The Workout: Back in the Saddle
As summer winds down and the school year begins, it's time to go back to class.
I ran a lot this summer. I tried to do other things, such as cycling and weight training, but mostly I just ran. However, as the weeks ticked by, I could feel my upper body getting weaker and my legs becoming rigid from so much repetitive motion. A little voice in the back of my mind reminded me about the importance of cross training and strength training.
I tried to do some weight training on my own, starting with lofty goal of 45-minute sessions. That goal quickly morphed into 30 minute sessions, then 15 minute sessions, then finally a few meager push-ups while watching TV. I knew I needed some structure, like an exercise class. Fortunately, we have many local offerings up and down the North Shore.
Back to class
However, I didn't want a class that would wipe me out for the week since I wasn't ready to cut back my running schedule. I needed some cardio that would loosen up my legs but still allow me to run, and some upper body work that wouldn't leave me in pain. I knew it was time for me to go back to Spin and Strength at Spynergy in Winnetka.
Full Disclosure: I teach at Spynergy. I managed to fall out of the cycling habit because I don't teach during the summer. As a result, I had not been on an indoor bike – at Spynergy or anywhere else – for eight weeks.
The hardest part, as always, was getting myself motivated. Would I even remember what to do after such a long time away? Fortunately, indoor cycling is just like riding a bike, without all the stress of having to steer. I slid back into the saddle pretty easily, and since the class was only 40 minutes long, I knew my legs would be able to make it through. The weight-lifting, however, was surprisingly challenging.
Cycling class plus weights
The Spin and Strength class starts out like a regular cycling class, but then incorporates moves using light hand weights. One can't help but wonder if using one- or two-pound weights can reap any benefits. Within a few minutes, however, my arms were burning.
Laura, the instructor, made it look easy. It should be noted that she has some of the most buff arms I've ever seen. I vowed to do her class every day until I had arms that looked like hers. Or at the very least, until I could make it through the whole class without having to take a break.
One nice thing about the class is that it has range of participants. Some people were using five-pound weights, most were using one- or two-pound weights, and some were using no weights at all, just concentrating on the cycling instead. People modified as they went. I, for one, skipped some of the overhead presses since they seemed to make my neck uncomfortable. The triceps and biceps work, however, was just what I needed.
The next day, my arms felt vaguely sore, but not “that workout was so killer that I can't hold a pencil” sore. And my legs, while fatigued, were still up for hitting the pavement. Overall, it was a great way to get back in the saddle, and if I can end up with arms that look like the instructor's, I'll be thrilled.
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