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So I took my first indoor cycling class this weekend. That's a group workout on exercise bikes. My brother is a member at a health club, and got me a pass to come join him. He usually goes to this class three times per week on the bike trainer and has talked at some length about how great it is and that I really should give it a whirl sometime.

Regular readers of this space know that I ride year-round as a commuter, plus do longer group and bike trail rides for fun when the weather is nice. Coming from that mindset, I have to admit that I wondered at the appeal of "riding" indoors, when being outside is usually at least an occasional option. But being a good sport, I gave it a try. And it was . . . okay.

I'm not sure I could do it three times a week. And I know that I definitely prefer riding outdoors. But it was a workout, that's for sure. I was sweating so much by the end, one of the workers had to come around my bike with a squeegee.

Could an indoor cycling class be right for you? Read my complete review and find out what a group class on stationary bikes is all about.

Do you take group classes on the exercise bike? What do you like about them? Comment below.

Image: Imagezoo/Getty Images

Comments

February 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm
(1) tim says:

Although they can make you sweat yourself silly, spin classes at health clubs have serious drawbacks. The “bikes” are disasters, extremely difficult to fit correctly. The resistance mechanisms feel completely unrealistic, the pedals do not allow real spinning, the seats are terrible. You are much better off setting up your bike on a good trainer at home and using the CTS DVD’s. The training is bike specific, not boot camp aerobics meets health club. And, if you get members of your local bike club to join you a few nights a week in winter, you’ll have more fun and work harder too.

February 19, 2008 at 10:09 pm
(2) mo says:

I have been taking spinning classes for about 5 years now. They are great in the winter and spring to get you prepped for your seasonal bike rides and it is a great way to exercise. All of the classes were syncronized to music and some had aerobics in between sets. Gotta find a new place here in the west.

February 21, 2008 at 10:17 am
(3) Didi says:

Spinning keeps my heart and lungs in good condition for a lengthy outdoor ride. I like to ride 30+ miles on Saturday mornings (when it is warm enough)and spin class keeps my cycling skills strong enough to do that. The stationary bikes are getting a little run down these days and the routine can seem monotonous especially when I haven’t been on a real ride in a couple of months. The spin class goers in my 5:30 a.m. class know each other by name, introduce themselves to newbies and make the sweat filled room a fun place to be. Would I rather be outside? You bet! But without the spin class, I’d have to start from scratch in the Spring.

February 28, 2008 at 4:17 am
(4) Debi says:

I have been doing RPM a side exercise of spinning and love it! I love the motivation of the music and really feel I’ve had a proper workout. I’m even cranking up the resistance now. I used to cheat a bit before which is great if you are new to fitness and can’t keep up. But watch out for hawk eyed teachers: They may catch you!!!

February 28, 2008 at 6:08 pm
(5) Sherri says:

As a Spinning Instructor, I appreciate your bringing some attention to Spin/Cycle classes. Half of my class are outdoor riders who want to keep pedaling during our very long Michigan winters and half are there for calorie burning. Although I have a specific goal for each class (intervals, hills, endurance, race) each rider is encouraged to follow his/her own performance goals if it differs from mine. Many of the outdoor cyclists have their own goal in mind and they know what they are doing. What I would love to get across to people is that the classes are for all fitness levels and there is no reason to be intimated. Sure we would all love to be outdoors all year long whether we’re cyclists or runners, but in Michigan we have to settle for the spin classes and treadmills until the ice melts and we return to the place we once knew, and euphoric that another winter has passed!

February 28, 2008 at 8:20 pm
(6) Terry says:

Spinning classes are what got my wife and I into biking. We love spinning in the winter and biking trail in the summer. I road bike with the bike club and commute to work in the summer. Thanks to the spinning classes.

March 3, 2008 at 8:26 am
(7) Barb says:

I started spinning about a month ago & I love it. I started classes because I always bring up the rear on Saturday morning friends rides. I thought spinning would help to improve my strength & endurance. It has!!! I’m also using spinning to adjust to the clipless system. I know that when I get back on the road with the clipless shoes I’ll probably fall, but hopefully not too much.
Peace & Harmony
Barb

September 6, 2008 at 10:35 pm
(8) lina latartara says:

I absolutely love to spin!!!!!I have been spinning for 6 months 3-4 times a week. I really think the music and whos teaching the class is a huge factor. No doubt about it, its a very hard workout

September 13, 2008 at 11:28 am
(9) Mike says:

Being an avid road cyclist and spinning instructor, I can attest to the benefits of both means of exercise.

