I had an interesting - and some would say ʻbenchmarkingʼ - experience today. I went to cyclo circuits at the Fox Cycling studio in Portishead. Cyclo circuits offers an intriguing mix of spinning (cycling on the spot on specialist bikes) and basic ʻcircuitʼ type exercises such as lunges, squats and power jumps. The whole thing lasts 45 minutes and combines the aerobic challenges of high intensity cycling with muscle toning resistance exercises. I was interested to give it a go as all I have done for the past couple of years by way of exercise is (no surprises) Nordic walking. How would I fare, I wondered, in this high octane environment? Would my aerobic fitness be up to scratch and what about my upper body strength - could I lift those 10kg dumbells we were given above my head for 20 reps no breaks?

The short answer is ʻYesʼ. I couldnʼt say I was surprised. I feel as fit as the proverbial fiddle on my Nordic walking and I was rather relishing testing my body in this rather new and fun way. Let me embellish my story though and indulge myself by re-visiting the experience.

Bella was taking our session and, boy, does she practise what she preaches. Tall, lean, engaging and full of energy, she is the epitome of a cycling enthusiast at the top of her game. There were eight of us in the group and, after setting up our bikes correctly (I reckon it was a 6ft4” giant who had last used mine) we all strapped on our heart rate monitors. Yes, there is no hiding in this session. On a big screen for all to see were our names and respective work rates based on maximum heart rates, calibrated according to the notional 220 less our age. There are different work rate zones (green, blue, orange, red and that all important black zone) and during the course of the bike sessions we had to get ourselves into these different zones and hold it there.

Spinning was surprisingly good fun and thankfully not too long-lived - only eight minutes before we challenged ourselves in a different way. The resistance work wasnʼt dis-similar to our Monday Nordic fitness classes. True, the weight was heavier and there were a few more mat based exercises but I can genuinely say that my whole body - legs, arms, shoulders, core - enjoyed the challenge. The only disappointment is that it is, youʼve guessed it, an indoor workout - and I do LOVE being in the great outdoors.
I felt great at the end though and have some extra ideas for my Nordic fitness sessions - so watch out everyone! The most important point, though, is that my body could respond comfortably to all the challenges thrown at me. Nordic walking really IS a total body workout.

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