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.


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:


-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.


-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 😀

-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.


-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.

Post Navigation:


  1. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance on August 11, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Spinning will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. I started doing it a few years ago and have been wanting to get certified since!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Colleen on August 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Ugh, spinning is the ONE class that I never could stand. Even with good music, I would just get so bored. I love riding my bike outside though! I think it’s just the indoors, because I hate running on a treadmill, but love running outside too.

  3. Taylor on August 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Spinning is my go to workout when I get fit a run in. I have done it even more during my pregnancy because the weight of the baby became uncomfortable while running, but I still wanted to get that intense cardio in. Now at 36 weeks, I am starting to slow down, but am still taking spin once a week or so. I have also wanted to get certified for the past few years but can never seem to find a class in my area.

  4. Allie on August 11, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Hi Gina!

    I’m in the process of getting my group fitness instructor certification and I’m really interested in teaching spinning. However, I can’t find a specific program that will teach me the fundamental basics of spinning and certify me as a spin instructor. Some spin instructors that I’ve talked to said they just picked up certain techniques along the way or learned the basics from another instructor but I want something more concrete than that. Any suggestions? What did you do?


    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

      i learned from taking classes for a couple of years. i didn’t have a spin certification, but the gym i worked at allowed me to teach it since i was group fitness certified (but we had to call it cycling instead of spinning). johnny g has an excellent certification- my friend renee has it and loves it 🙂

  5. Lindsey on August 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I used to love spin and go 3 days a week, but I haven’t been in almost a year! But for no real reason beyond the class time doesn’t fit in my schedule. I still love it! Love the glow in the dark spin class, very cool!

  6. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on August 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Ugh, I tried spinning once, at a fitness conference and it was my first session of the day. As you know at fitness conferences the presenters actively try to kill us, and I was certainly killed. Never again…..never again….lol

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2011 at 10:42 am


  7. Ashley on August 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I <3 spinning! I teach for LA Fitness and shhhhhh I still use my own playlists because I think the music makes the class! My fave song for a long climb is "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)". It's basically a graduation speech put to music. I shut up, and tell my class to listen to the words as we climb. The message of the song gives me chills every time!

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

      i heard a lot of instructors were doing that! smart girl 🙂

      • Carolyn (Life in the postcard) on August 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

        Jessica at the 1st Ave location teaches on Monday and Wednesday at 5:30 with upbeat hip-hop music. I agree the music is key. I tried a couple different instructors and while I got a decent workout in I know I’ll need to bring my own music and just watch the cues if I go back to them. That LA Fitness requirement is LAME!!!

  8. Beth (well ill be) on August 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I totally have a love/hate relationship with spinning! It’s such a good workout, but it’s freaking hard and I always dread it. I think though, it’s done wonders for strengthening my legs for running. I’ve noticed a huge difference since I started taking a spin class.

  9. Carrie on August 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

    “Hey there, Delilah” shouldn’t be played period… ever! 😉

    I’ve always wanted to do spin at my gym, but the class is offered at the most inconvenient times. 🙁

  10. Erin on August 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I LOVE spin class. The one I go to at Gold’s gym is in a dark room with black lights and the instructor cranks the music – just how I like it. I took my in-shape friend to a spin class this past week and by track 3 she turned and looked at me with an exausted look and said “OMFG this is HARD”.

  11. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on August 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I love it so much that I teach it! I teach a mix of freestyle (ie my own workout design and music) and RPM, which is a Les Mills program (like Body Pump, Body Step etc). It’s a good mix because i get to be creative with the freestyle classes, and the RPM workouts are pre-choreographed so they can come together quite quickly. It doesn’t matter how often I do classes though – you’re always guaranteed to get a good workout because you can always take the resistance higher! 🙂 Great post Gina!

    • Molly on August 11, 2011 at 11:00 am

      I love RPM! It’s such a great workout and I never get bored!

    • mary on August 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

      I like that they don’t call it Spinning, because that’s actually a trademarked name. It’d be like gyms all over offering unlicensed Body Pump classes.

