Getting started with indoor training on a budget

In this guest blog post, Coaching Club member Emily writes about her first steps to finding fitness after having a baby in lockdown and putting together an indoor training set-up for less than £100.

My daughter was born in May 2020, just as I was getting the hang of home-schooling my 8-year-old, while working from home and adapting to back-to-back Zoom meetings. My 6-month maternity leave was filled with a house move, decorating, more home-schooling and trying to invent ways of making staying home varied and enjoyable for the whole family. It’s been tough. Our family has flourished in many ways; however, my weight, health and stress-levels have all suffered significantly.

In November, when I returned to my home office and the family was again in lockdown, I decided I needed to find something that could fit around my commitments to help reduce my weight, improve my health and enable me to de-stress. I decided to dust-off my old hybrid bike in the garage and invest in a turbo trainer.

I wasn’t sure how successful indoor training would be for me, so the idea of committing a lump of money to this experiment wasn’t a risk I wanted to take. I looked for the cheapest viable option to be able to exercise in my garage. I found a basic turbo trainer (no-frills) in Machine Mart. It had 10% off and came delivered for less than £70 with great reviews. All other options were £100+ with mixed reviews and opinions. Consequently, I went for the mighty Machine Mart option, which was sturdy and easy to setup (even for someone that had no clue).

I’m a data nerd at heart and wanted to harness the power of not only feeling better but evidencing that with statistics to show progression. Therefore, I elected to get a speed sensor. Doing some research, I found that this wasn’t as cheap as I had first thought. Getting yourself a speed sensor and bike computer was looking to be over £100, not a part of the plan! Thinking that smartphones regularly handle more complex jobs than a bike computer, I investigated just getting a speed sensor and linking it to an app of some kind. I found a great little sensor on Amazon for £15.20 which was made by ‘Moofit’ and had both ANT+ and Bluetooth connection capability. The manufacturer recommended a few apps that it was compatible with including Wahoo and Strava.

Strapping the Moofit sensor to my rear wheel with some elastic bands and downloading the Wahoo app onto my phone was all I needed to do. Away I went and for under £85 I had a decent setup which allowed me to start pedalling. I linked my Wahoo app to Strava and the Fitbit app allows me to see all the heart rate statistics I need to show progress. That was a little over a month ago, and I’m already seeing huge improvements in my speed, endurance and also my resting heart rate is tumbling.

Heart rate is a factor I wanted to monitor closely and initially I did this using my Fitbit (which I already owned) and used that to start with. I have since upgraded to a cheap heart rate chest strap by ‘CooSpo’ which cost me around £20, again on Amazon. Chest straps are believed to be a bit more accurate and reliable. I have found it also connects with Zwift, which is a world that I am just starting to explore.

When my baby is napping, my eldest is Facetiming or at school, when I am on a lunch break, or even when everyone is in bed I can jump on the turbo. I now can undo what was done last year. I would say to anyone that feels that a scheduled class is too restrictive, or a gym pass is too expensive… give this a try. It works.

Find out more about Parallel Coaching Club here.