Studio Review: Turnstyle

Today I went to my first spin class in months and my first class in Boston in years. I definitely hold Boston fitness classes to a higher standard than when I am in a small town in Maine or off in a third world country. Unfortunately, my expectations may have led to my disappointment.

I arrived to the studio and was delighted the front desk staff was so friendly and inviting. She provided me with shoes and asked if I needed any help with my bike set-up. Generally I always arrive to classes early but I had trouble finding parking and was right on time. This meant the lights in the classroom had been turned off and it was almost impossible to see. I felt around in the dark for the knobs so I could adjust my bike seat and handlebars. I am not used to such a dark studio but it definitely ensures nobody will be gawking at you or judging you during your workout.

The playlist was perfect for my taste and that is a major key in my spinning motivation and really keeps me from getting bored or tired. The only issue was that the music was louder than the teacher’s microphone so there were many times I couldn’t hear what she was telling us to do but quickly figured it out.

My main disappointment was caused by the “choreography”. The class quickly began out of the saddle and with what looked to me like head banging push ups on the handle bars. I immediately cringed. All I could think of is the unnecessary stress the instructor was putting on her body and the terrible form she was encouraging her students to mimic. This was a trend in the class. There were several different moves that didn’t really improve the workout but I assume they were put in to keep people from getting bored. I tried a couple of the moves but found just focusing on my form and truly engaging my core gave me quite the workout without adding in any compromising moves. We did one song with light dumbbells but only did front raises for about five minutes straight. We brought our arms straight in front of us at shoulder level and just pulsed at different tempos. It seemed silly to only work our shoulders when there are a wide variety of exercises that could have been used but I’m not sure what to think after just one class.

The instructor gave us words of encouragement but not a single cue about form. Most people are in a seated position most of the day, have a forward head from looking at screens and phones, and tight hips that pull on the lower back which means spinning just replicates these bad postural problems. Without proper alignment spinning can do more harm than good, especially when you add in crazy push ups and jerking the head forward.

I have to say that I felt comfortable doing what was best for me and not what the rest of the class was doing, I got a sweaty cardio workout and felt great driving home. I will try Turnstyle again but I will be checking out other instructors in hopes that they do care about form and injury prevention.

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Tabata of the Day

Mountain climbers are a complex exercise. You are in plank position so your arms and shoulders are holding you up while your core and legs are also engaged. Your cardiovascular system is working as you are alternating pulling your knees in towards your chest. The entire body is working hard which is why it is very challenging to do for the full eight rounds that tabata training entails. This is why I have most of my clients alternate just holding plank position with mountain climbers…and even this can be challenging. No matter what your schedule today entails I am sure you can fit four minutes into your day for this four minutes of tabata training!

20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber

This is a great video in case you don’t know what a mountain climber is https://youtu.be/nmwgirgXLYM The only tip I would add to what she is saying is to make sure you keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists. A lot of times I see people with their hands about 6-8 inches ahead of their shoulders. It may feel like it is making the exercise easier but it is placing way too much stress on the shoulder joint.

AMRAP for Beginners

amrap1You can make this workout as hard as you want if you are more advanced but I have also broken down the exercises for very beginners too. This workout requires no equipment so you can do it outside at the park, on the beach or at home. You can save the image onto your phone and pull it out when you need a simple but challenging workout. Even if you aren’t in the mood, try doing just one round of each exercise and see if you are inspired to repeat it or just stop there and at least you did a short workout! I made a YouTube video to take you step-by-step through the beginner variations of the exercises. It is much better to go slow with great form than to speed through them. Take your time, throw on some music you love, and have fun!

 

 

Total Body Tabata

tbt

Short & Sweet workout…well maybe not sweet, let’s replace that with sweaty! Make sure you get warmed up for a few minutes before you get started but that is also why the first exercise is high knees because that will finish off your warm up quite nicely.

Tabata training is performed in intervals working as hard as you possibly can for twenty seconds and resting for ten seconds. During your rest period try to take a couple deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to help slow your heart rate down and prepare for the next round. You repeat this eight times to total four minutes. Take a one minute break in between each exercise. Don’t hold back! You should not be able to work as hard/fast on your last round as you do on your first. If you can that means you are not giving each round 100% effort or perhaps you are a super hero.

High Knees
Low Impact: March in place with high knees as quickly as you can bringing your knee as close to hip level as you can. Make sure to swing your arms too in order to get your heart rate up even more. If you arms are bent at a ninety degree angle then your elbow should be coming up to about shoulder level on the upswing.
High Impact: Run with high knees – same alignment tips as above. You can run in place, around the room, on a treadmill or outside.

Squats
Low Impact: With feet shoulder width apart, sit back as far as you can and try to get your hips down to the same level as your knees. Depending on flexibility and injuries this may not be possible, but go to the point that is comfortable for your body.
High Impact: Take the squats up a notch by turning it into a squat jump. With feet shoulder width apart squat down as low as you can and jump up into the air. Land as soft as you can because landing quietly helps protect your joints instead of jolting them. Try to make the movement fluid by immediately going into a squat rather than pausing in between landing and the next squat.

Mountain Climbers
Low Impact: Got down into plank position on your hands and toes. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Alternate pulling your knees into your chest one at a time and returning the opposite foot back to plank position.
High Impact:  Same as the low impact version but pick up the pace so you are running the knees towards your chest. Remember to keep your butt down! This is still a variation of plank position so imagine your body like a plank of wood and create a straight line from your heels to shoulders.

Bicycle Crunches
Low Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.
High Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet in the air. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide and hold a crunch position with shoulders lifted up off of the floor. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides as quick as you can reaching the opposite leg out as straight and low as you can. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.