  12. Nicole on August 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I’m sooo afraid of spinning! Even when I was in top shape, it looked like it would kill me. Thanks for this break down…*maybe* I’ll work up the courage to give it a try! 🙂

  13. Irene on August 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I like spinning, its definitely a great workout, but you are right that the music totally makes or breaks the class! I feel like I can get a great workout with any instructor, so I usually chose them based on their music choices. I have more *fun* at dance type classes, but these are great for a day when I want some serious cardio. Thanks for another great focus on post!

  14. Stephanie Midkiff on August 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I am new to your blog and curious if you have any posts about the Paleo diet. I am curious about it and would like to find a starting place to get more information and menus, etc. What are your thoughts on Paleo? I’ve seen a lot of blogs about it but they are definitely more advanced, I am looking for some basic beginner info and go from there!

    • Irene on August 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I would also like a post about Paleo! My brother and his wife do it….

  15. Maria@La_Piattini on August 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I absolutely LOVE spinning and have been going actively now for 7 years. My favorite song that I’ve ever spun too, and this is pretty random, is Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin. I do have a pair of fancy spin shoes, but to tell you the truth (and this always surprises instructors) I don’t really like them! They bother me and I think it’s because I don’t like having my feet locked in place but rather a bit more freedom just from placing your feet in the cages.

  16. AJ on August 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Okay… Spinning is a topic I get a little passionate on. I am an avid cyclist and have been for 10 years. I live in Minnesota, and while someone hardcore Minnesotans bike through snow and ice all year, I prefer to keep my fitnesss by spinning indoors during cold months. Many gyms let you use the spinning bikes when a class is not in session, which I love. I can put on headphones hang out in the darkish spinning room, pedal and just zen out. : )

    I generally really like spinning if the tunes are good and the instructor keeps it interesting. The one thing I hate about spinning is when the instructor tries to make it too “un-bikey”, like doing pushups on the handlebars and getting up and and down on the seat over and over. You would never see a serious cyclist doing these things on a “real” bike, and there is a reason for it. Bikes are tools that are made to use your legs and core as stabilizing and power sources. Your upper body should be as relaxed as possible on any bike. I would rather do a set of pushups off the bike for a few minutes after a spin class, where I could focus on form then struggle to do them on a bike while my legs are going all cray cray. It seems like a recipe for injury and strain!

    Also, another thing I hear a lot is the desire for a “comfortable gel seat”. Gel seats are actually not a great option for reducing booty pain. It looks like it would be so comfortable, but the cushy seats actually flatten out when you sit on them, causing more pressure on sensitive soft tissue. Although it takes some getting used to, seats should be somewhat firm and narrow, only be wide enough to support your sit bones. Any wider causes chafing, pressure and even saddle sores.

    • Jessica @ Fit Talker on August 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      I’m a spinning instructor and very “by the book”. I do do jumps, which are not something you’d ever do on a road bike, but the whole “push ups on the bike” thing is ridiculous.

      Thanks for pointing that out!

      • AJ on August 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

        Thanks for the extra instructor insight, Jessica!

  17. Allison @ Food For Healing on August 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

    spinning is one class that i love to take, but dont do it too often. I have been wanting to get back into it lately, but have just been doin my own thing at the gym for now. Once that gets a little boring i’m sure i’ll switch it up again and start spinning. out of all the fitness classes at the gym, spin is my favourite!!

  18. kelly on August 11, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I have a lot of weight it lose, think almost 100 pounds. I tried spinning about two months ago and fell in love. I get a killer workout but my knees and hips don’t ache the next day!

  19. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on August 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I adore spinning. The issue for me, though, is that I never seem to make it to the classes on time.. they’re super early, and i was arrive right when they’ve JUST started, and I’m too chicken to go in because it’s packed! I need to get up earlier haha.

  20. Andrea @ Onion in My Hair on August 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Spinning is my ABSOLUTE fave cardio workout. I take it 3 times week. My fave classes are the ones structured around goals – sprints, jumps, etc. – versus those which are structured around real racing events.

    Recently my fave instructor played R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A by John Mellencamp – it was a great song due to the beats!!

    I totally agree the music makes or breaks it. I add a “Favorite Song” to every Spinning inclusion on my daily exercise page on my blog. This morning my fave song was “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry.

