There’s been an ongoing debate for years: what’s better for you, cardio or strength training? The answer depends on what type of results you’re looking for. If you’re strictly trying to lose lbs or sweat out last nights margarita, I’d suggest cardio, but if you’re looking to build muscle and tone, strength training is a must. Really though, you need to do both. One won’t cut it without the other, plus by making your workout routine varied, you won’t get bored.
While cardio burns more calories per minute, strength training builds muscle and with increased muscle, you burn more calories throughout the day, well after you put down the weights.
I tend to go through very cardio-focused phases, especially when I’m training for a race or happen to load my schedule with too many spin classes. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of this and infusing my workouts with strength training. Doing weights on my own, I lose interest in about 10 minutes. To combat this, I’ve been seeking out classes that combine cardio and strength training. With winter in full effect and no races coming up that I need to train for, I’m taking advantage and trying different fitness classes across the city.
Hitting on that cardio+strength combo, last weekend I visited the Vanderbilt YMCA (47th & 3rd) for a spin+kettlebell ‘Bikes & Bells’ combo workout. YMCA invited me to try a few of their classes and this was my first one, also my first time inside an NYC YMCA! I had no clue they have such enormous fitness centers, extensive group fitness schedules, and nice pools (note to self during triathlon training season).
On Saturday morning I grabbed a friend to join me for Ellen’s spin+kettlebells class. The spin class lasted a solid 50 minutes and included a warm up, a lot of intervals and a cool down. The intervals were totally my style, getting us to work hard, get breathless, then ease off to catch our breath before hitting the next round. The class was road-based, no fancy push ups or rhythmic routines to it, very straightforward. For my cyclist pals, if you need an indoor workout, this one is good for training. After we cooled down from the bikes, we moved them aside and grabbed our kettlebells. The kettlebell section lasted about 20 minutes and gave us a full-body workout. I am not new to kettlebells but I learned some new moves in this class.
I loved the combo of spin followed by weights. The spin class got my heart rate up and had me sweating and during the kettlebells I was challenged and could feel the burn (not to mention next-day soreness). Unlike spin classes that incorporate maybe a song or two of weights, this combo class left you feeling like you got in both a solid cardio workout and a solid strength workout.
This class was extremely approachable. There were people of all ages and fitness levels participating and our instructor Ellen set up the class in such a way that no one would feel like they couldn’t do something, but for the fittest of the fit, you were challenged as well.
If you are new to spin or kettlebells (or any class really!), I can’t recommend enough that you get there a few minutes early and let the instructor know. They can help you get set up, give you an idea of what you’re in for and will make the class a smoother and more enjoyable experience.
For this combo class, wear your standard workout gear and be sure to bring both your cycling shoes (if you have them) AND sneakers. Trying to handle kettlebells in spin shoes, not a great idea.
I know that for some new to the workout scene, speciality studios can be intimidating. The Y is an awesome place to get comfortable with fitness, you know you are in good hands. For my east-side readers, check out all of theclasses available at the Vanderbilt location (cardio & strength!); I bet you’ll be surprised at just how much they offer.
*This post is in partnership with the YMCA. All opinions are my own. In this partnership I’m going to check out additional Y locations and classes, stay tuned to hear more.