Monthly Archives: May 2014

Benefits of Indoor Cycling on our Training

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this week I have spent a lot of time catching up at Flywheel Charlotte.  Since I was out of town for so long, I had to find subs for my regular class times.  Thankfully, I work with a great group of instructors that are happy to cover when they are available.  With that said, I am returning the favor this week.  I had the chance to teach several evening classes.  The after work crowd is great.  Through teaching at various times that I am not as accustomed to, I have been exposed to several different types of riders.  I figured this would be as good a time as any to hit on the benefits of indoor cycling.


Let me give you a brief introduction to how I started including indoor cycling into my regular exercise routine.  If you have read the “about” section of my blog, you probably already know that I was a runner (really more of a sprinter) in college.  After competing at the Division I level in the pole vault for five years, I transitioned into longer cardio sessions when I got into the work force (I was tired of all of the power lifting and sprinting).  I trained and completed my first marathon.  It was during this time that I started to develop several different leg and foot injuries (Plantar Fasciistis, Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, you name it).  The one consistent fall back cardio exercise for me during these aggravating times was indoor cycling.  In fact, it is the reason that I started riding at Flywheel.


One of the biggest benefits of starting indoor cycling is that it is the least discriminatory class that you will find at a gym.  Since riding the bike is a non-impact, it can be utilized as an effective training method for all different age ranges and abilities.  Unlike running, cycling requires much less impact on your knees (which is a big problem area for many people).  Picture this.  At Flywheel, I have seen teenagers, senior citizens, and individuals coming off injuries.  I myself also rode the bike until I was 38 weeks pregnant (I stopped running around six months).


Although there is an instructor in these classes, you can really go at the pace that your body feels it can handle on a given day (without worrying about getting stuck out on the road somewhere).  I like to tell my riders that at Flywheel we never “drop” anybody.  Even though some individuals will have higher power numbers than others, we are all doing the same thing simultaneously.  This gives us the feeling that we are part of a group.


One of the reasons that I did use indoor cycling as a cross training mechanism for running is because of the cardio benefit from it.  After several months of not running due to injury, I was able to transition back to the road in great cardio shape through taking classes at Flywheel.  For someone that doesn’t have a lot of time, these 45 minute cardio bursts are just what I need.   That’s probably why I see so many “Type A” people in the studio.  Time is everything in our society, so if you can give me a workout that is effective and quick, I am open to trying it.


As an instructor, it is amazing to see the physical and/or mental transformation that riders can obtain through shutting everything down and getting a good cardio session in.  It is worth checking out a cycle class or two.  Especially if you continue to struggle to find an effective way to fit cardio in.  This morning’s ride was special for me.  My good friend Ali, who relocated to Richmond, VA for work, was in town and rode. I truly appreciate her support.  She was one of only a few people who rode in my late night preview ride as I was just getting started at Flywheel.


I’m Back, at least I hope!

After a great vacation, we came home to several bumps in the road.  I typically don’t go so many days in a row without posting, but incident after incident on the home front have taken quite a bit of time out of my day.  I am not one to complain, so please don’t worry.  I guess you could say when it rains, it pours at our house.  With every little setback, we always regroup. 257563_10100321176441693_5687034_oWe went to Roanoke for the long Memorial Day weekend.  I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college and moved away from the mountains that I was able to truly appreciate the beauty of my hometown.  After gaining a few pounds over our vacation, we also knew we could get some great workouts in utilizing the greenway and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Saturday morning we woke up and ran the mountain.  The mountain that I am referring to is the one with the Star at the top (if you have ever been to Roanoke, you know what I’m talking about).  From Downtown Roanoke, up the mountain and back is exactly seven miles from the Farmers Market.  For me it is all about finishing.   For my husband, it is all about encouraging.  The inclines are ridiculous.  However, the view is amazing as the sun rises (see above).

255927_10100321177160253_2756440_oAfter a tough run, we got ready for a family reunion at the farm that my Grandmother grew up on.  The drive tends to make me a little nauseous, but the beauty that both the drive and the farm offer is incredible.  This is real.   Self sustaining.  Green.  Untouched.  Truly beautiful.  It was great to introduce my daughter to so many of my relatives who cannot make the drive to Charlotte to see her.



Let’s talk about food at the family reunion.  This is definitely a cheat day.  Remember that seven mile run up the mountain?  We planned it perfect on a day that we knew we would be consuming ALOT of good food.

IMG_1121Although the entrees and sides are always a hit, the best part about the reunion is the dessert room.  That’s right.  An entire room full of dessert.  A must is the banana pudding.  Something about the way that my older relatives makes this stuff is different than any recipe that I have ever tried.  Or I just can’t quite do it like they do.


I contributed to the reunion by bringing an eclair cake.  Y’all this is EASY and delicious (and can be healthy!).   See picture below.  Prep time is less than 10 minutes.



