Category: General

Comparing the Airdyne to the Air Assault Bike


Comparing the Airdyne to the Air Assault Bike – Calorie Output

In doing the #first2fifty Bike challenge on the Airdyne, I noticed that across the interwebs that there was a large discrepancy between different types of Bikes. The classic Schwinn Airdyne has been the model that everyone had first started with and used forever. Over the years, the Schwinn Airdyne has made several different versions of their fan bike. The AD4 and AD6 are just two of those models. I’ve found that the power output between these two models of the same brand that the calorie output (which some workouts are based upon) is different, so it’s very difficult to compare workout times or even create a good workout if the time domains are different for the same work output.

Here at Mark’s Gym, we have AD4 model Schwinn Airdynes. I’ve checked them all in a simple calibration test and found that they were all very similar in terms of their calorie output.

I found that some heavy hitters were unable to crack a minute on the AD6 Schwinn Airdyne, and the Air Assault Bike seems to be 40 % harder in terms of calorie output according to Mike Boyle from MBSC. If you are doing a 300FY or a First2Fifty, then it really matters what machine you are using. It would be nice to develop a working guide to help people compare machines.

So here is a simple test, if you can help me out maybe we can compare machines and keep the workouts similar.


Here is all you need to do. 

Start from a stopped flywheel.

10 minutes at 75 rpm.

At the end of the 10 minutes stop the bike and don’t let it run out.

Note how many calories were burned during that time.

Note the distance travelled.

Leave your comments below and I will put together a nice spreadsheet detailing the output of the bikes.


Type:                          Calories           RPMS

Airdyne AD4                     228                75


More Airdyne workouts here. 

airdyne workouts list





Kettlebell Color Coding

kettlebell colour coding

kettlebell color coding

kettlebell pounds to kilos

comparison chart from kilos to pounds for kettlebells and colors

Competition Kettlebell Color Coding:

Kettlebell Color Coding

Color coding your kettlebells can help with group classes and allow the instructor to give clear direction when it comes to weight usage. It is much easier to tell a newbie to go grab a blue kettlebell than it is to tell them to grab a 12 kg one. I’ve added bands to all of my kettlebells to help with ease of use and this is as much for me, as it is for the rest of the internet. I don’t really dig the full painted coloured competition kettlebells, I’m a bit more monochromatic, and a prefer mostly black bells with a touch of colour.

I used electrical tape around the bottom of the handles to signify which weight it is. Here is the color coding for kettlebells. I didn’t make this up, it is an internationally agreed upon Kettlebell competition treaty deal.


  • 8 kg / 17.6 lbs – Pink
  • 12 kg / 26.4 lbs – Blue
  • 16 kg / 35.2 lbs – Yellow
  • 20 kg / 44.0 lbs – Purple
  • 24 kg / 52.8 lbs – Green
  • 28 kg / 61.6 lbs – Orange
  • 32 kg / 70.4 lbs – Red
  • 36 kg / 79.2 lbs – Grey
  • 40 kg / 88.0 lbs – White
  • 44 kg / 96.8 lbs – Silver
  • 48 kg / 105.6 lbs – Black


Movember Push-Up Fitness Challenge


  I have decided to grow a sweet moustache in the spirit of Movember

This is no “ice bucket challenge” this has real consequences, and I’m putting my body on the line for this one.  When it comes to men’s health and wellness, I am a strong believer that fitness plays a significant role in the prevention of both mental and physical ailments. I would like to raise some money and awareness for the Movember charity. On a side note I’m not quite sure how many “likes” or dollars this will add up to, and to be quite honest, I am okay with up to 1000 likes. Anything more than that I may have to break it into 2 days.

Here is how things are going to go down.

  • Made_in_Movember_Icon_2-Thumbnail%20copy%203For every like on Facebook I will do a push-up, so feel free to share and I will honor this agreement.

  • For every dollar donated to the Movember charity on my page I will do one push-up.

  • I will subsequently add the two together and do the amount of push-ups required.

So feel free to click “Like on Facebook” as well as donate so you can double the numbers! Donate as many times as you’d like!

I’d like to make Mark do a bunch of push-ups

Click here to go to: Movember Page here

This contest ends at the end of November 2014.

I will video of all my push-ups as proof and post it on December 1st. 

Thanks for your time and reading all the way down to the bottom!

So click like and share!  Donate as well! 

Mark Arnold Movember

Let’s Make it Happen People!

Getting the biomechanics right

These are the measurements that you should get and keep

These are the measurements that you should get and keep

plumb line bike fit

using a plumb line for bike fit

If you are riding a bike and want to maximize your effort then getting a bike fit from your local bike shop is a must do!

When you are in your saddle for a 100 km bike ride and your seat height being out by an inch can make a huge difference in comfort and power output.

Make sure that when you get these measurements from the bike store you write them down and also mark the seat post in case you have to remove it or it slides down over time.

If you are riding a stationary bike or an Airdyne (see fixing the uncomfortable airdyne write up here) Then you should be able to get it close by having the leg at almost full extension 20141117-170834-61714559.jpgwhile you are at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If you have the seat too low you will know by the burning sensation in your quads.

This stuff matters, there are really quite a few websites where you can nerd out about bike fit and angles, but if you are comfortable on your bike then you are more apt to ride it. No two people are going to be the same, and we are all built a little differently, so the sizing charts may put you in the ballpark in terms of positioning.

Experiment with the positioning and seek out a good bike fitter to put you in a good position to maximize your effort!


Should I buy an old Airdyne?

gold color airdyne bike orange So you’ve scoured the classifieds and the internet and finally found a Schwinn Airdyne bike. Problem is that it was manufactured circa 1979 and it is an amazing gold orange hue. Should you buy it? Schwinn introduced the Airdyne exercise bike in 1978. It proved to be one of Schwinn’s best-selling products ever. This Airdyne above has a replacement seat because the originals are really uncomfortable and it’s a good idea to change them out. 

Pros: it’s an Airdyne and will give you one hell of a workout. The older models were very durable and stood the test of time. The parts are all the same up to the AD4’s. It’s chain driven which is a plus. You can probably pick it up really cheap, because it does look old.

Cons: it’s an awful color. The monitor is old and is run with a cable. Good luck finding a replacement, if this baby goes then I guess you still essentially have a “warm up” bike.

The bones of the older Airdynes are essentially unchanged. The only real difference is the monitor. It’s up to you, but know that if that monitor goes then you are probably not going to be able to retro fit or find a replacement. Happy shopping!

Click here for more Airdyne Specific workouts. 


airdyne workouts list







6 Ways to Make Pancakes a Healthier Choice

pancake monster               My kids love pancakes, they ask for them every morning. I often wonder about the nutritional value in pancakes and worry that my kids will get scurvy, due to the lack of nutrition in the pre made pancake mixes. I’m trying to be practical here; I’ve made paleo pancakes before and my kids won’t touch them. What this post is about is trying to crowbar some nutritional value into a pre existing pancake mix.


eggs in pancakes

Always add more eggs!

1. Double the eggs. Ditch the “just add water” mixes and opt for the ones with “add milk and eggs”. Once you do that, they you can effectively double the recommended requirement for eggs. Bonus points for getting free range, organic, farm fresh eggs.

mmm... berries

Mmm… berries


2. Add some fruit. Adding blueberries or raspberries adds some more yumminess as well as antioxidants. I find that my kids use less syrup when they have the real fruit in the pancakes. You can also mix in apple sauce for some extra flavour / nutrition. Bonus points for no sugar added apple sauce.

get your good fats!

Get your good fats!




3. Add some fat. You have to put something in the pan anyways to keep it from sticking, so why not ditch the cooking spray or margarine and use the real stuff instead. Real butter is making a comeback, and it is a great source of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. If you aren’t keen on butter then you can also use coconut oil. Just add a couple tablespoons to the pan and melt it down, then add it to the mix. The pan is ready for non stick pancakes, and you’ve added some much needed fat to your kids diet, which is essential for brain function.



fake versus real maple syrup.

fake versus real maple syrup

4. Use real Maple Syrup. Yes, there is a difference. Real maple syrup comes from trees, and is mostly sucrose and some glucose. The cheap maple syrup, is mostly high fructose corn syrup. The taste is way different as well, but there are more nutrients in real syrup such as manganese and zinc, as well as a ton of bioactive phytochemicals which are plant compounds that researchers believe help clean up free radicals in the body. 




5. Ditch the Flour. Wheat and flour is pretty much in everything else we eat, do you really think it’s a bad idea if we stop consuming so much of it? gluten free pancake mixWheat and the protein called gliadin found in gluten is believed to have inflammatory properties due to an immune response which leads to intestinal bloating and joint pain.  I’ve tried various forms of gluten free pancakes, and finally settled on one that my kids approve of. There are also hundreds of recipes for paleo flour free pancakes made with almond flour or coconut flour.



protein powder for working out

6. Mix in some protein powder. Pancakes are all carbohydrates.  Try to balance out the large carb intake with some protein powder. Vanilla seems to work better than chocolate because it keeps the pancakes the same colour. (My kids are onto my scheme so in order to avoid detection you have to be sneaky so as the pancakes have the uniform light delicious non nutritional fluffiness). My kids eat pancakes; this isn’t the optimal breakfast diet for them, but I’m trying to give them a little something else, a little more nutrition to get them started in their day.


When all else fails then you have to make them into shapes like horses…


Did I miss something? Please feel free to add your pancake tips and comments below.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

marks gym sweet potato recipe

6 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp of rosemary
1 tsp of Cumin
2 Tbsp of paprika
2 pounds of decased sausage
2 small onions
2 yellow or red peppers
Green onions
Old cheddar

sweet potato hash recipe Cut sweet potatoes into small cubes and start frying in coconut oil or bacon grease. Cut up red peppers and onions and add to mix. Add all spices and mix together. Add green onions near the end before serving.

Take the skin off of the sausages and cook them in small chunks, you can add them to the sweet potatoes later.

Cool with lid on to help steam the sweet potatoes. Keep stirring frequently.

Cooking time is approximately 35 mins.

A favorite at the fire hall on Sunday mornings!

Cook up a couple eggs and crack them over the top. Awesome paleo primal friendly recipe. Cook it in larger batches to save for the week.

Check out the post on 6 Ways to make Pancakes a Healthier option! 

Snowboard Coat Rack – A DIY Project

diy coat hanger snowboard

We moved into a new home in the little Ontario ski town of Collingwood. Being in a new home build I wanted to bring a bit of the chalet style into our new house. One way of doing this was to make a snowboard coat rack. It is a cheap way to add a cool feel to your home, and it is perfectly functional. I wanted to keep with my ski hill theme that goes with my home garage gym.


Time involved 2 hours.

Cost involved $ under $50

You can do it too! 


Learning to help and be crafty.

Step 1. Find a snowboard. I went to a used sporting goods place in town and picked out a board that didn’t have any bindings on it and with colours. This is personal preference and I liked the look off a beat up board. I didn’t clean it, and as a friend said “sometimes the beauty is in the imperfection” I picked it up from the store owner for $15.


Cat’s are still useless and it didn’t help me build anything today.

Step 2. Find hooks that you are going to mount to your board. Once again this is personal but you should have an idea of how long your flat surface of your board is before you go into the store.

Step 3. Grab a couple of lag bolts that will secure your board to the wall. It’s not worth doing unless you can overdo it. I’m sure these bolts are overkill, but I didn’t want it to fall down if my kids were swinging from coat to coat.


Step 4. Figure out where the hooks are going to go on the board and you can dry fit them. You are going to have to put lag bolts in and there has to be space for them to go. The hooks should be centred in the board.

Step 5.  I mounted the board first and made sure it was level. I drilled through the board so the lag bolts didn’t have to fight through the metal of the baseplate for the bindings. I predrilled into the stud and then ran the bolts into the wall with my cordless drill and socket driver.




Make sure the board is level and at the appropriate level. I had to check where the boss wanted this one. Once it is mounted it is easy to attach the hardware and the hooks. Some could debate which order you do this in, but I wanted to make sure that I hit the studs.

Make sure it is level. Once you have done that you can mount your hooks


Make sure you trust your level !

and you are done. Mounting your hooks should really be done from the centre of the board out for symmetry purposes. Make sure you pre- drill

the holes for the hooks.


Total cost breakdown of project: 

Board $15

Coat rack hooks $30

Lag screws $3


Total $48

Tools required:



Drill bit


screwdriver or driver bit for cordless drill

socket set or a wrench to fit the lag screws

tape measure

Have fun and enjoy this little afternoon project! Please leave links to your project in the comments.

coat hanger snowboard



More pictures below.





The Man Bag Revolution – No, it’s not a “Satchel” it’s an “EDC” Bag.

edc bag or preppers kit

Examples of EDC bags

EDC bag Aka a “Murse” aka “a Satchel” – Ok… it’s a man bag!

You too can Join the Wolfpack! 

“Its where I keep all my things..I get a lot of compliments on this.. plus it’s not a man purse.. it’s a satchel. ” Alan from the Movie The Hangover

Why does one need a man bag? With so many things to carry these days, keys, phone, a Costanza wallet, I found that it was hard to keep track of everything. I was tired of leaving things all over the place, and that’s why I needed to find a better system.  In my former life as a police officer I had a duty bag that had everything all in one place. I’d grab that bag and go, and it would sit in my cruiser as my portable office which held flashlights, clipboards, paperwork, tickets, a raincoat and assorted pens and highlighters. Having that bag was a way for me to stay organized.

After I left policing, I transitioned to the fire department and once again everything that I needed to work was in my firefighting gear. As long as I had all parts of my uniform, I had all my essential gear. For example my bunker pants carry wooden wedges, pliers, multi tools, structural firefighting gloves, screwdrivers, and other assorted bits of gear that I might need. Once again everything is in one place.

Mitten strings for keys

Before My EDC bag I was always losing my phone, keys, and wallet…


MacGyver and his satchel could conquer the world

My personal life didn’t quite have the same organization, and I struggled with a system to keep all my belongings together in one place. Inevitably I would be asking my wife if she had seen one of the big three: keys, wallet, or phone. Not having these essential possessions at my finger tips was causing me stress and frustrated me. I needed a system, I needed something familiar, I needed a “man bag”! As I searched for solutions online, I found this intriguing world of people who pride themselves on being self sufficient and prepared, I didn’t even know what I was looking for had a name, but I found it as an “EDC” bag or “Everyday Carry”.  Some when they see the EDC bag say “Hey you’ve got a Murse”, but I think they are secretly jealous.

As a kid I was a big fan of the TV show MacGyver. MacGyver carried a backpack with stuff that he combined with things that he found along the way to save the world, he was always prepared and could turn a pop can into a flamethrower. Couple that with a Boy Scout background then you should always “Be Prepared” and the EDC bag allows for that and then some.

satchel or man bag

Contents of EDC or Everyday Carry Bag

Click here for a detailed list of what is in my EDC bag.

bug out bag satchel

Finished man bag – My EDC bag


Want to start carrying your own EDC bag? Then perhaps you should check out these links.

EDC Forums. Full of great photos and discussions about bags and gear.

Wikipedia on EDC

EDC is everyday carry website.

It should be noted that some people don’t carry a bag or satchel, but they just have multi tools and gadgets on their person. I chose to carry a bag because the pockets and pouches allow me to stay more organized.

I’m enjoying the newfound sense of organization and freedom. I’m leading the charge and I don’t care what you call it. It may sound odd, but I relish the fact that I’m generally self sufficient. I don’t need much, and I don’t like asking people for anything (probably to a fault). I’m going to start a man bag revolution and I don’t care what anyone says.

A Fundamental SHIFT in the way I Run!

Vibram Five Fingers / winter running snowI was about 20 kilometers into a 25 km orienteering race called “Raid the Hammer” with my team of 3. This was my second year competing in the race and a I had just come back from an 86 km run of the grueling La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney, (read more) . The race was going well for our team, and we were sitting around third place within striking distance of the top teams in our category. This race is an annual slugfest between the top adventure racing teams and the elite orienteering people as there are very few races where they all share the same ground. The end of the race was near and there were only a few minor glitches with navigation, but there was a major problem as my knee was was screaming for me to stop, and there was not enough vitamin Ibuprofen to keep me going, the pain was excruciating and I wasn’t able to focus on the map or my team. It felt as though I was slowly grinding to a halt, and about 15 minutes later we pulled out of the race and DNF’d which is never fun. It was at that point that I came to the conclusion that my running would have to change, or I just would not do it anymore as it was slowly crippling me. I took a few weeks off, and while I was resting my bones I started to look more into the Pose Technique of running and trying to find efficiency in human movement.

Through CrossFit I had been introduced to the “Pose” technique and  and After reading the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall I decided that running shoe technology was probably the vector for my poor running stride which led to my injuries. Over the next year I was going to try to teach myself the POSE technique or evolution running, heck maybe even Chi running. Basically I was going to get away from heel striking and try to run with a mid foot strike.
I watched my daughter run and this is what I found out.

I decided that I needed shoes that would enable me to run as close to barefoot as possible, and that is where I found the Vibram Five Finger Shoes . I purchased them while on vacation in Florida and I couldn’t wait to try them out. There was only one problem, and that was that it was freezing up home in the Toronto area and I would have to contend with the snow and ice and these flimsy little foot coverings weren’t exactly gore-tex or insulated either. The “VFF’s” as they are known in the running community are super light and have mesh toe pockets for all your little piggys, and are sort of like an anti-shoe without any real structure or technology. The shoes for the lack of a better term allow your feet to work the way that they are designed to without the stability control chasis or microchip technology that is floating around in new shoes. In the new Vff’s water goes in and out of these crazy looking kicks, and they look like you dipped your feet in a vat of tar.

Christmas came and went, and I needed to burn off the turkey and I just couldn’t wait any more, I was going to try them out in the snow and ice while running some crushed gravel trails in Oakville’s 16 mile creek area where Trek or Treat is run.


  • You certainly can’t heel strike in these shoes, period.
  • The grip is pretty good considering the flat rubbery sole, I have the KSO type with the flat sole, there is one that is new that has a lugged sole, but I think I’ll try that after I wear these ones out.
  • Surprisingly my feet weren’t really that cold, even though they were submerged in water and running over hard packed ice and snow. It felt like I was running with wet moccasins.
  • I could feel the ground much more and felt some nice rocks as well, especially in some of the large gravel covered washout sections by the river.
  • The running felt natural and smooth, and I didn’t feel like it was a challenge to adopt some new style of running technique. The reality is that I was returning to a running style that I once used as a kid.

After a 5 km loop, we returned to the house, and my one calf muscle felt a little tight but other than that I was feeling pretty good and glad that my experiment didn’t backfire. The only problem is that I had some rubbing on the inside of my arch and on the outside of my toe, as I was running without socks. I’m not sure if people use those injinji socks with the shoes, but perhaps next trip I take, I might try them out.

2 days after the run I felt as though my calves had been shot and still feel a little tight, and I’m sure this is due to them being deconditioned. I plan to keep on running in them throughout the winter, so I will keep you updated.

Winter Running Update

More running in the month of February. I did a 1o km trail run with “real” runners. The trail was super technical with lots of rocks, roots and hills. I attached my polar footpod to the VFF’s and I have done this a few times and it has worked well. There has been no problem with the pod moving around or feeling cumbersome on the top of my foot. I have been using the Injinji socks over the winter and they seem to be working well. I’m not really sure what else I would do. There were a couple cold mornings that my feet felt hot for hours after the runs which were in about minus 12 degree Celsius weather for about 35 minutes or 8 km. The hot sensation was either a friction burn from the run or a mild case of frostbite. The old feet are holding up well and I don’t have the calf pain anymore, this muscle conditioning issue seemed to go away after 4 or 5 runs. I supplemented some skipping into my warm ups too to get the calf muscles ready for some play.  When I was out running yesterday on the icy trails I did notice one thing when I was running with this pack of Ironman / Marathoner  runners. When I hit a hill I adjusted my stride to become very short and my cadence increased to propel me up the hill. The other runners took their longer strides and I was able to climb more efficiently. On the downhills it was a different story as the runners with Yaktraks attached to their feet were able to take large bounding strikes down the icy snowy slopes as I had to pick my way keeping my feet directly under my body. My toes felt a little tender as I think they were getting a lot of work clawing up those slopes trying to gain traction.

Did my feet get Cold?

I have found that my feet are about as cold as my hands when I am wearing gloves. I haven’t had a day that has been too cold for them yet, and like any muscle they warm up as you use them.