Focus On: Spinning

Hey guys! Hope your morning is going well <3

I’m really excited for this week’s Focus On post because it’s a class that I used to teach and is one of my workout loves. The only reason I stopped taking classes was because LA Fitness forced their instructors to only use LA Fitness music and it killed my favorite instructor’s class. Should “Hey There, Delilah” ever be played during spin class? Unless it’s during a cooldown, I’m going to go ahead and say no.

Anyway..

Spinning is a ridiculously awesome workout.

The first time I tried it, in college, my roommates had to come down and help me walk up the stairs because I was SO sore the day after my first class. Don’t let that scare you- I pushed myself during my first class and it definitely works different muscles than you may be used to. Also, if you don’t ride a *real* bike (like me!), it’s a great option to get in a similar workout.

What it is: A cardio class utilizing a spin bike. The pedals and wheels spin, but the bike stays stationary. There is a knob for you to adjust your resistance and make the workout more challenging or easy to handle, depending on the instructor’s directions and your preferences.

SPinner-NXT-large2 Source

What to expect: Usually a 60-minute class (give or take 15 minutes) in which the instructor will lead you through a warm-up, cardio workout and cooldown. Different instructors will use different ways to gauge how hard you’re working. Some will use levels (“On a scale of 1-5 right now, you should be at a level 3”), resistance (“turn the knob twice”), cadence (how fast your wheels are spinning. Many spin bikes have an attachment on them which will keep track of your time and RPM), and all instructors will focus on your position (seated, standing or climbing). Speed will also be emphasized throughout the class through slower hill climbs (with heavy resistance), steady state or sprinting (speed intervals). When I would teach, my classes would be music-guided. I knew my playlists well and had designated songs for sprinting, hills, jumping, tempo work, etc.

Prepare to sweat! In a great class, I’ll have sweat dripping down my forearms and shins. Seriously sweaty-town.

Some gyms pay attention to ambience big time to help you get in the “zone.” In Orlando, the spin class I would take was in a long hallway, with black lights and glow-in-the-dark stars everywhere. It was pretty amazing.

110114NS-GK-SPINMUSIC Source

For your first class, get there early –many classes will be packed beforehand or even have a sign-up sheet to reserve a bike- and let the instructor know it’s your first time. He/she will help you with your bike setup to make sure the seat and handles are in the proper position for you.

A couple of tips:

-Don’t go too cray cray if it’s your first class. Chances are that, like with any new workout, you will be sore no matter what, so use this as a chance to get a feel for what the class is like and what you think about the instructor (if you want to take their class again). Go easier on the resistance.

-Never lock your knees. Even when you’re pedaling and your leg is fully extended, make sure to have a slight bend.

-Always make sure to have some resistance on the bike. By doing so, you’ll protect your knees and also make sure you’re getting a workout. No resistance = no effort at all. If you’re standing (position 2), definitely add enough resistance to support your body weight. You don’t want your legs flailing about with no resistance.

-When you’re standing, keep the weight in your legs instead of your hands- no need to hold onto the handlebars for dear life.

-Pedal using your heel first (no toes down) and keep your knees straight (no crazy noodle legs).

-Your booty may hurt a little if you’re not used to the seat. Many gyms have gel seats you can attach to the top to make it more comfortable, or you can pick up your own and take it to class with ya. You’ll get used to the seat eventually, though.

What to wear:

-Longer shorts (bike shorts or even athletic shorts that are a little longer) or cropped pants. I made the mistake of wearing Soffe shorts way back in the day and said hello to a lovely scar on my inner thigh from chafing. I wouldn’t rock pants to spin class, though- it gets hot and schweaty FAST.

-Tank or technical tee.

Something I might wear to a spin class:

photo102

-Sneaks with a thicker sole, as thinner soles can be painful on your arches when the medal pedals are in the middle of your foot. You can also be fancy and buy the clip-on shoes if you’re hardcore, but they’re not a necessity. I’d recommend taking classes for a while before investing in those.

-Bring: a small towel and a water bottle.

Pros:

-Customizable. You work as hard as you want to. No need to ask for modifications- if you want to back off on speed or resistance, it’s your choice. You truly can make it your own workout.

-Great, sweaty cardio if you want to push yourself :D

-No impact. This is a great exercise option for those who don’t want to be pounding their joints. It’s more gentle on joints than running or aerobics would be, but of course, if you have joint or knee considerations, double-check with your doc.

Cons:

-Can be monotonous. If you go to the same class, with the same instructor, it can get redundant after a while. It’s a great idea to change up the class you go to and keep the body guessing. [If you know that a certain song is coming up next, chances are that your legs will remember, too, and kick into cruise control]

-The instructor and music make the class. Like with any class, the instructor and music make all the difference in the world. If you take a class you don’t like, try another one before giving up on spin altogether.