  • 1 package 3.4 oz vanilla pudding (instant) – use sugar free or regular
  •  1 1/4 cup Skim milk
  • Graham crackers (you can use low fat here)
  • 1 8 oz container of Cool Whip (can be fat free)
  • 1 container of chocolate icing (any brand, can be sugar free)

1 –  Line graham crackers around an 8 inch, square pan.

2 –  Mix milk and pudding mix.  Stir cool whip into pudding.  You will need to whisk.  Spread half of mixture over the first layer of graham crackers.

3 – Line another layer of graham crackers over the pudding mixture.  Spread the remaining pudding mixture over the second layer of graham crackers.

4 – Line a third layer of graham crackers over the second pudding mixture layer.  Take lid and aluminum seal off of the icing tub.  Microwave the icing until it will has melted and can be poured (about 1 minute).  Pour the icing on the top of the last layer of graham crackers.  Spread evenly with spatula.

5 – Place the mixture in the refrigerator over night.


Whew!  We spent the next day walking around downtown checking out Festival in the Park.  After a hard run uphill the day before, my legs needed a day of walking.  As I have said several times in the blog.  RECOVERY is necessary!  Walking is a great way to check out a city.






We did do a quick workout utilizing equipment on the greenway before we rolled out of town Monday.  However, I will save that for a future post.  Since I have been back, the majority of my workouts have been spent at Flywheel.  Over the past two weekends, I have needed several subs, so I am returning the favor this week.  In tomorrow’s post, I will highlight the benefit of indoor cycling in our training (specifically when you are short on time).  I also worked out with the ladies of Lululemon in their first FiA workout.  Can’t wait to share!

Final Aruba Installment – The Delicious Food

As promised, I wanted to end my Aruba posts talking about some of the amazing food that we had for dinner while on the island.  Since we had been to Aruba before, we already had an idea of where we wanted to eat each night.  Key is to make reservations early, so you can get a prime table for watching the sun set.  During May, the sun goes down right around 6:45, so getting seated by 6:15 gives you plenty of time to get settled.  All of the restaurants on the coast where the hotels are located give you a perfect view.

photo 1-55 Our favorite casual dining/happy hour on the island is at the Pelican Pier.  Flip flops and bathing suits are appropriate for drinks and/or dinner here. The restaurant and bar literally sit on the end of a pier situated in the middle of all of the hotels.  After a short walk down the beach, we are able to get a great meal.  Fish in Aruba is so fresh. As such, almost every restaurant has an assortment of ceviche.  See the special at the Pelican Pier above.  Super healthy and it tastes better than it looks!photo 2-54 I mentioned that we also love the happy hour here.  They have about every tropical drink that you can imagine (some include a scoop of ice cream).  The view down the pier is incredible.  Check out the picture 3-43 After drinks, we decided we would just go ahead and eat dinner here.  The bar sits in the middle of the pier, where catamarans and dinner cruises come and go.  The restaurant sits at the end of the pier.  Perfect view to watch the sunset.  In fact, it was almost impossible for us to get a good picture prior to the sun setting because of the overwhelming amount of natural 4-31Most of the fresh fish offered at the seafood restaurants on the island is cooked healthy.  I’m talking char grilled, organic (fresh out of the ocean).  I opted for the house special – Mahi Mahi.  Fresh vegetables and rice on the side.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

photo 5-16Although this meal was rather impromptu, we had reservations the rest of our time on the island. As part of the reservation process, we were asked if we were celebrating a special occasion.  I had mentioned to several of the restaurants that we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary.  If you tell them, they will listen.  We were surprised to find that all of the restaurants took this into consideration in choosing our seating and giving us a celebratory dessert.

photo 1-53Our second night on the island, we headed to Flying Fishbone. This restaurant is car/cab drive away. What makes it worth it?  The tables are not just situated on the beach, but the several of the tables are placed such that the water rushes under your feet while you dine.  We were lucky enough to have one of these tables.  Check out the little stand beside the table to hang your shoes.

photo 2-52I stuck with fish again at this restaurant.  The grouper presentation was beautiful, and once again I was blown away with how fresh and juicy the fish was prepared.

photo 3-41After a great meal, the server gave us an option for dessert, which we had planned on getting either way.  We were blown away, when the server came back with a celebratory anniversary plate.  The quality of the picture is bad, because it was dark, but this was such a sweet gesture.  With all of the people coming in and out of that restaurant from all over the world, they still made us feel like we were “regulars”.photo 4-30After two nights of fish, our third night we had made reservations at an Argentinian steak house – El Gaucho.  This was not on the water, but indoors.  Lighting was very dim, which made it hard to get any good pictures.  Nevertheless, the beef was a good break from all of the fish.

