Monday, January 30, 2012

What's in a name? Possibly EVERYTHING.

I once announced that I was doing an endurance ride during the next class, to which I was then asked, "How long and steep is that?"

I coach at one of the "big box" gyms, which poses a couple of obstacles that you might not see at either a Spinning® only studio, or even some smaller gyms.  The clientel is wildly diverse, from those that have never set foot in a gym and can't spell cardio, to those serious athletes that are training to compete in the next Ironman.  What this means is that everyone that pretty much comes to a Spinning® class has heard the horror stories about how tough it is and that it's gonna push you; which can be completely right.  But here's the thing, there's a difference between working out and training, and the difference isn't what you might think.  Most would say that training is towards some goal type event like a race.  The real difference is working out just means you're going to exercise and most likely sweat, where training means you have a goal in mind and you know what steps are needed to reach that goal.  So maybe your goal is to lose weight instead of running a race; it's still a goal.

So enter Spinning's Endurance Energy Zone.  Without further definition you might have the same impression that the member in my studio had, "How long and steep is that?"  Well maybe we should call it a Fat-Burning Session (FBS) instead, and maybe that will get more butts in the saddle.

Here's what happens during a typical FBS ride.  It conditions your body to be more efficient at metabolizing fat stores and maintain a comfortable pace for extended periods.  This will help your body to increase it's aerobic capacity and resist fatigue.  You'll also see, if you have the right heart rate monitor, that your percentage of calories burned during your session will have a larger portion from fat than from any other ride.  Sure you may burn more calories in a kick-ass Interval session where 35% of your calories come from fat, but you may be better off doing an Endurance (FBS) where you can reach 45-50% of your calories coming from fat stores.

So why aren't these sessions taught more often?  Simple answer is, "They're boring."  Look at the Spinning® manual or talk with other instructors and they'll tell you that you HAVE to stay in the saddle for the entire time and maintain a steady pace.  This is both TRUE and FALSE.  If you're a road cyclist, you would want to maintain that steady pace, but you're also going to be doing it for 2+ hours getting ready for your next centennial ride.  But if you're simply a Spinner that is trying to get into shape then what you really have to be concerned with where your heart rate is, and per the Spinning® guidelines you can be between 65-80% of your max heart rate.  So you should be able to switch positions, breaking up the monotony of sitting in the saddle IF you watch you don't elevate your heart rate too much.

Time to ante up!
You already bought the cool looking top and shorts, heck you even have one of those eco-friendly stainless steel water bottles (that you usually leave at home and have to buy a water bottle on your way to the gym), but you're still guessing what your heart rate is.  If your a coach, that's totally unacceptable; time to lead by example.  But if you're a participant, you might want to reconsider your next fitness investment and funnel those funds towards a chest strap type heart rate monitor (don't even bother with the cheap ones that require you to put your fingers on two touch pads to check your pulse, they're not worth wasting your money.)

Expect to pay something between $70-$200 depending on what features you want and where you purchase from.  I would suggest you do a little research before hand to make sure you get what you want. 

My must have features include:
  • Heart rate (displayed as a percentage, not just bpm)
  • Record peak and average intensity during session
  • Coded transmitter (so you don't read someone else's pulse)

I'm currently using the FT7 shown here, but it's also my 3rd unit, my 2nd Polar brand.  I gave the previous one to my daughter, and the other I sold to a friend because I wanted a coded transmitter. 

Now back to the ride, IF there are those in your class that don't want to do the Endurance ride, not a problem; tell them they simply need to increase the resistance (not the cadence) and now they have an awesome Strength ride.  This also applies to those without heart rate monitors, so what if you accidentially go to high on your heart rate, you've simply changed to a strength ride, which is still better than sitting in front of the coach eating potato chips.

Download ENDURANCE 004 profile

Click on the heart rate chart above to download this profile as an Adobe file

 Class Builder File included in the above download
Requires the Class Builder app

Apple iTunes

Get the Class Builder app - Exclusively from iTunes

Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion
Class Builder™ by Cycling Fusion is simply the best indoor cycling app I've found.  This app let's you design, document and then ride each of your profiles. Designed for the fitness professional, this app handles both Pre- and Post- class music as well as a slide show (if interfaced with a monitor or projector).


  1. Hate the chest straps - recently saw a monitor that fits the forearm, and the reviewer said it is accurate. i think it was on

  2. Eddie, I'll have to check that out. Thanks!

  3. I think it's the ePulse2 unit by Impact Sports Technologies. I found lots of reviews on it on Amazon. Looks like it's accurate but it must consume some serious battery power because it uses rechargeable batteries and says that you can get 6 hours of life, although reviewers reported significantly less. Probably still very viable for a typical Spinning session, but for me I'd forget to charge the battery and be out of luck.

    They look reasonably priced around $100-150.

    Eddie, if you get one, would you be willing to write a review I could post on