First up is Barbara’s Group Cycling class. My first wonderment as I enter the studio is about the temperature. Yesterday, the unit that serves this room had a compressor fail. No compressor – no cool air. The Friday classes had to contend with doing their rides in a sauna-like environment. Sorry about that. We’ve been working with a mechanical engineer and an expert on system controls to evaluate whether the room needs a new unit altogether or it’s just a matter of making the unit we have work properly. We’ll have an answer soon I hope. Anyway, our service company (Gibbs) apparently got the compressor replaced last night because the room is cool this morning.
The beautiful spring weather has kept down the usual crowd that comes to Barbara’s classes. This morning there are only seven of us but that’s fine with me. Everyone in the room is an experienced group cyclist and I’m sure they’re ready for a tough workout.
Barbara is renowned for having really great music and offering a hard class. She’s on her game today and moving us from one hard exercise to the next with a minimum of rest in between. There’s plenty of variety too – a sprint here, a climb there, an interval and so on.
Barbara isn’t a loud motivator, her style is to quietly implore us to dig a little deeper. She challenges us to challenge ourselves and do the work “because we can”. It’s an effective technique for me and I push on ever harder.
One of the things that Barbara does that I really like is a quick check-in every fifteen minutes to see what our average watts and heart rate is (we have to stop our peddles for a few seconds to get our averages and that’s a side benefit). After the second check, I see that if I really push through to the end, I’m going to set an all-time high for average watts. I know what you’re thinking but I’m not on a “magic” bike, I’ve come to the point where I avoid those if possible because I can’t compare my progress when I’m on one. Instead, I’m on a regular ‘ol bike and even with tired legs I’m nearing my best watt’s score.
On the last song, Barbara plays one of those songs that make you feel like you’re in the middle of an epic film or battle and that your personal effort is needed to win the day. The song is very familiar but I don’t know where or when I’ve heard it before. Anyway, I’m pushing and pushing and as we near the end, the effort is actually bringing tears. It’s an odd but not unpleasant experience – perhaps it’s the stirring music or maybe I’m just so worn out that I’m an emotional mess.
Soon enough the song ends and we begin our cool down but not before stopping to check our numbers. My average watts are 148 - a record number for me – my average heart rate is 136, which ties my previous high. I realize, by the way, that for a real cyclist, my watts numbers are a joke but the great thing about these classes and exercise in general is that it’s all about competing (if that’s what you want to call it) against oneself and no one else. The purpose of keeping track of our numbers it simply to notice when/if we’ve gotten stronger and/or more fit. It definitely will happen if we stick with it.
Well, no rest for the weary. During stretching I have to excuse myself to run down the hall to change clothes for the Nia class, which starts in a few minutes. I ask Barbara to handle the drawing for the $25 gift certificate. The winner is Annette Prieur.