photo 1-54With only one full day left on the beach, we trekked back down to Pelican Pier in the afternoon to enjoy one last cocktail.  This time with a scoop of ice cream.  Go big, or go home.  Mango Dream was to die for.  photo 2-53The picture above gives you a better idea of how the pier is situated.  We clearly don’t need a super, fancy, expensive place to have a good time!photo 3-42Our last night on the island, we had dinner at one of my favorites – Pinchos.  This restaurant is also a cab drive away from where we were staying.  It is situated on the end of a pier, however, the attire here is a little more dressy and the atmosphere is incredibly romantic.  If you are thinking that you want a destination wedding, consider this place for a rehearsal dinner or 1-52Yet again, we watched an incredible sunset.  The weather just can’t be beat here.  Photos don’t even do this justice.  Since it was our last night, we enjoyed several appetizers and a drink before dinner (why not prolong our time?).

photo 2-51I mentioned the ceviche on the island before, but check out the ceviche that we got at Pinchos.  Incredible mango salsa topping the shrimp.  In fact, the salsa was so good, that we ended up also topping it on the coconut shrimp below.  photo 3-40Almost everything at this restaurant is flame grilled.  It’s funny because we had been here before, and I ended up getting the exact thing.  The restaurant will take a sample of the fresh fish of the day and skewer the fish with several fresh vegetables.  Incredible way to end a great week of 4-29We ended dinner with a quick picture on a swing that hangs right off the pier.  Clearly, my happiness radiates.  This time together was truly special for my husband and I.  This isn’t the last time that we will visit the island.  There is a reason why almost everyone that you meet there asks, “How many times have you visited the island?” instead of “Is this your first time here?”photo 5-15

The Aruba Mountain Bike Excursion

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we decided to go on a mountain bike excursion while on our trip to Aruba.  We intended to make the entire vacation very relaxing and unplanned, but after a day of just lounging, we approached the concierge about a possible activity.  We began to start the reservation process for a catamaran/snorkeling excursion, when we saw a flier for a new mountain bike/snorkeling tour.  I’m a cycle instructor.  This was just up my alley.  We booked it with De Palm Tours.

photo 1-50The company has been offering the tour for only about two months.  Typically eight people will ride from the north, choppy, Atlantic Ocean side of the island around the northern most tip (where there is a lighthouse) to finish at a small, beautiful beach.  The ride was described as “strenuous”, which we didn’t really take too seriously.  They actually mean it when they say “strenuous” though.  The north side of the island is almost like a desert. Lots of sand and rocks.  Did I mention it is also extremely hot?  That is probably why the tour begins so early (we were picked up at 7:30 AM).

photo 3-38

The bus picked up six people from various hotels before taking us to the start of our bike trip.  Our guide was great.  Bikes were super nice and definitely the appropriate type of bike for the riding that we would be doing.  You can’t use a beach cruiser here.  After a brief intro about the bikes, we were given plenty of time to ride and around to get our bearings on both the bike and the terrain.  Riding on a mountain bike in desert like conditions is 100% different than riding on a bike indoors that is bolted to the ground.  I give a lot of credit to people that do this regularly.  With unexpected road conditions, it is very easy to lose control.  After several minutes of test riding, we started our trek.  Our first stop was at an Aruban natural bridge.  We got off our bikes to walk over to the shore and check it out.

photo 1-51We spent a decent amount of time checking things out before our tour guide asked us to continue on our journey.  It was at the point that a mini disaster occurred.  I have been on many tours all over the world, and I have never actually seen someone get hurt.  My husband and I followed the guide up the next hill (which I had to walk up because the sand was so deep I couldn’t pedal through), until we heard the horn beeping of the truck that follows the last biker. We turned around to see another woman on the tour laying on the ground with everyone else surrounding her.  We came to find out that she had lost her balance trying to just get on her bike.  She was unable to make contact with the ground to catch her fall and landed on her right arm.  We never found out the extent of her injury, but nevertheless help was called and she was not able to continue on the tour.  The guides handled the situation in the appropriate manner, however, I can’t help but think this injury could have been prevented through proper core training. Remember when I posted about how core training can make every day tasks easier?

photo 2-50As soon as the situation described above was handled, we continued on our journey.  Our next stop was beautiful church.  This was a quick stop.  The church is absolutely beautiful and offers services every Tuesday.  Here we also fueled up on fluid (since we had been out in the hot sun for quite awhile).

photo 5-13This time we rode literally until our final destination.  The terrain was pretty intense with a lot of rolling hills.  It was in our favor to pay attention to the road ahead to avoid large rocks and areas with deep sand.  I did have to walk again through some deep sand.  Our guide did a great job of warning us when there might be trouble.  The ride was worth the beautiful beach that we ended up at.

photo 3-39

We spent almost an hour enjoying company offered snacks and drinks while cooling off in the beautiful (almost desolate) water.

photo 5-14


You know we had to Garmin the ride too.  Would you believe we rode almost ten miles. Pace was pretty slow, because we stopped several times, but it was just what we needed on our relaxing vacation.  We wish the woman that was injured well, and we certainly recommend this excursion to people who can actually handle a strenuous workout while on vacation!

photo 4-28