Spinning® To The Beat

My Observations - Bob McCauley


Body Characteristics And Natural Frequencies

Many years ago at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Air Force was planning to launch the Space Shuttle from Vandenberg.  The main difference between the launch pad in Florida and Vandenberg was that in Florida, the launch control center was many miles from the liftoff pad.  In California, the launch pad was to be built very close to the launch control center.  The control center was more heavily fortified, but it turned out that this design was flawed.  It seemed that the shuttle created a very strong sonic frequency that just happened to match the human body's relaxation vibration of the anal sphincter.  In other words, anyone at the California launch pad would have crapped in their pants at each launch. 

It turned out that this same vibration frequency was used by crowd control police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago to disperse the angry crowds.  They used fire hoses that spewed high velocity water at the same anal sphincter relaxation frequency and the people in the crowds would lose their rebellious energy after a crowd-wide bowel movement.  But there was a problem with this approach.  Not only did this work on the angry crowd, it also worked on the police and firemen who were manning the hoses.  What does this have to do with spinning® and other exercise where there is an accompaniment of music?  It only points out that the body is sensitive to frequencies. 

To get closer to home, think back to the days of earlier youth (some of the readers may still be there) where you danced all night to the beat of the music.  There is just something in the human brain that responds to the music beat.  It's the same principal that the "whirling dervishes" use in Russia to spin around in a circle all night to the beat of the drums.  Similarly, the Zulus that bounce up and down for hours to the beat of a drum experience a similar phenomenon.  Many a cowboy film has depicted indians dancing around a campfire in a trance-state with the beat of drums in the background.  Simplistically, what happens is that the rhythm of the music causes the body to zone out and go into a state where long periods of physical activity becomes non-stop.  From what I have heard, the theory is that the beat of the music causes the body to secrete endorphins which are basically amphetamines that stimulates a person's ability to endure prolonged activity.

Taking Advantage of the Beat

The use of music in aerobic exercise is not just a detraction to keep the participants' minds off the struggle of exercise.  Using proper music can boost the body's ability to do more exercise for longer periods of time.  How to take advantage of this in spinning®?  Here's what I have observed.  In general, this effect will come naturally.  And that is why spinning® classes have music.  But to get the optimal effect of the music's beat, one needs to pedal exactly to the beat of the music.  Most music has a background of drumbeats.  By pedaling to the drumbeats, the endurance producing effect of the music can be maximized.  It doesn't have to be pedaling to each beat of the bass sound -- it can be to every other beat -- or every third beat, etc... but it should done in synchronization to a definite beat. 

What I find is that when I pedal slower or faster than the natural beat of the music, it becomes more difficult.  Not that it is more difficult ergonomically, but rather it is not as comfortable.

The effect is that the spinning® participants will be able to get into a zone, the same as the long distance runners do.  They just forget that they are working out...

There is a side effect of this, however --- endorphin-aided training is addictive.  If you get use to a class where the teacher uses heavy beat-oriented spinning® music and go to a more normal class, it may result in a loss of ability to maximize your workout.  The bottom line is that you have to have a plan.  What do you want to gain out of your effort in spinning® class?  Do you go to class to get a standard dose of exercise?  Are you on a program to increase your capabilities?  It makes a difference.  To increase your performance requires a change in your workout. If you are happy with the status quo, stay where you are with your workout.  It is your body and your workout and you need to decide what you need.

Please note that my observations, above, are not backed by clinical studies.  They are only observations that I have made over the years while participating in long distance running, mountain climbing, step aerobics and finally spinning®.  While running and climbing outdoors, I always noticed that I got better workouts when I used a headset and listened to music.  And I also noticed that some music was better than others to workout to.  While experimenting with the music selections to be used in teaching spinning® classes, I found that the use of some music made workouts easier than others and that the music selections that did were the ones with distinctive, rhythmic beats whereby the participants could easily synchronize with the beat of the music.


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