The class starts in minutes. You’re new at this type of thing. A crowd assembles at the door. Some of them seem to know each other. Wasn’t this supposed to be a beginner’s class? Why does everyone seem to be talking to each other like they already know what they’re doing? Why does everyone have towels that match the color of their Lycra shorts? Why does anyone have a towel at all?
A young boy shows up and says hello to everyone. Oh Good God! It’s the instructor. Like sacrificial lemmings, everyone follows him into the room. Shouldn’t he still be in school? He looks too young to be in charge of his nighttime routine, let alone instructing a group of people he doesn’t know.
You sidle shyly into the room. So that’s what an indoor bike looks like! You hadn’t been too sure right up to this point. You get on, surprised it doesn’t fall over when you mount up.
Of course it doesn’t, that’s now how it works, it’s got feet, you moron!
You look at the person sitting beside you. He looks new too. You exchange awkward smiles. At least you’re in it together.
Is there time to pretend you’ve left something in the parking lot? Why does everyone drive to the gym anyway? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point?
Too late. The music starts, the instructor starts talking, and you look at the clock on the wall behind him. This could be longest 45 minutes of your life. But you know it will be worth it. Why are you the only one without a towel? 10 minutes later, you understand…
So, like, why is indoor cycling, like such a good idea?
That’s a really good question.
Go you for being just so f***** amazing today.
There are loads of advantages and benefits to pedaling away in the Great Indoors. Indoor cycling, or Spinning as it can also be known, is a great cardio workout. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up walking away dejected and frustrated after just 1 session, or even end up injured.
While Spinning can also be quite daunting at the first time of asking. It can be harder to pick up than other fitness classes as well. But stick with it if you can, because ultimately you know it will be worth it.
Here’s 4 more reasons why cycling indoors is totally worth it:
It’s a calorie burn ninja on the body
If you’re looking to lose weight and get some fat loss, then Spinning can burn up to 600 calories in a single class. You’ll probably begin to see results in less than 10 classes. That is, if your diet is healthy too. Since it takes 3500 calories to burn 1 lb of fat, there are worse ways to spend less than an hour of your life.
For the record, that healthy diet bit is quite important. Big Macs contain 549 calories you know.
It’s good for your heart
You have a big heart, you know you do. So what if other people don’t understand you, or your heart is broken. You and your heart deserve the best. So don’t be reckless with it, or indeed other peoples, but instead look after it.
A properly run indoor cycling class will get your heart pumping, lower the risk of Coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure, and gain you a lower overall resting heartbeat. It might not heal a broken heart, but it will make it stronger.
It’s good for your head
Indoor cycling is good for your mental health. Good spinning instructors keep riders motivated, are positive with their feedback and challenge you to keep going when you otherwise might stop.
After a good exercise session, your brain releases endorphins into the bloodstream, which are the body’s own version of happy pills and are really helpful in providing an overall feeling of happiness. This is quite often referred to as the ‘Runners High.’
For the same reason, indoor cycling can help to manage stress and depression. The more regular the exercise you take, the more energy you will find you have for life in general.
It ain’t no grind
And by that, I mean it’s easier on your body. When done properly, there is only minimal impact on the parts of your body that tend to get ground down by other forms of exercise, and by life itself. It’s actually quite surprising just how low impact indoor cycling is considering it’s such a high intensity workout.
That last sentence assumes you follow the advice and instructions given by the instructor, and that the instructor isn’t a moron.
So Spinning classes have pretty good benefits; ninja fast calorie burn with a fairly small time commitment, increased endurance, better mental health etc.
But if you aren’t doing it right, then all that good stuff might be negated to the extent that you might not be getting all you can from it.
Also, believe it or not, there’s loads of DO’s and DON’T DO’s when it comes to spinning. Fear not though, that’s why you’re reading this article.
Go you again for being so utterly brilliant.
So here’s a light hearted list (sometimes) of what you should and shouldn’t do when you go indoor cycling, and some top tips as well.
