Liz’s Story – August 2012
I have always exercised, but was not feeling like I was getting the results I wanted in either fitness level or meeting weight loss goals, especially as I got older. It was just beginning to dawn on me that I needed to step up the intensity of my workouts.
My older brother is a fitness buff, still runs marathons in his fifties, and dragged me to one of his super intense Spin classes when I went to visit him in CA a couple of years ago. I got a really rigorous workout and decided to check out Spinning when I got back to Austin. I found Flywheel Fitness, which luckily happened to be located just 5 minutes
from my house.
After I started out in the Flywheel Spin classes I noticed that they also offered rowing classes. I had close friends who had rowed in college and loved it and got super fit, so I decided to check out those classes too. Now I enjoy mixing up my workouts to avoid boredom and work different muscles.
After several months into doing the Spin classes, I wasn’t quite a couch potato, but I still felt like my lungs were literally going to explode during the first month of rowing classes. I could only compare the effort to the time I tried mountain biking for the first time in the Colorado mountains and biked straight uphill in altitude and had to collapse over the bike at the top of the hill. I found it really hard to make a half-hearted effort under Sara-Mai’s velvety smooth, yet iron-fisted instructions and encouragement. I found the classes and technique to be challenging, exhilarating, frustrating and ridiculously addictive from day one. The max efforts are a rush and I feel that rowing is a constant challenge: I always feel like I have more to learn in technique and still a long way to go to improve my strength and breathing, so it’s never boring. You work at your own pace in class, but there is still always an element of friendly competition that keeps you challenging yourself.
Although I had been doing weight training for years, it was after only about 2 months of rowing that both men and women both started complimenting me on the improved definition of my arms. My cholesterol level has always been in the normal range, but it still dropped about 50 points after about a year of rowing. My blood pressure and my weight dropped, and my lungs don’t get to the point where I feel like they are going to explode any more- I think that all translates to better fitness. It’s not only the physical
effort, but the mental challenge of rowing that translates well to my running efforts and vice versa. I also love the fact that the better fitness level translates to whatever else I want to do, like trying more challenging mountain hikes for instance.
In the last year, I ran my first half-marathon and did my first rowing half-marathon and succeeded in my goal of completing it in under 2 hours. I’ve lost 3 of my closest friends in the last few years, so I feel that by challenging myself with rowing and other challenges, in my own small way, I’m trying to live to the fullest for all of us.
My goals for the next year are to try and match my nutrition efforts to my exercise efforts (is there a chapter of Chocoholics Anonymous nearby??) and to get my strength and watts up to catch up to some of the other crazy “animals” in rowing class…you know who you are!
Lauren’s Story – August 2012
Lauren first found Flywheel through a Living Social deal a little over a year and a half ago. At that time she was running a lot and having some knee and hip problems. She had never tried Spinning before and hoped it would give her some relief from the pain she was experiencing while running. Lauren enjoys working out and couldn’t talk herself into taking time off to heal. Spinning allowed the muscles she was over-using in running to rest and it also gave her achy joints some much needed relief. Then…she started to really enjoy the classes!
Lauren takes six classes a week and says she looks forward to all of them. In her own words: “There is a different instructor for each day and they all have a different style and way of teaching the class. Knowing that each class is different helps motivate me to go to class everyday. There isn’t one instructor I prefer. They are all so different and look forward to each of their classes for different reasons. Even though I’ve been Spinning for almost a year and a half, I still find every class challenging. You are in charge of the resistance on your bike, so the class is as difficult as you make it. I know I have gotten stronger and my endurance on the bike has increased, but I push myself in each class and most days I leave Flywheel exhausted.”
“I recently started taking two classes back-to-back. I never thought I would be able to do two hours of Spinning and I am so excited about my accomplishment. I love Flywheel and recommend it to all my friends…although most are too afraid to try it. I always tell them it is only as hard as you make it, so you can start out slow and easy and progress at your own speed. Before you know it, you will be addicted to Spinning like me.”
Tom’s Story – August 1, 2011
Tom did his first workout at Flywheel in January 2010. He started with Indoor Rowing and has since added both Spinning and Boot Camps. In October 2010 Tom was part of our first group to complete an Indoor Rowing Marathon. Looking back on his journey, Tom writes…
What caused you to get started?
In the weeks after my 55th birthday I seriously reflected on the general condition of my health and did not like what I saw: 30 pounds overweight, 2 medications recently prescribed , getting close to a third, and my cardiologist giving me that look…..you know the look, men! My sleep patterns were erratic and my stress management capabilities were diminishing. Most of all, however, was the beginning realization that I was not going to be around to enjoy my children’s children unless some serious intervention took place. Also, after a few decades of being married to the most amazing woman in the world we were actually starting to enjoy each other on a much deeper basis and I wanted more than anything in the world for this to continue. So, having rowed a bit in my past I decided to get serious about applying all the research around rowing and the science of it being one of the most complete and efficient forms of exercise there is and visited Flywheel Fitness to check it out. I was hooked immediately.
You went to an unlimited membership right away and started attending Rowing classes on a regular basis. What about it got you to stick to it initially?