I hammered out close to 5,000 miles on my road bike last year, and I teach 3-5 spinning classes a week.

I love it! Being an ex-distance runner, the cycling allows me to go beyond the norms of cardio related exercise, but it spares my knees the associated pain.

The biggest kick I get out of stationary spinning is sharing my adventures with my students. The music is loud, hard driving, and the sweat is flying.

I am always honest with my students, and I have told them many times, “When you are tired, I am tired. I just get tired with a smile on my face.”

October 3, 2008 at 11:18 am
(10) Mary says:

Count me in as someone else that loves spinning! give me a good teacher and some good music and I’m a happy girl. okay, maybe not that happy DURING the hour i’m working out, but very happy as soon as I’m done! The more I sweat, the more I feel like I accomplished something good for myself!

October 20, 2008 at 9:45 pm
(11) Rox says:

I just have started spinning classes a month ago with my daughter. I really enjoy them and gives the energy for my everyday activities. The music and the lights keep me going and going and pedaling. It’s a great work out.

October 25, 2008 at 8:46 pm
(12) Lydia says:

Ive been spinning for almost a year (10-11 months) to be exact!! :D , I’ve shed 7 kilos to this day, do up to 2-3 times a week (but a max 4 times, since i heard doing it everyday isn’t good for you). My next goal is to get cycle shoes :D

November 12, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(13) Glenn says:

I typically spin when I can’t be on the road riding. I do spinning out of the saddle for an hour as a climb (about 800 cals). This augments the “head down/ in the saddle” riding I do on the roads. Nice to be able to hear some tunes and not have to avoid traffic. I have my favorite tunes that match my cadence.

November 14, 2008 at 11:16 am
(14) Earthcall says:

The colossal reason to joining the gym is the diversity of classes available. The spinning class eggs me on to test my endurance and increase my dexterity. I look forward to aerobics as well… but for the past 3 yrs, i have found the spinning to fit into my vibe, induced by the booming high volumes. Originally, technological visualizations are projected, so sights engage you into the groove. Yet, without this installation, i think there are other relevant considerations that prevail – the commitment vehemently shown by the trainer, the variety of music to live throughout the weeks etc… thus, motivation can be affected positively in this program, ignoring any discomfiture.

January 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm
(15) Tim says:

I think spinning is a great exercise. I prefer to ride outside of course, but living in UT, riding in the winter can be uncomfortable and dangerous. “Group” fitness has a lot of advantages in my mind, namely an instructor and others in the class to help motivate you. Sitting in your own house on a trainer can be somewhat boring. Spinning also allows me to push harder aerobically than I would if I were riding because I don’t have to worry about going too hard and suffering on the ride home.

January 26, 2009 at 11:29 am
(16) Emma says:

I spin at least 2-3 times a week and love it!

It is a fun and lively way to keep fit and meet people as a lot are regulars!

You won’t leave a spin class without having owrked up a good sweat – And if you do then you havn’t cranked up the resistance enough =oP

if sceptical, you should definitely give it ago…I didn”t think I’d be able to keep up but I’m now a regular spinner and find the routine of classes after work addictive now!

January 28, 2009 at 11:39 pm
(17) Paula says:

I have been doing spinning for a week now. I love the cranked up music and the visualizations the instructor gives. I am a beginner brand new to spinning so I have my gear much lower than the instructor gives but as many others have said I still leave drenched with sweat.

March 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm
(18) JW says:

spin class is one of the most challenging fitness classes i’ve ever participated in. i work out 5 times a week doing everything from cardio kickboxing to pilates, but i can barely make it through a spin class. that’s not really a bad thing, though. i know spinning will boost my cardio and endurance to an even higher level, and that keeps me motivated.

March 20, 2009 at 3:30 am
(19) suzie says:

I disagree with Tim. Although it is always great to get outdoors a spin class is a great 1 hour workout. The bikes at other clubs must be cheap, because at my gym they fit really well and feel very similar to a real bike.

April 8, 2009 at 7:53 pm
(20) April says:

I started attending spin classes a few months ago after having my 2nd child. I find it to be the best work out for me. I’ve never worked out so hard in my life. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a change in their work out and motivation to keep going.

