The Buzz on Crossfit

One of the hottest fitness trends right now is CrossFit. This intense workout delivers results, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Learn the fundamentals of CrossFit before deciding if this exercise program is for you.

CrossFit Basics

“Our specialty is not specializing,” is what CrossFit founder Greg Glassman says. Each CrossFit “Workout of the Day” or “WOD” is different, but most include a combination of plyometrics (think jumping jacks and medicine ball throws), Olympic- and power-weight lifting, speed training, kettle bell moves, gymnastics, body weight and endurance exercises. Glassman, a former gymnast, modeled CrossFit after the strength and conditioning training programs used by police academies and military special operations units. The benefits of doing CrossFit workouts include improved cardio fitness, strength, endurance, stamina, speed, agility, balance and coordination.

CrossFit also encourages participants to follow a special diet consisting of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. Note that these dietary recommendations were not developed by a registered dietitian, and they suggest a lower carbohydrate intake and higher protein intake than the guidelines issued by the American Dietetic Association.

What to Expect During a CrossFit Class

You can do CrossFit at home or at a specialty CrossFit-affiliated gym or “box.” WODs consist of a circuit of challenging and explosive exercises. Each WOD is meant to be completed as quickly as possible, with little to no rest between exercises and sets. WODs are posted on crossfit.com each day and they are named for women or military heroes, for example “the Fran” or “the Barbara.”

There are more than 2,500 independently-owned CrossFit-affiliated gyms open in the U.S. If you join one of these gyms, you’ll have to complete a month-long initiation course to learn proper technique for CrossFit exercises before you can take a regular class. A typical, coach-led class at a CrossFit gym is about one hour long and includes the following:

10- 15 minute warm-up. 15- 20 minutes practicing a skill (like rowing technique) or focusing on strength (such as deadlifts). 10- 30 minutes on the WOD. An example WOD is “the Murph”: timed 1-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats accumulated throughout the workout (all pull-ups, push-ups, and squats are not performed in a row, unless you are fit enough), finished with another timed 1-mile run. 5- 10 minute cool-down with stretching.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

These factors can help you decide if CrossFit is for you.

The pros of CrossFit

It’s effective. Whether you want to tone-up or trim down, the intensity of CrossFit workouts give you results. Workouts don’t take a long time. WODs only take 10-30 minutes to complete.It’s fun. If you get bored with exercise, CrossFit is guaranteed to keep you on your toes since the WOD changes each day.You get a friendly dose of competition. If you do CrossFit at a gym, each person’s WOD times are noted on a large board. That can be incentive to improve upon your own times or beat other people in your class.

The cons of CrossFit

Workouts are very intense. CrossFit is not for people who are new to exercise or those with injuries.You can get hurt. Your risk of injury increases when you perform workouts in a fatigued state, such as during WOD circuits. If you do WODs at home without the supervision of a coach, you may not be using proper form, which ups the risk for injuries. Not all CrossFit coaches are certified. Ask a coach about their certification, background and references before signing up for class.

Have you ever tried CrossFit?

Sources

http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-crossfit.html

http://www.acefitness.org/blog/648/what-is-crossfit-training-and-is-it-appropriate

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/crossfit-review

http://carrotsncake.com/2012/02/crossfit-q-a.html

Recipe for Easy, Make-Ahead Breakfast Bars

Recently, we’ve made many moms happy by providing the scientific facts backing up their ongoing claim that eating a healthy breakfast is important. We’ve also discussed some of the guidelines that make up this elusive “healthy” breakfast.

But one of the chief obstacles remain: We’re busy people, particularly in the morning. There’s not always the time it takes to make a healthy breakfast when we’re trying to get out the door.

Personally, I’m terrible at breakfast, and have had to collect many make-ahead recipes to ensure that I can start my day off right. Here is one of my favorites: Breakfast bars that are easy to make and store.

Breakfast Bar Recipe

These bars can be prepared any number of ways but the following ingredients form a good basic recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup peanut butter, smooth

3/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 cups oats, old fashioned

1 cup chopped walnut pieces

1/2 cup flaxseed

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) Combine the peanut butter and honey in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and smooth. You will need to keep an eye on this since it can burn fairly easily.

3) Add the cinnamon and vanilla to the peanut butter/honey mixture and stir.

