Tales from a Flycycle Neophyte

Ever a glutton for punishment, I went back for my second dose of pain at Flycycle. I even got a poser picture for the memories because I am never ever coming back…

Tales from a #Flycycle neophyte - we came, we rode, we posed. #poser #spinning #cardiofitness #workout

…except, of course, that I will. Didn’t I just say I’m a glutton for punishment?

I was all prepared to take another beating and crawl home with my tail between my legs – but… it was okay. I don’t know if our instructor just decided to go easy on us; whether the routine suited me better than the previous one; whether the extra breakfast I had gave me the added boost; or whether it was just in inexplicably good day for me. The funny thing is that even though I felt better than I did last week, my Polar Beat heart rate stats state otherwise. There were a number of times when I exceeded the recommended maximum heart rate for my age (oops, did I just give my age away? Shhhh).

Flycycle beginners workout

Even when I compared the same stats – Apple Watch vs Apple Watch – I was still tracking higher this week compared to last week:

  • Average heart rate – 158 vs 143
  • Maximum heart rate – 185 vs 179

Flycycle round 2

Last week, I didn’t even cross over into the red line and I felt like I was dying. This week, I hit the red zone and I didn’t feel it. Well, okay, I lie. I did feel it but not as badly as last week. I actually felt like I was keeping up with the class for the bulk of it. So what’s going on and why should I be concerned?

Up until the Mamil gave me a heart rate monitor, I’d never really bothered with stats. I would push myself when I exercise, but rarely to the point of nausea. I listened to my body and I stopped when things are starting to feel bad. I never really considered the whole maximum heart rate issue because I was sensible – or so I thought. It was until I realised how easy it is to exceed my maximum heart rate without realising it.

So what’s the deal with maximum heart rate and why should we be concerned about exercising in the right target zone? According to Live Strong:

Exceeding 85% of your maximum heart rate is hazardous to your health because it can precipitate a heart attack. A 2002 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that exceeding the 85 percent recommendation leads to poor heart-rate recovery (it takes longer for heart rate to return to normal) which is a measure of cardiovascular fitness. The study also revealed increased incidence of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia and ST-segment depression among people exceeding the 85 percent recommendation, both of which are indicators of increased risk for cardiac mortality.

Even if you don’t have coronary artery disease or risk factors for a heart attack, it is still not a good idea to exceed 85% of your maximum heart rate because you are more likely to suffer sore joints and muscles and it raises your risk for a musculo-skeletal injury. It also puts you at risk for over-training which weakens the systems in your body get instead of making them stronger. In turn, that leads to increased fatigue and decreased performance. Over-training also makes you more prone to injury and illness.

Although there is some challenge to the maximum heart rate, I’m afraid my Mamil’s kiasi-ism has infected me. I am well aware that age is no longer on my side and some caution is warranted. Since I am looking for health and fitness rather than sports performance, there is little sense in killing myself to match the class pace and intensity.

Will I don my cleated shoes again after this? Perhaps, I will.

Flycycle at the Verve

There’s a new fitness gym at the Verve called Flycycle. It’s basically a studio devoted to spin classes with a spin (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). Anyway, here’s what they have to say about their classes:

“…we take indoor-spinning to the next level by combining dynamic 45 minute full-body workouts, neon lighting and the latest beats. Our adrenaline-charged high intensity sessions are specially designed to strengthen your body, tone your core and burn calories.”

Ordinarily, this is the sort of gym I stay far away from. I’ll be honest – I’ve never liked spin classes and the only association I have with bikes are leisurely rides through a picturesque countryside. My Mamil husband has been trying to convince me to get on a bike for the longest time and I have resisted thus far.

Then a friend asked me to join her. Keep her company – she said. Stupidly, I did.

Signing Up for Flycycle

I must be getting old because I managed to bungle up the sign-up process which was clearly too tech-savvy for the likes of me. For newbies, this is the order that things must be done in:

  1. Sign up to create an account
  2. Purchase miles – in other words, buy a pass for your class. 1 mile = 1 class.
  3. Book a bike – reserve your slot for your desired class at your preferred date and time.

You cannot book a bike until you purchase miles. You cannot rock up on the day to attend a class without booking a bike first – although you could do it on a smartphone if there are still empty spots available.

Newbie Package

If this is your first time ever, you can purchase the “first fliers” package which gives you two classes for the price of one.

Newbie Welcome

First timers are encouraged to attend class 15 minutes earlier so the studio manager can help you get acquainted with the way things work. They’ll show you how to adjust your bike, where to get your towels and weights, and how to clip in and clip out of your pedals because you’ll be riding with cleated cycling shoes.

