Through the years, I’ve started and quit countless exercise regimens. I once read the book Body for Life while in college, and got to work following the principles that the author laid out for a healthy body. I lost about 50 pounds in seven or eight months.
Then I started my first job, got overworked, stopped living a healthy lifestyle, and had to start all over again. I’ve weight lifted, cycled, mountain-biked, stair-climbed – just about any activity that I could think of to keep my mind occupied and motivated to keep going back to the gym. It was never easy.
This year, I’ve started the cycle again. Here at MakeUseOf we’ve covered lots of ideas to get in shape, like Tim’s list of exercise videos, and Bakari’s review of RunKeeper. I’m always looking for new ideas, and each time I walk into the gym, I look for new cardio machines to try. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I decided to give a few strange-looking bikes a try. These are bikes with computer monitors attached – essentially virtual reality exercise bikes. Expresso has distributed them to gyms all around the world. If you haven’t been to your gym lately, you might want to visit and ask if they have an Expresso bike.
How to Use Expresso
The nice thing about the Expresso online system is that it’s free. You don’t need to pay for an account or for monthly service. You just need to find an Expresso bike that’s connected to the Internet.
It could be your local YMCA, you might buy one, or you might have a friend that has one. You don’t actually have to own the bike to use the system – you just need an online account. Anywhere you find one of the bikes, you can log in and start tracking your activities.
The beauty of it is that once you log in, the system tracks absolutely all of your progress – how many miles you biked, how long you spent on the bike, and how many calories you burned, for example.
I love anything to do with virtual reality, so this form of exercise is more fun than work for me. I use it nearly every time I’m at the gym, and I use the online system to make sure that I’m making progress and not just hitting a plateau. And it’s also connected to social networks, so you can share your progress and milestones with all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Have pride in your successes!
Tracking Your Progress
The online system gives you a bunch of tools to graphically see not only how well you’re doing in terms of calories and miles, but also how often you’ve made it to the gym. For example the calendar tool will show a bike icon on each day that you made it to the bike. When you hover your mouse over it, you’ll see a brief overview of your stats for that day.
The graphs area will give you a weekly or monthly bar chart showing you your progress as well, such as miles biked or total calories burned. It’s amazing to see the progress that you’ve made when you look back at these charts over time. Of course, on this account I’ve just got started, as you can see.
Another nice thing about the online system is that it breaks down your stats by the “tour” that you rode that day. What this does is gives you a picture not only of where you stand overall with your biking progress, but even how well you’ve done on individual rides. This lets you compete against your own best time depending on the tour that you choose when you first sit down.
And what’s really cool is the system lets you enable a “ghost” of yourself – a rider in the tour that represents you during the last time you biked it. That pits you against yourself….and trust me, you are hard to beat.
Tracking Your Success
And when you want to gloat about your progress, make sure to visit your Trophy Room where you’ll find all of the milestones you’ve made along the way.
If you want to see how well you’re doing against other riders across the world, just visit the leader board. I wouldn’t suggest doing it first thing, because you might be disappointed, unless you are an Olympic biker already.
You can also filter out other riders so that you can compare yourself against others in your age group, gender, or just people that visit the same gym you do. And if you need help staying motivated, Expresso also offers a free biking forum where you can discuss what’s holding you back, get motivated from others, or get some tips on how to get in more miles and burn more calories.
I think the thing that I like the most about Expresso is that it’s really all about your account – not the bike. You can jump on any Expresso bike in the entire world, log in, and that’s it – it’s your stats and your progress.
Have you ever used the Expresso virtual biking system? Do you like it, or are there things you would change about the system? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Ellyptical Bikes via Shutterstock