Who raised the bar in October?

Andrew Ruggiero!

As one of our most loyal HBers and an avid Summer Share rider, Andrew always exudes positivity and determination. Whether he is riding solo or with his wife, Melissa, Andrew motivates everyone in the pack. His passion for finding a cure for ALS brought him to The Handle Bar – every year he rides a 270-mile bike ride for the cause. We are proud to call Andrew one of our own!

So, Andrew…

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with indoor cycling? In short, it’s been great!  Most importantly, indoor cycling enabled me to train for a 3-day, 270-mile bike ride I do annually to raise $$ for ALS-TDI with TEAM FRATETRAIN and their research to find an effective treatment for ALS.

Fitness was much easier in my younger years.  Playing college football, 2 hours+ in the gym 5 days a week to train in the off-season was a no-brainer.  Now, as an aging 29 year old, I don’t have the time or the drive to stay with a consistent strength training regimen.  Spinning at the Handle Bar has been the solution.  I know that I’ll be in and out within 45 minutes and makes it much easier to schedule my workout in to my week.

Besides cycling, what other activities do you do to keep fit? Pick-up/Men’s League Hockey, the occasional free-weight session, outdoor cycling.

Tell us an unknown fact about yourself.
Hmmmm…. If it is “unknown” do I know it?  I’m not a man of many secrets…. I guess it might be unknown that I have a goal in life to master the sweet sweet dance moves from Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video…. Especially the knee spin!

What’s your “big kid” job? How do you schedule a ride into your daily routine?  I am the Director of Business Development at a financial services firm for the Northeast.  The app allows me to schedule my rides around my varying daily schedule.  Having the multiple class options works well for me.

Why do you come to ride at the Handle Bar? I originally came to train for the ALS-TDI Tri-State Trek.  I keep coming because it fits my schedule and lets me be active without feeling the need to train like a football player.  My fiancé loves to spin to, so we can go together.  She’s persistently asked that I run with her for years…. I don’t run…. We can do this together and both enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for other guys looking to get started with indoor cycling?  It’s a no-brainer.  It’s annoying at first when you’re panting and exhausted and there’s some 110lb girl crusing along without breaking a sweat…. or you can’t possibly understand how the instructors legs move that fast… but you get over it quickly and then it’s awesome!

What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio? I haven’t abandoned anything I did in the past.  I relied on the gym a lot more before getting in to spin.  At spin class, i never need to wait for the guy/girl using the squat rack to finish doing some exercise they have no business doing in a squat rack (ie. curls) when i’m trying to do cleans!

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve? Prepare for the ALS-TDI Tri-State Trek first and foremost.  Shedding a few lbs before our wedding has also been a big bonus.  Those photographers are pricey! Can’t spend all that money to look like a beach ball in all those pics!

What drives you more – working out solo or with a friend? Solo.  I have always disliked having a “partner” to workout.  A go-to spotter or group setting works.  As far as having a gym buddy, not even remotely a possibility.

What’s your favorite way to end a long ? Steak and Beer

Rihanna or Beyoncé? Who?  Which one does the Na na nnnaaa song?

If there was one obscure artist whose music you wish you could ride to, who would it be and why? Well, Jess worked the “Cranberries” in to her 90’s playlist… so I don’t know if there is room to be more obscure.  I want some good, ole fashion drums for a hill climb.  Get up to a level 9+, and do the marching drum beats from marching soldiers in old movies.

What motivates you? The desire to always be better.  If you are going to put the time and energy in to something, whatever it may be, you owe it to yourself to put forth the best possible effort.

What words do you live by? No Regrets – Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Creating and crushing goals – a how-to guide

Have you ever questioned what you want from life?

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.33.15 AMAs kids, we were always dreaming. I was almost always wondering what life would be like when I was 29 (why 29? I have absolutely zero idea…). Would I be a professional figure skater, a chef, a veterinarian? The choice was mine. But as most of you can probably relate, these dreams and visions have been clouded over time by pressure from work, school, and just plain life. Sure, by going to school and work each day, we’re on a path going somewhere. But my question is where – and more importantly, why?

Forgive the heaviness or for sounding corny, but this question was something I never seriously considered until this summer, when I took on a part-time job at lululemon athletica down here in DC. As part of our job training, we are coached and taught how to set goals for ourselves. When I tell people this, it usually garners one of two responses – an “oh, that’s cool…goals? Who sets goals?” or a more delighted, “I wish my job taught me how to set goals”. These lukewarm reactions leave me wondering, why are we not taught how to set goals for ourselves while we’re young – like, in grade school?

 Left without an answer to this phenomenon, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned about goal setting, and provide a few different strategies, regardless of where you want to be in life.

Create a vision for your life in 10 years – establishing a clear picture of where you see yourself this far in the future will give you a pretty good idea about what matters to you, and will inevitably answer the looming question – what do you want from life? This vision isn’t dependent on whether you’re happy with your life right now. You very well may be, but taking a moment to dream and see what you want to add to or subtract from your life is an effective way of identifying small goals that will drive you towards your ultimate happiness.