April 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm
(21) Arielle says:

I’ve found the spin class to be a very intense workout. I just started taking them at my local gym a week ago, and bowed out gracefully after participating in my first class for 30 min. of the 45 min. workout. Our instructor warned the newcomers to be prepared to feel it later on in our glutes. However maybe because I’m a jogger I didn’t feel anything there. The discomfort was in my upper thighs during and after the class. But guess what, I was back again for the next one a couple of days later and hung in there the whole time. I’ve been intimidated by this classes for quite some time, but now that I’ve gotten involved I’m committing myself to being there twice a week.

July 5, 2009 at 5:38 am
(22) Lili says:

I’m newly joined spinning class.I exercise three times a week and really enjoy it. It’s wonderful. I become so fresh and full of energy after class. I propose everyone to do it. If I had enough time i would do it every day.Thanks to my friend who made me aware of this class.

August 17, 2009 at 11:53 pm
(23) Joe says:

I have been doing this crazy,sweaty,loud,hard,easy,fun,cardio,endurance,persistence,never-give-up,push it to the limit,add more resistance,add,add,add,add…Crazy thing called SPINNING for 7 years and would NEVER go back to boring stairmasters and treadmills. This is for the 5:45 am class at LA Fitness, COME ON!!!!

August 26, 2009 at 12:06 am
(24) Jackie says:

After reading everyone’s comments I think Im going to give it a try!!. I am not athletic, im not even in good shape! But I joined the gym 2 weeks ago and I love a good challenge. The trainers at the gym have been hounding me to try the spin classes and I have been terrified of making a fool of myself!! Cant wait now, thanks!

September 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm
(25) mari says:

I’ve just started a spin class two days ago and I got to say like every one else it is the best. I’m a runner and have enjoyed running but this spin class has pushed me to a different level.

October 18, 2009 at 1:22 am
(26) Jessie says:

Spinning really is a great alternative to doing nothing in the winter. It hurts but when you’re done it feels good!

December 9, 2009 at 9:03 am
(27) Tammy says:

I attended my first spin class last night. I am not a jogger or an advid outdoor cyclist. I am just getting back into an exercise routine. The class very good. I thoroughly enjoyed it! My glutes were killing me but I hung in there and finished the class. Does anyone have suggestions about the pain? I am going back to class tomorrow.

December 12, 2009 at 11:45 am
(28) maryann says:

Jackie, please give it a try…you will not be sorry. I am new to spinning too and if I can do it you certainly can. I’ve been doing 2 or 3 spin classes a week for a few weeks now and I love it more and more. It is a nice change from the regular aerobics. My trainer has our group doing an Exercise Holiday coutndown until the new year and this has fit in nicely. I am going to start the new year stronger.

December 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm
(29) Peyton says:

I suppose the guy that put spin down must can’t do it! I love spin! I have been taking spin classes for about 4 years now and they are wonderful! The class is a intense one hour class that works every part of your body! It also keeps those unwanted pounds off.

December 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(30) Cathy says:

Took my first spin class this morning. I go to the gym 5-7 days a week and have been in a treadmill rut. I was scared to try spin, since I saw people leave the class drenched in sweat, but WOW. That was one great workout. I’m hooked and can’t wait to take another class.

December 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm
(31) geoffrey says:

From New Zealand where winters are not so severe as in some climes in North America. I do spin classes 4 times a week and find them fantastic in maintaining and increasing my aerobic fitness when comes the time to hit the road. Do other classes and find them easier to last because of the spin classes. Balance is important.

January 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm
(32) Dawna says:

This is embarrassing but, I was really into spinning a few years back and loved it for many reasons already mentioned. I had to quit though because I kept getting a yeast infection! (Told you it was embarrassing!) I went home right after class and showered immediately, and am a very clean person, but the constant movement when sitting on the seat was causing it I guess. Anyone with a helpful suggestion would be wonderful as I’d love to get back to it! A friend mentioned getting my own seat, but I don’t know if that would matter or not. Thanks!

January 13, 2010 at 11:02 am
(33) Kevin says:

Not sure why is so addicting, but I have been going about 2 months now and really like it. You get out of it what you put into it. You only work as hard as you want and the music and instructor really are a good motivator.

January 18, 2010 at 9:01 am
(34) Joseph says:

I’m 22 and joined spinning about 5 days ago and had 2 spinning classes on the trot (very sore quads) and one yesterday. It is so good I’ve already booked 4 lessons for this week, its just a shame the gym I go to is at a school because working out in the mornings is brilliant and sets you up for the day and we can only go after school time for obvious reasons. I’m currently training for the Army and Spinning seems to be the best way to work out and lose weight at the same time!!

