Spinning Provides Insights for Manipulating and Mastering Resistance

James BlackerFurther to our theme of listening to the body, the growing health club or gym-based activity of Spinning offers us the opportunity of an unexpected benefit to our ever-developing ability to listen to and respond to our bodies, specifically in the area of measuring, manipulating and mastering the physical resistance we experience during physical activity, and beyond the initial and ‘to be expected’ benfits of any common or garden workout.

Spinning is a relatively new activity which you can find in most sports, health and fitness clubs, whereby a room full of participants complete a ‘journey’ on a purpose-built, static exercise bike, typically for an hour, and led by an instructor.

As would be expected, an hour’s cycling on an exercise bike provides a good work out, and plenty of benefits for cardiovascular strength, muscle strength, etc.

As a wonderful bonus, however, Spinning facilitates heightened insights into our body’s interaction with resistance.

When we do any form of physical activity, be it canoeing, cycling, running, we generally have a certain degree of physical resistance which may make this work harder or easier. Paddling upstream, for example, provides more resistance than paddling downstream.

The intrigue of Spinning is that each participant has a control lever on their bike with which they can directly determine the level of resistance they endure.

They can thus change their workload to make it harder or easier by however many degrees they wish as and when they wish – every second if desired.

I have found that as soon as one takes up Spinning this opportunity to manipulate the workload ‘at will’ immediately begins to develop ones ability to sense whether the body wishes to do a bit more or a bit less. From this, the overall ability to listen to the body is further mastered and these insights of resistance ‘management’ can be taken into other areas.

Furthermore, the opportunity to take water on board at any moment and in any quantity provides another angle to developing the ability to listen to the body. All the time whilst cycling, I am paying attention to my body and deciding whether to go faster or slower, with more resistance or less, and whether, how much and when to drink water.

So in addition to getting a workout, I also get a self-mastery class in hearing the body in various ways.

After having spent a term participating in Spinning on a weekly basis, I found that I had honed my ability to constantly measure and vary my workrate to a very useful and efficient degree. This also made (all) exercise even more enjoyable.

It also meant that I had an understanding and insight which I was able to take into other activites. I applied the same ‘listening to the required resistance’ process to road running, using the hills as an extra element of resistance. An up hill section means more resistance, so I learned to reduce this uphill resistance by running slower, or even walking if need be.

When I say ‘measure’, I am not talking about recording digital numbers here, or specific measurements of weights. Merely, a very personal and perceived rate of work and effort. So, as I go along, I am simply saying to myself all the while “Do I need or wish to slow down or speed up here? Or maybe reduce the resistance while I get my breath back, or increase it now that I have.”

I have found this all to be a very empowering and useful experience, and invite you all to play around with your relationship with physical resistance in the activities you do.

Kind regards and best wishes,

James Blacker

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