Think about who or what you value most in your life right now—Does the future you value the same things as the present you?

Think micro – What are the parts of your vision that are not present in your life at this very moment? What things do you need to remove from your life to make your vision a reality? Pick actionable items – things you can change with a concerted effort.

 Be SMART – I’m going all grade school with you right now, but, the best goals are SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-frame specific. To give you a quick example, one of my one-year goals, set in August 2014, was to complete a Tough Mudder by November of 2014 (crushed it at the end of September 2014!). This goal directly relates to my vision, as I visualize myself in 10 continuing to be fit and healthy.

For many of us, weight loss or “getting in shape” is a common goal. I get it – look good, feel good. Feel good, look good. I’m in the same boat. So, if that’s your goal, here are some steps you can take to help you achieve exactly what you want. First, pick a measurable goal – shoot for a certain number on the scale, a pants size, or a body fat percentage. Don’t make it crazy – 20 pounds in one month might be a bit too ambitious. Don’t worry – if your goal is 20 pounds, it is totally achievable, just make sure to give yourself adequate time. Sounds like one SMART goal to me…

Now we challenge you. Create a vision for yourself, and create some goals to go along with it. If your goal is weight loss or getting in shape, I encourage you to download the Pact App to help keep you accountable and on track. It’s free to download, but you commit yourself to a dollar amount per week. If you meet your goals for the week, you keep your money and get paid by other users who have failed to meet their weekly goals. Getting paid to workout and crush goals? Sounds good to me.

 The Pact App is hosting a ride at the HB Tonight. Reserve your spot here, and come out for more info, swag bags, and a great Thursday night sweat sesh. See you in the saddle!

Turn it up Tuesday! 10/21

Each week our beloved instructor and play-listing connoisseur Sarah C is adding songs to our ‘Turn it Up Tuesday’ collection on Spotify. Starting today, you can rely on these brand new jams to add to your rotation each week. Work your magic Sarah…

Listen, we love a good throwback as much as the next person. And yes, we still happily sing along to “Shake It Off,” which has already played 32 times today. But man, there’s something about waking up on a Tuesday, knowing your music collection is about to get just a little richer – it gives us an extra spring in our step.

New Music Tuesdays are magical for us. And we’d like nothing more than to share that magic with you. Here’s a little taste of the musical treats that are gracing our earbuds and studio speakers this week.

A little bit of hardcore work music, plus a few melodies perfect for cooling it down. Let us know which one’s your jam next time you check in to HB!

We threw together a playlist on Spotify, but some of them are so hot you can only currently find them at the links below….


Banks – “Beggin for Thread (Griffin & Hotel Garuda Remix)”

Anna of the North – “Sway (Chainsmokers Remix)”

Drake – “How About Now”

6 steps to becoming a Rooster Rider

early morning

5:25, 5:30, 5:35. Snooze, snooze, and snooze again. So many us fall into being ambitious before we fall asleep at night, but falter when we fail wake in the morning for our hopeful morning workouts. We end up groggier by having set so many alarms, interrupting our sleep cycles. From grogginess in the morning to exhaustion at night, we find ourselves wondering how we’ll ever fit in our workouts.

It is scientifically proven that morning workouts give us a better start to the day, helping us to make healthier food choices, be mentally engaged throughout the day, and to fall asleep earlier and faster. Sounds like morning workouts are a no-brainer, right? Well, only if you’re a morning person. But for all you night owls, we’ve come up with some tips and tricks to get you out of bed, morning person or not.


Go to bed earlier—Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Now, we’re not saying be in bed by 11pm or midnight, we’re saying be asleep by a reasonable time to ensure that you’ll get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Limit screen time before bed—Limiting screen time an hour before bed prepares your body to fall asleep fast and soundly. So yes, this means no iPhones, iPads, or computers in the bedroom. Also, use your bed only for sleeping. If you’re going to do work or read a book before bedtime, make sure you’re on the couch or in a chair so that your body knows that your bed is for sleeping.

Limit yourself to one caffeinated beverage before 3pm—Ever find yourself stirring in bed even though you’ve been lacking on sleep and feeling groggy throughout the day? Drink a lot of coffee? That could be the problem. Consciously try to limit yourself to one caffeinated beverage, the most, per day.

Sign up for a class in advance—Committing yourself to a specific time, often bound to a price will motivate you to hop out of bed and out the door to your workout. We’ve found that some of our most committed rooster riders sign up for class far in advance, making them ten times as likely to show up and sweat it out bright and early.

Make a date with someone—Find a buddy – a coworker, a friend, your significant other, or even someone you see at class regularly – and ask them to hold you accountable to your early morning workout. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the extra motivation to go to class, knowing that they’ve got someone counting on them.

