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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Indoor Cycling Is a Good, Fun Winter Workout

There is nothing like hopping on a bike and riding nowhere. If this sounds dull and boring to you, you have never ridden with me. I teach RPM®, the Les Mills Indoor Cycling Program. Cycling is a great way to balance your workout and helps build leg strength and cardio fitness. With the weather turning cold, this is the time to try indoor cycling. Honestly, it can be terribly boring when done on your own, but a group class always makes it better and the workout factor is not one to be missed!

A Lower-Impact Workoutindoor cycle

My love/hate relationship with running is what brought me to indoor cycling. I love the feeling of the burning in my lungs and the pride of finishing in a sprint up the driveway, but my ankles and shins are not always fans of the inevitable high-impact movements associated with running. A few years ago I was fighting injuries from running and my doctor recommended I ride a bike as an alternative workout. This worked really well until it got cold. That is how I ended up in my first RPM® class.

Honestly, I was dreading the thought of doing it. The concept of sitting on an uncomfortable seat in spandex going nowhere was less than appealing. But I dragged myself there and am so glad I did! I found I could achieve the same physical feeling of running without all of the high impact. High-impact activities have their own benefits and I enjoy them; I just need balance in my workout, and RPM® gives that to me and can provide it for you as well.

Join the Fun of Indoor Cycling

RPM cycleDuring these cold months, do yourself a favor and try out a Cycle or RPM® class. The worst part is getting used to the seat. But after that, all you will notice is the strength building in the legs and the cardio party in your heart. Put that all together with epic music and you’ve got one heck of a workout. Outdoor riders, you may find that you miss the scenery, but the instructors are all pretty entertaining in their own ways, so you won’t be bored. We may not be physically relocating, but we are moving forward with our fitness level. Take a class regularly and you may find your outdoor rides and runs are a little easier next summer! I know mine always are.

Check out the Group Fitness Schedule and pick a class time. Come a little early so the instructor can get you set up on the bike properly. As with any group fitness class, try the class three to five times before deciding if it is for you. Have fun and ride it like you stole it!

Not a member yet? Request a FREE CLASS PASS!

This blog is written by Tasha Nichols, the NIFS Fitness Center Group Fitness Coordinator and Les Mills National Trainer and Presenter.

Topics: winter fitness cardio group training cycling Les Mills

Profile: NIFS Triathlon Training Program Participant Zach Smith


The annual co-ed NIFS Triathlon Training Program is complete and participants have successfully completed the first triathlons of the season. The participants never cease to amaze all of us here at NIFS. Working hard during the six weeks of training to perfect swimming technique, practice biking on the road, decrease running time, and create smooth transitions between events pays off every year for these athletes. We love hearing from our participants and giving them the limelight, which is why we are showcasing one of our Triathlon Training participants in this blog post.

We are featuring Zach Smith, an avid runner turned triathlete who has an amazing story that is sure to inspire anyone to get out and try his or her first TRI. Take it away, Zach!

NAME: Zach Smith


In 2011, I was in Boulder, Colorado, for work and decided to start running to get back in shape thanks in part to my co-worker at the time (who was an avid runner) and the beautiful mountain view. Once I was back in Indy, I just never stopped running. I participated in my first Mini Marathon in 2012. I got connected with NIFS in 2013 through the Mini Training Program and decided I would commit to the six-week Triathlon Training after the Mini was over. Currently, I am a full-time employee at IUPUI, working in the Math Department as Student Services Assistant, and am a part-time graduate student pursuing my Master of Public Affairs (MPA) in Policy Analysis through the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).



I think anyone who is an avid runner, swimmer, or bicyclist has thought at least once about participating in a triathlon. As a runner, I naturally was ready to take my competitive nature to the next level by conquering a triathlon. However, I had no idea where to begin or how to train for such an event. I saw the “Ready to TRI?” posters at NIFS during the 2013 Mini Training Program and knew that it was exactly what I needed to do to prepare for my first event.


I really enjoyed working with Kris Simpson and Stephanie (Greer) Kaiser at NIFS during this program. Being in a smaller training group, we were able to receive more individual attention during the training and that was extremely helpful. Kris and Steph really knew lots of training and race-day tips, which helped make my first event go smoothly.


I think for everyone who never swam competitively, the swimming portion of the triathlon can be the most daunting of the three parts. I consider myself an average swimmer and did not swim competitively, but I really enjoyed the swimming training we did on Tuesday nights and my own personal swim training on Fridays. Swimming is such a great exercise and I think most people discount it.


I really enjoyed the biking/running training that we did at Eagle Creek Park. It is such a different feeling biking for 30 to 40 minutes and then getting off and immediately starting to run for 1 to 2 miles. Another plus to training at Eagle Creek was the fact it was where I participated in my first Sprint Triathlon, so I definitely felt more comfortable knowing how the race would be set up beforehand.


I think one accomplishment to note that I achieved during the training would have been giving the training participants on road bikes a run for their money on my hybrid bike. I was keeping up with them and sometimes surpassing them on our training rides through the hilly road course of Eagle Creek Park. This definitely set my mind at ease that I would do just fine on race day with my hybrid.


