Featured Playlist – Ali’s Set 4/7

18 Apr

happyThe happiness movement has taken all of us by storm! :) What’s the concept? A song that has the power to unite the world. The rhythmic, funky tune has resonated with every single of us hitting the number one charts in 24 different countries.

Along with the single release, Pharrell launched a “Happy” website, which became the world’s first 24 hour music video. This spawned many YouTube covers of the song from all over the world. So far, 1,290 videos from 120 countries have been created showing a unique happiness in each and every one of them. Some of the best are those from Paris – FranceArica – Chile  and Durban – South Africa.

Just a few days ago Oprah Winfrey interviewed Pharrell about the movement he had created. He was brought to overwhelming happy tears as she showed him the different “Happy” versions people had created around the world. Pharrell’s coy sense of humor shined through as he exclaimed, “why am I crying on Oprah?” The heart touching moment, which you can see here, demonstrates exactly what he wanted to represent in his song. We are all one, and we can all share happiness.

Check out Pharrell William’s “Happy” and the rest of Ali’s 4/1 playlist here on our Soundcloud page. Ride to the happiness!

Honoring the past and preparing for the present: The 118th Boston Marathon

17 Apr

ERINOur very own Handle Bar instructor, Erin McDonald will run this year’s Boston Marathon with a full heart and fierce dedication. We reflect on the past and look forward to Monday, interviewing Erin on her efforts and thoughts during this momentous time.

Every third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day is observed. But to true Bostonians, it’s Marathon Monday! A day to gather along the Boston Marathon course to cheer on the thousands of participants as they complete their 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square. As always, thousands of onlookers and participants indulged in the Marathon Monday experience on April 15, 2013. Then tragedy struck. Two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the marathon causing shock, horror and complete disbelief. Individuals frantically searched for safety amidst the chaos, while everyone wondered why and how this could happen.

It has been one year since the ghastly attacks that occurred at the 117th Annual Boston Marathon finish line that shook the City of Boston. When we speak of the horrific events that took place, “Boston Strong” is instinctively the phrase uttered, showing the strength and resilience the city possesses. Immediately after the tragedy, Boston came together to provide support to all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and emphasize the heart the city truly has.

One year later, the city is prepared for the 118th Boston Marathon, which will take place on Monday, April 21, 2014. Residents of Boston and visitors to the city are eager to participate, volunteer and cheer at the Boston Marathon conveying the message we all know so well “Boston Strong”. Our very own instructor at The Handle Bar, Erin, will be participating in the marathon on April 21st. This will be Erin’s fourth time running in the marathon and it will be a year like no other. Erin expresses her reactions to the events that occurred last year, why she wanted to run this year, and her feelings about the 118th Boston Marathon.

Q: Where were you last year when you first heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line? What were your reactions?

I was walking towards the finish line after leaving a Red Sox Game. I heard a bunch of sirens and could see swarms of police, EMT’s and fire fighters racing towards the finish line. As I walked, I could see people running towards me, crying. I stopped a man and asked what was going on and he told me that there had been some explosions and to not walk down there, it was gruesome. My stomach dropped to my toes and all I could think about were the friends I had that were running and also those who were watching as spectators in the area. I immediately tried to call my mother but my cell phone was not working. I ended up having to walk back towards Fenway Park where I could see so many people with distressed looks on their faces. Thousands of runners had been brought to a halt and pure panic had set in. I proceeded to walk towards the Mass Ave Bridge towards MIT, eventually stopping in at a bar in Cambridge where several televisions had the news on. As I watched in horror I started to cry and felt a tremendous amount of fear and vulnerability.

Q: Why did you want to participate in this year’s Boston Marathon?

After I finished the 2012 Boston Marathon in the extreme heat, I vowed to never run that race again. That lasted exactly one year! After the events that occurred on April 15, 2013 I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew I had to run this marathon at least one more time for the victims, survivors and the city I love so much.