Ease into your new routine—As with any lifestyle change, it is important to slowly ease into things, rather than plan on morning workouts three times a week on your first go. Know that you may sleep through your alarm a few times even after making some of these changes. However, the mere attempt to incorporate new habits into your daily routine will help change your mentality about morning workouts, and just might help you become a morning person.

Alright HBer’s, we challenge you to at least one rooster ride in the next week. Sign up here for any of our rooster rides! See you in the saddle – bright and early!


How NOT to get an F in Fitness

The college student’s guide to staying fit from the first day of class to finals

By Falon Sweeney


Jess, Cara, and their fellow NFA alumnae

Last week at The HB, we hosted a special ride for any local Norwich Free Academy (NFA) alumnae, taught by NFA grad herself, Cara Tramontozzi. We also hosted a ride for Northeastern University’s dance group, Kinematix, taught by Cara as well. It was amazing to see so many students and grads staying fit during college and beyond. 

As a senior, I feel like I’ve almost mastered the feat of staying healthy in college, with a few slip-ups along the way. I’ve done everything I set out to do when I started as a freshman – go abroad, play club lacrosse, go on service trips, rush a sorority, work a part-time job, stay on top of my studies, and make lifelong friends. But each of these accomplishments have come with their own challenges, especially when trying to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle. From “drunchies,” post lax game meals, and spontaneous wine nights to living in a foreign country, I’ve found that it’s challenging – but very possible – to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. I figured out my way of staying healthy, but I am intrigued as to how our instructors at The HB stayed fit despite all the challenges and temptations college has to offer. Here’s what they had to say:

Many of you were high school athletes. How did you handle the transition from tough practices 5x per week to having to schedule your own workouts?

Eve: It was a really hard transition not having the discipline of having to go to practice – but I quickly realized that NOT working out in some fashion left me feeling really crummy and actually made me more fatigued.

Jess: I took it easy for a while! I had worked so hard for so long that my first semester at college was a lot of elliptical and easy, short workouts. As I started missing the sweat, I discovered group fitness and fell in love with spinning, bootcamp, pilates, etc. 

Rachel: I played both club and school soccer during high school, so it was definitely a big change for me to go from a regimented team sport schedule to DIY fitness. I would say the biggest thing I missed was the team atmosphere – which is why I love getting to know students and my fellow instructors at the Handle Bar. We’re like one big team (cue sitcom audience “awwww!”).

Sarah: I was a college athlete as well. After practicing twice a day for 9 months out of the year for 8+ years I took an entire year off when I graduated. No gym, no working out, nothing. I was completely burnt out. I started doing yoga to help my body and mind heal. Once I started feeling better, I transitioned into my dynamic workouts like boxer conditioning classes and indoor cycling. The trick I think is to find something you actually enjoy doing again. High and college sports at a very high level tend to feel like a job or a chore and you lose sight of why you fell in love with the sport in the first place. Find something that makes you feel good :) 

Why is it important to continue to be fit while at college?


Cara and NU’s dance group, Kinematix

Eve: Working out actually boosted my energy levels on a daily basis, I noticed that if I worked out in the evening I would have a lot more energy to go to the library and study vs just laying in my dorm all day. It also kept me from getting to stressed out – especially during finals week a good sweat made all the difference! 

Jess: You’ll likely have more free time in college than post college so take advantage! Break up the studying with a quick zumba class, or start off a day of exams with a nice run. Use your time wisely in college to create habits for life. 

Rachel: Stress relief is the biggest benefit, I think – it’s so important for students (or anyone!) to find an outlet where they can truly tune out of the rest of their day and focus on their physical and mental wellbeings.

Cara: College is all work hard, play hard.  And when your college schedule is class, study, socialize, repeat… its nice to have fitness as that constant control and health feel!!  Working out is also a natural high/energy boost and I think in turn effects how well the mind works (for me at least!). 

Sarah: It’s important to get into a routine, especially with a heavy course load. I found that being a college athlete helped me be a better student. There wasn’t any extra time to waste. 

Any tips on how to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15?

Eve: Snacking! I realized that if I brought healthy snacks with me to class it would keep me from binge eating pizza at the dining hall later since I wasnt that hungry! 

Jess: Watch out for the Fro-Yo! The ice cream and many other delights in the Caf are serve yourself, and help yourself. The portion sizes can be out of control. Try and curb the amount you put on your plate… and don’t waste food by loading up even though you know you can’t eat it all.

Rachel: Oh, boy… One thing I would say to students is please please please​ don’t go on a “beer diet” – aka sacrifice nutrition throughout the day to counteract calories from drinking. This is no bueno. Your bodies and your brains need food!

Sarah: Lay off the booze during the week. 

Cara: Dont worry about the Freshman 15.  Just stay active, and enjoy!!  

As college students, we often are forced to prioritize two out of three pillars of our lives – school work, social life, health (nutrition/sleep/fitness). Is there any way to strike a balance between all three?

