Trust me please, when I say I had conducted my research on equipment I fancied in my home gym. Being home for the majority of the past five months due to Covid-19, really pushed me towards turning an empty room in my home into the home gym I had always envisaged, but just never had the time to put together. Did I have boards made up on Pinterest of the most amazing home gyms? Of course I did. Did one of them feature a water machine that actually dispensed Whispering Angel? You would be correct if you answered yes. However, when the world fell still, it highlighted what everyone already knew but neglected; your health is your wealth and it was time to put a plan in action.
After turning a wall into the floor to ceiling mirrors just after Christmas, I purchased two Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, for weight training along with a matt, resistance bands and a couple of medicine balls, but needed a cardio machine to really finish off the room and make it a little slice of heaven; somewhere I can spend some time on my own and that will make me feel fab leaving the room.
After extensive hunting high and low, I had narrowed down my weapon of choice to the CAR.O.L exercise bike, so can you imagine my excitement when they offered me the chance to review it?! In case you haven’t heard of the CAR.O.L bike, this exercise bike is all-singing and all-dancing and has been scientifically proved to give you the same benefits as a 45 minute moderately paced jog in less than a 9-minute ride all without breaking a sweat, so “I haven’t got time to train today” is no longer a valid excuse.
The idea is that the exercise bike guides you through a short workout, tailored to each rider. CAR.O.L stands for Cardiovascular Optimisation Logic, which is the software that the bike uses to calibrate the resistance each time you ride. As you get fitter, the bike ramps up the resistance – acting as a sort of automated personal trainer.
After a bit of a struggle of putting the bike together, I was finally ready to induct myself on my new favourite toy, that would be the additional hero to my workouts.
During the first six rides, CAR.O.L calculates your baseline fitness and a suitable level of resistance, after which you can start to track your results in the app. There are four pre-set workouts to choose from, as well as a free ride mode, allowing you to set the duration and difficulty manually, as you would on a standard exercise bike.
The intense workout setting totals eight minutes and 40 seconds, consisting of two 20-second sprints punctuated by two-to-three minutes of warm-up, recovery and warm-down. It’s a slick experience – you never need to change the resistance, because the programme does this for you. The first time you use the CAR.O.L bike, the ride really won’t be that hard — nor will it the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time. Ride seven is where things start to get intense. The bike (more specifically, the computer within) has enough data by that time to establish your ideal heart rate for warm-up, intense training, recovery, and cool down. It uses this to create a workout that’s customized to be as challenging and productive as possible. Eight minutes of relatively easy pedalling, no sweating and two 20-second periods of the most difficult time on a bike possible and you’re done!
The screen also tells you when to pedal harder and faster, or when it’s time to back down, and even when to take a big breath, helping you count your intake and out-take of air and therefore helping you to complete your workout as efficiently as possible.
CAR.O.L was invented by Dr Neils Vollaard who works as a lecturer in Health and Exercise Science at Stirling University in the UK and reinvented the bike into a training technique he called Reduced Exertion High-Intensity Interval Training or REHIT.
REHIT came from the thought that High-Intensity Training was perfect at improving fitness in a short, sharp amount of time. Dr Vollaard started investigating what happened when you minimised the intervals – did it make any difference to peoples results? And the conclusion was as long as you maintained maximum intensity, it didn’t. The idea of the CAR.O.L bike is to keep you at that maximum intensity in its short allocated amount of time.
Throughout lockdown after completing my profile and trail sessions of each workout on the bike, I trained around four times a week after my weights session to add in some cardio /conditioning. I’ve been weight training for more than four years now, and have attended pump and CrossFit gym classes for the better part of a year, and I’ve never experienced a workout as efficient as the CAR.O.L bike offers. It is a fantastic piece of gym equipment that’s impressively effective for your legs and cardiovascular system and combined with weight training, for me, it is the perfect exercise regime.
Written by Amber Lauren for Luxuria Lifestyle London and International