Q: How do you feel the running community reacted to the tragedy that occurred this past year?

I have always felt that the running community was a unique group, but even more so now. The camaraderie and support has been unbelievable. The running community in Boston is a special group that has an endless amount of compassion.

Q: The Boston Athletic Association made the decision to allow for 9,000 more runners in this year’s marathon, making the 2014 race the largest it has ever been. The total field size is 36,000 runners, which is an enormous jump from the amount of participants in years past. Do you feel that it is a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon compared to past years?

I do feel it’s a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon. After seeing so many runners come so close to finishing and suddenly being brought to a halt was devastating. They deserve the opportunity to finish what they started one year ago. And for the added charities, what better way to remember the victims and survivors and to show that Boston will never be defeated. We are stronger and more united than ever!

Q: What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boston Strong”?

A city that has become more united and resilient. The sense of community that has come out of such a tragedy is amazing and will only grow stronger. As David Ortiz said it best last year “This is our F’N City”. #BOSTONSTRONG

Q: What are you most looking forward to for this year’s marathon?

I am so excited to see how this city celebrates the camaraderie, strength and spirit. I am excited to meet new runners from all over the world and most importantly cross that finish line.

 Boston responded to the tragedy with great courage, strength, and passion. The city will come together for the 2014 Boston Marathon not just to run and support those participating, but to honor the first responders, the survivors and most importantly, remember the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Boston makes it clear that they will not give in to tragedy. When we look around the city, “Boston Strong” is everywhere. But it’s not just a slogan; it is the city’s identity. One year later, Boston is only stronger.

All the victims of this tragedy will never be forgotten and forever will be honored.

Injury Prevention 101

15 Apr

Silhouette woman run under blue sky with cloudsAs we roll into Spring after one of the longest and coldest Boston winters, we runners no longer need to worry about our runs getting sabotaged by impromptu blizzards. We no longer have to pile on layers of clothing and pray that we won’t be too cold, or rip off layers mid-run, realizing it is much warmer than we thought. We no longer have to squeeze in boring treadmill workouts that leave our shins in pain and our knees aching. We finally can just lace up and begin our run. At this point, anything above 40 degrees is enough to get me out on the street in shorts and a t-shirt. And while I enjoy the freedom that comes with good running weather, I know there are serious precautions that need to be taken.

Up until this Winter I didn’t understand how important injury prevention was for runners. Having been a runner for almost seven years now, I barely thought twice about warming up, stretching, the shoes I was wearing, or the courses I was running. My main concern was to stay in shape, burn calories, and space out listening to my music. I didn’t realize the wear and tear of unknowingly mistreating my body would disable me from doing any of those things. This past January, the entire lower half of my right leg started to ache whenever I ran. Disregarding this thinking it would pass, I continued to run on it for another month until it got to the point where I couldn’t even flex or point my ankle. When I finally understood this wasn’t going to magically go away, I contacted a physical therapist. Right off the bat she gave me an immediate list of things she could tell I was doing wrong that brought me to this point. Here are some of things I learned that are essential to taking care of your body as you enjoy running outdoors:

 Sneaker Choice: Yes, those neon orange training sneakers in the window may be the cutest sneaks you’ve ever seen, but they could very well be an immediate recipe for shin splints. Little did I know, the roots of my injury started from my poor choice in footwear. This ultimately led to shin splints that I ignored “because every runner deals when them, right?” Wrong. Wear the correct shoes to avoid unnecessary pounding. Go to a sports store with a footwear section that specializes in long distance running shoes. Marathon Sports and City Sports are two great choices. Running shoes are very different from every day sneakers. Training sneakers are designed to allow for significant range of motion to engage in every day activities and cross training, but running shoes have very specific padding and support to cushion your foot in the right places to avoid injury. Have a specialist watch you walk and run so they can recommend the best type for you. Sadly, but with good reason, I’m saying bye to my neon green trainers for now.