Jess: For me it was staying busy. I’m most efficient when I have a full schedule. So I got a part time waitressing job which forced me to get my school work done during the day instead of at night. To clear my head and stay energized I used the gym. I never have had a problem making time for my social life:) In college there was always time for a party!

Eve: It is all about time management! You need to figure out a schedule and routine that works for you and stick to it! That can be hard to figure out when so much stuff is going on around you – but what really helped me was a planner and routine! 

Rachel: I always tried to pull double duty and make my other activities social when possible, to avoid FOMO (note that FOMO did not exist in the early ’00s). Study with a friend, cook a big healthy meal with roommates, and grab an indoor cycling class with your BFFs (hint hint!).

Cara: There is an absolute balance for the party/study/fitness routine.  I would force myself out on a run on those hungover mornings to “sweat it out” and start the day fresh with whatever needed to be done before the next party. haha!  Also, hiting the gym or a fitness class following an exam was always an awesome release for my exam mood mind.  That full body cleanse through sweating is the best!  

Did you work out solo or with a buddy during college?

Jess: Both. I was friends with the NU rowing team and I used to try and hang with them in the gym when I was feeling ambitious. I’d get tips on weight lifting routines and circuit training. Then of course there were the times when I just wanted my earbuds and alone time. 

Eve: Mostly with a friend! A lot of times me and friends would make gym dates as a place to catch up. It’s a lot harder to bail on the gym if you know someone else will be there waiting for you/

Sarah: I was a coxswain in college so I didn’t get much of my working out done on the water unlike my rowers. So while I had practice twice a day with my team, I still had to get my own workout in too. This usually happened by myself which was totally fine. It was the only hour of the day I got to myself sometimes. 

Rachel: We definitely had gym and running dates. I went to school in a very small town, which was wonderful, but we definitely didn’t have the amazing fitness options that we do in Boston. I’d like to think my friends and I would have taken full advantage!

Many college students figure that 20 minutes on the elliptical 3x per week will keep us in shape. Do you agree or disagree? 

Jess: If you’re looking to change your body, strengthen your mind, and find new challenges then you need to mix it up. The elliptical rarely provides the intense cardio workout of a spin class, and not incorporating any weights (even light weights) will leave you ‘skinny fat’ – my favorite term for thin people with no muscle tone. 

Eve: Unfortunately that is COMPLETELY FALSE AND YOU WILL GET FAT! college students also often times figure that working out one body part once will amount to anything. Thats why its really important to get full body workouts (like at the Handle Bar) where you work your arms, abs, and legs. Full body workouts are the most effective over all in my opinion. 

Sarah: If that’s all you got time for it’s better than nothing. But I’m a huge fan of weight training, especially for girls! It’s also great to try and find a class or regime that combines cardio AND weight training, just like we do at The Handle Bar! 

Rachel: ​This is what I call the “better than nothing” workout – and I was definitely this girl at times. I personally find that group fitness settings give me more accountability and I am 100x more likely to push myself – and have more fun!

Cara: I fell into the elliptical routine in college because I saw all the “thin and cute” upper class girls doing it… but really saw and FELT the best results from other forms of exercise that worked for me— running, spinning, even zumba!  Something to make that heart rate and body feel something different each week.

Once you got the whole fitness thing figured out and worked into your schedule, how did you deal with the lack of a kitchen and the overabundance of dining hall food that so many of us face?

Jess: It is difficult to use self control in an all-you-can-eat setting. I began switching my meal plan around so that I could buy healthy takeout options or cook for myself instead of eating every meal in the dining hall. That allowed me to control and monitor my intake much better. 

Eve: Snacking throughout the day keeps you fuller so you won’t go crazy with the make your own cupcake station. Also drinking LOTS of water – drinking water itself will fill you up so if you down a bottle of water before going to the dining hall you are a lot less hungry and won’t eat as much! 

Sarah: I would say this is much easier once you live off campus or have an apartment with your own kitchen. Preparing your own meals is the way to go. 

Cara: I could never figure out the whole food thing in college.  I was a victim of the dining hall, the late night pizza, kegs of beer, and pints of Ben and Jerrys…  but really just tried to keep it in moderation (sometimes more than others). You cant say no all together!!

How did fitness keep your stress at bay during those long semesters?

Jess: Its hard to think about an exam or homework when your sprinting uphill and jumping around a spin bike. “Lose yourself in the music, the moment. ” – Eminem 

Eve: Exercising will naturally lighten your mood – when you are stressed and grumpy and tired, a 45 min sweat sesh has the power to completely turn around your mood and distract your mind when your body is at work. After a workout you have a fresh mind to go back to work! 

Sarah: Look at it as your escape and your reward. Finish a paper early? Awesome! Treat yourself to a class at The Handle Bar! 

