I don’t know how I never wrote a post about spinning. When I started training for Boston, I heavily incorporated spinning but then fell off. Now, ever since the marathon passed the only thing I have been doing is spinning! (I actually went for my first run yesterday… expect a post on that in a bit).
Life in the city is expensive for so many different reasons, but working out especially. I want to visit a few more studios before picking a favorite [i.e. the endless SoulCycle vs Flywheel debate]. For the most part, I go to my gym which has some pretty decent spin classes. The best though is having a bike in the city, so I can bike around for commuting or recreational purposes.
Spinning is pretty straightforward. You walk into class, hop on a bike (you’ll want to “size” it to your liking first) and then spin as instructed by doing three positions. Depending on the studio, you may or may not have weights incorporated into the workout, as well as need special shoes. For the most part though, just bring some water and a towel (you WILL sweat).
How to “size” the bike:
Seat height – where I always start. A good check is to set it at hip level – as you spin, your legs will extend but you never want it to have a full extension. You want the seat to be at a height that allows for a slight bend in the knee
Handlebar height – see what’s comfortable. You don’t want to be reaching all the way up or down.
Seat position – the seat moves forwards and backwards. I usually don’t have to fix this, but you want to move the seat so that your knee when bent is above your foot pedal
The official Spinning website also has a pretty cool PDF with explanations.
Position 1 – seated, hands in center
Position 2 – standing up straight, hands on the bottom corners of the bar right where it curves up
Position 3 – standing, back bent over front, hands at the top of the bar (see below)
Also, here are some benefits I find in spinning as a cross-training activity:
[Taken from the Livestrong article “What Are the Benefits of Stationary Bikes” with my comments and re-arranged to match why I do it!]
- Non-impact: People who have joint issues should not place too much downward force on their legs, because it can exacerbate their condition. Stationary bikes are used in a seated position with no force coming down on the joints, making it a safe, non-impact exercise. This is why it’s so great as a cross-training activity! I love going to a spin class the day after a long run.
- Muscle Endurance: Muscle endurance is characterized by doing consecutive muscle contractions for a long period of time. When you use a stationary bike at a moderate intensity, you can increase the muscle endurance in your legs. More importantly though, you’re working on different muscles than those from a normal run.
- Strength: Working out on a stationary bike utilizes a lot of muscles. The glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and even abs are all targeted. Working out on the bike can help tone and strengthen these areas, especially if you turn the resistance up high so you have to stand to pedal. I love checking out my calves after a few days of spin :)
- Posture: Having bad posture can lead to muscle imbalances and slouching. When you work out on the stationary bike, you need to engage muscles in the hips, trunk and shoulders to stabilize your body. This will improve your posture and your balance at the same time. An instructor told me in position 3 to look up, it helps with the neck alignment.
- Convenient: Indoor cycling classes are led by an instructor. There can be anywhere from 18 to 20 people in the room, and there is loud, upbeat music playing. This can be beneficial if you have never used an indoor cycling bike before, or if you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise. Once you learn how to use the bike, you can incorporate it into your own workouts without having to rely on an instructor. Check your local gym – there are even bikes that have pre-programmed bike exercises/routes.
- Weight Loss: To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit where you are burning more calories than you taking in. Cardiovascular exercise is efficient at burning calories which can lead to weight loss. This can be done on the stationary bike by riding for 45 to 60 minutes at a steady pace, or alternating between high and low intensities. Although I’m not in the game for weight loss, I encourage my dad to go to spin class with me whenever I’m home. He loves the workout, and it’s something we can do together because we are sitting in the same spot!