Spinning, also known as cycling, is an amazing way to work your physique. It’s not only a great form of cardio that also strengthens and tones the body, but it’s also an exceptional way to strengthen your heart. Typical classes range from about 12-24 students sitting on specialized stationary indoor cycles. Once the class starts, the instructor (who will typically spin with his or her students from the front of the class) takes the class on a ride uphill, down hill, and through some seriously crazy sprints. Classes typically run anywhere between 40-55 minutes and are set to inspiring, motivating, and super-fun playlists. In fact, many people go solely for the atmosphere, saying that the combo of heart-pumping music, hard-working peers, and dim lighting is all the motivation they need.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a spin class and regular stationary cycling, we’re here to help. The main difference is actually the bike itself. Spin bikes are designed with a weighted flywheel in the front that speeds up as you pedal – the seats and handlebars are also adjustable so you feel like you’re actually riding a bike. A handy knob below the handlebars allows you to adjust tension to make pedaling tougher or easier depending if you’re on a flat road, steep mountain, or plunging hill.
Today, it seems like spinning is more popular than ever. With well-known classes like Flywheel, Cycle House, Soul Cycle and more, it seems like studios are popping up everywhere. Spinning is different than traditional workout classes – there are no crazy-complicated moves, and since you’re able to control your bike’s tension level, you can easily workout at a level that’s comfortable for you (bonus: no one will know if your tension’s a little lighter than theirs). And, unlike regular cycling, you’ll always keep up with the people around you because everyone finishes together. Last but definitely not least, you’ll burn around 500 calories per class while you strengthen and tone those thighs, calves, and glutes.
And, now, some helpful tips to keep your bike game strong:
Watch Your Back(Side)
If you’re not particularly used to riding a bike for long periods of time, the seat may feel a little uncomfortable on your butt. The good news: it goes away as your body gets used to the positioning. If you’re looking for a little extra boost, opt for padded bike shorts or ask your local studio if they offer gel-filled seat covers you can slip over your saddle.
You’re going to sweat a lot, so you’ll want to wear something that’ll wick the moisture away. With that being said, it’s also important to wear something tight fitting so there’s not a lot of extra fabric hanging from your body.
Wear Spin Shoes
At most studios, spin shoes are highly recommended, but not required. Many high-end studios offer free shoes to wear in class, too. If you prefer to wear your trusty sneakers, most bikes have straps you can lock into with your regular sneakers. So, what’s the difference? Holly Rillinger, master instructor at Flywheel Sports says, “When clipped in with spin shoes, your foot almost becomes part of the bike, so you have the ability to pull up and really use your hamstrings and your glutes rather than just pushing down through the cycle.”
Know Your Limits
While cycling is great for those who have joint issues, classes are known to be high-energy. Remember to know your limits and go at your own pace. If others around you are enthusiastically pedaling away, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. If something doesn’t feel right, just stop.
Use Proper Form
Your seat height is key because you want to be in a position where you’re able to get proper knee extension. You also want to feel comfortable with your handlebars – they shouldn’t be high up so your shoulders are at your ears, and they shouldn’t be down low so you have aches in your lower back. Moreover, it’s important to watch the distance between your seat and handlebars – knees should always be directly over your feet.
Spin classes get hot and wet. Because everyone around you is working up a sweat (and many rooms are already warm), it’s essential to bring a water bottle to class. Opt for a bottle with a pull top so you can pull it out of your water bottle holder and take a quick sip.
Find a Class/Instructor that Works for You
Like any other kind of workout, instructors vary. Some instructors do it boot camp style – think yelling, drills, and punchy sets, and others focus on a more calm, visually-oriented ride. While each provides an excellent, high-voltage workout, we recommend trying a few different teachers and deciding which is best for you. Because many studios offer your first class free, there’s no reason not to.
All in all, there’s nothing like finishing a spin class. You’ll leave the studio each and every time feeling accomplished, exhausted, and part of a strong, hardworking team.