There you are at your local gym, lifting weights or using the stairmaster, when suddenly you hear it: the booming speakers from the cycle studio. Why does it always sound like a rave? Why does everyone clip clop out drenched in sweat. And why is it always so packed?! You might be asking yourself the same questions, or maybe you've just been curious about what goes on inside that mysterious, music-filled room.
A few years ago, I would never have guessed that I would become an avid spin class goer. In fact, I thought it was probably a monotonous workout and kind of culty! But now, I try to go at least once a week and I absolutely love it. Let me tell you the story of my first spin class, and then dive into a few reasons why it's time for you to get in the saddle.
The day I stepped into my first spin class, I was hesitant and a bit intimidated. The bike is foreign and the shoes are weird. Could I really enjoy cycling for 45 minutes straight? However, I was quickly drawn in by the infectious energy of the instructor and the supportive community around me. As I began pedaling and finding the rhythm, I realized how invigorating and empowering the experience was. From that moment on, I was hooked!
1. Improved Cardiac and Pulmonary Function
Spinning is zone 4 and zone 5 cardio, you are working at 80-100% of your V02 max and heart rate for most of the workout. With this type of training major cardiovascular adaptations will be stimulated. By cycling regularly, you will significantly improve your capillary density, cardiac output, and tolerance to CO2. You will notice that your overall fitness improves rapidly, you have more energy and your blood pressure drops. I still remember the first time I completed a spin class without feeling completely winded. My lungs felt stronger, and I could breathe more easily.
2. High Reward, Low Impact
Unlike running or other high impact activities, spinning gets your blood pumping and your breathing heavy without putting too much strain on your joints. That makes it an ideal workout for people of all ages and fitness levels. And even if you don't have any joint issues, it's still nice to get a great workout without putting any extra strain on your body.
3. Strong Sculpted Legs
The push/pull motion of cycling will increase the muscle tone in quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. The pedaling movement is aimed directly at your leg muscles, while staying in the right position on the bike works on your abdominal muscles and lower back. These are some of the largest muscles in the body. When these muscles are worked, they burn high levels of calories and fat. Before I started spinning, I was never quite satisfied with the way my legs looked but I notice a big difference in the composition and musculature of my legs from adding cycling into my routine.
4. Release Endorphins To The Beat
If you've ever been to a spin class, then you know that the music is always pumping. And for good reason—research has shown that listening to music while working out can actually help improve your performance. But beyond just being motivating, the music in spin class makes it feel like you're working out at a mini rave instead of at the gym. And trust me, when you're sweating it out to some great tunes, the time will fly by! One of my favorite moments from a spin class was when the entire room seemed to be in sync, pedaling to the beat of an uplifting song. I couldn't help but smile, feeling the energy and connection in the room.
5. Your Resistance Knob, Your Choice
In a spin class is that it is totally up to you to dial up or down your resistance. The class moves together over "hills," through sprints, and breakdowns personal barriers without leaving visible comparison. While healthy resistance supports you and keeps you on beat, you will never get left behind when you catch your breath.
I have some extra tips for you if you are new to cycling. Keep reading for insider information to make your first class even better!
A properly fitted bike starts with the saddle. Adjust the seat height to match the top of your hip. Adjust the seat position so that you can sit comfortably at the widest part. I like to set the seat further back slightly so when you ride out of the saddle you are not chaffing. The alignment is correct when you are high enough to just a soft bend at the bottom of your stroke and low enough to not need to rock down or lock out your leg.
Adjust the handlebars so that it is at or above navel height (y direction). Adjust your distance to the handles approximately the distance of your forearm + 3-5 inches. You should be able to reach the closest part, the bridge, with softly bended elbows. I like to se the handlebars further way from the bike so I can comfortably reach the bars when I am out of the saddle as this is how I spend most of the workout.
Clip your shoes into the bike. Cycle shoe clips are standard so any shoes should work with your bike. If you are using sneakers, use a bike that has a toe cage. It is very unpleasant to loose your footing and have the peddle hit you at high speed. Your knees should be in line with your ankle and your peddle strokes should be up and down, toward and away from your chest. If your knees go out you should revisit the height of your seat. If you are looking for a cycle shoe recommendation, DM me and I'll share the pair that are so functional I sometimes wear them to work!
Spinning is a great workout for many reasons—and these are just a few of them. I remember a particularly challenging week when work was overwhelming, and I felt emotionally drained. I decided to attend a spin class as a last-ditch effort to lift my spirits. As I pedaled through the high-energy music and my favorite instructor's encouragement, I could feel my stress melting away. By the end of the class, I was drenched in sweat, but I felt alive and recharged. That's when I truly understood the power of spinning and its ability to transform not only your body but also your mind and spirit.
If you haven't tried spinning yet, I highly recommend that you give it a shot. You might just fall in love with it like I did! And if you're already a spin enthusiast or are about to try your first class, I'd love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment below, and let's share our spinning stories with each other.
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In love and lunges,