This Cycling Class Gives Riders Jelly Beans (For Real!)

Have Your Cycling Class and Eat It Too?

Jelly Bean Cycle Class
NuYu Revolution Fitness Studio

If there are two things I love, they're fitness and food. And while there are lots of nightclub-style workouts that offer food and cocktails after a sweat session, there aren't many that encourage eating while you workout. Susan Rappaport, the owner of the NuYu Revolution Fitness Studio in New York City, bucked the system when she introduced The Jelly Bean Cycle class - a 90-minute cycling class where participants are provided with Jelly Belly Sports Beans to help fuel them through the burn.

Now that's what I call having your cake (er, jelly beans?) and eating it too!

Understanding When Mid-Workout Snacks Are Appropriate

Now, before you start bringing Snickers or Sour Patch Kids to your kickboxing class, it's important to note the what and the why of the Jelly Belly Sports Beans. First, these Sports Beans (like many other sports gels and bars) are specially formulated with carbohydrates (sugars), electrolytes and vitamins to keep exercisers fueled during intense and prolonged exercise.

Any cardiovascular exercise (particularly intense and/or interval-style exercise) that lasts longer than an hour may deplete a person's blood glucose and muscle glycogen reserves, which function as the body's energy source for fast fuel. When this happens, an energy dip or a "bonk" as endurance athletes regularly call it, is inevitable. For exercisers to maintain performance during these types of longer workouts, it's important for them to maintain proper hydration levels while taking in small amounts of carbohydrate-laced fuel to keep blood glucose circulating through their systems.

In other words, for longer-format classes like The Jelly Bean Cycle class, it's perfectly appropriate (and perhaps necessary), for participants to nosh on Sports Beans periodically during class. What you don't want to do is take this info and apply it carte blanche to any workout you do. There's no need to nosh on snacks during a 30-minute treadmill run or even a 60-minute strength training class.

What to Expect During The Jelly Bean Cycle

Beyond the fact that participants get to eat candy during class (candy - yay!), The Jelly Bean Cycle class stands out for a few more reasons:

1. Long Interval Cycles.

First, it's designed as an endurance ride with very specific intervals to help teach participants about staying power and the ability to test the edges of their comfort zones for long periods of time. Each class features six "mini cycle classes" where there is a warm-up, a build of intensity, hard work, and an active recovery. The format is scalable, even enabling fitness newbies to complete the long duration ride.

2. The Posture Cycle® Technique.

Like all NuYu cycling classes, The Jelly Bean Cycle class is focused on teaching riders to pedal for biomechanics over intensity. Instructors encourage proper posture, which is often a downfall of group cycling participants. As Rappaport points out, "Most often riders' shoulders roll forward with a lazy core, which creates a 'C' curved spine.

This hunched-forward position is the antithesis of the natural, healthy curve of the spine. Many riders also have their necks in awkward positions - stretched forward of the shoulders, nose pointing up, which over-accentuates the natural curve of the neck, or looking down at the pedals, removing the curve altogether."

By using poor posture repeatedly during a cycling class (and day-to-day life), participants risk experiencing negative muscular adaptations. For instance, Rappaport says, "The chest muscles shorten, the back muscles atrophy and get longer, which is a precursor for a forward-curled spine in years to come. Also, when the body is curved forward and the shoulders collapse, the lungs can't expand to full capacity and aren't supporting the body with as much oxygen as you'd get with correct form."

At The Jelly Belly Cycle class, participants are taught to breathe deeply, elongate their spines, engage their cores, open their chests and pull their shoulder blades together. Perhaps surprisingly, Rappaport explains it's the good posture that can become exhausting, "They're likely more exhausted from maintaining good posture than the biking. Posture matters and is a lesson worth learning."

3. Jelly Beans! (And Lots of Water)

All participants are required to bring at least two full 20-ounce bottles of water to class to keep themselves hydrated throughout the 90-minute ride. Jelly Belly Sports Beans are provided to participants, and everyone gets to select their favorite flavor before class.

If you're like me, you might be tempted to chow down willy-nilly throughout class, but there's actually a structured formula for consumption. All riders eat four beans at the beginning of class, then two beans every 15 minutes during each "mini class'" active recovery period.

4. A Boost of Internal Motivation

The Jelly Bean Cycle class was specifically designed to help teach participants what their bodies are capable of. Ninety minutes of sustained exercise may seem out of reach for many people, but with the right tools and information, anyone can push themselves further than they imagined.

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