I have to admit, I do get a bit carried away thinking about ideas for this blog whilst I am training, and on occasions it can actually become take over what I am actually doing, whether swimming lap after lap on auto-pilot, or head down cycling for hours on end. One aspect I tend to think about the most are the titles, and I had a number of ideas for today, ranging from the more obvious “Spinning Around” to the tenuous “Keep it like the Kaiser” (as in RHCP Give it Away and a type of indoor bike). In the end I settled for the Ron Burgundy-esque moniker above. I guess I had better explain what I have actually been up to for this to make sense…
So to paraphrase the guy from the Fast Show, this week I have been mostly partaking in gym classes. This is not totally unusual for me, as I have been attending a Body Combat class on most Mondays over the last 4 or 5 years, mainly as it is the only way I can get my wife to train alongside me! Although it is a bit cheesy (happy hardcore music not heard since the mid-90s, faux karate air punches, terrifying women with ‘rip his head off’ looks in their eyes…) it does have some real benefits, such as increased flexibility, cardio variety, and some great fun Muay Thai and Capoera moves.
But the real story here is the class I did tonight: Keiser Cycling. Given that I have done well over 1000 miles on the bike this year it might surprise people that I have never done this before. Well it is not through lack of trying. There have been a number of Saturdays when I have remembered the class is on too late, and it has been too full to get in. But tonight, I had a chance.
It all started with my wife going to a school disco. Don’t panic, there is nothing sinister here, she is a teacher and had gone to crash the end of term party with her colleagues. As a result I had a while evening free to myself. I did consider my options – a GTA 5 marathon, back-to-back Rocky films – but ultimately it had to be a good old 3 hour gym session. So I headed up straight after work, and settled in at the bike around 6.00 to lay down some miles. Funnily enough the class itself was unplanned. About 10 minutes in I realised there were people hanging about in the room next door, and I realised it was a cycling class that actually had spaces, and as a bonus it was being run by our combat instructor. So, like any good investigative reporter such as Fletch, I thought it would by my duty to give it a go.
Funnily enough it was tougher than I thought, Not impossible as some would have you believe, but no walk in the park either. First up, the bikes (Keisers) are a bit different to other indoor bikes. For starters they have fairly decent pedals, with cages on one side, and cleats on the other, so next time I will aim to bring my tri-shoes to clip in. They also have a fancy digital gear system on the stem, which you hold up to go up a gear, and vice versa, which make changing on the move a lot easier.
Watching through the window bike classes do look pretty odd, as to try and inject a bit of variety to what would otherwise be ‘cycle fast, cycle slow’ commands, they have some strange special moves. For example there is a sort of ‘plank’ where you lean forwards on your forearms to use different leg muscles, and another one where you bounce up and down in the seat and that does something else, I guess. There is also a fair bit of climbing in high gears, which was actually very useful, and would have helped a lot with the hills in the Avenger the other week. A few more of these before my next race I think!
As for the music. Well, some of the cheese from Combat has clearly been carried forward, but it did work, and whilst it would not be the stuff I would normally listen to, it was well matched to the pacing and kept you going. The other notable thing was that even with the fan and air con at full blast it was ludicrously hot. And this was with only a dozen or so in the room (it has space for more than double that) so I dead to imagine it when it’s full.
I guess I should say a few words on how I did: I was pretty happy considering it was my first time doing this. Yes I have put a lot of long distance rides in, but this is very different involving lots of short sprints and climbs, which is good as in reality these are the areas it is harder to get around to practicing on your own. Despite the fact it is non-competitive, it seemed pretty obvious that a few wanted to out-do each other, and at points it felt like an unofficial peacock fight for who could get the fastest RPM or ride in the higher gear. Obviously being British no one actually said anything to each other…
Anyway, it was all over in 45 minutes, so I wandered back out to finish the other half of my session. Some of the rest of the class did give me some strange looks, possibly confused as to what sort of nutter comes out of a fairly tough class and basically does it all over again, but the second half of my session was pretty chilled. So 50 minutes or so later, and another 25 km completed I warmed down and hit the sauna. Job done!
The big questions are of course, was it any good and would I do it again? Well yes and yes. Whilst the short but intense session is a welcome addition and variety to my training, I certainly won’t be doing it every week as I want to keep up mylong steady rides, but it is good to know it is there and available when I need it. As Arnie would say: I’ll be back.