Spin Class Blues

Leo’s outgrown his first baby car seat, so until he can wear his helmet, I’m largely restricted to (short) rides during the week or abandoning the family to ride during the weekend.

I really liked going to Cycle U. Unfortunately, it’s just too much time (and work) to bike there and back for a 1½ hour class. So now that Hitomi has the car for taking Leo to day care, I’m unable to take my Cycle U class. (Maybe I could get another car? But I don’t really want that either.)

I took my first spin class this fall at ProClub in Bellevue. I can’t believe just how bad it is. I mean, it is what it is, which is an exercise class and it does do that. But here are the problems with the class:

  1. Fit. The stationary bikes aren’t like road cycles. The seats are too soft and wide. The handlebars aren’t like road bars, they don’t have drops but sweep up. The crank position and pedals aren’t really appropriate for me. The clip pedals don’t really hold that securely.
  2. Mechanics. Spin bikes have a large flywheel, so when you stop pedaling, the pedals still move. This isn’t bad particularly but doesn’t feel right when transitioning.
  3. Controlling Level of Effort. Resistance is added by adding friction. I have no idea (on these machines) what the amount of friction I’m applying. There is just a screw knob with no indicator on how much I’ve turned them. So when you go from less resistance to more, back to less you don’t know if you really have come back or not.
  4. No watts. I don’t have any idea how much work I’m really doing. (I could go with a heart rate monitor, I suppose.) I don’t really know how you can cycle indoors without knowing watts or heart rate.
  5. Not enough fans. Too easy to overheat. It was too hot for me to put out much effort.
  6. Cadence was too low. Except for short distances, cadence should be 90-100. We were asked to do 50-60 many times, I really started to cramp up badly because of the heat and how cadence.
  7. Too many transitions. To dial into a level of effort you need time for building and holding. Changing every 30 seconds or few minutes to a different level you can’t really maximize efficiency.
  8. Too much standing. I do stand on my bike when climbing but in class it seems like 20% of the time you’re standing. It’s not really something you do very often on a bicycle since it’s fairly inefficient. It does wear you out, which I guess is the point. It also doesn’t make too much sense, since you can’t really rock the bicycle side to side as much like when you do climb.

The instructor was nice enough, but I didn’t really think she was a cyclist, just a jock on a stationary bike. (She did make the proclamation that it was nice to be inside instead of on the road, when it fact it was quite nice for riding that day. Yes, wet on the road and a bit cloudy, but warm and not raining.)

Yes it was good exercise, but fairly unscientific. It would be like weight training without tracking how many reps or keeping track of your weight. Or running some random distance and varying your speed every 5 minutes for an hour.

Cycle U isn’t perfect either, but it’s a way better for training.

About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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