Kelly the Culinarian: Fitness Finds: Spenga

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fitness Finds: Spenga

I made the tough decision to not pursue another Ironman this year because of the crushing pressure I felt last year. I was pushing hard in many aspects of my life and felt like something was always getting shorted, my training being the easiest thing to omit.

So instead, I'm going to spend 2018 having fun with my fitness. I'm still going to train for a spring marathon, but I'd like to get back to enjoying being active because it makes me feel good, not because I need to check off a training session on a calendar. I miss going for aimless bike rides and doing one-month strength challenges. So here I am.

To start with, I signed up for the first thing that found me via social media advertising. Around Christmas, I bought a 12 days for $12 pass to Spenga. If you're like me and had never heard of this boutique-concept fitness class before, let me enlighten you - it's 20 minutes of spin, 20 minutes of strength and 20 minutes of yoga. I think I ended up going to 8-9 classes during the 12 days, and it was a nice break from my typical workout.

Here's an official video:

For $12, I'll try most things. I signed up online a reserved a seat at an introductory class. When I arrived, I was shown where the bathroom and water fountain was, as well as the electronic lockers. There aren't showers or towel service at most of these places. The gym itself at this particular location was one large room, divided into a small cycle studio with the instructor on the stage, and strength "pods." There was another room for yoga adjacent to the spin studio.

I got a very brief introduction on how to set up my bike, and then got started. Each workout starts with 20 minutes of high-intensity cycling based upon your "sweet spot." From what I could gather,  it was based upon about 80 percent of your max effort. If you sign on for the whole shebang, they calculate your sweet spot by having you cycle at 80 revolutions per minute for four minutes, then do the math for you. In this instance, I decided winded but not dying was my sweet spot.

After cycling, participants move quickly to strength pods. Each person gets a pod, which contains small dumbells and kettlebells, a TRX set up, a bosu ball, a yoga mat and a step. Each day had different types of workouts, always in intervals. Some days were Tabata (20 seconds on, 10 seconds recovery, repeated four times), some days were 90 seconds of work with 60 seconds or rest or some other permutation. There were leg and arm days, and most workouts included some level of core.

There wasn't a huge emphasis on form, probably because most of the weights were light. It was up to each participant to select the correct weights and modify based upon skill level. I was sore several times during my two-week trial, so I think the workouts did something.

The yoga varied quite a bit. Some days, it was tougher for me than the strength. Other days, it was very soothing.  Any way you slice it, I would say at least 75 percent of my time spent working out was rewardingly miserable.

I liked the structure of the workouts and the accountability of having to go to a class. But, there is no way I would ever pay for the classes at retail. Even their cheapest plan is $69 per month, and that's for four classes per month. There's no place to get ready for work, so I'd have to either do it after work or leave enough time to go home and get ready after class. I did like that childcare was available on-site, and for $5 per kid for the hour, it's not the best deal, but it would make working out easy.

I'm very conflicted about boutique fitness, because for most people, one class a week isn't enough. And the boutique fitness means you can't exactly drop in and work on your form or fit in a supplemental workout, so most people have other gyms or programs that augment the class. This gets to be a pricey proposition. I'm also not sure if I'd get enough out of the classes if I was a beginner. That said, if I had full-time kids, this would be awesome me-time.

Pros: Nice facility, small classes, a balanced/diverse workout, a schedule to follow
Cons: Expensive, no locker rooms. not a huge emphasis on form, the intensity is based on how much you push yourself, definitely a scenario where the instructor matters, I did feel a sales push even after I said I wanted give my 12 days a try

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