Runnin’ with Rani: Aloha Sports Kona launches Big Island’s first Indoor Cycling Studio

Triathletes and cycling enthusiasts have plenty to get excited about with the grand opening of Big Island’s first indoor cycling studio.

Aloha Sports Kona (ASK), a premier sports event promotion company, opened its doors to the public this week offering an indoor cycling studio utilizing eight, high quality, computer-linked “smart” cycling trainers that are compatible with any road, mountain or triathlon bike.

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In recent years, smart bike trainers have revolutionized the way one can stay fit while enjoying a variety of cycling workouts as it offers wireless connectivity to pair the trainer to a wide range of accessories and computer apps. Simply put, anyone can track speed, distance, power and cadence with their favorite cycling app or device while catering to all riding abilities with custom workout profiles.

Do you want to feel the sensation of riding up a hill with steep gradients? No problem. Or how about a high intensity interval workout followed by a cool down phase? Done. Smart trainers not only mimics the sensation of riding outdoors by controlling the resistance of the trainer to match a given workout profile, but it also allows one to save and review performance data from their workouts.

On any given day, no matter what the weather, road or traffic conditions; smart trainers provides the unique flexibility to get in a quality workout on your own terms.

David Wild, ASK’s indoor cycling coach, couldn’t have agreed more.

“This is almost a different sport when comparing it to riding out on the roads,” said the Konawaena High School math teacher, triathlete and endurance coach. “On the road you’ve got the wind, weather, and having to be aware of things that can kill you – just all these crazy variables that you don’t have control of. In here, it’s all about minimizing those variables so you don’t have to think too much, but be able to focus on really what you want to get out of your workout. So it’s the specificity that makes this type of workout so unique.”

Which is why when I first heard about it, I too, couldn’t wait to get my foot — err — bike through the door. I knew that I just had to try it.

Saturday’s rainy and wet road conditions proved one of the many points Wild was getting at: that having an indoor cycling studio at one’s convenience will completely eliminate those days when most riders would choose to stay home and off the dangerous roads.

And after two hours of getting in a quad-burning, adrenaline soaring workout that included two bricks (runs off the bike) with several of Big Island’s best triathletes, my first sufferfest-sweat session did not disappoint.

Kona’s Gerd Weber and Johnnie Kaihewalu felt the same.

“This is tougher,” said Weber. “Because here you try to assert yourself more while out on the roads, you tend to just ride at a steady pace and then coast going down hills. There is no coasting here. I thought it was great, especially the brick workout.”

Kaihewalu, who notoriously trains and competes on a fixed gear, single-speed bike, said that he got excited about the ASK Indoor Cycling Studio when he first saw it on Instagram.

“I’ve always wanted to try a trainer session on a real bike,” said the 28-year-old. “I don’t have a trainer at home so I just ride (outdoors). But I feel pretty comfortable riding out on the roads here. I grew up riding in the city in LA and Long Beach, so riding here (out on Queen Kaahumanu Highway) is not something I feel scared about doing.”

A few others who attended Saturday’s sweat session cited safety as the number one reason they now do more of their workouts at home on a bike trainer, and why they love having ASK’s Indoor Cycling Studio available to meet their individual needs.

“I’m seriously terrified of riding outside, and since I signed up for Lavaman, I committed to being here once a week and Saturday’s work best for my schedule,” said Bree Wee, who will be attempting to secure her eighth Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance women’s crown in March. “And even if you are a knowledgeable cyclist, the cars and the people who don’t ride bikes don’t seem to be aware of how fast we are actually going. They don’t realize how bad it can be to slam on their brakes at the last minute.

“I know today felt better than riding out on the roads because we are constantly cycling so it’s a quality workout. And as a busy person, you don’t have to do the setting up. It’s just so easy to come here if it works for your schedule.”

Bob Ranfranz, who will be attempting his third Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance triathlon and is the father of speedy runner, Cody Ranfranz, agreed with Wee.

“I love it, it’s safer,” the 66-year-old said. “A controlled environment with a good coach — it’s a good workout, no coasting. I do have fears to ride on the roads. Because of all the accidents, all the highway and lane changes, and people just don’t pay attention, makes me nervous about riding on the roads.”

While cycling safety was the main topic of discussion as sweat drenched clothing, towels and iPhones, it was evident that everyone was having a good time pedaling to music playing in the background.

From smack-talk to the upcoming Lavaman triathlon, to poking some fun jokes at Wild, and to those who had children, the importance of introducing sports at a young age, it felt more like an enjoyable group ride than the actual intended result — a high quality, individualized workout.

And throughout the entire session, Wild educated everyone on proper form, cadence and power output while keeping the energy and motivation flowing at an all-time high.

“Your watts are looking good Johnnie, keep it up,” Wild encouraged between intervals. “Keep it going at an intensity you think you can hold for 20 minutes. It’s all about finding a rhythm and staying strong. And remember, this is supposed to be fun.”

Wild said that he got into triathlons about 4-5 years ago when he attended his first indoor cycling studio in San Francisco. It left an impression on him and it’s been something on his mind ever since.

“I remember that I really enjoyed doing a very specific and very intentional workout,” Wild said. “I’ve always wanted to do something similar since I moved here. So I’ve had this idea for awhile and then I found some awesome people to help me. I approached them and they said, ‘We’ve been thinking about this too.’

“And with the new construction on the highway, with recent bike accidents, collisions and scary things, I’ve been riding my bike trainer more and I figured that a lot of other people are as well. So I thought how cool it would be to put together my coaching and my teaching skills, to become an endurance coach teaching classes indoors.”

And all that is required is that you BYOB — Bring Your Own Bike.

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“I want people to have an acute awareness of their bodies,” Wild said. “I want people to think about different muscle groups that they didn’t realize were so important. And I want people to realize that they can get in a serious and high quality workout without having to put themselves in danger all the time when they get out on the road.”

For more information about Aloha Sports Kona Indoor Cycling Studio, class rates, and to book your appointment for upcoming workouts, visit their website at alohasportskona.com or email alohasportskona@gmail.com. They are located at the Honokohau Commercial Center, Bldg 1, Suite 1101 in Kailua-Kona.

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