4) Gradually stir in the walnuts, flaxseed and oatmeal. Be especially careful when adding the oatmeal since it can quickly dry up the mixture. I recommend using a large spoon or spatula to ensure that the wet component binds to all the oats.

5) Pour the mixture into a greased 9″ x9″ baking dish and bake it for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

6) Remove from oven and let cool on rack. Then cut into 9 equal squares.

Nutritional Information

Each bar counts as a serving and constitutes a substantial breakfast. This particular recipe is on the high-end of the recommend calories of breakfast but is ideally suited for training days when your body will need more fuel:

Nutritional information per serving:

 Calories: 498.1

Total Fat: 28.7 g

Saturated Fat: 4.8 g

Polyunsaturated Fat: 14.0 g

Monounsaturated Fat: 10.0 g

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Sodium: 139.9 mg

Potassium: 561.7 mg 

 Total Carbohydrate: 68.9 g

Dietary Fiber: 11.2 g

Sugars: 23.6 g

Protein: 14.8 g

Notice that although this particular recipe does have some fat, it is primarily from the healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats which act as great fuel during prolonged endurance training. These fats may also contribute to a healthier cholesterol profile.

Possible Substitutions

Don’t be afraid to use this basic recipe to create your own bars. For example, many people favor almond butter over the traditional peanut butter. Although almond butter is much richer in micronutrients like calcium, magnesium and vitamin E, it can be considerably more expensive than peanut butter.

You can also use almonds instead of walnuts, or another nut that you prefer. I chose walnuts for this recipe because they’re a great source of omega-3s. The flaxseeds are included for similar reasons but can also be replaced by chia seeds.

Honey can be removed and replaced with another sweetener like agave nectar. Likewise, you can use raisins or any other dried fruit you like to add sweetness and flavor to these bars. You may have to adjust the liquid component of the recipe if you load it full of fruits and nuts to make sure that everything gets an even coating to hold it together.

If you’re trying to bulk-up or maintain a high protein diet, you can also toss in some of your favorite protein powder.

Have you tried these bars or do you make something similar? Please share your tips with us in the comments.

Sources

Breakfast bar nutritional information

http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/lowfatbasics/a/goodfatsbadfats.htm

http://www.fitsugar.com/Nutritional-Comparison-Peanut-Butter-Almond-Butter-3248632

How to Continue Running Throughout Your Pregnancy

Ask Coach Jenny

Q: How can I continue to run safely through my pregnancy?  ~Elisabeth

A: Best wishes to you, Elisabeth, on your pregnancy. It sounds as if you’ve been running regularly, which is great because most doctors encourage women to continue their exercise routines through the pregnancy with modifications to effort levels along the way. That said, the first step is to talk it through with your doctor to confirm you’re both on the same page, as every journey to motherhood is unique.

Although it can be a safe activity during pregnancy, the key truly is to re frame your thinking from running or training for a race for you, to running for the baby, for you and for the delivery. In a way, it is like training for a race in that there is a specific date; there is a progression in the growth of the baby and the more consistent you are with your exercise, the stronger you’ll feel along the way, both while delivering and recovering post delivery.

The difference is in your running. When training for the Baby Marathon (aka your due date), your body is going to be adapting to the demands of growing and fueling a baby versus the demands of your running workout progression. For example, your heart rate naturally increases at rest and activity to provide oxygen to your little one. This may seem like you’re getting out of shape, but you’re not. You’re breathing for two and that takes more effort (kind of like running faster takes more oxygen, too). So ultimately, when you’re running your pace will also be off as you progress through each trimester.

Now, before we get all down about that, let’s think about the perks.

  1. That also means your cardiovascular system will grow stronger because you’re running for two!
  2. Another happy outcome is in knowing your mental strength will quadruple post baby.
  3. And let’s not forget to mention you’re going to be a great running role model for your baby.

Perks aside, it is going to be different than your normal running routine. The goal isn’t to maintain your pace or mileage, but to run, run-walk and walk to stay active as you make your way to the big day.

Here are a few tips for running safely through your pregnancy.

Accessorize.

You’ll be fine for the first month or two in your go-to running apparel, but when the time is right, shop for a few core pieces of apparel, including bra, shorts or tights and tops. There are a lot of wonderful apparel companies that cater to active moms to be. Plus, it’s a mini reward for staying active.

