Workout of the week: Thursday Night Live cycling
By Aimee Heckel Camera Staff Writer
POSTED: 05/07/2013 09:59:01 AM MDT | UPDATED: ABOUT A YEAR AGO
BreakAway Cycle and Strength Studio
439 Main St., Longmont
Instructor: Zack Hoh, of Longmont. Hoh is a mechanical engineer at Ball Aerospace by day, and a certified indoor cycling instructor by night. He's been certified and teaching since 1998.
He began teaching at BreakAway Cycle when it opened in September.
What is the workout? An indoor cycling class set to live musical concerts and comedy projected on a wide-format screen in the front of the room. The workout is set to a strategic visual and audio soundtrack.
Just because the TV is on doesn't mean this class is easy. If anything, you will be relieved to have the comedic relief to take your mind off your burning thighs for a moment before the music kicks in again. The workouts are on top-of-the-line Schwinn AC Performance bikes with MPower consoles, which provide all kinds of numbers for Hoh to use to help push you through different drills.
Hoh says he wanted to create something that people would look forward to -- something that would make people actually want to come inside, even in the summer in beautiful Boulder County. His drills are realistic for real bike riding, to appeal to people who are passionate about the outdoors, he says. He wanted to combine that with entertainment that makes you feel good.
"I really wanted to create something that felt like an event, something they're look forward to all week," he says.
The classes are organized around a fun theme -- starting with a solid class plan centered around cycling drills, Hoh says.
He says he has spent hundreds of hours gathering video clips and using DVR technology to create an extensive library to pull from.
What's different: I've never heard of a cycling class like this.
Hoh created drills that forced the students to interact (such as asking people to randomly call out "on your left" when we needed to pick it up, to simulate a race). This kept us involved and built camaraderie.
The studio itself is different, too. It feels like a "boutique" fitness studio, with a sleek, modern design, and upscale equipment, lighting and sound -- sparing no expense (including the bikes). When you think of indoor cycling, you usually find a warehouse-style room with cement floors. This space feels more like a luxury spa.
It even offers child care.
The bikes are also different. By providing so many numbers, they allow you to set precise goals, and they allow the instructor to establish a classwide rhythm, while still allowing each individual student to set her own challenges.
What does it cost? So surely a high-end fitness studio with these kind of amenities is going to be over-the-top expensive, right? Here was my biggest surprise: first class is free, and after that, buy a 10-class pass for only $10 per class. Bigger passes can bring classes down to $6 each; that's nearly rec center rates. Definitely one of the cheapest fitness options I've seen around Boulder County, and for one of the nicest studios I've experienced.
When: 6-7 p.m. Thursdays. Each class is different.
Level: All levels. This class is often recommended to new clients and people relatively new to indoor cycling, because the video provides a great distraction. But because you have control over your bike's power (and how many watts you can generate), you can make the class as hard as you want. Because of the challenging drills, Hoh says it also appeals to competitive racers.
I found the class an eight on a 10-point intensity scale. I sweated profusely and pushed myself super hard. But looking back, all I can remember is the fun parts of class. Although my body worked hard, my brain totally didn't know.
What to prepare: Hoh recommends padded bike shorts or a gel seat, and a good pair of bike shoes with a stiff sole. Running shoes are squishy, so they don't transfer the power as comfortably into the pedal, he says.
However, for your first few classes, you can wear shorts (I even wore yoga pants) and regular running shoes. But take it from me: I had to stand up a few extra times, if you know what I mean. Ouch.
If I were a regular, I'd start by getting a pair of padded shorts, and then eventually get shoes. I didn't feel like my shoes caused any discomfort, but then I've never worn bike shoes.
Muscles worked: Cardio ("your aerobic engine," Hoh calls it), legs.
What I loved: Wow, time flew by.
This concept could easily be abused as a way to cheat on a workout (envision the people pretending to work out, standing on a treadmill watching TV and checking Facebook on their phones). But because it is so well structured, it does the exact opposite.
The songs' cadence and energy levels match the demands of the drills. The occasional clip from SNL is a welcomed -- but only fleeting -- escape, while you catch your breath. I found myself barely able to pay attention to the TV, but appreciating its support and encouragement. I mean, something about watching Kid Rock scream across the stage will get my legs moving and heart rate up, anyway.
And yes, Hoh takes music requests.
I also appreciated how much time Hoh spent with me and the other new students before class, making sure we were set up perfectly on our bikes and understood how to use the console, and checking on our personal needs. He checked in with us a few times throughout class, too. This helped me feel confident, comfortable and safe.
If I gave out stars, I'd give him five stars as an instructor.
What I didn't like: This is not a problem; just something to know before you arrive. If you enter from Main Street, the check-in room is in the back. I walked around a little confused when I first arrived, and if you are already nervous about trying a new class, this might put you off a little. Now you know.
How I felt after the class: I had to go home and immediately shower and change my clothes, due to their immense wetness. My legs felt charged up and powerful. And maybe most importantly, my brain felt happy and relaxed. I was afraid that hardcore cardio would increase my cortisol levels after an already stressful day, but instead, I felt relieved and reset.
Also, I burned nearly 400 calories, according to my bike.
-- Reported by Aimee Heckel.