If you don’t know what cleated cycling shoes are, they are just special biking shoes that have these clips under the ball of your foot that clips onto the bike pedals so your foot doesn’t slip off while you’re pedaling. The Mamil has them but that doesn’t mean I know anything about getting them on or off the bike. Plus it’s so dark in there, I don’t even know what I’m doing half the time.

Perhaps it was my air of confidence or maybe I was supposed to flag down the studio manager personally but I didn’t get the welcoming memo. Thankfully, I was next to a lovely lady who showed me all those little things.

  • Bike Seat – needs to be hip height.
  • Distance from Bike Seat to Handlebars – should be the length of your forearm from elbow to fingertips.
  • Handlebar Height – needs to be slightly higher than your bike seat.
  • Clipping in – align the ball of your foot onto the pedal and push down and forward until you feel it “click” in.
  • Clipping out – twist your heel to the side until it comes lose.

Paying to Get Tortured

It was only a beginners class and I thought I was dying! I mean, I can’t believe people pay to have this done to them. Oh wait, I did that.

I left the Polar Beat at home so these were the stats I managed to record with the Apple Watch:


I must confess that this is probably not even an accurate depiction of the workout because I cheated. Instead of increasing the resistance by full turns like I was supposed to, I did three quarter half alright! quarter turns. If we had been a group of bikers on the road, I would have been left in the dust a long time ago. Our instructor would tell us to pick up the tempo, but my legs just would not go faster. I couldn’t even match pace at my reduced resistance! And that threw me out because I couldn’t follow the rhythm – if everyone counted 4, I probably did 3 actually make that 2.

They say that you can dissociate your head from your body and imagine that the pain your body endures is not really happening to you. I tried that. It didn’t work. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. The only light at the end of the tunnel was that the class runs for 45 minutes. Not that it stopped me looking at my watch every two minutes to count down the minutes to the end of class. And now I have one more “mile” to go before I can officially hang up my cleated shoes.

Weekend Biker: Back in the Saddle

Love is…

Getting up at an ungodly hour on the weekend to go biking with your partner even though you would much rather negotiate with the sandman for a dream instead.

The hubs finally convinced me to go biking one Sunday morning when the roads in the city were closed for KL Car Free Morning.

My very brief riding career ended after the Malakoff Duathlon back in 2006 – I haven’t been back on a bike since. It seems like every time I go biking, I always return home unable to sit down without a significant level of discomfort. Having learned to ride a bike on a BMX, I don’t think I ever really got used to the idea of being so high off the ground. I normally like to ride with the seat in the lowest position possible so I can put my feet on the ground while still on the saddle but the correct seat height should be when your leg is almost in full extension when the pedal is at its lowest point – that usually means that you have to get off the saddle when you want to stop.

So you can bet that I wasn’t feeling very confident when I went biking with the hubs. It figures because I stacked it in the car park before I even got onto my bike – another reason not to go biking ever again.


But… I did managed to clock in something like 9.5km and I wasn’t in too much pain the next day so maybe we’ll go again? Or maybe I’ll just stick to the scooter and the waterrower?

Although… there are some really great benefits for biking that are hard to resist:

  • It burns a lot of calories. A 60kg woman pedaling 20-22 km/h can burn as much as 488 calories in 60 minutes. Now you can have your cake and eat it too – well, a slice of it anyway.
  • You can do it on the go – bike to work, to the corner store, at the park with the kids…
  • It tones your whole body and works all your muscles – especially if your route includes hills.
  • It energises you because it triggers the release of dopamine – a chemical messenger in the brain responsible for elevating mood and other things. I think a qualifier is required, though – they say that pedaling at a low to moderate pace works best. I would also add that biking too hard has the opposite effect. If you’re feeling tired after your exercise, chances are you’ve pushed too hard. Also, many other forms of exercise can elevate those dopamine levels so you don’t necessarily have to go biking to feel energised.
  • It’s easy on the joints – especially if your bike is fitted properly – unlike walking or running which puts stress on your knees, ankles and spine.
  • It’s good for the heart – especially if you ride at a moderate to high intensity 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Again, I think same goes for a number of other forms of exercise.
  • It’s a good exercise to start on if you’re overweight because it’s easier on your joints.
  • Daily biking is a great way to fight that middle-age spread that hits the waistline.
  • Biking outdoors is a greater workout than using a stationary bike because of changes in the terrain and wind resistance.

Hmmm… maybe I’ll try it again. Maybe. If only to get a little more tone in these legs and to curb this expanding waistline…