From race to recovery

By Falon Sweeney IMG_8376I could say I’m sore, but that would be a complete understatement. I’m counting the days until I stop hobbling across the street like I’m actually injured. This past weekend I ran my first Tough Mudder – 10 miles of sweat, a little bit of blood, but thankfully no tears – over, under, down, and around 20+ obstacles. Oh yeah, and a whole lot of mud. I was a little nervous going into the race, seeing as I hadn’t trained much for the event itself (tisk, tisk, I know…). I registered in early September, so that gave me just shy of a month to prepare. But with my busy college schedule, juggling my part-time job at lululemon with my internship and my class schedule – oh yeah, and that thing called my social life – I really only had time to get in the workouts that work for me – cycling classes, barre classes, and early morning runs. Even though I lacked a little on the training side of things, I was confident in my athleticism and my “toughness” (it is a Tough Mudder, after all isn’t it?) and was determined to complete the race. Fast forward to Monday – two days post race and I am still aching and groaning every time I go up or down the stairs. I want to get back into my fitness routine, but want to avoid injury and focus on my recovery more than I did my training, so that I am better prepared for my next race, whether it be a half marathon or a 10k. So, I turned to Lena Rakijian, The HB’s own Registered Dietician for some guidance during the recovery process. So Lena, What are the most important parts of post-race recovery?

  1. Hydration
  2. Recovery nutrition
  3. Active rest

What is the best way to refuel the body after a long race? Water and/or electrolyte enhanced beverage, complex carbohydrate + Lean High Biologic Value Protein Is it OK to down that victory beer? You just CRUSHED a race. Obviously, celebrating is a wonderful light at the end of the tunnel after IMG_3341pounding 13.2 miles of pavement. Before racing to the beer tent after crossing the finish line, it is important to hydrate with water or an electrolyte beverage to replenish fluids lost during the race.  As an athlete, it is important to understand your body’s hydration needs pre-, during, and post exercise. One hour prior to your race, drink about 16 ounces of water, during the race rehydrate every 15-20 minute intervals to minimize loss of water. To know exactly how much fluid you will need, use the hydration protocol formula below. Here is an example to guide you through it to reach your hydration goals!  Hydration Protocol Example: (1 kg = 2.2. lbs) An athlete exercises for 2 hours. His weight before exercise is 80.5 kg and his weight after exercise is 77 kg. He consumes 500 mL of fluid during exercise and urinates 200 mL of fluid before post exercise weighing.

  • Sweat loss: 80 kg – 77.5 kg = 2.5 kg = 2,500 g + 500 mL – 200 mL = 2,800 mL/2 hr
  • Sweat rate: 2800 mL/120 min = 23.3 mL/min x 60 min/hr = 1,400 mL/hr
  • Fluid replacement schedule (60 min = 6 intervals of 10 min): 1400 mL/6 intervals = 233 mL/10 min

