A guy’s perspective on the total-body, rhythm-driven cycling classes at The Handle Bar.
From high school & college athlete to avid spinner.
By: Joseph Chambrello
High School Training
As my twenties pass me by faster than I’d like, I’m always looking for effective ways to stay healthy and fit. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t get easier with age. In high school, I was required to train constantly for whatever sport was in season, and maintain that shape in the offseason. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t play. I wanted to play, so this necessity of training became such a routine – a lifestyle really – that it began to come naturally. Strength training, resistance training, aerobic/cardio training, etc. – I did all of it.
I took comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone in my training. My teammates were in the trenches with me, working their ass’s off to achieve a common goal. We wanted to perform at the highest individual level to ultimately have success as a team. There was a sense of accountability with each player and a natural desire to challenge each other as well as yourself. That’s what I miss the most about the concept of training – the end game. I miss the camaraderie I had with my teammates and the rewards that came as a result of the hard work.
As we all moved on from high school sports, most of us realized we weren’t going to be competing in organized athletics at the next level. Even if we played organized sports in college, we understood that we probably wouldn’t be moving on to play professionally. The thought of not playing in another game that “means something” is a tough pill to swallow. Naturally, there is a transition period. We still maintained the baseline of athleticism and skill that we worked all those years to develop and certainly still possessed our competitive nature. Only now, we had a different platform and different reasons to execute them.
Many of the aforementioned feelings and desires were satisfied playing intramural sports. We all wanted to compete for that coveted t-shirt, and enjoyed the camaraderie and competition along the way. Perhaps our motivation to training and staying in shape was to increases our chances with the girls. Maybe we were just determined to prove that we wouldn’t gain the freshmen 15. Either way, we all had enough incentive in those years to work out and stay in shape, in some capacity.
Before I continue, if you are someone that didn’t grow up participating in athletics, training, or daily exercise in general, but decided to pick it up later on or recently (for any number of your own reasons) the below applies to you as well.
Training, working out, exercise, whatever you want to call it, is harder to do now – it just is. There aren’t quite the same motivations to pull from, and there certainly isn’t the same amount of free time. Many of us are working full time jobs, and have other priorities and responsibilities in our lives. That being said, it can absolutely be done (rule number 76: no excuses, play like a champion). I admit and agree that the gym routine gets old. You feel like you can only “switch up” the routine so many times to challenge yourself and work different muscles before you end up circling back. The thing is, most of the time, you really are working by yourself. It’s tough enough setting aside daily exercise time without relying on others to join you — motivation is lost, laziness sets in. NO EXCUSES.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m always looking for new ways to maintain my health and fitness. In order to do this, I knew I’d have to open myself up to new avenues. One of the avenues I was aware of but just didn’t have interest in was “spinning” or indoor cycling as it’s referred to. After it was highly recommended and insisted upon by a friend, I gave it a try. Game changer. I went to a recently opened indoor cycling studio called “The Handle Bar.” I’ll attempt to not sound too histrionic as I take you through my first experience.
Initially, I hoped my inexperience wouldn’t show through as I observed the others getting ready. The group of riders and I strapped on specialized biking shoes and entered the room. It immediately felt different. It was almost like I was putting cleats on again and stepping onto the field with my team – really cool feeling. We locked into the bike pedals – this was serious. The instructor was up on stage blasting the music and flashing the lights, we were ready for our journey. It took me right back to pregame warm-ups in front of a big crowd.
The ride was 45-minute combination of sprints, hills, and various choreographed movements to the rhythm of the beat. That was the coolest part. Everyone was riding together to the beat of great music. It had that team, camaraderie feel I’d been craving, along with the inner challenge to push myself. The combination of the overall community feel, coupled with your own individual thoughts and goals throughout the ride is what makes it so rewarding. My teammates were in the trenches with me, except it was just as fun as it was challenging.
There was a weighted-bar arm routine during the session that completed the full body workout. I was so impressed with the energy in the room, which helped keep the motivation up during the ride, along with an awesome instructor (really fed off her energy and leadership, I could tell how much she loved it). Fellas – join me. It’s the best cardio workout you’ll have all week and an incredible change up from the same old routine. Walk by The Handle Bar during a ride, you’ll hear the music and see the lights. It’s like the party that everyone wants to go to, except there’s more girls than guys. Maybe that’s the stereotype that deters the guys – that it’s a “girl thing?” It shouldn’t be. This is the latest and greatest in fitness in Boston, and The Handle Bar is the best in the game. My only regret after leaving was that I didn’t get involved earlier.