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Fat and Tired Go Hand in Hand

I am tired. Actually, I am often tired. Between work, family, school and the occasional fun, sleep is hard to come by these days.

Today is even tougher because I took my first indoor cycling class. The class started at 6 a.m., which meant my alarm rang at 4:27 a.m. (I have this weird habit of not setting clocks on the quarter hours like normal people do) when it was still dark and way too cold outside the bed covers.

However, I have to admit, I liked the class. It was challenging, fun and far less “classy” than I imagined — and luckily for me the instructor played a mix of music. Straight techno or hip-hop at 6:15 a.m. would have driven me right out of class (I was especially happy about the ZZ Top, Black Crowes and David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen music she played!).

The only real complaint was that after introducing myself to the instructor as a new person, she watched me fiddle around with the seat and handlebars without ever offering a pointer about what I should be doing. Judging from the soreness I experienced after the class, I'm sure the seat was set wrong. After the class a call to Jennipher Shaver, our resident associate editor and indoor cycling guru, fixed the problem (handle bars higher, seat further back). Now this lack of direction for beginners isn't a major problem with this instructor or classes at facilities in general, it is just that little things (such as helping members who are new at something or who are uncomfortable with something) will keep members happy and returning — even if it is on three hours of sleep.

Despite my enjoyment of the early-morning class, I might be better off staying in bed.

It seems that the more one sleeps the lower one's risk of being obese, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I. The study, which tested 8,000 people over a two-year period with a self-reported follow up of weight and other vital statistics, found that people who slept five hours were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept the recommended seven to nine hours.

Interestingly, the study showed that those who slept less than five hours a night were some 67 percent more likely to be obese than those who slept more than five hours. So, at least on cycling days, I'm better off than my normal five hours of sleep each night since my percentage is down. If I upped that sleep to six hours a night, my risk drops to only 27 percent.

So, maybe if people skipped working out and slept an extra couple of hours, they wouldn't risk being obese or need to work out in the first place? I bet plenty of members — and the 80 or so percent of non-members would love this plan.

While we know that the benefits of exercise go beyond just obesity, studies such as this one on sleep give the industry one more reason to get out and promote the benefits that exercise provides (while not forgetting good old losing weight) because most people would rather sleep in than work out.

So, don't forget to tell your members and potential members to get their rest, but also let them know that they should spend some of that waking time working out and getting the benefits that only exercise can provide. And once they are there, help them out, especially if they are new or look a little confused.

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