Exercise by your body and your breath rather than a pace or plan.

The old rule of thumb for exercise efforts while pregnant was to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. This was changed because that number means something different for every woman (high intensity for one, low for another) and it didn’t convey the right guideline.

The goal is to keep your effort level easy to moderate and avoid high-intensity activity. One really easy way to monitor this while moving is to listen to your breath and tune into your body. If you can talk comfortably, you’re in the right zone. If you struggle to get words out and can hear your breath (reaching for air) you’re going at too hard an effort – slow it down. One great test you can easily do on the run is to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or any few sentences you know by heart (a prayer, poem). You’ll know when you reach the end of the poem if you’re in the right zone or not.

Create your own running recipe.

Remember progressing in this case means keeping that easy to moderate effort level as you progress through pregnancy. This is different for every runner. Some women can run all the way through, while others go from running, to run-walking intervals, to walk-running, to walking. Some women even have a different running routine for each child they’ve had.

This is not a pass or fail – there aren’t any brownie points for running all the way through. But you will earn bonus “wise runner” points for tuning in, listening and modifying your program as you go. It will feel better, you’ll want to keep doing it, and it will be a great tool to use when returning to running once the baby is born (more on that in another blog).

Adjust, modify and progress.

In order to keep in the easy to moderate effort zone as you progress, you’ll need to modify your running program. Again, this means something different for every woman, but in general here are four progressive strategies you can use to run in the right zone all the way through.

  1. Continuous running at an easy effort zone.
  2. Run-Walking Intervals – incorporate walking intervals within your run to reduce impact on your body and keep your effort level in the safe zone (easy to moderate). Example: walking warm up 5 minutes, then alternate running for 4-5 minutes with walking for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Walk-Running Intervals – as you progress you can slowly increase the number of minutes of walking while decreasing the running minutes. This will allow you to keep running with good quality and not fatigue you too much. The result = a great workout!
  4. Walking – a fantastic activity for the final weeks. You can still get in the miles and maintain your fitness.

Make it convenient and safe.

Running on a treadmill is an effective way to assure safety in your workout. It offers a controlled climate, an easy way to adjust your effort level and a softer surface to reduce impact forces. 

Follow these tips for running during your pregnancy to improve your health, the health of your baby and your chances of a good, strong delivery. Just remember that everyone is different and you need to stay in tune with how you’re feeling and adjust your effort level accordingly.

How did you handle running while pregnant? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Breakfast: Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Fried egg with baconHow many times has someone reminded you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It’s one of those health bromides that most everyone knows — and ignores. We’re usually in just too much of a rush in the mornings to do anything more than grab a pre-packaged or frozen something and call it a meal. Lots of us skip this meal altogether.

Not the best move, nutritionists tell us. But why is breakfast so important anyway? And what makes a “healthy” one?

Why is Breakfast Important?

As the name suggests, breakfast is about breaking the fast that you’ve experienced since your last meal the night before. Depending on your schedule, this could mean that you haven’t eaten in 10 to 15 hours, a huge gap considering that during the day we eat about every four hours.

Although we generally don’t think of sleep as an active time, your brain and body are still hard at work. Muscles rebuild themselves and recover from the demands of the previous day.Food is digested so the nutrients can be processed and stored; the heart and lungs continue to operate.And all of this is overseen by the brain, which is busy processing information collected throughout the day.

All of this activity burns up a lot of fuel in the form of glucose. So, when we stumble out of bed in the morning, our brains and entire bodies are at a massive caloric deficit.

When You Skip Breakfast

For some people, skipping breakfast is the result of simple oversight or disorganization. But others make the decision consciously, believing that it will help them lose weight.

In some cases, these deliberate skippers will then workout on an empty stomach, trying to force themselves into a fat-burning calorie deficit. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine explored the efficacy of this approach by monitoring the biological responses of exercisers who had fasted versus those who had eaten. The researchers found that the subjects who ate a light meal before exercising burned more calories, specifically those from fat, for up to 24 hours following the workout.

It should also be considered that when you skip any meal and go for long periods of time without eating, your blood sugar drops dramatically. Because you are more hungry than you would be otherwise, you are more likely to eat a large meal which will cause an insulin spike. This hormone response will actually cause your body to store more fat.

