Spinning: Cycling Rain or Shine

I took my first “spin” (or cycling) class a few years ago, and I loved it. I quickly learned that the teacher and the music can make or break the class, but you can do it at your own level so it’s a great exercise for anyone. It’s also a great cross-training exercise as well. I am so excited to share this interview on spinning-how to’s with one of my favorite instructors, Josh Beck. Josh is the true definition of athlete inspiration. Since getting involved in endurance sports in 1999, he has completed 8 ironmans, 22 marathons and currently holds the East-West state record for cycling across Alabama. When it comes to cycling, he knows the drill. Check out our interview below:

1. Why did you start teaching spin classes?  I had always utilized spin classes to stay in cycling shape throughout the winter.  So, I figured if I taught the class, I could share a couple of interval, high intensity workouts with others.

2. Why do you recommend trying a spin class? What are the benefits?  Cycling in general is just great cardiovascular work without too much wear and tear on your joints. Other than swimming, it’s hard to find a better low-impact cardio workout.

3. Why do you think indoor cycling has become so popular?  People come for so many different reasons.  The main factor is:  it’s more fun to exercise with a group (camaraderie factor).

4. Why should people incorporate spinning in their cross-training?  The main reason is injury prevention.  Running, in particular, 4 to 6 days per week can really take a toll on your joints and ligaments. No matter what your main sport, cycling is a good way to mix it up from a physiological and mental standpoint.  If you put forth 100% effort on the intervals during a spinning class, you can’t help but gain some cardio fitness (increased ability to process oxygen).  This will transfer over to your other sports.

5. How many calories can you burn in an hour spin class?  It really depends on the instructor.  My classes have high intensity intervals sprinkled throughout the hour.  If a rider does the workout like I have it laid out, a male will burn around 1,000 and female around 800 calories.

6. How important is the music to the class?  Very important.  Climbing songs need a steady, consistent beat.  Fast, interval songs need a fast beat and to be high energy.  The music needs to match the segment of the workout you are doing.  If the music is bad, well, so is the class.

7. Do you have any tips for beginners?  Your first move should be to have the instructor help you set up the bike so that it fits properly.  It is like any other type of exercise; it takes a few times to build up your conditioning to where you can really push yourself for the entire hour.  Just do the best you can during the first several classes.  Another factor is saddle comfort.  If you are going to spend time on a bike seat, you need to get some cycling shorts that have a chamois built in.  Lastly, you should try each of the instructors’ classes at least once to find the class that fits you the best.

An Evening with Southern Chefs to Benefit Share Our Strength

Last month I felt so fortunate to attend the Share Our Strength’s Benefit Dinner in Nashville at the incredible Hermitage Hotel. Seven top notch southern chefs prepared an array of five courses for “A Tasteful Pursuit” to raise money to end childhood hunger in American by the year 2015. The Chefs involved included Tandy Wilson of City House in Nashville, Hal Holden-Bache of Eastland Cafe in Nashville, John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, Tyler Brown of Capitol Grille in Nashville and Anne Quatrano of Star Provisions, Bacchanalia and Abbatoir in Atlanta. Above was our Pre-Dessert: House-Made Nasturtium Yogurt with Charentais Melon Gelee, Compressed Edisto Musk and Blackberry Honey by Anne Quatrano. Amazing, huh? Also, see the fabulous menu (below)

All of these chefs had fun creating this unbelievable menu. You can see Hal Holden-Bache, of Eastland Cafe in Nashville, cooking it up in the kitchen (below).

And, this is a great shot of Chef John Currence, of City Grocery, Snack Bar and Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi (below).

Tyler Brown, Chef of Capitol Grille at The Hermitage Hotel, is a Nashville icon and a man with great heart and talent. His work and farming prowess are on display at the Land Trust for Tennessee’s “Garden at Glen Leven” which is where he farms and grows produce used in his restaurant as well as to donate to charities in Nashville that incorporate fresh vegetables in their food programs. The day before the event, all of the chefs visited this garden to choose the produce used in this benefit dinner.

The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville was the ideal venue for this event. Honestly, it is also one of my favorite hotels in Nashville. The rooms, the ambiance, and it’s character are unlike any other southern hotel. Besides its fabulous restaurant, Capitol Grille, there is a fabulous bar which is one of my favorites in the city. This infamous summer cocktail, called “Watermelon Sour” is a mixture of Jack Daniels single barrel and watermelon puree from watermelons grown at Glen Leven was served before the event (below).

 Share Our Strength is such a great cause. More than 17 million children in America struggle with hunger. Share Our Strength’s campaign, “The Time is Now: No Kid Hungry”, is a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. I must thank Tyler, Janet (below) and everyone from Share Our Strength for making it possible.