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.