January 21, 2010 at 10:11 am
(35) Jane says:

Jane – your problem with the infections is being caused by dampness/not wearing breathable underwear and/or bottoms. Using a different seat isn’t going to have any effect one way or the other. I would recommend wearing 100% cotton undies and, if possible, cotton or some other type of very breathable, NOT tight or fitted pants or shorts when you exercise. That should take care of your issue. Good luck!

February 3, 2010 at 7:48 am
(36) Spinner Frank says:

Spinning is as much mental, as it is a psychical workout. It’s great for the body and the mind. Clear your mind when you go in the class and just focus on the music and the ride! It’s awesome!

February 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm
(37) angela says:

I started spinning at my apartment complex 2 years ago (it’s free so why not) I love it! It’s an intense cardio and leg workout, I go 2 days a week for an hour class, I’ve lost inches around my waist and my legs are more tone.
The only downfall is the top of my legs are bigger but it’s all muscle which is alot better than fat!
I would definitly recommend spinning to anyone especially in the winter months,it’s awesome!

April 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm
(38) Stephanie says:

I have been attending spin class for seven weeks, and I love it. Each class makes me stronger. I love the loud music and the motivation of the instructor.I work hard, sweat like I never have, and consume between two and three bottles of water.I have lost severval inches throughout my upper, mid, and lower body. It’s an awesome class!

July 14, 2010 at 11:47 am
(39) OMG says:

Out of all the comments no one mentioned how sore my bottom would be. I enjoyed the class (except that my straps wouldn’t stay on) but I could tell about 10 minutes in if nowhere else my bottom would be sore.

September 8, 2010 at 3:55 pm
(40) Jen says:

I love Spin class, I just recently got these and I don’t know how I ever rode without them.

http://www.b-bands.com

They cover the gross handlebars and absord all that sweat! Come in a bunch of colors… and I throw them right in the washer machine…Love them!

January 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm
(41) Mary says:

I did my first spinning class last night and I HATED it with all my heart. My feet kept on getting numb and the seat was extremely uncomfortable (it hurts my privates!!!). Also I am a very short woman so I felt that I was too far away from the handles and that made me feel insecure and had back pain. Anyway…I tried! but I could only last 30 minutes. After that I got down and waited for my feet to “wake up” before getting on the treadmill and jogging away happily.
I hope I will never have to do it again!!!!!

February 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm
(42) Val Brown says:

My first spin class was today loved it that much have booked again for the end of the week.Felt really invigorated pushed myself to the limits but enjoyed every minute of it.Puts normal stretch and tone into a very boring class after doing spin.

March 2, 2011 at 5:22 am
(43) Rod says:

Ive been doing 2-3 spinning classes per week now for the last month, and im not a cyclist at all. I have to say is one of most challenging and rewarding classes out there. Its there in your face, right there,right now, blood sweat and tears. I love it , the sweat pours off you and what you put in, is what you get out.
Its all more mentally challenging as physical and thats what i love about it, basiscally your body pain threshold against your will, can you take the pain!!!

April 22, 2011 at 4:34 am
(44) pierre says:

am spinnig instrocor in lebanon im book i do 4 hours every day i have 25 bics

May 16, 2011 at 4:20 am
(45) Sarah says:

Mary, you should have the instructor set you up properly on the bike at the beginning of the class. A half decent bike should be adjustable (seat height, distance from the handlebars and height of the handlebars) If you’re feet were going numb it is likely that the straps on your feet were too tight. The back pain could also be accounted for be adjusting the handlebar height and seat distance from the handlebars. With regard to the “saddle discomfort” problem, i feel your pain. If you’re seat height is too high, it does put extra pressure on your “saddle”, and you end up moving around a lot more in the seat if it is too high, which makes it even worse. You can also try sitting further back on the seat so the widest part of the seat is under your “sit bones” rather than having all of your weight on the more narrow front part of the seat. I have a similar problem with my road bicycle and have had to adjust the way I sit on the bike in order to be comfortable. I guess my “saddle area” is designed differently to some other women who don’t seem to have this problem! Also, the design of the spin class bike seats is really pretty bad. I would give it another go but make sure you have the bike set up properly at the start.

July 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm
(46) olga says:

hello im a mother of four im going to start the class this week i hope it helps with my legs im looking forward to toning my legs fast as possible.