To replace sweat losses during exercise, this athlete would be advised to consume ~235 mL of fluid every 10 minutes during his 2-hour training. This is equivalent to about ~1 cup of water every 10 minutes. After the race, once you’ve hydrated, stretched, and had something to eat to refuel the body – you can reach for that celebratory beer if you choose; however, it is important to note that alcohol inhibits the muscles ability to synthesize protein. Thus, it will delay muscle recovery and you may be feeling sore for longer. So it really is up to you whether the benefit outweighs the cost. Although I agree a cold microbrew sounds tempting after a long race, from a nutrition and sport performance standpoint there is no benefit. But hey, sometimes you just gotta live a little ;)  Recovery means rest which means lie in my bed for 2 days straight, right? …right? Wrong. Recovery starts the minute you finish the race and continues for about 2-3 days after. Right after you cross the finish line with your hands up in the air and the crowd cheering you on, the best thing you can do is KEEP MOVING. Do a light jog or walk up and down the corral after the finish line to give your legs time to cool down to prevent cramping. Continue walking off those legs until you find a source of hydration! Water is great or you could go for something like coconut water or a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. After you’ve cooled down and rehydrated with fluids, get a good stretch in! Stretch the quads, gluteals, hamstrings, calves, and shoulders and focus on a minimum stretch of 30 seconds per muscle group. Within one hour of the race, EAT SOMETHING. Ideally, fuel within 45 minutes to actively recover the muscle. Muscles need carbohydrate and protein together for reloading muscle glycogen, your muscles’ stored form of energy, and optimal tissue repair and muscle recovery. Most races will have foods for you at the finish line. Grab carbohydrate and protein sources, like sports bars, protein shakes, bananas, or bagels. A protein sports bar coupled with a banana or a protein shake combined with a bagel would be excellent recovery food combos as they contain carbohydrates and protein to fuel up.  One or two days after the race, continue hydrating throughout the day and definitely continue stretching. Stretching is so important to help alleviate muscle soreness and lengthen muscle fibers that will likely be tight following a race. Your muscles will need time to recover. A phenomenon known as “DOMS” stands for “delayed onset of muscle soreness”. After your race, it may take 48-72 hours before you feel relief from sore muscles.  With hydration and stretching this process will move right along. Foam rolling provides self myofascial release, essentially acting as a massage to your muscles.  I highly recommend foam rolling major muscle groups in the lower extremities, like gluteals, hamstrings, quads, and IT band for at least 10 minutes every day for 3 days following the race. As a runner, foam rolling should be built into your training. Another excellent recovery technique, is through massage. A sports massage a few days after your race for a deeper release would work wonders. Now that race day is over and I’ve completely crushed my goals, how do you recommend I ease back into my nutrition plan? ..cause I’m not gonna lie, I definitely ate my weight in pizza, pasta, and any carb I could get my hands on post-race. Fueling up post race is encouraged! Your body needs the recovery fuel. Enjoy and celebrate on race day! You earned it! After a race, the key things to remember are moderation, balance, and variety. Eat real foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, heart healthy plant based oils and fats, like olive oil and avocados, lean sources of protein like chicken, fish, tofu, eggs and low-fat dairy/cheeses. Limit processed foods high in added sugar, fat, and salt which slow down our metabolism. Instead, aim to eat whole sources of foods. At the end of the day, all foods can fit into a healthy and balanced diet. Restricting food groups and/or foods from your diet, will only leave you craving more. It’s okay to enjoy a piece of chocolate or a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Just be mindful of your portion sizes and practice moderation of these indulgence foods. Eating a plant based diet coupled with lean protein and heart healthy fats will optimally fuel your body for not only a race, but for LIFE!  Is cross-training an important part of the recovery process? Cross-training is not only an important part of recovery, but it is excellent training for your next race. Functional and balance training is essential for runners to strengthen the musculature supporting the joints which take significant impact during training. So often, runners undergo injury during marathon training due to lack of conditioning, cross-training, and stretching. Cross-training and stretching should be built into your training plan to prevent injury. Not only will it prevent injury before your race, it will also increase your level of performance on race day. Interval training, like in an indoor cycling class at The Handle Bar combines speed work at varying resistance levels to increase cardiovascular fitness and improve your VO2 max, otherwise known as your maximal rate of oxygen consumption during incremental exercise. Maximal oxygen consumption reflects your aerobic physical fitness level and is an important determinant of endurance capacity during prolonged exercise. Yoga, pilates, and strength training, are other examples of cross-training techniques that can fit into a marathon training program to enhance performance and prevent injury.  Well, HBer’s, there you have it! Turns out, recovery is as important, if not more important than proper training. Cause what’s the point of running a race if you set yourself up for harm or injury afterwards? So I’m not totally in the dog house – as long as I take Lena’s recommendations to heart. So, keep up your training and make sure you focus on your post-race recovery just as much as you did your training. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 5.48.01 PMLena Rakijian, Master Instructor at The Handle Bar, is a Registered Dietician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. If you have any questions about the information provided above, please do not hesitate to reach out at her next class. See you in the saddle!

Tap It Back: Make a Playlist from the 80s, 90s, and today!

By Sarah Weinberg

Here at the HB, we are dedicated to introducing you to awesome new tunes that will always have you chasing the beat! That being said, sometimes it’s good to leave the Billboard charts behind and put together an awesome throwback ride. Whether it’s a taste of the 90s (see the awesome pics below!) or a fierce Janet v. Madonna bar fight, sometimes it’s good to tap it back and pull out some old-school jams. Here’s a collection of old school artists to rock out to during your next workout:


Amy Winehouse – It there’s any artist who has enough soul to spare, it’s this British powerhouse. Blast Valerie to push you through your sprint or Back to Black for an epic climb.

Pink – Yes, Pink is still going strong, but it’s her original anthem, Get the Party Started that will really pump you up for your own party on a bike.

No Doubt – Before Gwen Stefani became a reality TV judge, she was the front woman of No Doubt, that awesomely funky, supremely weird group that taught you more than you’d every though you’d know about Japanese fashion trends. Hollaback Girl’s driving beat is great to time your crunches, and What are you Waiting For is just weird enough to keep you guessing through those presses.


image_1Britney Spears – Was it the pigtails? The slow revolution into weird that may have peaked when she wore all-denim outfits alongside JT? Whatever it was, we’d be remiss to leave Britney Spears off of the list. Go ahead – own Hit Me Baby One More Time as your guilty pleasure jam. We won’t tell!

Backstreet Boys/N’Sync – Boy bands – how do we choose? Let’s err on the side of caution and put the two most transformative boy bands of the 90s (sorry 98⁰) up side by side. Switch up your N’Sync rotation with a more obscure song like Space Cowboy to keep yourself guessing. Once you’ve worked up to a fast pace, slow it down and climb with a signature Backstreet Boys power ballad like I Want it That Way.

