When you get Jennifer Klau and me together to discuss a subject about which we are so passionate, it could go on for hours (in fact it did off mic!) But don’t worry, I managed to keep this to 35 minutes! I know you will enjoy our discussion, and I hope you share this with anyone you know who is worried that they shouldn’t be doing aerobic exercise or attending your Spinning® or Indoor Cycling classes because they’ve either read this misinformation somewhere online or in a so-called fitness magazine, or their personal trainer or “friend” told them they will get old, sick and fat if they continue doing so.
Charles Poliquin is a “world-class strength trainer” and supplement peddler who has made some pretty weighty claims about the “dangers” of cardiovascular exercise. The articles to which Dr. Klau and I refer on his website are the following:
It’s not just him though. Polequin’s fans/followers spread his word like disciples. This blog post is called “A New Spin on Fat Loss OR Why I need the oversized gel seat on my bike” from the Fitmontclair Blog by Advanced Fitness Concepts. (You’ll have to scroll down a little in that link but you will find several posts that claim how bad “Spinning” is for you. He claims that the photo at right is typical of Spinning class thighs).
Here is a blog post from the Functionalfitmag.com blog called Top 10 Ways to get Skinny Fat. In this post you will learn that cardio will cause you to store fat, and that Spinning will give you cottage cheese thighs. Oh, and did you know that your perfume will increase fat deposits on your arms and legs? (Do you know how hard it is for me to hold my tongue and be diplomtic here?)
Aside from the fact that Dr. Klau has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, she is uniquely qualified to challenge some of the claims in the aforementioned articles because of her extensive research on the subject. Her dissertation was titled “Changes in inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines during 10 days of exercise-heat acclimation and 28 hours of sleep loss”. In order to do the research for the dissertation, she had to pass qualifying exams based on the topic. She immersed herself in exercise immunology literature including: stress, sleep, heat, normal immune function and auto-immune disorders, cytokines, catecholamines (stress hormones), generation of reactive oxygen species, and acute and long-term effects of exercise on all of the above. After you listen to the interview, you will see why this is very relevant.
Also, Dr. Klau knows how to read, decipher and analyze the results of a scientific study, which as she says in the interview, is usually not an easy task. We have reason to doubt whether the above author knows how to draw the correct conclusions from a research study. Is this an accident, an honest misinterpretation (doubtful, because many of them do not support his claims), or perhaps he padded his articles with research studies that to the average reader, seemed to address his topic? Perhaps he didn’t think anyone would actually read the articles cited to discover that they do not necessarily support his claims? One has to wonder.
Both Jennifer Klau and I agree that cardio is not enough. It’s important to also integrate a weight training and core training program for optimum fitness, strength and overall wellness. And we also concur that a poorly conducted indoor cycling class pedaling at low resistance at excessive leg speed and intensities, or one using contraindicated and/or ineffective techniques such as these, will also not lead to the fitness improvements we know are readily available to participants of indoor cycling classes IF it’s taught correctly. (That is why the Indoor Cycling Association exists – to teach instructors how to teach effectively based on science). If these poorly taught classes at low resistance, high leg speed are Polequin’s and his follower’s only understanding of indoor cycling classes, then it’s possible they have seen a few more people exit the cycling studio with less than stellar results than those of us who teach it properly observe. It’s safe to say they’ve never been to a Spinning® conference! Or one wonders if they’ve ever been to a fitness conference in general, which is crawling with very fit, healthy and thin people whose job it is to do cardio all week long. In fact, some even do many hours a week of indoor cycling. While it’s true that some of these instructors (or even the presenters) may be overtrained and may have experienced adrenal stress or injury due to working out (cardio and weights) too much, you will be hard pressed at these conference to find the body type they are describing as the victim of “cardio” exercise.
ICA Members have access to also download this audio interview.
I think it’s important to point out that while Mr. Polequin believes Spinning® will make you fat, he does have a topical lotion called “Lean Legs” that he will sell you for $38 that supposedly “reforms and tightens skin as it burns fat” when you rub it on your thighs. So cardio will make you fat, but his snake oil will melt the fat away. Any credibility of anything he has ever written is now in question, wouldn’t you agree?
We welcome your comments.