SPENGA Review

Balancing running, riding and/or swimming with real life can be difficult enough without making room for the extra “little things.” Lifting a few times per week. Stretching. Trying other forms of cardio. All of that training time adds up. And when you’re going for a PR, it’s tempting to skip strength and stretching for more miles, but it also makes you susceptible to injury and burnout.

Combining three forms of cross-training into one hour-long workout, SPENGA, a new studio in Mokena and Downers Grove, is the answer for any time-strapped athlete. The hour-long SPENGA workout includes 20 minutes each of spin, strength and yoga, offering a fresh and multi-purpose cross training option for busy athletes.

Spin

We started with a high-intensity six-song spin set. With Justin Timberlake blasting over the speakers and stage lights flickering in the dimmed staging area, it made for a fun cardio warm-up. With standing climbs and sprints, it was your standard spin session in many ways, except for its unique “sweet spot” training method.

Instead of telling them to hit certain RPMs (revolutions per minute) or resistances, instructors instead coach clients to reach their unique “sweet spot” number, a power rating corresponding to about medium intensity.

SPENGA members take their “sweet spot” test upon registration, so I wasn’t riding toward my own number during class. But as someone who’s constantly confused during spin class, that “sweet spot” methodology provides really useful clarity. These individualized numbers also make the workout more inclusive to newcomers and enable riders to track their progress.

But the sweet spot is only a baseline. The six-song set featured many higher-intensity power sprints and climbs. In only 20 minutes, it certainly warmed me up for the following strength section.  

Strength:

From the bikes, we moved to spacious free weight stations, each stacked with TRX suspension systems, dumbbells and BOSU balls. The 20-minute TABATA-style intervals (4 30-second sets of each exercise with 15-second rest periods) focused on all areas of the body. My particular session featured more arm work than usual- bicep and tricep curls and pushups with the TRX ropes- but still included some lunges and core work.

But with these very short work periods, the workout is only as good as the instruction. Thankfully, throughout the circuits, our instructor marked the stop and start periods very clearly, as well as providing form tips and modifications as needed.

Yoga

The class ended with 20 minutes of yoga, split evenly between strengthening and stretching moves. Given the slower pace of yoga, we couldn’t fit as much into the yoga portion. Only during yoga was I a bit disappointed with the compressed time, but we still fit in some vinyasas, yoga push ups and a quick Warrior 1 and 2 flow. Afterward, we moved into a welcome stretching and relaxation portion.

Overall

Overall, SPENGA was an entertaining- and useful- workout. I was concerned that transitions- from bikes to free weights, from free weights to yoga- would eat into the workout time. But during the last exercise of one discipline, our instructor provided set-up instructions for the next. The short, seamless transitions between disciplines utilized time efficiently while still allowing a quick stretch break.

As a runner who would rather run in negative windchill than go to a gym, I really enjoyed SPENGA’s variety. If you need Netflix to make it through a treadmill run, SPENGA is for you. If you’re seeking serious gains on the bike or weights, SPENGA’s 20-minute sessions probably won’t be sufficient. But SPENGA is an efficient way to squeeze in multiple forms of cross-training during intense training segments.  

Sound fun? SPENGA offers a free first session, followed by 30, 90, and 180-day packages ranging from $119 to $179 per month. Check them out in Mokena and Downers Grove, with more locations to come in Glenview, Oak Park and Elmhurst!

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