Spice Girls – Okay, I know we’ve totally skipped out on the magic that was 90s rap and rock, but I can’t be the only one who has secretly been dying for a Spice Girls themed ride! Put on Wannabe and your best set of Baby Spice pigtails to give your workout a dose of ridiculous, whimsical fun.


Journey – Ah, Journey. Before they were commandeered by a bunch of 20-somethings masquerading as high schoolers on Glee, Journey was known for more than just Don’t Stop Believing. Do them the honor of listening to some of their lesser known hits – or at least switch it up with Any Way You Want It. Their guitar riffs are guaranteed to help you push through your workout.

Gloria Estefan – At a studio where we’re all about chasing the beat, songs with driving percussion and Latin flare are always a good choice. Don’t be afraid to toss your hair and shake it jamming out to hits like Rhythm is Gonna Get You.

f2a2fca06bebb209d860d1adcba24ebfMichael Jackson – He might be the obvious choice, but the 80s were a great decade for MJ. Picking just one song to recommend from the era of Thriller and Smooth Criminal is practically impossible, but I’m throwing my hat in for Beat It. There’s nothing like the combo of drums and synth to get your blood pumping!

All right HBers, there you have it – some throwback tunes to inspire your weekly workout! Be sure to let us know what favorites we might have missed in the comments – you never know what uncovered gem might make a showing in an instructor’s playlist! Thanks for tapping back with us, and we’ll see you in the saddle very soon!

Winging It: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Ride with Lena on Wing It Wednesdays!

Hey HBers – were request rides getting a little run-of-the-mill for you? Are you a thrill seeker looking to take your middle-of-the-week workout to the next level with an exhilarating, seat-of-your-pants riding experience? Well, Jess and Lena – two of the diabolical masterminds behind regularly ramping up your workout – have come up with a totally new kind of ride for you! Welcome to Wing It Wednesdays!

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 So you’re probably wondering…

 What exactly is Wing It Wednesday?

 According to Lena, Wing It Wednesdays are “a time to explore creativity, spontaneity, and freedom on the bike through music!” Unlike regular rides, Wing It Wednesdays will feature a song list generated by you and your bike-mates! Everyone will throw their favorite tunes into the ring, and riders will pick them out one by one throughout the class.

 Yes, you read that right. Jess is super stoked to introduce a riding experience with “full-room interaction,” where “with over 100 songs in the playlist, Lena has no clue what to expect next, making this a totally challenging and engaging ride not only for the riders, but for the instructor herself.”

 This is the class for you if you’ve been looking for a more participatory ride experience that, as Lena puts it, will “push everyone out of our comfort zones to create a ride together.” Wing It Wednesdays are the kind of rides that are guaranteed to keep you fully engaged from start to finish – “a true team effort.”

Ok, I’m sure this is all sounding pretty cool by now, but you have to be wondering exactly how this differs from a regular ride on Lena’s end of things.

Well, normally, Lena “choreographs the ride for every song,” carefully crafting your overall ride experience so that “everything ultimately fits into the bigger picture”. This way she creates a balanced ride with a particular feel. Plus, as Jess says, there’s normally “1-2 hours of careful song selection and planning” that goes in to each and every ride. All this is to say that Wing It Wednesday rides are going to require an instructor that is “creative, quick-thinking, and brave.”

 Who better for the job than Lena? Since her usual classes are “very much a relationship between rider and teacher” where “she doesn’t talk at the room” but “feels the energy there and speaks to it,” putting her at the helm of a class that requires constant improvisation and adjustment was truly a no-brainer. Or, as Jess says, since Lena’s improv-ing already, “why not give her a little bit of a challenge?”!

 But don’t worry; Lena is 100% on board! This master instructor is stoked to fly by the seat of her pants. Knowing that “the energy of the riders” will fuel her creative juices, she “just knows that together, we can crush anything.”

 So get ready to saddle up for the ride of your life, HB! We can’t wait to have you join us in discovering new tunes, bigger beats, and a totally new level of excitement.

See you at the ride – and we hope you’re ready to wing it!

by: Sarah Weinberg


Not Just a Girl Thing

I can’t figure out exactly when indoor cycling – an action-packed, sweat-inducing, heart pumping push of an exercise routine – became ‘just a girl thing’, but we all know that in the collective athletic consciousness, that adage is more than a little bit true.

