I’ve done a few spin classes in the past. To be honest – and my experience is a product of the equipment and instructors I’ve worked with – I find the whole thing pretty boring. You sit or stand, pedal forward or back and change the resistance based on the orders shouted by the leader. But it’s all imprecise. If you feel like slacking you can keep the resistance lower or drop your cadence. The class I did at Virgin Active Spin Class with their new IC7 Indoor Cycle leaves you with no place to hide.
Technology has impacted exercise and fitness in hundreds of ways so it’s no surprise to see new equipment that takes advantage of improved sensors and display systems invade cycling studios.
The first step in using the new IC7 Indoor Cycle is setting it up. That means adjusting the seat and handlebars. Both can be easily moved up and down, and forward and back. Our instructor gave clear instructions on doing this so we didn’t have to fiddle during the workout.
The seat was reasonably comfortable – it’s padded enough so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on a pillow but not so hard that it became painful after an hour – I was in the saddle for about 1:15 for the class I participated in.
There’s a dial for adjusting the bike’s resistance. This was easy to turn and the LCD display showed the level of resistance.
Functional Threshold WattRate
The key feature that separates the IC7 Indoor Cycle from other spin bikes I’ve used is the Functional Threshold WattRate® (FTW) number. This is a measure of how much power you can produce and for how long.
The first half hour or so of the session I did was all about determining my FTW. Every four minutes the bike’s resistance increases so I have to work harder to maintain a constant cadence.
For the first four minutes, it’s running at an easy 50 watts. I was done halfway through the 250 watt section. This gave me an FTW “score” of 241. This is important as the main workout will be customised according to this value.
Coach by Colour
Another feature of the IC7 Indoor Cycle is that the display lights up in different colours depending on how hard I’m working. When I’m working at less that 55% of my FTW, the display is white. Between 56% and 70% and the display is blue. This progresses through green and yellow until I’m working at 106% or more of my FTW – that’s the red zone.
To love through the different levels I simply adjusted my cadence and the resistance level.
When the instructor is leading the class, they can see what colour you’re working at as there’s a “headlight” on the front of the bike.
By providing a specific, personalised metric the trainer can ensure that everyone is working hard, relatively to their own capacity. So, when our trainer, Emma Masters, Group Exercise Coordinator at Virgin Active Bourke Street, told us to “work in the red” we were all pushing hard for that training interval.
Does it work?
The danger with using technology in an exercise class is that it can interfere with the goal. If you spend lots of time pressing buttons and swiping through touchscreens then then you’re not training and the technology has made the experience worse.
That was not the case in the Coach by Colour class I did. There was a little bit of button pressing at the start as I needed to tell my bike my FTW and answer a few basic questions such as gender, age and weight. But from that point, all I had to do was pedal and turn the resistance dial when told by the instructor.
The proof in the pudding is in the eating. By the end of the session I did I was pretty spent. My legs were a little rubbery and the perspiration was pouring off me.
If you’re into spin classes then I’d recommend giving the Coach by Colour system using the IC7 Indoor Cycle a go.
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