Posts Tagged ‘ spinning ’

Winter Cross-Training

pilates benefits women  I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s just too dark and chilly out to go for a run. And although I still get my butt into gear to run regularly, I also work in more cross-training in the winter. I hardly ever feel like going to the gym during warmer days, so the winter months make an ideal time to build up other areas that will complement and improve my running.

Pilates – I love pilates. It is one of the best ways I’ve found to strengthen my body, keep me healthy, and make me a better runner. I take a weekly class at my gym that’s an hour long and kicks my butt every time. The key is to find a teacher that you are compatible with and that can push you in areas you can’t push yourself. I found a teacher who totally rocks and mixes up each class with challenging moves and isn’t afraid to add pilates props like exercise balls, rings, or bands to increase the difficulty of the moves. Also, pilates really focuses on your core which is essential for healthy running and staying injury free.

Strength Training – This is another great way for runners to build up muscles that assist in becoming stronger and staying injury free. Also, it’s really fun for me to see the looks of the guy dominated free weight area as I bench press next to them. 🙂 While there are a million things I could write about when it comes to strength training, there are two primary points to keep in mind: 1. Women who lift weights will not get huge, man-like muscles (unless they are purposefully working toward a competition or using *ahem* supplements) and 2. Please consult someone, like a trainer, who knows proper form before beginning any sort of strength training routine as bad form can lead to injury and won’t be as effective.

Yoga – Great for flexibility, yoga pairs nicely with pilates in improving your health as a runner. Once again the integral aspect is to find an instructor that can challenge you while providing good modifications to poses so you don’t over-extend your body into injury. There are several types of yoga too, so find the one that fits you best.

Spinning & Swimming – I combined these last two as cross-training areas in which I’d like to improve. I love to bike in warmer weather, but tend to set it aside during the colder months. Same with swimming. Both, however, are great ways a runner can keep fit cardiovascularly and easy to do if you belong to a gym. And if you want to make an investment, buy a bike trainer that you can hook your road bike up to and use inside your house – great cross-training without ever leaving the comfort of your home!

Happy Running! 😀

Fitness Friday!

To spin or not to spin…

For those of you who have never been to a spin class or think that spinning means turning in circles until you fall down in a discombobulated stupor, here’s what you need to know about this fabulous workout.

Spinning is a class that incorporates the workouts of cycling using indoor exercise equipment. The bikes used are meant to mimic those that cyclists use from the handlebars to the pedals that you can clip biking shoes into (if you want to). As with any workout, spinning is as intense as you make it. Just as with an outdoor road bike, you are able to increase or decrease the resistance as you pedal typically using a knob on the middle bar of the bike instead of separate gears.

While I’m sure every spin class is set up differently dependent on what gym you go to, here are a few things you should know/keep in mind when finding a spin class that fits your needs:

1. Instructor – The instructor can really make or break how enjoyable a class is. His/her energy, enthusiasm and preparedness can make you want to push yourself and come back for more pain workouts. When you’re in class notice: Does your instructor arrive early to set up? Does she give understandable verbal instructions during class? Is the music upbeat? Is there adequate warm-up and cool-down time built into your class time?

2. Bikes – Spin bikes get a lot of miles put on them and have to maintained regularly to keep up with the wear and tear. Make sure the bike has pedals that are fit for both sneakers and bike shoe clips so you have different options. Make sure all the handlebars are worn out with holes so you don’t get blisters and that there’s a place for a water bottle and an easily adjustable seat.

3. Atmosphere – Taking a new class can be intimidating and gyms should be aware of your needs. A spin class should be lively and upbeat. They typically run an hour long. Also, spin classes I’ve taken have several rows of bikes so those first timers are able to sit in the back and watch others until they become comfortable with the different instructions as it’s not just about “riding” but standing up and shifting your body weight to work out your different muscle groups.

Note: If you take a class, make sure you ask someone (preferably the instructor) how to adjust your bike before you start the class. A badly adjusted bike can lead to back and knee problems.

While I haven’t been to a lot of spin classes, I love biking and spin was an fun extension of that love. I loved being challenged in new ways and it was a perfect complement to running as it was still a good cardio workout, but I wasn’t pounding the pavement as I do with running.

For those of you who love biking, but can’t go to gym during the cold months when you don’t want to bike outside, a good alternate is to invest in a trainer. A bike trainer is a stand that you can hook your bike into and ride as if you were outside. It’s like having your own private spin class! My girlfriend just purchased one (she’s the avid biker) on ebay for only $60! Much, much cheaper than joining a gym and now she can train indoors all winter.

So check out spinning, you may just find it’s a perfect fit! 🙂

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