Are you a spinning fan? What’s your favorite song to spin to? My all-time fave is “Explosive” by Bond.

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Comments

  1. LOVE spin! I’m just starting to teach and find that music definitely is a necessity for great spin classes… And high energy of course too!

  2. A girl after my own heart! I LOVE spin! So much so that I recently became a certified Spin instructor and am starting to teach at my gym!

    I love adding Fall Out Boy to my playlists…Lady Gaga is a good one too.

  3. Spinning is my absolute love. I loved it so much I too got certified by Schwinn to teach. I taught at Equinox for a couple years but then had to stop because at the time I was juggling too much with my full time job. It’s an absolutely amazing workout and anyone I meet I always encourage them to try it! :)

  4. I love spinning! I miss it a lot since quitting the gym…it is such a fun workout that really works you! I wish I’d had this post for my first class years ago though. I didn’t ask for help adjusting my bike or anything and my ladybits were so sore after class! I immediately went out and bought a gel seat cover :)

  5. So true that the instructor makes or breaks the class with spinning. And I think even more than in other workouts. I love to spin though!

  6. This is my first comment! I’ve been lurking a little bit, but couldn’t resist commenting on your focus on spinning…I *love* spin! You’re right, the class definitely depends on the music and the teacher, but with the right combination, it’s just the best workout. I started out about three years ago and with going to classes consistently every week (paired with diet of course), I’ve managed to shed about 80lbs. The low-impact workout in a dark room was exactly the right combo for me. Plus, it’s just plain fun! :) Love your blog, btw!

  7. I love it when you do the focus on posts, you have so much awesome information! Those Bond girls are like sexy, non-singing Dixi Chicks.

  8. Ok so I am not a spinner. I just have never gotten into it b/c it seems so repetitive and because I am one of those crazy people who’d rather go running or walking outside, even for 10 mins, even if it’s -20F below or 112F above…I just love fresh air…..BUT i know some people just love love love to spin. And that’s awesome! I wish I could take a class from YOU!!! :)

  9. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and love it. I couldn’t believe the title of this post when I saw it..!! I have recently started Spinning and absolutely love it!!! I have been to a few classes with different instructors and definitely like having different instructors/music..it makes the class less repetitive. Walking home from a Spin class today I was hoping someone would blog about Spin – I haven’t really seen any on it..and you did! Definitely the sweatiest workout I have ever done!!!

    Thanks for a great post, I’m reading all the way from the UK :)

  10. I like teaching spinning more than I like participating. Maybe it is because I get to choose the music :)

  11. I’ve done spin class maybe around 10 times and I find I either love it or hate it. It all depends on the instructor and the music! One time the instructor played all Britney Spears remixes and it was a total blast! :D

  12. Christine says:

    Best spinning song ever…The Kills-Sour Cherry!

  13. Love! Love! Love spin class. It is my favorite hour of the week. My instructor offers refunds if you don’t sweat. LOL! She has never had to give a refund. Completely awesome!

  14. I want to try a spin class so badly…especially if glow in the dark stars and lights were involved!

  15. I LOVE spin!!! My husband and I do it together. So fun! We also have road bikes and hybrid bikes. Biking is our thing (I am NOT a runner). I think clip in shoes are a must if you go to spin regularly. You get so much more power out if the class that way!

    Why aren’t you a real biker??

  16. Oh man. I’ve been considering doing spinning for a while and for the past few days I’ve been BOMBARDED about it EVERYWHERE. I’m only hesitant because 1, FEAR and 2, I have vestibulitis and I’m worried it will well… if you know what that is you’ll understand. I’ve become extremely good at ignoring the pain but still. I don’t want to be 10 minutes into a class and already in pain and not able to get out…… although, I go biking ‘traditionally’ all the time.

    So yeah, mostly just FEAR.

    Happy TMI day! =P

  17. I literally just did a post on spinning! How funny. Yours is much better though!

  18. Yay spinning! I <3 it.

    My favorite spinning song: Untouched by The Veronicas, can't sit still listening to that

  19. Here’s a fun tidbit for you! “Spin”, “spinning” and “spinner” are registered trademarks of the company, Mad Dogg Athletics. Technically, you’re only really Spinning if it’s done on the Spinner bikes and the education is from the MDA Spinning program, taught by a MDA certified instructor! While “spinning” is often considered a generic term for all indoor cycling, it’s actually not. :)

  20. Lindsay@Brownies For Brunch says:

    I’m going to be in the Orlando area for a bit and was wondering what gym is it that has that spin class? That atmosphere is awesome!

