By Christie Melhorn, March 14 2017 —
The teasing bouts of warm weather in Calgary hint at the coming of spring. On those sunny, above-zero days, I feel an urge to release my bike from the corner of the garage. But until the snow and ice turn into harmless puddles, I generally prefer to keep my workouts indoors. To scratch my itch for a bike ride, I recently tried a spin class at Peloton Cycling. My first experience at Peloton not only satisfied my craving but gave me a quick, killer workout that deserves a place in a student’s schedule.
Located just off 10 Ave. and 10 St. SW, Peloton’s proximity to the downtown core charges it with liveliness. The excitement of this buzz definitely helped as I rolled in for my 7:00 a.m. class. With its wooden furnishings and dark blue colour scheme, Peloton is a humble yet sleek studio that welcomes people of all skill levels to go for a ride. In the main part of the studio, rows of high-end stationary bicycles are arranged at different levels to ensure that riders at the back can view the instructor. These face a large screen behind a solo stationary bicycle where an instructor guides the class. Parallel to the bikes is a long wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that invite natural light and great people-watching during recovery intervals. However, privacy is maintained by a slanted wooden wall between the bikes and the windows, which offers a nice compromise between feeling engaged with your surroundings without being put on display.
Before my class started, our instructor assisted me and the other new spinners with adjusting our bikes to an appropriate level. She explained that the simple act of adjusting your seat can greatly affect the enjoyment and effectiveness of your workout. As the class began, we spent the first few minutes entering basic information about age, gender and workout goals into the machines. This is where I messed up — I entered unnecessary information about my target heart rate that ended up throwing off my ride a little bit. I still had a great workout, but this illuminated the importance of following the instructor’s directions.
Once we were all set to go, we kicked off our High Intensity Interval Training cardio session. We began with a warmup that helped loosen the legs, engage the core and elongate the spine. During this time, our instructor showed us how to read the numbers on our machines’ screens to know our intensity levels. She used these numbers to guide us through the intervals of high and low intensity that constituted our ride. Mentally and physically, this prepared me for an engaging workout.
The “sprint” intervals threaded with more moderate cycling created a nice heart rate fluctuation. According to bodybuilding.com, exercises that elevate and dip your heart rate speed up the fat-burning process, offering optimal results from your workout. This is an added bonus, as I find that it also keeps a workout from feeling repetitive.
At Peloton, the music and visuals on the front screen lined up nicely with the flow of our ride. Our sprints matched with fast
segments of a song and our approach to the “top” of a steep incline tied in with the build-up to a satisfying chorus. This effective mind-body engagement was fun, rewarding and made time fly by.
Healthandfitnessrevolution.org explains that the low-impact nature of spin makes it easy on the joints without being too easy of a workout. Depending on how hard you go, it is possible to burn 700 calories in 45 minutes to an hour of spinning. I clocked in at about half of that number. However, 350 calories is still nothing to scoff at, especially considering I botched my machine at the start.
On top of that, I found the social environment not only offered an extra surge of endorphins to fuel my workout, but also made me feel accountable to work hard. I wanted to keep up with the others around me. Some friendly competition is always a motivating and engaging way to pump up a workout.
However, as I was slightly unprepared for the class, this also came at a small cost to me. I was pretty groggy when I showed up and didn’t realize I could rent shoes to clip into the pedals of my bike. I had a couple of hilariously cartoonish moments where I would get a little ahead of myself and send my feet flying right off the pedals. I sheepishly had to bring my legs up to avoid the
wind-milling pedals below me. While riding in your runners is fine, clipping in would have offered a smoother workout and allowed me to channel my aggression properly.
My morning spin at Peloton gave me a satisfying endorphin kick that set me up for a successful day. The warm and thorough guidance of our instructor made me feel welcomed despite my minimal experience. The social element simultaneously offered a sense of comfort and challenge — I enjoyed sharing the experience with others and also wanted to prove I can work hard. Between the studio’s downtown location, positive energy and the early time slot of my class, I felt both connected to Peloton’s spinning community and to city as a whole.
If you’re keen on trying a class, the drop-in rate is $19 for a one-time session. However, the studio offers newcomers two weeks of unlimited classes for $50. This would be a great way to destress during exam period, which is not too far off. Monthly passes are available from $130–$450 depending on the length of time you purchase. As students with unpredictable schedules, numerous class bundles ranging from $85–$290 are also appealing. These allow you to attend class whenever it’s convenient for you without worrying about an expiry date.
A free class can also be earned if you volunteer for a four-hour shift at the studio. While this may seem like a large time commitment, especially with papers and exams looming, this could offer just the right social and physical break. Volunteering and taking the class could introduce you to a new, vibrant community and equally nourishing form of exercise that can alleviate the pressure of student life.