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Working out - with the lights out - refreshes a tired exercise routine
Written by Steve Wood, Courier-Post Staff

Studies show that exercise performance is best in the early evening. Angela Rojas shines during a dark spinning class at Vitality Too in Collingswood. / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post

For many, the toughest sit up is the one out of bed.

It’s also our entire morning exercise routine.

But by night, the slow grind of the workday awakens an evil energy, unleashing the rage and stress that begets car screaming, stupid arguments at home and burnt dinners.

Yeah, we’re stressed.

Channel your dark side into a productive night workout, and we’re not talking a reproductive one.

Since July, Angelina Taulane has taught a one-hour spinning class every Monday morning and evening at Vitality Too in Collingswood, a spinoff of Peter Pernice’s Collingswood flagship Vitality Fitness.

Each class has many as 16 people hop on stationary bikes, then spin and sweat in the glow of strobe lights, black lights and lava lamps. Here in the dark, they shine.

“I like it in the dark,” Taulane says. “I think atmosphere is everything. I like to get lost in a ride and not worry about what facial expression you’re doing.”

Many spinning studios turn up the intensity by turning off the lights.

Studies have shown that exercise performance varies by time of day and is best in the early evening, when your heart rate is higher, your muscles are stretched and stronger, and your heart and lungs are more efficient, says Michael H. Smolensky, an expert in chronobiology, the study of the body clock.

“My personal approach is to train when your biological efficiency is greatest, which means late afternoon or early evening for most people,” Smolensky, a professor at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, told the New York Times in 2009.

The late Thomas Reilly and Jim Waterhouse, professor of Liverpool John Moores University in England, also noted that athletes’ best performances, including world records, were typically set at dusk.

At Vitality Too, spin class participants burn up to 1,000 calories
per hour. / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post

While most races still start in the cool morning, more have embraced the night.

Runners who registered for The Neon Vibe where scheduled to light up Camden on Saturday in fluorescent fashion, similar to those who streaked throughout Philadelphia recently before a lightning storm ironically canceled the Electric Run.

And on Sept. 20, Midnight Madness runners will glow around the 8.4-mile loop of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.

Midnight Madness mandates runners to wear headlamps and no earphones, but every night owl should take proper precautions, such as running with bright reflective clothes and against traffic.

Many spinning classes up the workout intensity by turning out
the lights. / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post

Inside Vitality Too, the studio spins soon after the light switch is off. Each member loses up to 1,000 calories per hour session, Pernice says.

“You’re on an object that’s going absolutely nowhere, bu
t you can choose where you take your ride to,” Taulane says. “You can be next to Lance Armstrong or next to a beginner.”

While good for spinning, darkness can’t elevate every exercise. Not safely, at least.

“If you’re on the bike, you’re stationary,” Pernice says. “The chances of you falling are really slim to none. If you’re running in the dark on a treadmill, that could be a little bit of a hazard there.”

Taulane also steps into the dim dojo of Anjali Power Yoga in Westmont five days a week to practice hot yoga.
Whether spinning or posing, it’s easier to get lost in the activity while in the dark, Taulane says.
“It’s about atmosphere,” she says. “It’s more about getting into your own zone . . . and flowing with the workout.”

Reach Steve Wood at (856) 486-2474 or at stewood@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @CP_SteveWood.



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