Sunny Exercise/Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike Review

After a Winter of doing mostly weight lifting workouts, I started to feel like I needed to work some cardiovascular exercise into my fitness regimen.

In the past, my main sources of indoor cardiovascular exercise have been exercise bikes and rowing machines. Though I do like rowing machines, I really like the leg workout I get from cranking up the tension/friction on an indoor exercise bike. Also, I’ve typically discovered you can find used exercise bikes on Craig’s List for peanuts.

When I checked Craig’s List this time, I wasn’t finding any great deals on the type of exercise bike I prefer: the ones with a heavy metal spinning wheel and a caliper type pad that pushes against the wheel to provide resistance. (The heavy metal wheel gives a nice smooth pedaling action–due to the circular momentum it generates–that I like.)

In any case, I started looking around the Web for new or used exercise bikes with good reviews. That’s when I came upon the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike.

Sunny Exercise Bike

Sunny Exercise Bike

It was under $125 (not too different from what people on Craig’s List were charging for similar used bikes) and got really good reviews..and lots of them! And if you’re a Amazon Prime member (like me), you get free shipping. (Note: the price has gone up recently, but it’s still a good deal under $140).

So I ordered one and it arrived in about 3 days.

Assembly

The exercise bike comes partially assembled; but some assembly is still required.

The instructions for assembly are pretty well done and all the tools you need are included. The smaller parts you need for each step are put into separate plastic bags and tagged with the applicable step number referenced in the instructions (this is a great idea!).

It took me approximately 45 minutes to assemble it, and I’m in no way fast at assembling anything…:p.

Operation

The exercise bike comes with an “exercise computer” (batteries included) that mounts on the handle bar and tells you things like speed, time, distance, and calories burned. I truly doubt it can give you a very good estimate of calories burned when it really doesn’t know the resistance you’re using. The only useful information to me is the Time: I typically do a 30-minute session and dial up the resistance enough to be pretty exhausted by the end of those 30 minutes.

The pedals have toe clips (to help keep your feet from slipping off the pedals) which some people will like and others won’t. They don’t bother me.

A caveat: I’m only about 5’9″ and my legs aren’t particularly long, yet I’ve got the seat at nearly the highest height (i.e., the seat height is adjustable). If you’re tall and/or have long legs, you may not be able to get the seat high enough to comfortably fit you.

Experience/Evaluation

So far, I’ve done two 30-minute sessions. The wheel spins smoothly, I’m able to get plenty of friction from the resistance caliper, and both the seat (not too small or too large) and the rubber-covered handle bars are comfortable. It seems quite solid (not ticky-tacky) and doesn’t make much noise (especially if you’ve got it on a solid surface, like a basement floor).

In all, I’m very satisfied with the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike (especially for the price) and would recommend it to others wanting an inexpensive but good quality exercise bike for home use..:-).

 

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Angle at which you Hold or Grasp Dumbbells Can Make a Difference

A guy at the gym asked me if I had any ideas why doing bench presses using the Smith Machine bar was giving him shoulder pain. I told him that doing bench presses with dumbbells tended to give me shoulder pain, but not the Smith Machine. However, I suggested he try different grip widths, positioning of where the bar came down to his chest (higher vs lower on chest), weight used, and different bench angles (e.g., maybe adding one notch of incline could help..?).

Now it occurred to me that I too could try some of these variations when doing dumbbell presses to see if I could alleviate the shoulder pain I was experiencing.

Well, finally today, I tried some variations with my dumbbells that seem to make a difference. However:

  • they weren’t the variations I mentioned to the guy at the gym (probably because these variations are only relevant to using dumbbells, not a barbell)
  • I wasn’t using the dumbbells to do bench presses; I was using them as elevated grips on the floor for some downward slanting pushups (with my feet on a weight bench)

First, let me clarify what I was doing. I put on a 60 lb weighted vest and was doing downward slanted pushups with my feet up on my weight bench. Similar to the following, but (as I already mentioned) with the weighted vest and weight bench instead of a wobbly patio bench:

slanted_pushup

The other thing I was doing differently was putting my hands on slightly elevated dumbbell handles instead of flat on the ground. The dumbbells help to keep me slightly off the ground, which is helpful when I have the weighted vest on because it sags down slightly and tends to hit the ground before I get all the way down to the lowest position of the pushup motion; the slight elevation of the dumbbells alleviates the problem. I also kind of like having the grips because of the extra weight of the vest pushing me down.

In any case, I tried 3 different configurations of the dumbbells on the floor:

Linear:

1421011373516b

Parallel:

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Angled/Triangle:

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The linear configuration was the first one I tried, and–what do you know!–I experienced some of that same shoulder pain I experience when I do bench presses with dumbbells. It kinda makes sense because this is typically how I hold them when doing bench presses, though obviously I’m pushing the dumbbells upwards instead of pushing myself upward off of the dumbbells on the floor; it’s still the same motion relative to my shoulders.

The second configuration I used was the parallel configuration. I didn’t experience shoulder pain, but I didn’t like the feel of it as well; and it seems to work my triceps more than my pecs, when I’m really more interested in targeting my pecs when doing these. I probably need to experiment more with this particular configuration.

I then tried the third configuration pictured (“Angled/Triangle”). This was the winner for me! It felt like it was targeting my pecs more than the parallel configuration was, and–voila!–no shoulder pain. This felt like the most ‘natural’ configuration for doing the weighted downward slanted pushups of all. It makes me wonder if I can do a facsimile of this configuration when doing dumbbell bench presses to eliminate shoulder pain. I’ll have to test that in the future..

So in conclusion, suffice it to say that if you’re experiencing shoulder pain when using dumbbells–whether as handles for doing pushups or for doing bench presses–you should consider holding the dumbbells using these or other configurations to see if it makes a difference!

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The Downward Slant Pushup

I sort of  ‘invented’ this pushup variation  in my quest to do effective workouts without a gym when traveling. (I haven’t seen anyone else mention this sort of pushup online, but it’s possible it’s out there somewhere..).

Why the “downward slant pushup”?

  1. You’re working with more weight because more of your body’s weight is distributed toward your upper body
  2. It works your upper chest more than a horizontal pushup does (similar to an inclined bench press)
  3. Your shoulders get more of a workout…especially the taller the support is under your feet

This variation doesn’t replace the normal horizontal pushup, but is a good addition for extra upper chest and shoulder work.

So if you’re looking for another exercise you can do almost anywhere that gives some extra ‘oomph’ to your upper body (chest and shoulders), give the downward slant pushup a try and see if you like it!

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Mike’s Secret Fitness Weapon

The title is facetious, however, I’ve jumped on a trampoline since I was a teenager, and I still jump with my kids every so often even though I’m 52+. It’s really a great source of cardiovascular exercise and it’s much easier on your feet and leg joints compared to running.

I’m not graceful and don’t do many tricks, but I’ve always been able to go pretty high…;-).

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