Photo: Soul Cycle
For most of us, the speed of go-go-go is pretty much the status quo. It is true at work and often the minute we leave the office. And usually, it is true of our workouts. After all, the rise of boutique fitness was built on the concept that they get you in and out within an hour and sweat and burn as many calories as possible so you can get back to the next part of your day.
That is why it is so interesting that the uber-popular spin workout SoulCycle just launched a class that is all about letting your heart rate completely drop so you can recover before you move on to the next challenge (which in this case is pushing against a lot of resistance at a high speed).
It is called SoulActivate and though you are still on the bike and listening to awesome music, this is actually very different from a typical 45-minute classic SoulCycle class.
Pushing yourself to recovery
In the standard SoulCycle class, the goal is to keep your heart rate up the entire time. In Activate, which is a full hour, it combines the intense cycling with strength training utilizing both light and heavy weights during multiple arm series, timed heart rate variation and then something different: Intentional recovery.
This portion is designed to work the body’s various energy systems and ultimately burn fat and build endurance. You are pushing extremely hard but then allowing yourself to recover. You take a break.
As someone who tried the class and is a regular SoulCycler (the word addict has maybe been used a few times), I can say that this felt significantly different from a regular class and it also felt awesome. But it did take some getting used to as running at top speed with no breaks is what I am used to.
Christina Phillips, a Senior SoulCycle instructor and one of the instructors for SoulActivate, said the new elements that have been incorporated including high-intensity timed intervals, heavier weight training and less focus on the rhythm with more focus on resistance “forces riders to dig deeper, mentally and physically, and push even harder, but also intentionally recover and find strength in the calm moments.”
“These recovery moments almost become meditative amongst such demanding elements of the class,” Phillips added. “This is also great practice for outside the studio walls, finding strength in your calm and power when you need it the most.”
Taking breaks is beneficial
In a society where more than half (54%) of Americans didn’t take all their vacation days last year, the idea of taking a moment whether it is a walk outside or not eating lunch at your desk is foreign to some but it can have real benefits. A study found that watching an entertaining video or even looking at nature for one minute can improve employee performance.
Stephen Covey writes in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” about the “sharpening the saw” theory in which if the woodcutter never takes a break and just keeps cutting wood his saw will only get duller. He needs to pause and sharpen the saw so he can get more done.
Phillips said, “My hope is that riders leave feeling grounded, stronger and connected to their inner athlete, empowered by their efforts and ready to take on any challenge that comes their way.”
Sounds like a good way to approach your work as well (just leave the spandex at home.)