So running wasn’t for you, you wanted something low impact, but you don’t have access to a pool, or perhaps you just aren’t ready to be seen in a swimsuit yet. Have you thought about trying spinning?
Spinning is basically what happens when you take stationary cycling and give it a few shots of espresso. It is done in a group setting, with pumping music, possibly dim lighting depending on the studio, and an instructor at the front that tells you when to sit, stand, and what tempo and resistance to work at. Having that coach is awesome. You know that you’re getting a good workout, and you won’t leave feeling like you could have done better, or that you were just putzing around. The group setting can make it more fun, but a bit more intimidating. Don’t compare yourself to others in the class! Just focus on doing the best you can.
What you’ll need to get started
You’ll need water. Lots of it. Especially in colder climates where the air gets dry in winter. Make sure your water bottle is easily drunk from while you’re moving. A wide-mouthed bottle will leave you wearing more water than you drink. A squeezable sports bottle with a sports valve top is ideal. A towel, cause you will sweat a ton. You could just use your shirt to wipe away sweat, but your shirt will likely also be drenched. Optional items include padded cycling shorts. Your ass WILL hurt, especially if you haven’t been on a bike in a long time. If you really enjoy yourself, and think that you are going to get serious about spinning regularly, you can look into special “clip-less” shoes. The pedals on the spin bikes have “cages” that you can slip your foot into, but if you flip them to the other side, you can clip in special shoes if you have them. Spin bikes do not glide. You can’t just stop pedaling and have the wheel keep turning freely, so you’re going to be moving your legs non-stop throughout the entire class. If you need a break, slow down, and/or slower the resistance, but don’t stop.
What to do
If this is your very first class ever, arrive early. Introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know this is your first time, and they’ll help you set up your bike and go over the important stuff with you, like how to control the resistance. This is also a good idea if it is your first class at a new studio; the equipment might be different than what you’re used to! The seat will seem high; it should be set to about your hip height. The instructor should also go over any terminology used in class, such as “positions” they might call out, meaning you change where on the handlebars you rest your hands, or whether you are sitting in the saddle or pedaling standing up. After you’re all set up and adjusted, hop on the bike, slide your feet in (or clip in) and start pedaling at a nice easy pace to warm up. From there, just listen to what the instructor calls out, and follow accordingly for an awesome workout!
A word on technique
To get the very best out of your spin class, it is important to have good form. As you pedal, be sure you are driving with your heel or focused on keeping a flat foot. You don’t want to only be pushing with your toes pointed down the whole time. Also, to double your results, remember to pull UP on the pedals as much as you push down. That’s the whole point of the cages/clips on the pedals; it allows you to pull as well as push, giving you the opportunity to work your leg throughout the entire revolution of the pedal. Spinning is great because you can adjust the workout to your needs. Feel like it’s getting too hard? Slow down your cadence (how fast you’re pedaling) and/or decrease the resistance. Feel like it’s a piece of cake? Crank up that resistance and pedal faster! What you do NOT want to do is just stop without giving your muscles a proper cool down, so while it’s okay to dial way back on the intensity (remember, don’t compare yourself to others in the class!), keep going and don’t stop!
Have you tried a spin class before? What were your thoughts?