Monday, April 23, 2007


After Passover, we had some nasty cold rainy days. I couldn't ride my bike and with Montauk coming up I needed to train somehow. Someone recommended that I try a spin class. I was dubious but given the rain and unseasonable cold, I decided to give it a try.

I have a membership in Eastern Athletic Clubs which I originally purchased because their facility at the Mariott Brooklyn Bridge is across Jay Street from the Metrotech campus where I work; I use it to shower and change when I bike to work. They have some additional locations all of which are much better equipped.

I tried two spin classes, one "high intensity" and one "low intensity". They were fun, and the music was great -- I haven't heard anyone playing the 80s Michael Jackson hits ("Billy Jean", "Thriller") in a long time and there were even better songs. None of the ultra-modern "Techno" or "House" that I can barely listen to (I wonder if my parents felt the same about ELP, ELO, and Yes much less the artists like Jethro Tull I added to my tastes in far my daughters like listening to their Daddy's old ABBA and Moody Blues tapes when they're not singing the latest choral pieces from school). Most importantly, I feel I got a decent workout in 45 minutes and some good stretching techniques as well. The main issue in regards training for cycling is that while I rarely stand on my pedals for more than a few pedal strokes as I get moving from a full stop, both classes had a lot of standing "climbs" (turn the resistance knob up).

I did like the variety of the Wednesday "medium intensity" class whose insructor is more of a mountain biker so he had us simulating jumps. While it has you standing on your pedals rather than sitting, its different from a standing climb in two key aspects: you don't turn up the resistance and you are bent forward over the handle bars. Of course in a *real* jump on a real mountain bike you'd also pull the front wheel up. I'd never tried jumps, since I don't do off-road riding.

Spinning class seems only useful as a fall-back when I can't ride outdoors. There is of course no breeze from your motion and a room full of people spinning away gets quite warm. Most of all, it just doesn't have the right mix to train one for real cycling on a real bicycle up real hills. I will continue to use spinning class here and there because its fun once a week anyway and has some overall cardiovascular training benefit -- and some leg strength benefit too.

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