This Balanced Breakfast

Science and experience have shown the importance of breakfast, especially for the physically active person. But what is a healthy breakfast?

The exact answer to that question is fairly controversial in the health and fitness realm, but most experts agree that breakfast should account for about 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories.

This means that a healthy person following an active lifestyle and using a standard 2000 calorie diet should have a 500- to 600-calorie meal to start the day.

According to the IDEA Fitness Journal, an ideal breakfast should incorporate complex carbohydrates like oats and cereals, fiber from fruits and vegetables, and proteins from beans or nuts. IDEA suggests that breakfast should be no-to-low fat, so if you use milk in your oatmeal, cereal or smoothie, consider low-fat options or alternatives such as soy or rice milk.

A healthy breakfast will help set the nutritional tone for the day and get your body off to a decent metabolic start. Find foods that you can easily fit into your schedule and enjoy first thing in the morning. Also, consider your activity for the day and adjust your meal to fit. If it’s a training day, you’re going to want to eat more complex carbs than otherwise. Some easily prepared complex carbohydrate foods include starchy vegetables, beans and whole grains. If you’re typically rushing out the door first thingin the morning, why not try preparing something the night before? With just a little planning, you could have no-cook refrigerator oatmeal ready to grab and go in the morning.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share an easy recipe for healthy breakfast bars that’s been my fall-back breakfast option for a long time.

How have you managed to fit a balanced breakfast into your busy schedule? Please share your tips with us in the comments.

Sources

http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/build-a-better-breakfast-0

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21411835

http://www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_Oatmeal

How to Chose a Multivitamin

In a recent post, we discussed the research surrounding multivitamins and their potential health benefits. Although some of the studies contradict each other, and some researchers still insist that there are dangers associated with these common supplements, they are widely used. If you do decide to take a multivitamin, how should you chose one from the dizzying selection available? What should you look for, and what should you avoid?

Keep It Basic

A recent trend amongst multivitamin manufacturers is the “special formula.” They tout heart health, extra energy, weight loss, improved memory or any number of other benefits — and sell these extra benefits for a higher price. Generally, though, these claims are untested, and often include ingredients that are not backed by the FDA. According to product review site Consumer Search, the uncertainty and risk aren’t worth the added cost.

Avoid Megadoses

Megadosing, or taking doses much higher than the recommended daily allowance, is also a common practice. It’s especially popular to take enormous doses of vitamin C, based on the thought that you can’t have too much of a good thing. Although the benefits of megadosing some substances, like vitamin C, are still heavily debated, other vitamins and minerals are known conclusively to be toxic in high doses. Potentially toxic ingredients include vitamin A, vitamin D and iron. To avoid the dangers associated with megadoses, do not take multivitamins that contain more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value.

Don’t look at a dosage of less than 100 percent of the  daily value as a sign of low quality. In fact, this may be a safer approach, considering that you also receive vitamins and minerals from your daily diet.

Ignore “Quality” Claims

Another claim that’s appearing with increasing frequency is that of “pharmaceutical grade” quality. These companies contend that their multivitamins are made in strictly controlled facilities, and so are of a higher overall quality than their competitors. However, research doesn’t show any increased efficacy from these pharmaceutical grade supplements, and the FDA doesn’t recognize or endorse these labels. So even though these companies may hold themselves to a higher standard, there is no evidence that their products work any better.

Consider Store Brands

Consumer Search, in comparing multivitamins, found that generic brands are just as good as pricier options. The supplements dissolved cleanly and easily, and accurately contained what the labels stated, two extremely important factors in deciding the quality of a multivitamin.

Do Your Research

Take the time to compare several brands of multivitamin, and research their quality once you have it narrowed down. Several online services offer quality comparisons between popular brands, including laboratory tests, to make sure that they contain what the labels say they contain and in the amounts stated. This a a key step — some subpar brands have even been found to contain toxic substances like lead.

Part of doing your research includes talking to your doctor. You may have a condition or health consideration that affects your need for certain vitamins and minerals. In addition, some medications can interact negatively with even something as gentle as a multivitamin, and your doctor should be able to warn you about any such possibilities.

Do you have any tips on what to look for in picking a multivitamin? Please share it with us in the comments!

