How do Professional Athletes keep it interesting?
this post originally appeared on Tiffany's blog here.
As October came to an end it signalled one thing for the majority of professional road cyclists. It was time to get back on the bike, start shedding the offseason kilos and begin building the foundations for the new season.
When I looked around my social media I saw many fellow riders already back on their bike. After my extended travels from the world championships with holiday destinations including Vancouver, Sun Valley, ID and Japan, by the time I returned home to Adelaide after a couple of days rest I was itching to get back on my bike.
The only problem I was facing was that my bike was taking a prolonged holiday as it was still returning from the World Championships back to Adelaide.
So what does one do without a bike but eager to start getting back into shape?
Having the luxury of endless days and very few commitments I decided I would challenge myself to find a different activity to try each day for 7 days.
Anything from free outdoor fun to signing up to random fitness classes around Adelaide. It was a chance to challenge my body, build strength, work some of the muscles that are often forgotten about when riding the bike and to mix up my training with activities I don’t often get to do in season.
Here’s what I got up to in my 7 day personal challenge, perhaps it inspires you to try something new?
Swimming – I have a love/hate relationship with the pool, I love being in the water but swimming laps isn’t the most exciting activity. I have used swimming in the past for cross training as it’s a fantastic activity to build general fitness, work on your breathing and being a non-impact sport you’re still able to move the following day. I completed a 45min session of 4 sets of 500m in various strokes.
Hiking – I was pretty ambitious on day 1 and decided I would hike home from the pool. I live in the hills and from the local pool in Burnside that I use which is situated at the base of the foothills, there is a beautiful hike nearby from Waterfall Gully up to Mt Lofty. From there I can continue along some great trails down to Crafers before a slightly less exciting final 3km’s home along the road. I’m not going to lie, it was slightly longer than I thought at 17km and nearly 700m of climbing, but it was so great to be out in the sunshine, enjoying the nature whilst spotting some local Kangaroos and Koalas.
Anti-Gravity Yoga – Yoga is an activity I’ve always enjoyed to loosen up the body from the long hours on the bike whilst switching off and relaxing the mind. Anti-Gravity yoga, also known as aerial yoga is both a form of yoga and a fitness technique that utilises the practice of awareness of body, mind and spirit. It combines the traditional yoga poses, pilates and dance with the use of a hammock.
I’ve always wanted to try anti-gravity yoga but never got around to it. I found a local studio, Zephyr Yoga in the city who specialised in this form of yoga with classes for all different levels. It was great, a 1hr session with a small class size so the teacher could work closely with you to make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly and getting the technique right. It was a fun spin on traditional yoga and lets be honest, who doesn’t love to just ‘hang’ around?
Casual sessions are just $20 AUD and there are various packages if you are interested in becoming a regular.
Barre – I’d finally made my way into the city centre after spending a few days hiding away up in the hills. I was wandering around Rundle St and saw a sign in the street for a Barre studio – Aleenta Barre.
Barre is one of the latest popular workout regimes thanks to many celebrities who have said to be incorporating it into their daily training. It’s inspired by ballet training whilst combining the likes of yoga and pilates to give you a complete body workout that helps lift, lengthen and tone your sculpture.
I signed up for a free trial then and there for the Barre Blend class, a challenging class that blends Vinyasa with Barre. I certainly felt like I had a workout when I finished.
Aleenta Barre offers 6 different styles of classes for you to choose from with an introductory offer of $50 AUD for unlimited classes over 2 weeks. This gives you the chance to try them all out and work out which classes and teachers you like best.
Surfing – According to most foreigner’s being an Australian means that naturally you surf. This is far from the truth, unless you live in Queensland as it seems to be a greater part of the culture up there. Adelaide isn’t exactly known for it’s great surf, being located in a gulf keeps it protected from the big swells. If you’re up for a little road trip though you can find some surf spots down the south coast or over at Yorkes Peninsula.
Surfing is another one of those activities that I’ve always wanted to be able to do but never found the time to learn to do it properly. My dad thought it would be a good idea of something we could do together whilst I was home so he organised some lessons. My first attempt last year wasn’t very enjoyable, mainly because it wasn’t great surfing conditions and I was pretty tired from training on the bike beforehand. This time around it was a lot more successful as I managed to catch some waves and work out the technique.
After a 2hr lesson I was knackered, surfing is certainly a great full body work out. I felt like I used a lot of muscles I don’t normally use out on the bike and it was excellent for the core too.
TRX Core & Legs – Training with TRX is very common amongst athletes these days, a lightweight, portable and compact system that can be used almost anywhere.
TRX suspension training uses bodyweight to help develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. When you buy the TRX training system it gives you access to many exercises and training sessions through their app.
I performed the 10 minute core strength session followed by the 15 minute lower body (legs) session. It takes a little bit of time to perfect the technique but once you do, you really feel like you’re getting a quality workout targeting key areas of the body.
Stand Up Paddle Race – Stand Up Paddle is an activity I have been doing from time to time for a few years now, a great alternative activity for core training. Racing though, this was a first.
It was late on a Saturday night and I had a message from my brother challenging me to a SUP race ‘Jetty 2 Jetty’, that was on the following morning at one of the local beaches. Of course I was interested and wanted to take on the challenge.
I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, turns out racing is a little bit harder and requires much better technique than my usual paddle along the French Riviera at a leisurely pace.
My brother had to pull out due to work commitments but I still went down and had a go at the race. I threw myself in the deep end and competed in the ‘race’ category as opposed to the ‘fun’ category, but it meant I had the opportunity to use one of the carbon fibre race boards which glide through the water much quicker than your standard leisure boards.
I think I finished last in the 7km open women’s race but it was a fun day out and a pretty cool sight to see with almost 100 people participating and all taking off from the beach together at the start.
Soul Capoeira – Capoeira combines Afro-brazilian martial arts, dance, music and acrobatics that helps develop fitness, flexibility, co-ordination, strength and endurance.
I looked into Capoeira a number of years ago as a new skill to learn but never ended up trying out one of the classes. After discovering that a friend of mine teaches classes in Adelaide I decided to finally give it a go.
It was a proper workout that really challenged me. I’ve always loved trying to flip around or perform acrobatics, but combining this with high kicks, twists and turns whilst making it flow required a huge amount of focus and coordination. Many different skills than what I use on my bike but many that I feel help develop muscles that are used whilst cycling.
The best yet is that the introductory class is free and after that it’s only $15 AUD per a 1.5hr class.
With my 7 day challenge complete I’m not going to lie my body was pretty sore and tired, but I had a lot of fun playing around with different activities. The good news is that my bike has now arrived and training has resumed as per normal, although I think I may continue to incorporate some of the activities into my regular training regime.
About the Author: Tiffany Cromwell is one of Australia's top female road cyclists, who has enjoyed incredible success internationally. As part of the CANYON//SRAM racing team, Tiffany is now pushing to become the best cyclist in the world and has the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and Tokyo 2020 in her sights. Follow Tiffany's journey on her popular Instagram account, on Twitter and online.