Indoor training: how to survive spinning


It’s winter, it’s dark and it’s cold. The last thing you might want to do is take your bike for a ride in the rain, no matter how hardcore you think you are. Well, Punctureking struggles with winter and barely keeps in shape, well short of hibernating for a few month might be the better description. However, this year is the winter to stay fit (my goal…), so I have been looking for options to train before work.

Sufferfest: sounds like some dodgy fetish production, but is actually a really good series of high quality training movies to download and watch while on your indoor trainer at home. I used the “revolver” interval training format few weeks. The problem with indoor trainers is the fact that you are on your own, possibly in your garage, wedged between the tool bench and the wheelie bin, which in my case is the stand for my iPad showing the training movie. Hardly an environment that motivates you to train hard and long.


I signed up for a cheap gym membership and have taken part in their spinning classes. The big risk here is that the level of enjoyment of your training depends strongly on your trainer – in my first session, the trainer played Jon Bon Jovi and the Bee Gees, which made me long back to my garage. The music has improved since.

Taking your own cycling shoes makes a big difference too – gym spinning bikes usually have SPD pedals on the one side and straps on the other. Being properly clipped in makes spinning at 120rpm much safer. I thought I was fairly cycling fit – and couldn’t walk two days after my first session.

You will sweat a lot, as there is no wind cooling you down – and there aren’t a lot of relaxing breaks in between (i.e. downhill free wheeling…). My favourite part is interval training: 1 minute a 10/10, 1 minute at 3/10 effort level. Repeat 10 or 15 times and you are going to struggle to walk home.

Does indoor cycling ever compete with the real thing? Probably not, simply because are stuck in one place, you don’t smell the fresh morning air and there is no wind in your hair. However, from the training point of  view indoor spinning classes are great, time saving and a great addition to your training.

What bike to use – the Wattbike is probably the most sophisticated indoor bicycle available. It copies a almost realistic cycling feeling and uses air and magnets for resistance. Its computer monitors all key data such as power output, cadence, heart rate or the effectiveness of your pedaling. A number of cycling teams use the Wattbike for measuring and comparing athletes’ output. The software can analyse your workout on your computer, and it comes with a race mode, where you can actually compete with other users. Best thing is the fact that you can set it up properly to simulate the exact same position your enjoy on your “real” bike. Wattbike is being introduced to South Africa at the moment – and I can’t wait for my local gym to get a few of these. We’ll run a proper review once we got our hands on one of these.



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