Sources

http://www.consumersearch.com/multivitamins/how-to-choose-a-multivitamin

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-dangers-of-vitamin-megadoses.html

Treating Exercise-Related Hypoglycemia

According to diabetes experts, muscles are responsible for about 90 percent of the body’s use of glucose as fuel. Exercise also affects various hormones which have a direct impact on blood sugar levels. It’s not surprising, then, that non-diabetic hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is common in frequent exercisers and athletes.

If you’ve ever worked out on an empty stomach, you’ve probably experienced the dizziness, muscle weakness and exhaustion of a blood-sugar crash. Understanding how your blood-sugar levels are controlled, and what you can do to prevent these crashes, can help you avoid these symptoms.

How Blood Sugar Works

The sugar called glucose, which is stored in the muscles and liver, is the primary fuel your muscles use during strenuous activities. As part of a careful balancing act, two hormones are released to try to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood, where it can be used readily.

Insulin is released into the blood by the pancreas when blood sugar levels are too high, where it bonds with specialized receptors on the cells. Insulin stimulates the cells at these receptors and tells them to absorb glucose. Once these cells respond to insulin, blood sugar levels drop.

When blood sugar is too low, however, the pancreas releases glucagon instead. This hormone tells the liver to releases some of its stored glucose into the blood so that can be used as fuel.

Exercise puts much higher demands on your muscles, forcing them to utilize more fuel — in much the same way as making your car go faster, or pull a heavy load, will increase how much gas it burns. Overtraining can even cause a permanent shift in this balance by increasing insulin sensitivity, which will make it much more difficult for you to maintain a healthy blood sugar balance.

Keeping Your Balance

Research suggests that endurance training, as opposed to strength training, can be beneficial in preventing exercise-induced hypoglycemia. While strength training uses carbohydrates like glucose for fuel, endurance training uses fat as the primary source of energy. This will prevent blood sugar levels from getting too low.

The most effective method for preventing exercise-induced hypoglycemia, though, is by adjusting the timing and composition of your meals. Focus on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes, which will give you several types of sugar and dissolve more slowly in your system. Try to have a large, carbohydrate-heavy meal at least three hours before your workout so that you have plenty of stored glucose when you start your exercise.

Throughout the day, eat six small meals and snacks rather than the traditional three large daily meals. These meals and snacks should also be made mostly of complex carbohydrates and proteins. Avoid simple sugars like sodas and baked goods, since these will cause a spike in insulin — a response to the quick release of sugar — which will, in turn, cause your blood sugar to crash.

Drinks like coffee that contain large amounts of caffeine can also cause a crash when the stimulant effects of the drink wear off. The symptoms of this “caffeine crash” can be very similar to hypoglycemia.

Most importantly, discuss your hypoglycemia with your doctor, since it can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as diabetes.

Have you ever experienced exercise-induced hypoglycemia? How have you managed it? Please share your tips in the comments!

Sources

http://diabetes.about.com/od/whatisdiabetes/a/How-Insulin-Works-In-The-Body.htm

http://www.alfediam.org/media/pdf/RevueBrunD&M2-2001.pdf

http://www.drugs.com/cg/non-diabetic-hypoglycemia.html

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html

How to Return to Running after Illness

Ask Coach Jenny

Q: I have been unable to run for several months due to illness and injury. What are your recommendations for getting back into running? ~Linda

A: Hi, Linda. I’m happy to hear you’re feeling better. Although it can be tempting to jump back in to your running program where you left off before the illness, doing so can be quite stressful to the body. It takes a little patience at first, but when you invest in a gradual start back, your body will reward you by adapting and improving along the way. Here are 7 tips to get you back on track.

