The Origins of the BECYCLE Method
There are two kinds of indoor cyclists out there: Those who want to dance (they follow the SoulCycle method), and those who focus on performance (the Flywheel method). Wondering where BECYCLE belongs? Keep reading to find out! As told by Berlin writer, Natalya Gimson.
SoulCycle is famous for its choreographed routines done on the bike; you don’t need to follow instructions on resistance or pace metrics. Just bring some enthusiasm - and a little bit of coordination - and you’re guaranteed a good time. Flywheel, on the other hand, has a counter approach. It was actually founded by one of SoulCycle’s original founders, who believed in tracking performance and measuring self improvement, rather than dancing on the bike.
I prefer high intensity training, and as I had experienced knee pain after a SoulCycle class, I began searching for a Flywheel-style class in Berlin. I’ve been through two knee surgeries before, so I’ve also been looking for a workout that doesn’t leave me with the all-too-familiar throbbing after class.
I came across BECYCLE shortly into my search, and after reading some positive reviews, I selected a Tuesday night hip hop-themed class. The whole process was pretty impressive; I picked my preferred bike seat prior to class, and my shoes and sweat towel was prepared in advance of my workout. Once I was set up on the bike, the instructor was careful to explain how the bike works and what would be involved.
In a BECYCLE class, teachers never push you beyond 120 rpms when you get up and out of the saddle. The focus is mostly emphasis on the resistance/speed ratio and correct form (no pushups on the handlebars or ‘dancing’ on the bike). The class is designed for someone who wants to track their watts and stats, and who wants to see their results in numbers.
PROTECTING THE KNEES
While so many parts of our bodies work flawlessly throughout our lives, our knees don’t have such a great reputation. This is especially hard for active people, who put pressure on them over and over again. Cycling is a great workout for those who want to do cardio, and using the right amount of resistance is important. Sprinting for too long can irritate the knee joint, and heavy prolonged resistance can exhaust the leg muscles (1). Finding the right balance is key to keeping the knees happy.
The cycling room is set up like a stadium so you have a clear view of the instructor from anywhere in the room. During my class, the instructor was constantly reminding the class about good form, knee alignment, and the right amount of resistance to use during each track. She encouraged us while not being too over-the-top, plus her playlist was killer. I used cycling shoes for the second time in my life and could really feel the difference - I had to use my hamstrings and gluteus muscles to pull up on the pedal, not just the sheer strength of the quadriceps to push down (2).
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF YOUR BODY?
Getting up and out of the saddle not only works the gluteus and quadriceps more than when sitting, but it also activates the upper body muscles turning it into an intense whole body workout (3). A big part of correct form here is using the abdominals, when pulling up on the pedals they help the leg up and forward. On the other hand, sitting and sprinting work the entire leg muscle. At the top of the pedal stroke the inner quadriceps, hamstrings and calves are the ones building muscle, and during the bottom of the pedal stroke the hamstring continues to be activated. In both positions the triceps, shoulders and abdominals help to stabilise the whole body during this intense yet low-impact workout (3).
I was conscious of using my whole body during the workout, but was also cautious about any pain. It helped that the teacher encouraged us to tune in and listen to our bodies. As I looked around, I saw a mix of people in the class; a serious cycler in a full biker outfit, another motivated woman who was pushing herself like crazy, and people like me who were not as regular, but still trying our best. The lights had the same effect as when I’m out dancing in a club, they put me in a focused trance where everyday stress melts away and it’s just me and my body letting go one pedal at a time.
Article written by Natalya Gimson, a health & wellness writer based in Berlin, you can find out more about her at www.wellwordsstudio.com.