Friday, 12 July 2013


A typical RPM workout session


Raw Power in Motion (RPM)

Cycling up a storm on an indoor stationary bicycle

What is it all about?

RPM is the indoor cycling workout where you ride to the rhythm of powerful music. Take on the terrain with your inspiring instructor who leads the pack through hills, flats, mountain peaks, time trials, and interval training.  That's how we discover our athlete within - sweat and burn to reach our endorphin high. To keep things exciting a new RPM class is released every three months with new music and choreography.  All the instructors at Level Up Fitness gym where I train are qualified instructors from the Les Mills program.  Before I discovered the joys of running I used to cycle a lot when I studied in San Francisco.  The hills there can be really challenging.  When I got back to Kuching I hardly cycled anymore.  The RPM classes were kind of nostalgic for me, especially the hill climbs, where we had to stand up and cycle away in higher gears to simulate the inclines.  However when running came along I kind of pushed RPM to the sidelines.

A typical RPM class burned the desired amount of calories for someone like me.  Of course nowadays if I run at a faster pace I can burn lots more.  However the great thing about RPM is that I reduce the pounding action on my legs.  Plus different leg muscles come into play.  Believe it or not I find this sort of cross-training helps me run faster!  So for anyone tired of the endless runs to nowhere on the treadmill, they can shift to the endless pedaling to nowhere.  Trust me with the catchy music that we are encouraged to sing along too, it will breathe new life into any training programme.  The worst thing that can happen is that we get bored of doing the same old thing over and over again.  Hence I emphasis the need for road runs.  Acting like a gerbil all the time has its benefits for someone like me who has trouble pacing himself.  However putting in road and even track runs is a must.  Tempo runs and sprint work of the Yasso 800 variety has its merits, but also have a host of critics.

How I got back into the fold

Yours truly had frozen his membership because of too many runs.  When they announced the Push the Tempo challenge for RPM in May I was still imitating a Popsicle.  As luck would have it another prize would be awarded to anyone who managed to accumulate the highest points from the 16th May onwards.  Of course it had to be a cycling jersey.  Am a self-confessed sucker for running tops, finisher t-shirts and any kind of jerseys.  Since I missed out on two classes I knew I had to attend every single RPM class for the next two weeks to stand a chance of winning the jersey.  Sometimes that meant as many as two RPM classes in a day! Sometimes getting to the gym on time can itself be a challenge.  However I used the same determination from my runs to get the job done.  Suffice to say from Day One it worked like a charm.

RPM instructor Orly Zapatos and me on Day One

Thanks to RPM instructors Orly Zapatos, Corina Yong, Mary Anne E. Hendroff, Ryan Tay and Kenny Sia, for keeping me motivated throughout those two weeks.  I even managed to squeeze in a bit of treadmill work in between, but the most was half an hour. As the days went on I was burning more and more calories.  That was a sure fire way to bring my weight down.  When I stopped doing the classes and concentrated on my runs leading into Spring Live Active Run I surprisingly felt refreshed.  On the Thursday before the run I weighed in at 91kg!  That's the lightest I have ever been for such a long time.  Of course I would gain it back again after my back to back adventures on the road and in the mountains, but that's unfortunately how I operate.  All I can say is that the feeling to be light again is simply awesome.  I want  more of that and I know I have to work hard at keeping the fat away.

What I got for my efforts

Yes I admit for starters I was in it to win the jersey.  But as things went on my joy for cycling returned.  I do own a mountain bike.  It's covered in dust and both tyres are deflated.  There will come a time when I must give it a go again.  Just for fun though.  No duathlons or cycling events for me.  Am only concentrating on one thing: running.  If I wanted to be a triathlete I would sprout fins.  That's the only way for me to swim 4.8km in the ocean.  I am trying to imagine swimming lap after lap in a puny swimming pool to achieve that.  Then again aren't I doing nearly the same thing with my treadmill runs?  A dear friend of mine says treadmill running is so boring for her.  I understand why.  Yet I must look at the big picture.  It's more practical for me then running on weekdays with cars around me and all that exhaust smoke.  At night it gets too dangerous.  I could get hit, and nearly have a couple of times by bikes, even though am running against the flow of traffic.

Lets not lose track on what this is all about: RPM. I made many new friends in the process.  There was Kevin Hirst who when I was there didn't miss any RPM class.  Then there was Venessa Signal who was nearly always there.  From the get-go everyone knew Kevin was the man to beat.  He had worn out cycling shorts in the process! I didn't wear any.  Mine was hanging on a hook behind my bedroom closet door! Don't think it does much for me.  Guess am immune to that saddle now.  I clearly remember when RPM was first introduced when one of the members said a most private part of hers was on fire.  She didn't seem to care if everyone heard her words.  So I guess it must have been that bad!  The body adapts to all sorts of punishment thrown at it.  Over time I got used to that saddle.  In my younger days I did always use bike shorts though.

Vanessa Signal and Kevin Hirst

As expected Kevin took top honours. Vanessa finished second.  Both got an additional hamper for being the top male and female winners.  Carol Lim finished third.  And yes yours truly did get his cycling jersey for being the top performer in the second half of May. And yes I was the first one to wear mine on RPM Relaunch Day. What's more I got me a tiny hamper too!

Me winning my prize!

Carol coming in third

Vanessa with all her prizes!
Kevin with all his winnings!

The four cycling jersey winners...

That's what we all won amid the other goodies
Kevin won an extra t-shirt from the sponsors!

RPM Relaunch

Unleashing the superhero in all of us

The Joker, Invisible Girl and Spidey
Every three months or so the Les Mills program gets a Relaunch.  Lucky for us we had a double or should I say triple treat during the RPM Relaunch.  Apart from getting our Push the Tempo prizes, we also quickly learned the latest edition to the RPM class.  On top of that the theme was Superheroes! As expected our instructors came dressed as superheroes and even a super-villain.  The class was led by Mary Anne (Invisible Girl - luckily we still managed to see her!) and Ryan (Peter Parker forgot his mask!).  Then along came The Joker (Kenny) to aim his gun at all of us.  How I wished it squirted out Gatorade! Those classes are always fun and everyone wants to attend them.  Nothing beats the energy from RPMing in a class full of like-minded people working out.  I think I must have burned even extra calories!

Me trying to steal some of their super powers!
All those who participated in the Relaunch

What it did for me...

Two weeks of RPMing. Not missing a single RPM class. Then back to two weeks of treadmill action and road runs.  What did I achieve from all this? Only knocked nearly half an hour off my 21km PB at Spring Live Active Run! That's why I am sharing this with all of you. It could be my body needed a change. It could be because different legs muscles came into play.  It could be because I rested my feet. It could be because of a host of other things I don't even know about.  What am sure about though is this type of cross-training helped me a lot on race day.  Maybe you too can find something that works for you to help improve your runs.  We all after all do nearly the same thing.  Some of us like to climb. I do that at least once a month.  Others like to swim or do yoga.  Get different muscle groups into play.  That I think is the key.  Your muscles will thank you for it.

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