And on some level I get it! Lots of girls in colorful spandex, some girl power tunes, and tons of motivational, pump-you-up talk from your high-energy, kick-ass instructor. But who says feeling good and building up a crazy sweat have to be mutually exclusive concepts? Good news, they don’t! Here’s why:

  1. It gets your ‘flow’ going

Do you know what it’s like to be totally in the zone during a workout? That mind-blanking, totally exhilarating, full mind/body meld when everything seems to click into place all at one time? If you do, I’d bet good money that spin has probably has something to do with it. If not, riding at the HB might be just the thing to help you get there. Why? According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the guy who literally wrote the book on ‘flow’- the academic manifestation of getting in the groove – hearing motivational words during your workout is a huge factor in keeping your mind on the moment. By letting your HB instructor talk you through that climb or letting Rihanna, Calvin Harris, and Lil Wayne sing you through your sprint, you actually help your brain stay in the present and achieve exercise nirvana.[1]

guys fenway

  1. It increases your muscular endurance

Seasoned lifters are likely to scoff when confronted with what looks like a tiny bar resting happily next to their bike at every HB class, but don’t be fooled! The songs that utilize that bar to tone your arms are increasing your musculature in a completely different way from heavy lifting. Even Men’s Fitness (yes, THAT Men’s Fitness) extolls the benefits of low-weight/high-rep lifting as a part of a balanced workout routine.[2] While your deadlifts, squats, and intense bench presses at the gym are what help boost your muscle size, low-weight/high-rep exercises like the ones at HB are the ones that help you lift for longer!


  1. It’s an individually tailored workout and a group activity – at the same time!

One of the greatest things about riding at the HB is the sense of group camaraderie you get from working out with another group of highly motivated people – just like you get on the field playing a team sport. But the HB offers something that a team sport doesn’t – the ability to tailor your output and effort to your abilities. By allowing for individual levels of resistance and speed – we rate effort on a 1-10 scale, so the level of your workout is always determined by you – you have the ability to push yourself to your limits without being held up to the limits of others.

All right guys, so now you know – spinning is definitely not just for the girls anymore. So saddle up, and come join us on the bike!  I promise – no spandex required.

guys in fenway, men fitness, spinning, boston, workout, cardio

by: sarah weinberg

Berg, Michael, and Brad Schoenfeld. n.d. “Your Ideal Rep Range.” Men’s Fitness.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1998. Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. Basic Books.


Spinning Out Stress: A How-To Guide to Balancing School, Work, and a Good Sweat

by: sarah weinberg 

Boston area colleges fitness universities spinning cycling fitness

Labor Day has passed, the leaves are about to turn, and I saw over 20 people lugging couches through the streets of Boston on an 85 degree day – you all know what that means. School is back in session! In a town like Boston – where by some estimates the population swells by over 100,000 every fall thanks to the collegiate crew – we’re always super excited to welcome students into the HB family while they enjoy their time in what is arguably one of America’s best college towns. That being said, we know that the life of a Bostonite co-ed isn’t all Sox games and Frisbee on the Common. You guys are busy – busier than you have probably ever been, and for some of you, busier than you ever will be again.

I’ve been there; my senior year contained the one-two punch of an honors thesis and an internship, plus two jobs, a full-course load, and the fun of figuring out what exactly I was planning on doing with the rest of my life. Trying to cram a workout into that mess sometimes felt like an exercise in futility. But over my four years, I came up with a few tips and tricks to getting my workout in.. that I hope can help all of you!

  1. Invest in a planner

It may seem silly, but that overpriced Lily Pulitzer day planner you’ve been eyeing could make the difference between checking everything off of your to-do list and being in the weeds. Besides the fact that it’s proven that writing things down by hand (sorry iCal!) helps you remember them, having the ability to visually lay out your day can also help you find the time to fit in your workout. Here at HB, we’re super excited to have ramped up our class schedules to give you more offerings. So if that empty space is at 6 AM before the dining hall opens for breakfast or at noon right between Gen Chem and Cultural Anthro, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Give yourself a break!

Some days it probably feels like the only way to get everything done is to load up on the sugar-free Redbull and bust through 300 pages of reading all at once. But your overloaded brain will have a much harder time powering through those problem sets if you don’t give it a break every now and then. Take an hour or two to build up a sweat – a workout will give you the switch of focus and the endorphins you need to study more effectively. Plus all of those happy brain chemicals that you’re reading up on in Neuro and generating at HB will make you feel more relaxed and better able to tackle everything coming your way.

  1. Find a Friend

Working out between jobs, classes, and – oh, yeah – a social life, can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, especially at the beginning of the year when it seems like every afternoon boasts a lecture, club meeting or activity fair. Don’t be afraid to recruit your friends and have them workout with you! Having a workout buddy will help you keep your fitness commitments and ensure that you’re not neglecting your friends by the time the due date of your dreaded thesis prospectus rolls around.

I guarantee that these three simple steps will help you on your way to minimal stress throughout your fall semester! Navigating the balancing act of collegiate life can be tricky, but carving out time for yourself throughout the week for things that are fun and functional – like a killer class or three at HB – will have you feeling the burn only at the times you really want to. Good luck with the fall semester Bostonites, and we can’t wait to see you at the studio with your stellar transcript in hand soon!

P.S. We’re not kidding on the transcript. Bring in your current transcript or class schedule and we’ll give you 20% off on almost all of our packages! Now you have no excuse not to get your spin on.