Curt Dalton
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Indoor Cycling

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I read about Cy-Yo here at VF a few months ago, and purchased the DVD on something of a whim. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the description on the website, and I was a bit concerned that the workout might be a little too New Agey frou-frou for me, but I was willing to take a chance because, although I have a nearly full collection of Spinervals and cycling workouts from Jay Blahnik, Mindy Mylrea, Johnny G., and a few random others, comparatively, there just aren’t enough good cycling videos out there.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this video. I would rate myself as an advanced exerciser overall, and advanced in terms of cycling, and I found this workout to be a challenging ride. Maybe not Coach Troy “if you’re going to puke, puke to your right” kind of challenging, but definitely a very solid ride. With the addition of the yoga moves before and after, it is a great 60 minute workout.

First of all, although I did not realize this at the time I ordered, the DVD actually contains two workouts – “Fire” and “Ice.” Both workouts have the same overall format – 10 minutes of a yoga-inspired stretching, 40 minutes of cycling, and 10 minutes of yoga-inspired stretching at the end. If you are looking for a full, true yoga workout to go with your spinning, this is not that workout. However, the poses offered really are an awesome warm up and recovery for cycling.

Both workouts start with a nice series of spinal twists, hamstring and lower back stretches, and hip openers. There is good instruction on breathing technique and focus. It surprised me but by the time I get on the bike, I really do feel quite ready to jump right in to the cycling without further warm up on the bike. The ending stretches are both on and off the bike. The on-bike stretches and the first series of off-bike stretches are very typical to cycling workouts generally – neck and shoulder rolls, quad, hamstring, piriformis, and calf stretches using the bike for assistance. The last five minutes or so, however, utilizes more yoga-inspired poses again. These are familiar to anyone who has had any exposure to yoga, e.g., tree, royal dancer, a vinyasa flow (down dog to plank to chatauranga to up dog). And despite my initial concerns, although the word “chakras” comes up in the introduction and there is some talk about negative energy and positive energy, the workout is not overly mystical or New Agey (a positive for me).

The workouts themselves have appreciable differences, so you really do get two different workouts with this DVD. The instructor/creator, Curt Dalton, differentiates between them in the introduction be explaining that Fire starts off at a higher intensity, while Ice builds intensity on the bike more gradually. After doing both programs several times now, I think this is an accurate description of the differences between them. In Fire, you start off immediately in a standing jog, and the first couple songs use higher cadences. Curt talks about this as “negative energy” work, after which you go into some “positive energy” work consisting of a couple of hill climbs separated by a flat endurance ride for recovery and an ending sprint. Ice, on the other hand, starts on a seated flat with some small bursts of speed – you don’t go into a standing jog until the second tune. There are slightly longer breaks between the working sets/tunes, but not overly long. As with Fire, Ice has a nice mix of hills, flats, and speed work.

The most awesome thing about the both workouts, though, is the music. Curt has taken original songs from local (I assume) bands (he names some in the intro – Slot Machine, The Fighting Idols, DPH, DJ Brian Lamb – hopefully I’ve gotten all those right), and has done an awesome job of putting together a mix that really fits the feel and purpose of each section of the workout. I wish more instructors would take this approach – honestly, I can’t believe no one has thought of it before. It is so great to have original rather than canned music – much more like the real spinning classes I’ve taken (where it seems like everyone now uses their ipod playlists, regardless of the legality). I’m not great at classifying music, but if pressed, I’d have to say that it has a sort of garage band feel to it – some of it definitely has that harder rock and roll edge to it – although there is nice variety to the music as well, so it doesn’t all sound the same. Also, having taken lots of gym spinning classes, it is amazing to me how few teachers really use (or perhaps understand) cadence, but Curt obviously gets it, and the music fits in perfectly. He plays off some of the lyrics to create motivational cues, e.g., for the song called “Working For the Man,” he asks you to envision your worst boss ever and then get rid of that negative energy by pedaling harder. And in the Ice workout, there is a flat section where Curt asks you to envision pedaling through the desert in Vegas, and the music definitely conjures up that image – it’s hard to describe, but when he gives you the mental image, I immediately thought “oh, yeah, it DOES sound like you’re pedaling through the desert!”

I like Curt as an instructor. He seems like a regular guy. He is off the bike for most of the workout, walking through the class and giving instruction. I know at least one other person has mentioned how they don’t like this, but I am the opposite – especially in a video workout, I find it a bit boring to see the instructor just sitting there pedaling away, and prefer the visual interest of watching him or her moving through the class. It also gives the class a more “real life” feel to me, as Curt is able to motivate individual class members this way, which is similar to my experience with gym spinning classes. It was also mentioned previously that he does not keep an accurate count. This is true in places, but it appears to me to be intentional, as a way to keep you giving your all during a particularly hard section of the workout (sort of the way in which other instructors tell you “Eight more,” and then when you’ve finished eight, will say “Now I need eight more!”). He also does a nice job of engaging the class by having them follow one person as a pace setter for a time, or having different groups “race” each other. The class is a nice mix of sexes, ages, and body types, too.

The production values are fairly good, especially for a first effort. The video is filmed in the Gold’s Gym where Curt teaches. It appears that they have netted off a portion of the gym floor, because you can see into what appears to be the free weights area of the gym. The colors of the gym are in the black/white/gray area, but the lighting is not dark. There are several cameras filming, so there is more than a single camera angle, and there also appears to be at least one camera that is not stationery, which I find visually interesting in a way that, say, Mindy Mylrea’s cycle workouts and even some of the CIA cycling workouts, where there are just two or three preset camera angles, are not. There is only one chapter for each of the two workouts, although I don’t find this to be a negative in a cycling workout, since I don’t typically find myself wanting to skip around in the workout (I guess if you were looking to skip, say, the yoga warm up, this might be a draw back, though).

There is a very brief (less than a minute long) bike set up section. I thought there could have been more pointers given here, especially about handle bar adjustment and fore and aft positioning of the seat. There is also a “music only” option. This is a bit different than other such options with which I’m familiar. It does play the soundtrack (although whether it is to one of the two workouts or a different one entirely, I don’t know), but the visual is simply a montage of pictures and the Cy-Yo logo – it doesn’t play the actual workout with just the music and no cues, in other words.

Overall, I find that I like these workouts more the more I do them. I am glad I took a chance on these. They add something unique to my collection. I hope to see more from Curt in the future.

Instructor Comments:

Hazel Porter