tedious riding and monotonous music makes for a boring ride. ‘Nuff said.

The great teachers are precise, and have the class moving as one unit, or competing as teams. There is no ambiguity in the ride. The not so great classes often become free for alls, with many people doing their own thing to break up the boredom, or make the ride easier or more difficult.

Yes, I am a bit hardcore. I go to the gym to get results, and I love feeling sweaty and breathless at the end of class.  I feel as though I am in the hands of true professionals, who take their work and my fitness seriously. I love the sense of accomplishment when I make it through a particularly difficult patch without pulling back. My goals are to grow and develop my stamina, endurance and strength.

Not everyone feels that way. There are many people who just like the group atmosphere and aren’t interested in facing that feeling of extreme discomfort and pushing past it. For them, there are lots of instructors out there to choose from.

So go ahead and call me a cycling snob. I’m sticking with my 3 favorite instructors, “loyal to the end.”

photo: Glasshouse Images 

Prison Power

July 19, 2012

The Santa Rita do Sapucai prison in Brazil, is harnessing green energy from their inmates to power their city streets.

Two exercise bikes hooked to batteries have been placed in the penitentiary courtyard, where kinetic energy created by the cyclists is converted into electricity which charges a battery. There is a device on the handlebars which tells the rider when the battery is charged.
These fully charged batteries are taken into the city and used to power street lamps. One day’s cycling can provide enough alternative energy to power 6 bulbs.
As an incentive, the prisoners are given a day off of their sentence for every 16 hours of cycling they complete.
The project has been so successful, that they plan to install another 8 bikes at the facility.
This program offers an opportunity for detainees to stay fit, keep occupied and out of trouble, and provide their community with sustainable energy. Sounds like a winning plan to us!
photo: Glasshouse Images

Summer Streets

August 17, 2010

Yet another reason to love New York….Summer Streets!

For 3 consecutive Saturdays in August, Park Avenue is closed to traffic from 7a.m. to 1 p.m. from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way up to the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park. There are breathtaking moments, such as cruising up the ramp above Grand Central Station and through the Met Life Building.; spinning around the spectacular Central Park loop that leads up to Harlem, and riding (huffing and puffing most likely) over the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you are a cycler, a blader, a runner or just a casual stroller, this is an incredible way to enjoy New York City!

For those who can’t take the heat, the mayor has converted large dumpsters into public pools along the way.

Next Saturday, August 21st is the last Summer Streets event for the year, so get up, get out and enjoy our beautiful city traffic free.


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