Spinning to a Video

March 1, 2014

So the other day I tried using one of the two spin bikes at the Heart of The Valley YMCA that have video monitors in front of them. I’ve never used such a thing, and thought it would be interesting to try it:

Virtual Reality Spin Bike 1

You can see from the photo below that the bike is not actually connected to the video machine. So it’s basically like cycling a traditional spin bike in front of a TV. But with no speakers, you plug your earphones into the input jacks that dangle below the monitor:

Virtual Reality Spin Bike 11

This is pretty much what it looks like when you’re on it:

Virtual Reality Spin Bike 2

The “TV” part has five main functions: MyRide, MySportif and MyScape are cycling videos, and MyTV and MyMusic allow you to play music and movies from your iPhone that you can plug in. The screen is all touch screen.

Virtual Reality Spin Bike 13

The MyRide and MyEscape are outdoor cycling videos, and MySportif is a Spin instructor who stares at you. I lasted about 3 seconds with her…long enough to take this photo for you fine folks. Seriously though, I could see where it would be beneficial for newbies or if you really want to drill down and do a good workout. Or your a masochist. Whatever.

Virtual Reality Spin Bike 7Virtual Reality Spin Bike 10

So you can see in both of these photos an instructor in the left hand side of the screen – he/she doesn’t always stay there, they’re there to show you what position to be in. The boxes on the right side do stay there the whole time. These boxes tell you (descending order) how much time is left, RPMs, % of max Heart Rate, and how intense you should be working at. The spin bike has a meter on it, so you can get your actual RPMs that way and compare to the video. Intensity is probably just an experience thing, as well as a test of how honest you are to yourself :)

MyRide comes with a terrible (generic) music soundtrack. MyEscape includes the same segments, but with no music, so you can listen to your own, much better, music from your iPhone. On both, you can select pre-made courses of set times, or make your own by piecing together different segments of various lengths. I started with a 60 minute preset compilation that took me through many state parks, rural Vermont roads in fall, and a city park in Seattle…complete with a homeless man sleeping on a bench. Hey, they’re keeping the “reality” in Virtual Reality! Then I did 20 minutes of MyEscape with my own music. Both were nice.

Pros:

It was a really, really nice change for this Wisconsin cyclist who has been trapped inside all winter to feel even a little like I was riding outside, or at least not staring at someone else’s sweaty butt during a spin class.

They had a variety of scenes, which is nice. I’ve never been to Utah, for example, so it was neat to cycle through Zion National Park.

These particular bikes are also untimed, which is nice.

Cons:

Dude…you’re still on a spin bike, indoors. It’s not THAT awesome.

The instructor/voice that tells you what to do sorta sounds like a robot. I haven’t heard a less convincing “Nice work” in a long time.

Minor criticism: These bikes don’t have drop handlebars. I don’t use them much, but it was weird to not have them.

They have a variety of scenes, but of course there’s only so many of those, so I’m sure after a while it would get boring.

This is a minor criticism as well, but I’m not a 6’6” guy, so because I’m a shorter person than they apparently planned for, AND I had the bike in a more “aero” triathlon position, it was a little hard to see the screen because the angle created a glare from the lights in the gym (you can sorta see them in one of the photos above). Being able to adjust the angle and/or height of the screen DOWN would be nice.

Overall though, I do recommend these machines. I know I’ll totally be using these again, probably many times. They would break up the monotony of a spin ride very well…just don’t get your expectations too high.

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