 Terrain: One bonus to outdoor running is the choice in terrain—grass, in the woods, on the beach, or the pavement. However it is very important that during your workout you stick to one or two of these over the course of your run. Your joints adjust to the specific terrain you are running on at that given time and if you are constantly switching between grass and pavement, etc., you can tear your joints or cause unnecessary strain.

 Stretch and Warm- up: If there is one thing I have learned from my injury, it is that warming up and stretching is a daily necessity for athletes.  In order to effectively prevent injury, you have to engage in a dynamic warm-up that raises your heart rate, gets blood flowing to stagnant joints, and prepares your body for the movements you are about to do, making your body able to adjust to the impact without strain. Failure to stretch before a run is one of the top ways to injure yourself. If you have not fully warmed up, you literally are just tearing your muscles before you have even begun your workout. Some examples of dynamic warm-ups include ankle rolls, in-place lunges, skips, hip circles, and leg swings. Stretching should either be done after a full dynamic warm-up (about 15-20 minutes), or at the end of your run. Attending yoga classes a few times a week is also a great way to stretch out those contracted muscles.

Speed and Form: Running is running, right? Not necessarily. Whether on the playground or on a sports team, we’ve been running since we were little kids and it feels pretty natural to us. But the truth is there is a specific form that all runners should learn and practice to stay safe and healthy while running. My physical therapist watched me run on the treadmill and told me that the way I slammed my foot down was sending significantly more shock through my body than if I had used correct form. When you run, focus on rolling from heel to toe distributing equal pressure through the ball of your foot as you bring your foot back up. My ankles were so stiff that I just swung my leg around and slammed it on the ground without rolling through the entirety of my foot. When she looked at my “new shoes” that I had only had for about two months, she said she would’ve thought I had been running in them for years. That’s how much slamming I was causing from poor form. Also, don’t assume that running faster causes more pounding and is worse for you, because the slower you run, the more shock is sent through your leg. This doesn’t mean sprint out of your comfort zone for the entirety of your run, but you aren’t necessarily “taking it easy” when running at a slow pace.

 Cross Training: This is by far the most important part of injury prevention for runners. Up until this past winter I didn’t give any other workout the time of day. I thought that running was the most effective, only way to stay in shape. But being injured and physically unable to run for an entire season, I forced myself to detach from the unrealistic notion that running is the only form of exercise. Craving that runner’s high and endorphin release that I normally got from running, I tried other things like weight training, the elliptical, and stair machines. Nothing really seemed to cut it. Then I started to take classes at The Handle Bar. The combination of cardio, strength, interval and speed training set to upbeat and high- energy music began to satisfy all my running cravings. Not only was I maintaining the endurance I worked so hard to gain from running, but I was strengthening not only my muscles, but my bones and joints as well. This cardio workout is a perfect compliment to anyone who also loves to run. Stationary biking is almost always recommended to anyone with an injury as it is a low impact alternative that not only keeps you in shape, but actually strengthens your weak areas without straining them. It is crucial to any runner’s health to switch up your workouts. As you start to run outside more and more this upcoming spring, it is in your absolute best interest to compliment your runs with spin classes, particularly at a place as specialized in the workout as The Handle Bar.

Mix runs in with your cycling classes, and cycling classes in with your runs. You will find that the two go hand- in- hand beautifully and you will find yourself stronger than ever. Finally able to run again, I don’t regret one minute I spent switching my workouts from running to cycling. Whenever I’m running up a hill I just picture Elise or Sarah leading us through a tough climb in class. One of the best benefits from switching up my workouts and adding classes at the HB is that I’ve been able to add some great new music to my running playlists—all of which I’ve heard here.

These tips will help keep you healthy and running through this spring and onward. And remember that pushing through the pain for that one run isn’t worth a season on the bench. Don’t be afraid to switch it up and take that extra few minutes to stretch!

