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All coaches and trainers will tell you that spin (aka indoor cycling) is a great cross-training activity for runners. I would tend to agree. It’s a great cardio workout, that utilizes the same leg muscles as running with out the stress on the joints. However, just because I agree doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I have never been one to find joy in group aerobic classes. The instructors are almost always so annoying bubbly that I spend half the class wanting to kill them instead of working out.

Any who, I tried spin for the first time a few months back at Velocity in Back Bay and it was exactly as I imagined in my head, a bunch of housewife types in their fancy “workout” clothes and an instructor that was more cheerleader than fitness guru. I tried it a few more times with the same result until one morning when I had a male instructor. It was like a different world. I’m not saying I was instantly in-love with spin, but without the unnecessary bubbily-ness it wasn’t a half bad class.

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Fast forward to last week when I was invited to a free blogger event at Turnstyle Cycle in Kendall Square. It’s a relatively new studio that opened back in July. It has a combined TRX studio, which we didn’t get to try that night but, I think I’d go back to try sometime. Initially I was a little intimidated/scared because they use Real Ryders, which I’ve never used before. They are stationary bikes that ride more like an outdoor bike. Moving side to side and balancing takes a little getting used to, but I think I prefered this over the standard stationary bike. It’s designed to be a more efficient workout, using not only your legs but also your core. It certainly felt like it was a better workout than past spin classes I’ve taken.

IMG_4871I did have 2 issues, first, my nalgene didn’t fit into the cup holder on the bike. I have ten thousand water bottles, I don’t want to have to buy your specific studios water bottle so that I can drink during class. The second issue, and I know this is going to sound like a contradiction but, the instructor Rich seemed very low energy. He was the complete opposite of bubbly. Maybe it was because it was an introductory/blog class or that it was after normal hours, but I felt as if he was more concerned with learning our names and explaining their use of music and lighting rather than motivating me to work hard. I won’t write off the studio because of one class, but when there are so many spin places to choose from, I’d say they might need to try a little harder next time. I still have a groupon for Pursuit and my running friends have been trying to drag me to The Handle Bar all summer, so those might win out first.

When you log is as many miles as I have recently, you are hungry 24/7. Some days are better than others, but snacks have become a staple in my life. My usual go to’s are bananas and PB, string cheese, and fruit. For Reach the Beach, it was a little hard to eat a “normal” diet given that we were in a van for 2 days, so I decided to whip up a batch of granola that I could snack on between legs. I had recently found a recipe for Peanut Butter Granola Crunch Parfaits in Cooking Light and I figured I’d give it a try sans the frozen yogurt. I changed the cooking temp, because 450 is way too high and it started burning within the first 4 minutes. It was a perfect mix of sweet and salty, and with the peanut butter and almonds, it added that extra protein I needed. I think I need to make another batch for my desk drawer!

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Peanut Butter Granola

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Heat syrup, peanut butter, oil and vanilla in a saucepan over high heat, stirring until smooth. Add to oat mixture; toss to coat.
3. Spread mixture on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
4. Store in airtight container after cooled completely.

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