  21. Love spin. Just bought the song, thanks –it’s awesome! I’ll use it for warm-up teaching my weights class :)

  22. Indoor cycling is the BEST! My favorite song to spin to… hmmm… lately it’s either Porn Star Dancing or S&M! I swear I’m not a freak ;o)

  23. Maybe one day you can do a Focus On post about your favorite workout music. Including Zumba faves :)

  24. This post made me miss my spin class so much! I used to go twice a week and it was fantastic – pumping music, lights, kind of like a nightclub where everyone is on bikes (and sober, as far as I could tell). Nearly every gym in Chch got trashed by the earthquakes – big concrete buildings didn’t tend to handle being agitated side to side – but I’m really looking forward to getting back to it when things are rebuilt.

  25. I love spinning- it seriously kicks my butt! And, any Pink song gets me super pumped up.

  26. I LOVE SPINNING! I’m addicted to Soul Cycle. I’ve tried almost every workout and it’s my absolute favorite! You seriously feel like you are at a club while you are in class and every instructor is just so perfect and doing pushups on the bike and lifting weights really gives you a full body workout. I wish they were in more cities!!

  27. Spinning is one of those “workout gems” I tend to forget–this makes me want to find a class nearby! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Yay for some spin love. I’m certified through MadDog but am planning a trip to NYC so I can take a few classes at Soul Cycle. I would prefer a method that incorporated more core and arm work – I’m not a cyclist and do not pretend to be, so I do not like the restrictions MadDog puts on their movements. I love feeling like I’m in the club for an hour a few times a week!

  29. My fave instructor once led us through the “Rocky Ride”. Best class EVER. All music from the Rocky movies and at the end of the class we were doing sprint intervals to “Eye of the Tiger”. Doesn’t get much more motivating than that!

    Great post – Thanks!

  30. I’ve never heard of them before, but I really like that song! I’m a violinist, so I’m a sucker for string music! =o)

    My favorite songs that I’ve personally heard during spinning classes would probably be remixes of Katy Perry and P!nk songs. Something about girly music like that just gets me pumped! =o)

    • Oh, and WORST possible songs for spinning class?

      1) Harder to Breathe – Maroon 5
      2) No Air – Jordin Sparks

      I hate when the songs remind me of gasping for air! I already have exercise induced asthma-I don’t need a reminder! LOL!

  31. Oh yea don’t get me started on LA Fitness and their change of music. We actually left and moved to another gym because pretty much all we joined for was to take their (at the time ) awesome spin classes, sometimes 4x a week.

    Then we moved on to another gym and the spin classes weren’t the same (in the dark which I hear is normal but I don’t like that at all). Now cool funky lights would be OK but total darkness, not for me. Plus there were some OK one guy in the class who was a miserable human being so we decided to take it into our own hands and BUY two spin bikes.

    We are getting ready to remodel our garage into a home gym. Cannot wait! I know it won’t be the same but at least Kev and I can rock out to our choice of music, play it as loud as we want and hoot and holler! Strobe likes might be fun too ha ha Now we just need to come up with some spinning playlists.

  32. Fitness equipment is very good. I have not been a long time.

  33. I LOVE SPIN! I went for my first class abuot 2 years ago and avoided it since I was so sweaty ( I hate sweating) and was incredibly sore. After I got engaged, I decided to try it again since my family members all love it… turns out I love it too! The instructor definately makes the class! I’ll leave early after 30 – 45 minutes if I dont like the instructor. I also invested into some spin shoes which has helped too! I actually havent been to spin in about a month now and I’ve been craving it! Think i might have to go Wednesday after reading this post!

  34. hemp jogger says:

    its my favorite! ok, second to running…but i got at least twice a week, sometimes three. and you are right on about sweating…nothing makes me drip more. love it!

  35. Hi Gina! I have a question. I just did my first spin class today, and it was awesome and butt kicking! Afterwards, I talked to the instructor, who was awesome. She said, though, that you should only ever take spin once or twice a week–twice a week absolute maximum. I know I need to start slow and take my time, but eventually, is it ok to build up the number of sessions per week? What’s your opinion on this?

  36. want to spin in orlando says:

    Where did you spin in orlando? I am trying to find somewhere that doesnt require a gym membership!

  37. Hey! I just found your site and LOVE it. Spinning saved my sanity during my fiancée’s 13 month deployment! I’m officially an addict at this point. It inspired me to buy a normal bike and start training for my first triathlon! I wish we had stars in our studio!!

  38. Spinning is amazing. I completely agree with you that the best sort of class is in the dark with great music. By the way, what was the studio called that you went to in Orlando? Thanks! :)

    -Kimmy

    kimmymia.blogspot.com

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