- Before you even get on a bike, Make Sure Your Instructor Is Certified. At the very least, ring the gym and make sure everything is legit. Run like the wind if you find yourself in a room full of ordinary bikes stuck on turbo trainers that look like they might be one day swabbed by a CSI team for evidence.A proper instructor will be certified by an accredited organization. Most gyms won’t let someone teach a class without the qualifications, but it never hurts to do some background checking. This is as much to keep you safe as it is to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
- Don’t sign up to a Spin class for Ironman athletes if you’re not at that level of fitness. Most classes will be labelled according to ability. So if you’ve never spun before, or you’re not too sure at what quite the level of fitness you have, take a chance on a beginners class.Swallow the pride, if that’s what’s bothering you, and just go see. If at the end of your first class, you’re like, ‘please, that was just soooo easy!’ then by all means sign up to an Olympic level class.
- Show up early. That’s a rule for life, but also for spin classes. Places on these courses tend to get snapped up quick. Bike space and bikes are limited. Most classes will be oversubscribed within a few days.A few minutes before class starts, instructors will regularly let in the folks on the waiting list, and your bike will be gone if your late.
- Don’t get p***** at the student who took your bike if you’re late. It’s your fault. Accept what has happened and move on. Don’t shout at the instructor. He is not responsible for your life. And remember, Karma. It’s a b*tch.
- Don’t bring your gym bag into class, and whatever you do, don’t put it down beside your bike. Cycling rooms are usually small and cramped. Instructors like to move around and help out the people in their class.Put your stuff in a locker or leave it in the trunk of your car. Better still, just bring what you need…
- If you got to go, you got to go, but do tell the instructor before class if you have to go early. That way he will be expecting it, and it won’t disrupt everyone else.And here’s an idea, try and choose the bike that will allow you to leave with the least amount of fuss. FYI, that’s normally the bike nearest the door.
- If you have a medical condition, or have an injury, it’s considered good practice to let the guy running the class know this before you start. The instructor is only human. He is not a mind reader.
- If you’ve had a s***** day, or are just in a negative frame of mind, why don’t you try checking it at the door. Don’t drag others down with your bad vibes and poor energy. It will affect your performance, and rub off on those around you.If you have a problem with the instructor, the room, or the music, then go find a class where it doesn’t annoy you.
- Don’t show up in a pair of skinny jeans. Bring what you need for a proper workout. It’s indoor cycling, so donning outside cycle gear is going to make you feel like a snowman in Hawaii. Wear light-breathable gym style garments to help keep your body temperature at as reasonable a level as you can. With spinning there is no wind like there is outside, so it can get hot fast, especially with 30 other people or more in a class in a small room.
- Whatever you do, don’t just get on your bike and start going for it. Adjust the seat and the handlebars to suit you. It’s also a good idea to make sure nothing feels loose on the bike, when you think it should perhaps be tight.Whoever was on the bike before you might only have been 4ft tall, and this could cause comfort issues riding if you don’t adjust for your 7ft frame.
- Bring a water bottle with you. No, not a bottle of coke, or nothing at all. When you spin you sweat. Sipping water in the slow down intervals will help keep your body going for longer. In a spinning class, you will sweat a lot; that’s kind of the point.You will sweat buckets and the last thing you want to do is present at an ER after your training session with the type of dehydration normally only associated with people who have crossed the Desert.
- Bring a towel to wipe up the sweat from your forehead, and another to put on the handlebars to avoid any slipping and sliding.
- Don’t give up; try your best. If you find it too hard, don’t stop pedaling, don’t go home, just slow down a bit and back off the gas, if you know what I mean. Don’t turn into the slacker at the back of the room, though. It isn’t a competition. The only person you’re competing against is yourself. This is about you and your commitment to yourself. So don’t sell yourself short.
- Don’t pretend to work harder than you are. What’s the point in miming turning up the resistance dials. Either do or don’t. Again, go at the pace that is as close to what you think you can.
- Don’t wear headphones and listen to your own thumping bass track of a killer tune. It’s just rude. The instructor has chosen the beats he’s chosen for a reason. If you don’t like Kanye West, and let’s face it, who does? Then just grin and bear it. And whatever you do, don’t shout out for further instruction if your music listening meant you missed out on some critical piece of advice….