    Great post! I hope your readers try Spinning ASAP!

  21. Kris | on August 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I have NEVER done spinning!? WTF? I swear I live in a workout bubble…never done spin or never done zumba…LOL!! I’m a weights gal 😉

    Loved your post!

  22. Laura @ Meet Virginia on August 11, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I love spin but agree that the music can sometimes NOT be working! I love the song you posted!

  23. Allison on August 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Spinning is a great workout! I wasn’t even thinking my first class and wore my Vibrams:( my feet hated me for a week!

  24. mi-an on August 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    oh yes i do love spinning class! i used to go to crunch gym when i lived in brooklyn ny and it was sooo soo tight! i loved it!!

  25. Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me on August 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I LOVE spinning! It’s my favorite workout right now. The classes aren’t monotonous as long as the instructor changes it up from week to week, which luckily they do. Like you said, the music and instructor definitely make the class. I’ve taken some classes I’ve hated and others I loved. Now I have my favorite instructors and always go to their classes.

  26. Nitasha on August 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Spinning is my FAVORITE!!! My two workouts are yoga and spin…I love feeling like jello afterwards…my fave song for climbs is Bawitdaba by Kid Rock <3.

  27. Lauren on August 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I love “Explosive” by Bond. I actually had my bridal party enter to it at my wedding and the first time I ever heard it was at a spin class in Boston. It is the perfect spin song.

  28. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food on August 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I haven’t taken a regular spinning class but I have taken ‘x-bike’ classes which are similar to spinning, but the bike resembles a mountain bike and you use your upper body as well as your legs. I absolutely loved it! 🙂

  29. Ashley on August 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Never tried spinning but after reading this I might have to. I’m not a huge fan of bikes b/c they make my knees hurt. But I do like to try fun new things and I never real gave any thought to spinning.
    I really enjoy your blog, keep up the great work! BTW, love your new house!

  30. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on August 11, 2011 at 11:46 am

    LOVE spinning, but I agree, the instructor makes the class. I’ve been to great classes and terrible ones. Fortunately, my gym has a ton of instructors and styles so I know what I like best!

  31. maria @ a life to Bragg about on August 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I want to try spinning so badly! And OMG, I LOVE Bond! I walked down the aisle to Bond – Lullaby 😀

  32. kaila @ healthy helper! on August 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

    That song is awesome! I can totally see how that would be your fave song to spin too! Very motivational!!

  33. Rebecca on August 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It’s funny that you posted this today because I JUST got back from a spin class (it was actually Psycho Cycle, which included 5 minutes of burpees off the bike…talk about PAIN!) and I work the exact same shorts you’re wearing in the pic as well as a black tank (might even be the same one–it’s the Champion empire waisted top). Too funny!

    Side note: after taking spin classes for awhile, I invested in a pair of cycle shoes. I’d one day like to become a spin/fitness instructor, so it seemed like a worth-while purchase. Was I right? Absolutely! With them, I engage different muscles and have a more even peddle stroke, so I’m maximizing my time on the bike and have better form while doing so. I wear a HRM, and I swear I notice a difference in the calories burned per class since buying the shoes.

    • Rebecca on August 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Also, favorite song: New Low by Middle Class Rut.

  34. AR on August 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I LOVE spinning so much that I used to teach it too (while in grad school). For anyone who’s looking for a good certification I did the Madd Dog/Jonny G and found it to be perfectly sufficient. But like you, I picked up most of the stuff I used regularly from taking a variety of spin classes over the years. I like a music/beat focused spin class the best and I actually LIKE when the instructors do “unbikey” things like jumps and pushups. If I wanted to ride like a cyclist, I’d be brave and ride a road bike outdoors. Instead, I’d rather groove to the music and get a fab bike/dance combo! Thanks for this post!

  35. Aine @ Something to Chew Over on August 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I LOVE spinning! I swear it gets me high 😉

    I don’t get to do it as often as I would like – too expensive 🙁

  36. Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] on August 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I’m obsessed with spinning!! It’s such a great workout.

  37. Danielle (Shrinking and Studying) on August 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    This was a great post! I seriously love spin and signed up for a weekly class in the Fall. I swear that your bum hurting is the WORST part when you first start, but eventually your bum toughens up and you don’t even feel it anymore.

