As we end the year, we may start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. This year, I encourage you to find a way to track and to measure your progress in keeping them. Being fit should always start on the inside, and when the outside starts to look nice, that’s a great bonus, but getting the inside right and strong and healthy is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. How do we get there? We need to track our progress. Not only does that provide daily little incentives and victories, but it is a way for us to keep ourselves honest and on point. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice— just go out and sweat — the results will come. True to a point…. but over time, if you’re not holding yourself accountable to a standard, and trying to raise that standard on a regular basis, you’re not going to improve where you are.
Those who know me well, also know my dirty little secret: I didn’t used to enjoy spinning. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the exercise, or revere the sport. I understand why other people liked it - the beats, the hum of the wheels, the sexy form on a bike… I get it. I just needed more details- way, way more details. Like, where are we going? How long are we going to be there? How long are we going up this hill? How fast and how hard are we working? Tell me to turn a quarter rotation, what is a quarter anyway? My quarter and your quarter may be different (“You say tomayto, I say tomahto”). After the quarters, and the fulls, and the three-quarters, and then the turns to the left and back to the right again, I have absolutely no idea where I have ended up - and I crave information. I need more tracking.
Enter Swerve. Swerve is a cycling studio started by three former finance executives. So they get the concept of numbers and tracking. Also, they get teamwork. From the moment I got on the bike, I knew this was going to be different. First - each bike has its own small computerized panel, which tells you exactly how fast you are going (RPM), and what your power (resistance, you know, those “turns” referenced above) is. Then, and this is where it gets fun for me, there are tv screens which track your progress as a team - so the camaraderie aspect becomes essential. You sweat and high five your way through a 45 minute session with lots of details. The instructor tells you what the beat of the song is, and your goal is to ride to that beat! Then he suggests a range for your sprinting speeds, and what your power should be. He also explains how long you will be doing each move (45 second sprint out of the saddle, 45 seconds in the saddle, then uphill for a minute, etc). You have an individual score, and a team score, and the coolest part is, after your session, Swerve emails you individually what your stats for that class were. So you have something tangible to keep working towards. And, something nifty to post on social media to prove your awesomeness. Needless to say, I became addicted after the first class and I am now a weekly participant.
But why is this important? It’s still spinning, Swerve didn’t change the exercise for me, but they changed the game, which made all the difference in my interest level. As someone who is drawn to progress i can touch, measure, and track, this modification actually drew me in to a sport I had previously dismissed. When I go to my favorite Bootcamp class, I know down to the 1/10th what my maximum speed on the treadmill is. For an information junkie like me, a Woodway treadmill is a fantastic yardstick for my daily type A fitness competitions with myself. Same thing in Cross Fit classes. I aim for a certain number of reps, or weight. Each time you enter a fitness studio, you should aim to be aware of what you want to technically get out of that class. I don’t want to take away from the sheer beautiful enjoyment of finding an exercise you love and getting out there and putting your heart and soul into it for the sake of pure fitness. Some days let’s be honest, we just need to sweat, it’s our therapy, it’s our happy place. But as regular fitness goers who are looking to improve our endurance, or our strength, or for those just starting a fitness routine, and are setting out to achieve new goals, finding a method of tracking them can be crucial. I encourage you to set resolutions, and set goals - not just for New Year's but all year round. And track them! It makes fitness that much more fun.