- …But at the same time, mind your hearing. Chances are, the music will be loud. Instructors like to play the music loud to keep the motivation levels high. Loud music is an integral part of indoor cycling. If you think that might be an issue, then there are a lot of cheap but effective earplugs and protectors out there you can use, that will still allow you to hear what’s going on.
- Do what you’re told. Listen, and follow the instructions. Not only is it polite, but the instructor does know what he’s doing. That’s why he/she is the one at the front of the class telling everyone else what to do, and you’re not.
- Don’t pedal backwards. It’s more pointless than a broken pencil. It does nothing for you. You might as well sit back with your legs up over the handlebars and whistle. It’s a waste of time, and you will annoy everyone else.
- If the instructor says pedal at 50, 60, 70, or 90, then be like Nike. Just do it. Otherwise you run the risk of being ‘that person’ in the class that others instantly just dislike.
- Assume the position. Riding an indoor bike is like riding an outdoor bike, but without the wind and the rain. Stand as you would on an outdoor bike: bend a bit at the hips, keep your hips above the cranks, the bits that attach the pedals to the bike, and with your upper body just ever so slightly ahead of your hips.In a beginner’s class, you will be shown how to do it properly.
- F*****g hell, relax. The bike isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have wheels. While it sometimes might feel like it, the bike won’t take off. Also don’t grip the handlebars like you’re hanging on for dear life. If your hands are sore or tired after riding, then you’re doing it wrong. The handlebars on an indoor bike are there for balance, not to put your body weight down on top of them.
- Also, it’s not dress up like a tortoise day. So relax your shoulders as well. The more relaxed your upper body is, then the more likely you are to be concentrating on the part of your body that’s actually doing all the work; the legs.
- Indoor Cycles are for Indoor Cycling, not doing some bizarre form of cross training. Don’t do pushups when riding. It’s not circuit training. Do your pushups on the ground. Doing this on a bike is just stupid, and dangerous. The bikes are not designed for that kind of abuse.
- Indoor Cycles Have Two Pedals for a Reason. I’m not even going to bother with this one. Just always keep both feet on the pedals. Never take a leg out and pedal with just one leg at a time.
- Don’t chat to your neighbor. Leave the conversation to before and after the class. If you have the breath to talk, you are not working hard enough. Work harder, and save the talk for Starbucks.
- Don’t update your Facebook page or Instagram selfies when spinning. It’s rude, and you mustn’t be working hard enough. If your phone beeps, or someone rings you, let it ring out and don’t reply to the text. It can wait. Even better, turn it off, or leave it in the locker…
- Don’t ride with your arms crossed, or your hands behind your back. You won’t be putting the max power into our ride, you will be unbalanced, and the saddle might start to chaff…Nice.
- Bouncing up and down like a bunny rabbit: It’s a sign of not enough resistance in the pedals, and all that hip rotation can lead to injury and put unneeded stress on your knees. Not only that, you will lose effectiveness.
- Don’t read the papers, and don’t write emails to friends. Don’t look up bargains on EBay, or finish a level of Candy Crush. There is a time and a place for that kind of carry on, and that place is the office, on somebody else’s time and dime, not your own.
- Don’t use weights. It’s as laughable as it is ineffective as it is unsafe. Using weights will actually reduce the intensity of the work out, as your legs will automatically slow down as you concentrate on your arms and keeping your balance.
- Always Control your own resistance. Don’t let anyone else do it for you. You are the only one who knows what resistance feels right for you. Ride at your level and your pace. You wouldn’t ride up a real hill on a real bike in top gear, because that would be stupid, and you would either burn out halfway up, or snap your chain.It’s exactly the same when spinning. Don’t be conned into thinking the harder the better when it comes to resistance.
- Most importantly of all. HAVE FUN and make the most of your workout. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of it. You can’t blame the machine or the instructor for a lack of effort on your part.
- Don’t stand in between the bikes to stretch while others are still pedaling away. If you want to stretch out before going home, then go do it somewhere else..
- But do stretch. Give your muscles a break after riding. Stretch them out, and then go have a shower. You’ve earned it.