Knowing that anything worthwhile was going to take some time, I committed to a moderate level of rowing (about 25,000 meters a week) for six months. I figured then I’d see what my next step was going to be. Surprisingly, within 90 days I was rowing about 30,000 meters a week, losing weight, sleeping better and feeling much better each day, and longer into it as well. After a long, hard day or a brutal travel schedule I actually had something left for my family when I returned home. This was transformative for me and validation that I was on the right track to something very different for my life.
What has kept you with it this long?
Very simple: the continuing improvement month by month in my health. I lost 30 pounds, gained back 5 pounds in muscle. I’m off one medication and have a reduced level in the other. I have more energy and seem to generally live more in the moment with my family and friends. I sleep better, eat better and live better.
10 months after starting here you did the Rowing marathon. Tell us about that.
I decided to test my progress so I joined the rowing Marathon at the studio. Surprisingly I not only finished (which was my goal) but did so with a relatively decent time of 3 hours 49 minutes. In my age group of 50-59 this placed me in the 55th quartile among all competitors worldwide. It ended up being a lot of fun so now I’ve dedicated my birthdays each year to rowing in this event. I hope to be able to knock off a few minutes for the next several years as my endurance and strength improves.
You’ve more recently added Spinning and now some Flywheel Rowing Boot Camp workouts.
In the last 9 months I have added Spinning and some Boot Camps to my weekly routine. My endurance is improving, I’m learning something new, and I get the variety of different workouts. I have come to really enjoy the classes and have seen an added benefit to my rowing technique and strength.
Lastly, I must add that the last 18 months have been a game changer for me. I feel like I did when I was 25 and in pretty good shape as a young man. My energy levels are significantly higher, I fit better in my clothes, I’ve eliminated most of my gut, and I have a much less stressful outlook on life. My wife enjoys all the changes too! So for all you men out there who think the game is over……No No No…..your age or your current physical shape are no longer excuses for you to keep living the same way! Get to it.
Update! In the week of Tom’s 56th birthday, he again completed the Flywheel Indoor Marathon – and improved his time by 34 minutes! Another year older, and much faster – Tom is proof that Flywheel will get you fit.
Amy’s Story – April 11, 2011
Amy had been coming to Flywheel Fitness for about 8 months when we posted this. Amy’s been a consistent participant, she is a great athlete, and she competed for Team Flywheel in the 2011 Erg Rodeo! Here’s a little Q & A with Coach Patrick Kelly…
What Brought you to Flywheel Initially?
After 10 years of minimal physical activity and the physical changes that occur after 40, I decided to get back into shape and work to firm up. I was looking for a boot camp in Austin but I was not able to commit to a specific program. I travel for work so I didn’t want to pay for a 4 week or 6 week program and not be able to attend all the classes.
When I found the Rowing Boot Camp class offered at Flywheel Fitness, I was excited because I was not bound to a certain time frame. I could purchase classes and use when I was available. So I signed up for a free boot camp class at 5:30am and gave it a try. What I found out was that I loved to row and that the boot camp was very challenging. I jumped right into the Unlimited Monthly Pass to be able to take advantage of all the different classes available.
What do you like about coming to Flywheel?
The class times offered are convenient (especially when juggling a family and work) and the studio is easy to get in and out of. Not one class has been the same and the workouts are intense. I started with the Rowing Boot Camp and now also do Spinning and Indoor Rowing classes. I especially like the small classes. You get personal attention so you’re coached on the correct form to maximize your workout. Even on how to do a push-up correctly!
Any surprises since you’ve started?
Not only do I enjoy Rowing and Boot Camp, but I also enjoy Spinning. At first Spinning was intimidating as it is crazy hard, but the coaches are kind and encouraging. You do what you can and keep improving. Everyone is at different levels and it is okay. Another personal accomplishment has been conquering the jump rope!
What changes mentally and physically have you undergone since joining?
In 5 months I have dropped 25 pounds while gaining muscle (so who knows my real weight loss). I feel great. An unexpected benefit is the arm and shoulder muscle definition I’m seeing. I have awakened MY INNER ATHLETE!!!
Susan has been with Flywheel Fitness since our second month in business! Hard to believe that was almost 2 years ago. Since arriving, Susan has been a committed participant and has certainly seen the benefits of consistent participation. Here’s her story in her own words:
I read the book “Younger Next Year” and was looking for a sustainable way to get moving. As an added incentive, my daughter’s wedding was less than a year away and I didn’t want to be a homely, lumpy mother of the bride. I’ve never been athletic or able to stick to an exercise program more than three months. Ever. I saw the ”rowing studio” sign at the corner of South Lamar and Bluebonnet and decided to give it a try. Sixteen months later I’m three dress sizes smaller, 40 pounds lighter and stronger than ever. Yes, ever.
Flywheel Fitness lets you start where you are, even if that’s “not fit at all.” Because you control your effort level, you can work out without being intimidated. The small classes provide companionship and encouragement. The coaches provide personal instruction and consistent feedback. When the coaches and classmates urged me to row a half-marathon, I thought they were crazy. Me? In an athletic competition? I finished – my primary goal! – in under two hours. (This was my stretch target time based on what I thought was overzealous encouragement from Flywheel owner, Sara-Mai).
In October I plan to row the full marathon. I’m not the fastest, or most graceful, rower in class. The coaches tell me you never really “master” the stroke, just keep making tiny improvements, and that’s encouraging to me. The only yardstick is me — competing against myself.
Here’s why it works: I show up. I like it. I feel good afterward. I go back.