  1. Ease back into the demands and impact of running by using a run-walk interval program. It reduces the impact on the body and allows you to get a higher quality workout in with less risk of injury or soreness.
  2. Everyone’s starting point varies based on the reasons for the time off and the injuries, but it is always wise to start conservatively to avoid doing too much too soon. The goal is to get back into running by doing just enough so you finish feeling strong and thinking, “That felt good and I could do that again.” When you ease back into it slowly, it builds fitness more readily because you can maintain consistency along the way.
  3. Stick with 30 minutes in total for the workouts including a 5-minute walking warm up and cool down, which leaves 20 minutes of run-walking. Continue on this 20-minute run-walk pattern until you’re running continuously. Then begin to progress the total time of the running workout by 5 minutes every two weeks (i.e., 25 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.).
  4. For the running part of the workout (20 minutes), repeat intervals of running until you hear your breath and walking until you catch it. This may be 30 seconds for the first running workout, but so be it. When you tune into your body, it will tell you exactly where it is effort-wise, which is the key to running wisely and returning to your routine more quickly. Repeat the intervals for 20 minutes and cool down by walking for 5 minutes.
  5. As you progress through the workouts, you may notice that some days are easier than others. This is the natural rhythm of getting stronger. Continue to run by your breath and body and practice patience.
  6. Again, stick with 30-minute workouts (20 minutes run-walking) until you’re running the entire time and progress the running time from there. This is the key to success as we tend to increase time too quickly, which leads to fatigue and aches and pains.
  7. Alternate your running workouts every other day to allow time to recover before the next run. This reduces the chance of fatigue and aches, and restores your energy for the next run. Fill in the gaps with an optional cross-training workout (yoga, strength, cycling, Zumba, etc.) to keep things fresh and the momentum flowing.

It may seem overwhelming to start back up with running. However, if you keep it real and patiently build by what your body tells you, you’ll be up and running in no time! Good luck, Linda. You can do it.

Go for a Spin

If you’re in the market for a challenging workout, or a cyclist looking for a way to escape Mother Nature’s bad days, indoor cycling may be for you.

Group indoor cycling, or “spinning,” is a fast-paced workout on a stationary bike led by a fitness instructor. This popular fitness trend has stood the test of time; indoor cycling has been around for over 30 years. Spinning classes are available at nearly every gym that offers group fitness, and studios dedicated to indoor cycling are popping up across the country.

Is this fitness phenomenon for you? Here’s what you need to know before you hop on a bike.

Indoor Cycling Basics

Indoor cycling classes are intense, and challenge even hardcore fitness buffs. The workout leaves your heart pumping, legs burning and body dripping with sweat. In a 45 minute class, you’ll burn anywhere from 350 to over 600 calories, depending on your build and how hard you work.

If you’re a fitness newbie, though, don’t let the high intensity of group cycling scare you off. Many gyms offer beginner cycling classes. Keep in mind, too, that you control the speed of your pedal stroke and the resistance on your bike, so you can back off whenever you need a break. Cycling is also non-impact, meaning it won’t harm your knees or other joints.

What to Expect in Class

Most indoor cycling classes last between 45 and 60 minutes, but they can be shorter or longer. Your instructor may dim the lights and crank up the music to create a fun atmosphere. In some classes, a large screen displays a video of a bike course to simulate the feeling of riding on the road.

First, you’ll pedal slowly to warm-up. After that, most of the class will likely be in an interval format. Your instructor will yell out commands or give cues so you know when to switch up your workout. You’ll be asked to pick up or slow down the pace, adjust your resistance (to make it feel like you’re climbing a hill) or come out of the saddle and pedal while standing. You’ll end with a cool-down and stretching session.

Tips for a Smooth Ride

· Tell the instructor before class starts if you are new to cycling. He or she will help you set up your bike, give you tips on technique and summarize what to expect during class.

· Wear proper shoes. Any pair of athletic shoes will work. You can strap your feet into the pedals so you won’t slip mid-ride. If you have special shoes you clip to your road bike, they may also fit certain spinning bikes.

· Invest in bike shorts. Choose a padded pair to reduce the chance of chafing or discomfort during your ride.

· Bring a water bottle. You will sweat a lot during a group cycling class. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout will help you stay properly hydrated.

· Don’t forget a hand towel. Use a hand towel to dry your face or hands throughout the ride and keep yourself more comfortable.

· Consider investing in your own indoor exercise bike to get a great workout in the comfort of your living room.

Have you tried indoor cycling? I remember the first time I took a class. I was expecting an easy ride, but I got an exhilarating — and exhausting — workout!

Sources:

http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2581

http://bicycling.about.com/od/trainingandfitness/gr/spinning.htm

http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/Spin_Your_Way_to_Winter_Fitness.htm

http://north-carolina.flywheelsports.com/why-flywheel