Tips for making indoor cycling more enjoyable (really!)

Today, I wrote a guest post for Trainer Kim about spinning. More specifically, about why I think spinning is a great workout for just about everybody!

I thought I’d follow up with some specific tips for making indoor cycling more enjoyable.

  1. Prepare yourself for fun. That’s right. Arrive on your bike, expecting to have a great time. Nothing puts a damper on an enjoyable workout faster than a negative attitude.
  2. Don’t ride the horn. You know, the front part of your seat? Horn riding not only takes the fun out of your workout, it also makes for sore ‘lady parts’ the next day. Enough said.
  3. Dress the part. Long, flared pants are not only too warm for spinning, they also run the risk of getting caught in pedals and wheels. I’ve seen this happen and it’s not pretty.
  4. On the other hand, full coverage of your upper torso (especially if you’re large chested), will make you (and your instructor!) feel less self-conscious when you lean forward over the handle bars in ‘aggressive’ stance.
  5. Bring your singing voice. I love to sing in spin class. It not only makes the time go by more quickly, it makes me feel happy!
  6. Pedal with a flat foot. Pointing your toe will reduce the power of your stroke as well as lead to sore calves the next morning.
  7. Pull on your pedals as much as you push. Pushing from the top of the stroke down targets your quads. Pulling up from the bottom of the stroke targets your hamstrings and glutes; you know, the part of your body people look at when you walk away from them.
  8. Drink lots. You can expect to sweat more than usual while spinning. Make sure you’ve got at least 750 ml of water to replenish as you go. If there’s not a puddle under my bike at the end of class, I know I’ll be dehydrated later that day.
  9. Go at your own pace. Ignore your neighbour. Unlike a road bike race, indoor cycling has no destination so it doesn’t matter who gets ‘there’ first.
  10. Adjust your tension accordingly. While you needn’t add as much tension as your instructor requests (particularly if you’re new to spinning or just tired from a late night out), it’s really boring to spin at the same tension for the entire class. Variety will make the workout infinitely more enjoyable.

And finally,

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t love it the first few times on the bike. When I started spinning, my instructor told me that many participants hate it for the first 5 or 6 classes. It’s a challenging workout and even those who exercise regularly find it very different from running and group aerobics. I considered myself lucky, in only hating the first 3 classes I took 🙂

How do you make exercise more enjoyable?

The same, but with a twist; little changes can lead to big results

I am a creature of habit.

I love routine.

My days and weeks run smoothly when I stick to a schedule.

I eat better and workout more consistently when I do cardio on Mondays and Fridays, strength train on Tuesdays and Thursdays and get to a yoga class Saturday morning.

That’s pretty much what my schedule looked like last week, with a few minor changes. The same, but with a twist.

On Friday, I participated in a spin class led by another instructor. Leisha’s classes are always fabulous, but this week, she tried something new. Instead of varying speed and resistance with each song (a fairly traditional way of organizing a spin class), she held us at a single resistance level for about 10 minutes, incorporating speed and movement drills at that same level of resistance before asking us to increase our tension for the next 10 minutes.

By the end of the class, we had increased our tension four times (no touching that dial!), ending with maximum resistance. My legs felt like jelly! A totally different workout than my body was used to and much more of a challenge too (I told her I’d be copying this format and using it in my own class; imitation being the highest form of flattery).

Saturday morning, I headed to my favorite Hatha yoga class. 75-min of gentle movement and breathing. A little bit of balance and a lot of core strength. After the first few minutes of focusing our breath, with standard, new-agey yoga music in the background, Chris switched playlists. When Doves Cry, by Prince, Crabs in the Bucket, by K-OS, some soul, some rhythm and blues and some good old eighties rock and roll. Not exactly the type of music you’d expect to help you reach nirvana.

But it worked! I felt more relaxed and less worried about my breathing listening to this non-traditional playlist than the usual birdsongs and waterfalls. I even managed to get into and hold crow pose for a short time. Maybe it wasn’t the music. Maybe I’m just getting better at balance poses. But surely, anything that helps you relax during exercise is bound to affect performance in a positive way.

The lesson?

Continue to schedule exercise and plan meals. Knowing what you’ll be doing each day of the week increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do it. But don’t be afraid to make small changes; a new class type, a new instructor, a new playlist of your own as you set out on your morning run.

Surprise yourself with the changes that results from the same, but with a twist.

Do you create and stick to an exercise schedule?

How do you deal with unavoidable changes to your routine? Complain or embrace?

Friday Fitness Blog Hop; My first post

Hi! I’m Tamara; personal trainer, group fitness instructor, healthy lifestyle coach, wife, mother and knitter.

My family and I just got back from an eight-day road trip (come back tomorrow for a recap!). Lots of fun, but not as much exercise and healthy eating as my body is used to. Spin class is gonna hurt tonight…


Given the smooshy feeling I have around my middle, I thought I’d finally start the menu plan in Tosca Reno’s ‘The Eat Clean Diet Stripped’. Twenty-eight days of planned menus and back-to-clean-eating nutrition tips.

I’ve made my grocery list. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Some bison tenderloin, tilapia, salmon, turkey and chicken breasts. Egg whites, quinoa, brown rice and teff (a new grain for me).

What won’t be appearing on my dinner plate? Dairy, processed foods, bread, pasta or sugar.

Along with my usual teaching and training schedule, I’m hoping this meal plan will firm up my midsection and boost my energy levels.

Looking forward to “meeting” all of you!

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

The knee bone’s connected to the…

Well, my knee is still a bit wonky. I taught Step classes Sunday and Monday morning. Both were pretty high energy but didn’t seem to bother it. I laid off the lunges and limited my range of motion during squats. So far so good.

Monday’s lunch time spin class, however was another story.

Low tension was fine. Sprinting was fine. Standing climbs were okay… until I hit about 75% of maximum tension. Ouch. Not a sharp, piercing ouch, just a dull, back off kind of ouch. So I did. More ice and ibuprofen last night helped.

This morning I was determined to get back to my training. Phase 2, Workout A of NROL for Abs. Lunges, 2-point bent over rows, dead lifts and chest presses. Lunges felt okay (although I admit to being extremely cautious with the positioning of my knee). Surprisingly, it was the bent over rows that got me!

No, not my knee, my lower back. Specifically, the same lower back pain that sidelined me about 20 months ago. Why the back now?

That’s how the human body works. It’s one long kinetic chain. Everything is connected. When something isn’t working, another body part will happily help out, sometimes to it’s detriment.

In my case, being protective of a sore knee resulted in me lifting with my back rather than with my legs. Bending over to pick up 30 pound dumbbells incorrectly led directly to strain on my lower back.

I’m thinking that the remainder of this week will be about rest and recovery, which means, of course, that my nutrition must be bang on; and with Easter just around the corner.

A tough week to have to hold back on training. I’m down 3 pounds in a week due to dialing in my nutrition and meeting my exercise goals and I don’t want to lose steam.

How’s your week shaping up?