I went to a group cycling class yesterday afternoon in lieu of an outside ride (it was cold, windy, and my road bike was still in pieces in the back of the subaru from last weekend - good excuses, eh?). I hadn't been to one in a while and thought it'd be nice to let someone else motivate me for once. I ended up getting a pretty good workout, but likely won't be back. Here's why:
First of all, it's not really anything like outdoor cycling. Although i could clip in, the geometry of the bike - despite several possible adjustments - didn't allow for quite the same body positioning i was used to.
Secondly - there's a huge difference in workout structure that i just couldn't get past. We did lots of standing intervals, often with such a high resistance that exaggerated side to side stomping was both required and encouraged. The duration of these ranged from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. In addition we did lots of 'up and downs' - four revolutions standing, four sitting for example. These are 'ok' until you get down to one and one - which is awkward to say the least. i just couldn't wrap my mind around the benefit of these.
Then there's the unexpected way my ego responded to the setting, which ultimately is probably why i won't return. Training, for me, needs to be accompanied by some measure of external validation. The best source of this is personal - measuring a current session against some past performance to gain immediate feedback. I had no feedback yesterday. No HR monitor, no 'calculated speed' - nothing but my own sense of perceived exertion which i'm loathe to rely too heavily on. To make matters worse (as far as the ego is concerned) - i was surrounded by lots of other people, all seemingly doing the same workout. At the times when i felt like i was about to vomit - right after we'd spent 90 seconds at 90% (whatever that means) resistance, trying to stay on tempo with the music - i'd look up and see through teary eyes burning with sweat two women laughing and chatting (a little too loudly) in the corner. The more i suffered, the more energy i spent wondering if everyone else was working as hard as i was and then for my ego's sake convincing myself that the answer was no.
My wife will cringe if she reads this and tell me i should let it go, not worry about the other folks, and just ride my ride. She's right of course, but as worthwhile as transcending the ego might be, it's never easy. So next time i think i will just ride my ride - of course i'll have to put my bike back together first.....