Image: http://www.beyondvitality.com/Blog/Exercise_Green

Featured Playlist – Rachel’s Set 4/1

11 Apr

john legend tiestoJohn Legend’s rich, soulful voice sends shivers down our spines. Paired with Tiesto? It’s a match made in heaven! The duo’s “All of Me” remix combines John Legend’s sweet, passionate lyrics with just the right amount of Tiesto’s electronic spunk.

Tiesto turned 45 a few months ago and celebrated in true DJ style by releasing this golden track to thank his fans for their birthday wishes and support over the past years.

Check out John Legend’s “All of Me” Tiesto Birthday Treatment remix and the rest of Rachel’s 4/1 playlist here on our Soundcloud page. Hop on the saddle, put your head down, and ride to the rhythm of this great mix!

The Handle Bar Fenway Grand Opening Weekend!

10 Apr

Raising the Bar with a SECOND location

The word is out – we are SO excited to celebrate our Fenway studio Grand Opening this weekend! In just short of a year, and with the help of our riders, team, and friends.. we have created something very special in this incredible city. We have formed a community of people with all different backgrounds, goals, and motivations. A community who inspires us with their love for music, a kick-ass workout, and a great time. Because after all, a ride at The HB is a #PartyOnABike.

Watching our community grow from a small collection of new riders in June… to a now a mix of regulars and newbies – young and old - has been truly inspiring. It’s what motivates our team to get up in the morning – teach class, work the desk, man the blog, create playlists until the wee hours of the night… and just maintain all the behind the scenes work that keeps The Handle Bar what it is. Without your passion for music, sweating it out, and letting it all go, the HB would not be growing from one home to two.

At our Fenway location, we’ll continue to provide the bikes, the music, and the workout, but it is YOU—our riders – who have the power that has and will continue to grow this community. We hope to see MANY new faces this weekend as we take on another part of the city with its own charm and spunk.

Join us this weekend for our Grand Opening celebration.  

Even if you’re not riding, stop in to tour the studio and meet the team!

 Grand Opening copy


Indulge your inner Ultra

9 Apr


Still upset you couldn’t make it down to Miami for Ultra? Don’t fret. Boston has just the right treat for you! Hardwell will be gracing our city with his presence on April 16th at the House of Blues.

Hardwell beat out several EDM superstars to receive the honored title of “Number 1 DJ in the World” in 2013 by DJ mag, becoming the youngest DJ ever to win the award at the mere age of twenty-five – and it’s easy to see why. His fast-paced electronic music can put just about anyone in a feel good mood.

Robbert van de Corput, known by his stage name Hardwell, is a Dutch DJ born and raised in the Netherlands. He was first put on the map of electronic music in 2009 with his hit song “Show me love vs. be.” Since then, Hardwell has virtually exploded with hit tracks such as “Dare you,” “Apollo,” and “Never Say Goodbye.”

Check out Hardwell’s thrilling set here at Ultra Music Festival 2014 to get you pumped up and excited for his upcoming performance! It’s time for Hardwell to raise the bar!


Featured Playlist – Elise’s Set 3/28

4 Apr

beyonce - partition

Beyonce just concluded her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour a week ago in Portugal thanking her fans and appreciating all that she has – specifically her daughter, Blue Ivy. Even though the show is over, the show must go on because Beyonce’s music has left a mark on all of us! She proves again and again that confidence is the best attribute anyone can have. The “Partition – Dave Aude Remix” adds a pop of electronic excitement to Beyonce’s classic track by bringing out a confident, sassy vibe. Whether you’re driving home from work, ready for a night out, or sweating it out at The Handle Bar, this catchy tune puts just about anyone in a feel good mood.

Check out “Partition – Dave Aude Remix” and the rest of Elise’s 3/28 playlist here on our Soundcloud page where you can also listen to playlists from our other instructors.

In the words of Beyonce, “whenever I feel bad, I use that feeling to motivate me to work harder. I use the negativity to fuel my transformation into a better me.” Amen. Don’t forget to keep #RaisingTheBar!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers