DO YOU BREAK OUT in a cold sweat at the thought of language lessons? Here's an even better reason to perspire. San Franciscobased Connect18 (www.connect18.com) is launching spin classes that promise to tone your gray matter as well as your glutes. While riding a stationary bike, you'll take virtual tours of countries like Mexico and Italy via a big-screen, cycle-centric travel documentary. The first spin-and-learn studio opens mid-July in San Francisco, followed next year by locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
In a recent trial run, about a dozen spinners pedaled down inviting tree-lined boulevards in San Ángel, an artists' colony south of Mexico City. The filmshot at handlebar level to create the illusion of rolling down cobblestone streetsfeatured Spanish vocabulary onscreen and opportunities for riders to brush up on conversational skills with locals. (Mexican grade-schoolers, it seems, love the Red Hot Chili Peppers.) The company plans to offer a range of hourlong classes that vary in both physical difficulty and language proficiency.
It's smart multitasking, sure, but according to Connect18 (the company says its name alludes to the number of inches between the heart and brain), the underlying premise that exercise improves mental acuity is also sound science: Research in the 2004 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which studied adults over age 60, suggests moderate aerobic training yields a big mental boost. And a 2003 report by the University of Georgia's Phillip Tomporowski found improvements in reaction time, decision making, and cognition during and after aerobic activities (but the jury is still out on how exercise may benefit long-term learning). So what are you waiting for? Allez!