On Sunday, I was invited through my partnership with Fitmapped to check out a brand new studio – Revolve. It’s a spinning studio that offers a few different takes on spin classes. One is hill-focused (“Real Ride”), one incorporates some weights and stretching (“Body Ride”), and one is supposed to be over an hour long and incredibly intense (“Rip Ride”). So, Sunday morning found me dashing out the door of Refine Method to catch a downtown train and meet some friends for my second workout of the day.
When I first walked into Revolve, I wasn’t thrilled by the setup and was all set to have a negative experience. (This was in large part because I didn’t have the resistance numbers I’m used to in a spin class.) But as the class went on, I started liking it more and more, and now I’m actually totally pumped to go back again. Before I left, I checked in with the front desk to buy two more classes. Expect a full review to come after I’ve completed those! But in the meantime…
You all know how I adore Flywheel, my first true love of all the indoor cycling studios. Before I tried Flywheel, spinning classes kind of perplexed me. “Give the resistance wheel one full turn to the right!” Okay… but now it seems like I’m working harder than everyone else. Maybe I started at a higher resistance to begin with? I’ll turn it down a bit to get me back on track. “Okay, now give me a half turn back to the left.” Uh oh, now my legs are flying. Maybe I was right to begin with? I end up spending the entire class tinkering with my resistance instead of gritting it out and getting in a good workout.
One of the things I like best about Flywheel is that you get a little personal computer attached to your bike, which tells you exactly how fast and how hard you’re going. When the instructor says “turn the torq up to 40 and now stay on the beat with 45 RPMs,” I may not be able to actually achieve that, but I know what I’m supposed to be working toward. Conversely, there are times when what we’re doing seems to be kind of easy – but I know that the instructor is probably just about to inflict some kind of torturous hill on us and that I should just enjoy the rest for now. I find it a lot easier to get a good workout when I know what I’m doing!
After class on Sunday, Ashley was talking to her running coach, Gia, about an upcoming race. Gia really wanted her to run “naked” (e.g., without a Garmin), but Ashley was worried that she’d go out way too fast without a watch to keep her on track. The compromise was that Ashley would run the first half of the race with her watch, but then ditch it in the later miles (in a rather ingenious way, which I’ll let Ashley discuss on her own blog). I know many people who espouse the benefits of running “naked,” but coming out of a spin class where I had no idea how hard/fast I was going, I suddenly started thinking twice about it.
Most running coaches would say that you need to track all your workouts if you want to improve them – and I agree with that advice. Most of my friends who run are almost obsessive with the numbers – how many miles, what average pace, what were the splits, etc. In a distance race like a marathon, these splits can also provide a lot of insight into how you can improve your times. Did you start out at a 7 minute pace in the first few miles, drop to 8 for the next 20, and then finish at a 12 minute walk? You probably need to get more long runs under your belt to try to even that out. Maybe your splits were even throughout but then five minutes slower for mile 16 – which could be a clue that you trained fine but shouldn’t have eaten nachos and beer the night before the race, forcing you to take a portapotty break partway through. Even barring mishaps, marathon pacing plans are often extremely detailed, with runners figuring out exactly what pace they’ll run for each mile (based on water stops, terrain, etc) as they strive for the elusive “negative split”.
But as fussy as many people are about tracking all that data for running, why aren’t more people picky about that for other sports/activities? I almost never see anyone wearing a heart rate monitor or even a Nike+ Fuel Band for a class like Refine, and Flywheel is the only spinning studio I know that tracks both RPMs and resistance. (If a studio only tells me RPMs, I consider that meaningless without some measure of difficulty to go along with that speed, be it resistance or heart rate.) What makes us pickier about our running stats compared to our other workout stats?
I’m curious to hear what you think. I’ll admit that I’m totally guilty of this hypocrisy as well – I love knowing my numbers in Flywheel, and I record all my reps/weights when I do pure weight lifting. On the other hand, I usually don’t bother to wear a Garmin when I’m running outside of a race, and I never note how much weight I lift in a class like Tread or Refine. How about you?