In spite of all the swim training I did, swimming in the open water was way different than swimming in the pool. Kris had warned us that there is no “etiquette” out in the water during the race, so I knew people would brush into me and I would brush into others, but it was hard to simulate that in the pool (even though we all would swim next to each other in one pool lane at the same time). My biggest tip is to try and do some open-water swimming prior to your event so you are used to not seeing the bottom and feel comfortable racing in it. I know I had to get my bearings at first during the event and managed just fine in the end, but I know more experience with open-water swimming would have helped me.


I am like most people (very busy), so it is very easy to allow working out to fall lower on the priority list. However, I have found that having personal goals and something to prepare or strive toward really helps me stay on track. I just signed up for my first full marathon in November (the Indy Monumental), so that is driving me to keep my fitness in tip-top shape throughout the summer and into fall!


I truly recommend NIFS Triathlon Training to anyone who wants to learn how to train the right way and be ready come race day. I know I am glad I did!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon cycling

Training for My First Triathlon—and How NIFS Can Help You, Too

The thought of completing a triathlon had been on my mind for many years before I completed my first last summer. Being a competitive distance runner for many years and having no issues riding a bicycle, this seemed like the next natural race for me to try.


The problem was that I was (arguably still am) not a swimmer! Don’t get me wrong. I could be in a pool and splash around and not drown, but swimming continuous laps using various swim strokes and drills is not my strong point athletically speaking. I should also mention that I was the only kid in my cabin at summer camp in middle school that had to wear the yellow wristband for the pool, which indicated that I could not go into the deep end based on the performance in the swim test.

Nevertheless, this was something that was on my personal bucket list and a friend finally convinced me to sign up for my first race, telling me that the swim was not that bad and that I would be fine. With some practice and a lot of help from Kris Simpson, I was able to get through my first triathlon and overcome my fear of not being able to complete the swim portion of the race.

Lessons Learned from the First Triathlon

As for the race itself, I learned a lot from it! The most important thing that I learned is to bring two water bottles. Obviously, I knew the importance of staying hydrated during the race. I just didn’t consider losing the water bottle along the way. I dropped mine after only a few miles on the bike, which caused me to have no fluid for the ride. When I came back to the transition area, I realized I didn’t have any extra there, either. Needless to say, I was pretty dehydrated going into the run.

I also learned that swimming in open water is way different than swimming in the pool. Kris told me this would be the case, and even took me out to some open water before the race to prepare me, but it took the race itself to give me a real understanding of open-water swimming. I now feel very confident about my ability to complete the swim portion of the race and know what I need to work on in the pool to help me improve with that.

Overall, I didn’t treat the triathlon any differently than any other race that I have run in the past, with the exception of having no expectations as far as time goes, which took off a lot of pressure and allowed me to enjoy the experience. I ate my typical pre-race dinner and felt the same pre-race butterflies that I always have had before a race. I would suggest to anyone holding back on completing a triathlon to give it a try and put your hesitations aside.

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Your Turn to Try a Triathlon!

Now that I have completed my first triathlon and learned a lot from my experience, I am excited to help other women on the journey to complete their first triathlon. At NIFS, we offer a women-only triathlon training program geared toward women completing the Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek Park. This program will give you the confidence and the tools that you need to complete the race! Sign up for the 6th Annual Go Girl Training Program! Reach out to Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org or Stephanie Kaiser at sgreer@nifs.org with any questions. Training starts June 18th but you can still get registered!

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, NIFS certified Health Fitness Specialist. Meet our bloggers.

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon cycling

Triathlon Training: It’s Your Time to TRI!

Why do people fear the triathlon, or the TRI, as triathletes call it? Most of us grew up swimming, we ran around all the time, and most of us remember our first bike and the joy of having freedom. As we have grown older, we may be less active, but we surely remember these activities. A triathlon may seem intimidating, but it’s just as simple as having fun with those childhood activities.

triathlon training

NIFS Triathlon Training Programs

Swim one day of the week, bike on another, and run on a third is the best way to describe the simplicity of triathlon training. Of course, there is a little bit more to training than that, but that is why NIFS offers triathlon training programs. Each program will get you ready for your first TRI!

  • Ready to Tri? is a co-ed, six-week triathlon training program beginning May 7. We meet Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5:30 to 6:30pm.
  • The Go Girl Triathlon Training program is the oldest triathlon training program in Indianapolis, and it was started to help participants prepare for the the first Go Girl Triathlon in 2007. This is an all-female, 11-week training program beginning June 18 that meets on Tuesday evenings.

Both NIFS triathlon training programs are geared to new triathletes. We cover it all! All sessions are led by a USA Triathlon Certified Coach. We go over the do’s the don’ts, and the how’s and why’s. You will get to the starting line prepared and will have the smile of great accomplishment at the finish.

Triathlon Training Equipment

Training requirements are the following:

  • A good pair of swim goggles
  • Bathing suit
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Good running shoes
  • Most importantly, the spirit to TRI

Be sure to join Kris and Stephanie for triathlon training this summer! Click here to find out more  and get registered!

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, USA Triathlon Certified Coach; ACSM Certified NIFS Personal Trainer with a B.S. in Nutrition Sciences.

Topics: NIFS running swimming triathlon cycling race