    I have two pairs of gym shoes now, my asics I use strictly for running and I have a cheaper pair of thick soled runners that I use for spin, that way if I wear the toes out from the toe clips it doesn’t really matter. 🙂 Right now, my favorite spin song is Give me Everything by Pitbull. 🙂

  38. Cat @Breakfast to Bed on August 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I have heard of so many of my friends puking in that class that I am terrified to take one!

  39. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on August 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    It’s my favorite! Since my torn tendon rehab, I thought I’d be devestated that I’d not be able to run anymore, but I’m so happy to at least be back to spin class – but I agree, a bad instructor/bad music can ruin it!

  40. Hannah on August 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I love spinning, but make sure your handlebars are securely in place! During the first class I took, I didn’t realized that they were just propped on top, but not “locked in”, and when I stood up and put weight on the handlebars, they fell off…and so did I. I have never been so embarassed in my life- I mean, really, who has scars from their stationary bike accident?!?! This girl.

  41. Kristie on August 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Do you know if the clip-in shoes are the same as ones for road bikes?

  42. Dee on August 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try spin but am always so intimidated.

    I really like that song! I love strings! 🙂

  43. Hillary on August 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I fell in love with spinning last year, and my old gym had some incredible instructors and classes. The workout I got from spinning was like nothing I had ever experienced! Unfortunately, I moved last fall and my new gym doesn’t offer spin—I’ve been looking for classes in the area ever since! I miss it!

  44. Laura J. on August 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I freakin adore spin classes!! I have a hard time motivating and pushing myself when I do cardio on my own (ie– treadmill or elliptical), so my main source of cardio comes from spin, zumba and step classes. You are sooo right that the instructor and music totally make the class. My spin instructor at my current gym is amazeballs. Her classes never fail to kick my booty and I always leave a sweaty beast. I’ve gone to spin classes where the music is awful, the instructor sings into the mic, and I barely break a sweat. No one wants to feel like they spent an hour at the gym and got nothing out of it. I’m so glad I didn’t let a few bad instructors keep me from this awesome workout– you just gotta keep trying new classes til you find one that rocks your face. 🙂 One of my favorite songs to spin to was the slumdog millionaire song “you are my destiny” with jai ho and the pussycat dolls.

  45. jillian on August 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    i love reading your blog, i don’t comment much but i read almost every post! and i want to thank you for sharing the bond “explosive” music with us, it s FABULOUS. I’m a gymnastics coach and i can’t wait to choreograph a routine to that music!!!

  46. Sarah for Real on August 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I’ve tried it once several months ago and figured out two things right away:

    1. I took the “it’s your first class so don’t push it too hard” a little too seriously. I wasn’t sweaty at all. My fault.
    2. I need bikes with numbers, not just a dial. I couldn’t remember how many times I’d turned it to gauge if this sprint was harder than the last like it was supposed to be, or if I was returning to the same recovery level as before.

    Fortunately, my gym got new bikes with fancier interface recently so I’ll have to try it again!

  47. Katheryn on August 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Spinning is definitely not for me. In fact I really dislike it. I’ve never been a fan of biking, and spin class is just an extension of that. I run marathons, kick box, lift weights, and do yoga, but this body is not made for spinning.

  48. Lisa @ Fresh Spinach on August 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I really miss my spinning classes. I’ve been dying to get back into it but my knee injury still hasn’t healed. I feel like it won’t ever be the same. Cardio has definitely been a challenge for me. Any suggestions for cardio for those of us who have injured our knees would be greatly appreciated! No more running for me 🙁

  49. Emma (Namaste Everyday) on August 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I love spinning to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” in which I sing to myself: “save a horse, ride a spin bike!”

  50. ml on August 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I love spinning! After taking a break from running for a couple years due to injury, I started craving cardio and fell in love with spin instantly. It was DEFINITELY due to the instructor. I didn’t realize how great she was until l I moved recently and went to a new gym — if I had started there I don’t think I would have gone back! Thankfully, I found a gym with great instructors who play fun, inspiring music.

    I would have never thought it, but “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele is awesome for sprint intervals!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.