How to Survive Your First Spin Class

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When most people hear the words ‘spin class’ their minds immediately jump to ‘not for me’. It sounds hard. We’ve all been told it’s tough. We’ve peeked through the door at our local gym and seen men and women with strong calf muscles, skin glowing with sweat, gritting their teeth and looking like nothing in the world can break their focus. And to someone new to spinning, it looks bloody terrifying. We all question if it’s the right class for us and if we can do it or not. So I’m here to tell you that yes! You can! And I want to encourage you to take that step and book onto that class because you will love spinning.

I’ve read quite a few blog posts about spinning and many of them are quite long-winded and get very technical very quickly. I’m not going to sit here and talk about FTPs or VO2 max because it’s a lot to take in and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when starting a new fitness class. Those will come with time, but initially you want to focus on your posture, the setup of your bike, and what you can get out of the class – and, of course, enjoying it! If you want to push yourself and develop from that point then great, but right now let’s cut to the basics.

Spinning is, without a doubt, my new favourite thing. I’ve been a yoga-lover for many years and still am, but spinning provides me with a high-intensity workout that I really love. And although I’ve not been doing it a long time, I’ve had pretty much a crash-course in what’s what.

Why Is It Good For You?

  • Improves core strength.
  • Good posture, especially if your instructor gives pointers and corrections – which they should.
  • Excellent lower body workout and it helps build lean muscle.
  • High calorie burn, if that’s something you’re focusing on.
  • Happy hour. The music plus the workout equal a huge endorphin boost.
  • Sense of teamwork. It’s a solo workout but you’re all suffering together.

The stuff you’ll need:

Remember the Ps? Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. Well, this is inherently true when it comes to spin classes. If you come to class unprepared, you’ll probably either fall off your bike into a heap or never go to another class as long as you live.

  • Comfortable leggings especially if, like me, you always get a sore bum when you even look at a bike saddle.
  • A good sports bra, especially if you’re blessed in the chest department.
  • A headband to keep your sweaty hair off your face.
  • A towel. Trust me.
  • A reusable water bottle. BPA free of course. I have two glass ones I alternate between – just don’t drop ’em.
  • A change of clothing for after class. Everything from a sweater to undies. Again, trust me.

The Nitty Gritty:

Get there early. 5-15 minutes before class starts you should be there, getting yourself ready to go. You’ll need to set your bike up correctly (ask your spin instructor for help) and you might be fighting for a spot if the regulars show up and claim their usual bike early on.

Make sure your bike is set up right. Your seat wants to be at hipbone height, and your handlebars want to be close enough that your elbows are relaxed and your back is nice and flat. You don’t want to be hunched over your bike like a turtle, nor do you want to be reaching too far for the bike and throwing your body weight too far forwards.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t go hell for leather in the warmup or in the first ten minutes thinking ‘this is easy, anyone can do this’ because I can guarantee you’ll be a mess by the end of it. Pace yourself properly, like you would on a long-distance run.

Take in a lot of water. You want to be properly hydrated before your class, and you also want to keep that up during it. Your instructor will advise you when is a good time to have a drink, but the rule of thumb is try not to drink when your heart rate is sky high, it will impede your oxygen intake. Wait until you’ve recovered a little then take a few sips.

Release the deathgrip on the handlebars. You won’t fall off, I promise. But by gripping the bars like your life depends on them, you’re expending energy and working your wrist muscles in a way you don’t need to do. A tight grip will force your bodyweight forward, onto your hands, and that isn’t where it belongs. You need to engage your core and have a light grip on the bars.

Talk to the instructor. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but finding an instructor you feel a connection with is so important. If you have questions, ask them. Particularly if it’s about the setup of your bike or your posture because you don’t want to open yourself up to the potential of injury, plus you want to get as much benefit as possible from your class.

Enjoy it! Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t compare yourself to the people on the front row who have clearly been cycling for years. This is your journey, your workout, and you just happen to be doing it in the same room as a bunch of like-minded folk. Encourage yourself!

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12 Comments

  1. March 11, 2018 / 10:45 am

    I’ve been too afraid to join a spin class. But I’ve been cycling a lot lately and might actually do a spin class soon. Thanks for the tips!

  2. March 11, 2018 / 11:33 am

    Ah spin class. My first (and last) was in China. The instructor was this gorgeous buff gent who yelled instructions in Mandarin. Good times 🙂

  3. April 1, 2018 / 6:52 pm

    spinning – great HIIT session. Excellent for fat burning. Absolutely horrible to do 😂

  4. April 1, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    I love spin class but I always get a sore bottom after! Need to invest in a special bike cushion

  5. April 18, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Ok, maybe now I’ll be brave enough to try a spin class. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  6. littleslifeandlaughter
    April 18, 2018 / 4:45 pm

    I will never forget my first spin class, so that probably says a lot right there! I don’t know what I was expecting but I was definitely not prepared! I thought I was going to die by the time it was over, and I was in a lot better shape back then! If there is a next time, I will definitely be more ready!

  7. April 18, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    I’ve never taken a spin class before so this was helpful in giving me an idea of what to expect. Thanks for sharing!

  8. April 18, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    I was so unprepared for my first spin class, it nearly killed me haha! But I felt great afterwards so it was definitely worth it. You’ve got some great tips here, thanks for sharing!

  9. April 18, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try a spin class but felt completely uneducated about what to expect, bring or do when I got there. This might give me enough courage to try it! Thank you!

  10. April 19, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    This is super insightful. I’ve thought about trying spinning because it’s really popular in my current city but it’s so intimidating! I’ll definitely be more prepared having read this!

  11. April 19, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    My first spin class was absolutely brutal! I felt like I was gonna puke during it, but afterwards (besides the pain and exhaustion physically) my adrenaline was pumping and I kind of loved it at the same time lol

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