Thursday, January 6, 2011

RPM in the news!

This is my winter bike -- I always sit here at spin class: front row, window. Good stuff.

The Star has done an article on my FAVOURITE spin Gym, RPM. I've been going to RPM regularly each winter for about four years now. I credit their 12-week base training camp as the one thing that really gets me to my next level every race season.

The author's one bit of criticism comes in response to the gym's lack of shower facilities --"It may seem like a minor hitch, but it’s a major deterrent for an otherwise stellar studio. It means people can’t catch a class on their way to work or anywhere else, because there’s no place to freshen up," she says.

To Paola I say, if you feel like you can go to work, or anywhere else right after class, you didn't do it right ;)

I added my own two cents to her summary below in a different colour for more ... er ... colour than Paola provides as well.

Click on my left nav bars for gravity and spinning class schedules. Also, it's not mentioned in the article but personal [strength] training and testing are also available for those looking for a little more than just beginner services.

Hope to see you there!

Here's the full article:

Gym Rat: This spin gym will leave you drenched in sweat
January 6, 2011
Paola Loriggio


RPM Spinning + Gravity Studio
2109 Bloor St. W.,
Reserve your spot by calling: 416-761-9717

The class: Spin and Gravity. Gravity Machines use your own body weight to get a good strength work out. Classes are led by an instructor and go for an hour.
Time: 6:15 p.m. Tuesdays, one hour long Check my left nav for a link to full class schedules.
Cost: Six points (new members pay $20 for 20 points) There are also a number of training "camps" -- boot camps, Ride to Conquer Cancer camps and of course the one I love, 12-week base training camp. You pay up front and you're free to make up any missed classes during the period of your camp.
Instructor: Kelley Fitzpatrick, cheerful and friendly but no-nonsense during the tough bits. Each instructor makes the class their own. Nothing off the shelf for these guys.
Music: Mostly trance and electronica Totally depends on the instructor and never be shy to "veto" a track! (In camp, Daffyd welcomes guest play lists -- just set it up on your ipod and plug it in -- but veto rules apply)
Volume: Background level during warm-up and cool-down, bar level in the middle
Intensity: You won’t be able to talk, but you can always scale down the resistance on the bike.
Amenities: No showers. Change rooms are basic stalls. To reach them, you have to cross through the Gravity room. Cubbies take the place of lockers. Everyone in the Gravity room will be working and focusing so hard they won't even notice you.
Ambience: Simple and spartan. The bikes take centre stage, so there isn’t much room to linger. Who goes there: Cycling buffs and triathletes and people looking to start riding for a charity ride or to lose weight or for fun.
Who it’s for: Cyclists training for a race or people who like to feel like they are or people who want to meet like-minded people and maybe even go riding outside together once the snow stops
Grade: B+ (points lost for lack of amenities)

When my former running buddy — now an Ironman competitor — recommended spin classes at RPM, I knew they’d be tough.

The studio, which runs only spin and Gravity Training System classes — the latter incorporates a “glideboard” on rails — is across the street from the High Park branch of the Running Room, making it a prime destination for triathletes.

I’m no triathlete, but I do bike. Mostly for transportation, though I’ll argue that lugging a heavy bike stuck in first gear across the city counts as exercise.

And, yes, I’ve also done the odd spin class, but never at a specialty gym.

It makes a difference, in the same way that bread from an artisanal bakery is different from the stuff you get at the grocery store. When your entire business revolves around one product, it had better be good.

RPM knows its audience. These are serious workouts built around real training drills.

The class I took was a pyramid drill, a type of interval training that slowly builds to a peak before gradually easing back down.

We did five sets of intervals that included a “fast flat,” a “seated climb,” a “standing climb” and a “standing run.”

For the first set, each interval lasted 30 seconds. For the second, they were a minute. Then the third, at 90 seconds. Then back to 60, then to 30. The whole thing was peppered with 30-second “attacks,” basically all-out sprints out of the saddle.

After the first set, the class fell into a focused silence. The hypnotic electronica soundtrack — not usually my cup of tea — actually helped, lulling us into a kind of trance.

Even the instructor, who kicked off the class with a hilarious story involving Scotch and a sippy cup, got quiet. She called out the intervals and reminded everyone to drink water, with minimal chit-chat.

I was relieved. In my eyes, there’s nothing worse during a gruelling workout than an overly enthusiastic cheerleader constantly telling you you’re “doing great” or you’re “almost there.”

“I like to work hard, whether I’m teaching or taking a class,” Kelley Fitzpatrick says in a post-class interview.

The pyramid “is definitely one of my go-to classes,” and one of the most popular with regulars, Fitzpatrick says, adding she’s known for hills more than speed.

With roughly a decade of experience teaching spin, Fitzpatrick has an arsenal of workouts to draw on for her classes.

She puts a lot of effort into keeping them fresh, getting feedback from customers at the studio as well as from spin enthusiasts online. So far, no one’s complained they were too easy, she says with a laugh.

Still, since there’s usually a few beginners in each class, Fitzpatrick is adamant that everyone stick to their own pace. (I stopped adding resistance halfway through the class.)

Even though its core audience is super fit, RPM is a fairly beginner-friendly gym. Classes are drop-in, with a significant discount for new clients. Staff members are friendly and helpful, and no one seems to care if you’re not wearing a race jersey.

But one thing boggles the mind: why would a gym that prides itself on challenging, sweat-busting workouts not have any showers? (Apparently most customers come from the Bloor West Village neighbourhood and go home to shower.)

It may seem like a minor hitch, but it’s a major deterrent for an otherwise stellar studio. It means people can’t catch a class on their way to work or anywhere else, because there’s no place to freshen up.

So yes, the product itself is great. Too bad the lack of amenities means I won’t be able to enjoy it very often.

Paola Loriggio is a journalist in Toronto. She owns more workout clothes that real ones. Gym Rat runs twice a month.

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