Kelly Hendrickson, front, made adjustments to her bicycle settings during the cycling class at the Albert Lea Family Y on Friday. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

You spin me right round

Published 1:03pm Saturday, March 19, 2011

The new indoor cycling class at the Albert Lea Family Y offers a cycling experience far from that of the typical stationary indoor bike ride.

In fact, it’s more like a competitive outdoor race. One minute, cyclers are “sprinting,” or pedaling extremely fast with little resistance. The next minute, it’s like they are on an uphill trek, standing and pedaling, fighting a lot of resistance. All the while with the cycle staying in one place and one position.

Barb Haeska, far right, cycles during spin class at the Albert Lea Family Y on Friday.

Indoor cycling classes, known to many as spinning classes, offer a full cardiovascular workout with different levels of resistance, maximizing the workout experience. Through the tempo of the music and changing of resistance, one can go from a “regular ride” to up a hill, jumping and sprinting, which gives the variety in cardio and resistance.

Kelly Hendrickson, front, participated in spinning class at the Albert Lea Family Y on Friday.

“It’s a nice cross-train for people who like to run or swim,” said Bill Villarreal, sports and fitness director at the Albert Lea Family Y. “Plus, you burn a ton of calories, get your heart rate up there and maximize your workout.”

The first session of indoor cycling classes began at the local Y three weeks ago, and the classes filled up quickly. Ten machines are full for each of the four different classes each week. Each class meets twice a week, with some classes running 45 minutes and others a full hour.

Each of the five instructors offer up a different kind of cycling experience to those taking their classes, from the music to the pace. Participants follow instructions, taking the resistance up or down with the slight move of a small lever on the console. Unlike switching gears on a regular indoor or outdoor bicycle, a magnetic resistance system makes the transition a very smooth ride.

“It’s easier on my knees and it’s a great workout — it gets my heart to a good rate,” said Steve Wiese, a marathon runner who was attending his second class on Friday. “It’s also a good diversion from running.”

His wife, Lee Wiese, agreed.

Lee Wiese, far right, cycles during spin class at the Albert Lea Family Y on Friday.

“It’s an intense cardio workout and something new that changes it up — it keeps you excited about your workout, ” she said. “It’s a great way to stay in shape and works your mind, spirit and body,” she said.

Participants monitor several things during their workout on a small digital device on the console, which tracks distance, RPM, watts and heart rate.

Although indoor cycling classes have been popular in metro areas for a few years now, the Albert Lea location just began offering the classes about three weeks ago. Villarreal had been researching the classes for about five years, but it took time to get funding to purchase the 10 new Kaiser M3 indoor cycles. They were purchased using grant funding through a collaboration among the Y, Albert Lea Medical Center and the Albert Lea Area Schools.

Aside from being a new variety of workout, Villarreal said the classes have been popular because there’s little — if any — level of intimidation for those who participate.

Ryan Palmer, left, concentrates on his pace during the cycling class at the Albert Lea Family Y on Friday.

“A person walking by wouldn’t know the difference between what gears everyone’s using, because it’s all at your own rate,” Villarreal said. “A professional biker could be next to you and it would look like you were doing the exact same thing.”

Because the classes have been so popular, Villarreal already has his sights set on purchasing 10 more bikes in the next year. Classes are currently held in a former conference room to the right side of the main entrance. He could knock out the wall and expand into the room next to it.

He also hopes to add a variation of indoor cycling classes by fall, including a karaoke class. That would include a karaoke machine and a screen in the front, and everyone in the class would sing karaoke while cycling.

“It makes you breathe more, you get good rhythm and it breaks up the monotony,” Villarreal said. “Before you know it, you’ve worked out for an hour and had a great time.”

Aside from the classes, Villarreal is also using the cycles with high school students for conditioning during the off-season.