How a bike that goes nowhere transported me back to fitness

As a super uncoordinated kid with no visible aptitude for any sport I ever tried it’s fair to say I was never what you’d consider a natural athlete.

Team sports were never my thing – no one wants to be the person who causes the rest of the team to emit an involuntary groan when the ball comes your way! – but fortunately by the time I hit my early 20’s Jane Fonda did her thing and I’d discovered the fitness endorphin rush that donning a fluoro g-string leotard and claiming a space up the back of a Step aerobics class could deliver.

I moved on from the fluoro leotard but group fitness classes remained my cardio of choice for the next 20 years until two things combined to make that challenging. The amount of travel I was doing was continually increasing, meaning my workout schedule was constantly getting interrupted as I just wasn’t home often enough to attend classes regularly enough. This resulted in a brief flirtation with running, which has the positive of being able to be done anywhere, but the negative of me absolutely hating it.

Maybe I could have overcome that, but when an unfortunate trampolining injury saw me in a moon boot and crutches for 4 months, running and any other high impact cardio was off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Four to six months of enforced inactivity while the ankle healed up left me grumpy, tired and mentally flat. I feel better when I exercise, I have more energy, I can think more clearly and I can definitely cope much better with frequent travel and time zone changes.

I was desperate to find something that would work once my ankle got the all clear, and tried out a Soul Cycle class when I was in New York. I’d done a lot of Les Mills RPM classes back in the day, but this was definitely next level. I was hooked, and headed straight for Soul Cycle every time I was in the US. Unfortunately that didn’t solve the problem of what to do in Australia, where Les Mills was still what was on offer (& looking more than a little tired 20 years on….) and also came with the challenge of making the 3 early morning classes on the gym schedule each week work in with my travel to deliver any kind of consistent workout.

We were in Hawaii over Christmas in 2015 when Stuart showed me an article on Peloton, a new company selling at home spin bikes with screens attached that streamed up to 8 classes daily from their New York studio. We were going to be in New York that Easter, so I filed it away and we went in to check it out. I took a class, we bought the bike, spent nearly as much as the cost of the bike again to ship it to Australia, and got it set up.

I loved the bike from the get go, the classes were great and I loved that the metrics on the bike let you know just how hard you were working. There’s no option to fake it when the instructor gives you a resistance number like there is when they call out ‘add a quarter turn’!

The other huge benefit was that the thousands of classes in the on demand library meant I could work out whenever suited me, I could literally just walk downstairs and pick an instructor and a class that appealed.

That said, it took until later in 2016 for me to really lock into a use pattern that worked for me. I downloaded the app, which meant I could continue to workout consistently while I was traveling so long as I had my phone and a hotel gym with a bike. I also discovered Heart Rate Training, which gave me structure and a program to follow rather than just picking any random workout that appealed and in 2017 really rediscovered my fitness mojo.

I’ve just done my 300th class on bikes that go nowhere, whether that be my own beautiful bike at home, hotel gym bikes of varying degrees of quality,

and a few live in the Peloton studio itself in New York.

I’ve found the workout that works for me – I get twitchy if I have to go a couple of days without a class – and I’m in the best health I’ve been in for years, which is so important when I’m doing more travel across more time zones than ever before.¬† ¬†These were my stats for 2017 and I can’t wait to beat them in 2018!

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