August 21, 2011 at 7:40 am
(47) vellerie says:

I have done spinning and have loose weight around my upper body and lower part. I’m happy with the results and I have been doing it for a month now.

December 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm
(48) Steve says:

Spinning is generic, yes its not as appealing as riding outdoors but its convenient! Bikes can be a nightmare though it depends on the make and where you go. So judging a class on its bikes is wrong. I’ve been teaching spin for over 6 years and the results and changes in peoples body composition is dramatic! A great spin class consists of good music, the environment and the instructor. Look out for LES MILLS RPM, people qualifed in this have a very clear idea of how to coach and gauge resitance properly whilst setting the scene for its members. Only few health clubs offer this on their class timetable around the UK but if you try it… You’ll never go back to the original and ordinary spin class. Not that spin is less acceptable as it gives the instructor freedom, but if you become competent at RPM, spin classes will become a doddle!

January 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm
(49) Michele says:

I used to spin years back, but this week got back into it. I’ve gone to three classes this week. The older bikes made it extremely difficult to stay on top of the seat. It seemed to lean downward which was very hard.

I do use my gel padded seat which is a lifesaver. LA Fitness has the “Keiser” bikes, which are so much more advanced. Adjusting to any height and length is possible now and these ones don’t lean downwards. What a difference it has made in the class. But maybe cuz I’m new again to spin, and am totally wiped out afterwards where I just have to lay down and rest afterwards. guess I’m working out so hard. I’m tired not necessarily sore cuz I do workout regularly. It is definitely the hardest of workouts.

But if the instructor says go to 14 or 20, I can only do 10 or so, and they do tell you to adjust it to your level. I just want to make sure I finish the whole class before I can even make it to that level. Now I look on class schedules and try to find a spin class first. I’m hooked also. but it’s a good hooked.

April 18, 2012 at 6:06 am
(50) fran says:

Spinning classes are great.But there is one thing you must be careful of.Some instructors tend to put into the 45 min or 60 min class a lot of standing time on the peddles sometimes 10 min pushing resistance up every so often.This can be very hard on you knees.Coming from a road bike background you would never dance on the peddles for more than 45 sec.You would get as fit and as strong by spinning a high cadence at lower resistance.Especially those of you whom may vary in weight.

May 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm
(51) Al says:

I did not enjoy the class. I guess I didn’t like the fact that we were all standing still in the same spot in the room, yet somehow we were all sweaty and moving our legs a lot and standing up and sitting down intermittenly. Every once in a while the sweaty instructor with loads of muscles says into the microphone “all right we’re gonna go real hard on this one! three two one go!!!!!!!!!” and everyone is supposed to pedal as fast as they can. it’s just frickin weird man. not for me thats for sure. I guess i prefer an outdoor joyride to count as some real exercise.

December 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(52) John says:

I agree with Al. Let me say this first. Spin class is great for people who live at places where being outside during the day is not possible (rain, snow, wind, pollution, etc.) or just don’t have time because of work and can only exercise at nights. Otherwise, it can get pretty boring after a while even with a fun instructor. Just think of it as treadmill v.s. running outside. At where I live the weather is awesome most of the time with much better air quality than an enclosed gym plus you get to see the scenery or all kind of things (never the same) going on outside. Just like the spin class, you can join a bike club/team/casual riders to ride together so it is more fun. Also, you build muscles in more places on your body than if you are just stationary since being outside leads you to all kinds of road conditions.

February 1, 2013 at 4:57 am
(53) Dianne says:

I am a 46 year old mother of 6 my youngest is 4, up until 12 years ago i was a s fit as a fiddle but a smoker. I gradually put weight on over the years and done no exercise just maybe the odd walk, then about 3 years ago i gave up the fags…then last year i peaked at 14 stone and decided enough was enough, I started fitness training, strength training and aquarobics then they started spin classes locally in November I joined and I absolutely love it i do it 2 -3 a week, I am losing the weight and the inches are flying off….I think I will be Spinning till am 106…. so you don’t have to be young or in full fitness to try just try and watch the benefits……

February 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm
(54) gray says:

I’ve had a number of injuries/surgeries over the last 10 years, with a few more coming. I used to love riding but it’s just too dangerous now. In the ‘real world’ there’s stresses that can worsen injuries and I don’t want to risk it. I don’t want to sit around either. So an exercise bike (as well as other static cardio) is ideal. No pollution, cars to cut you off, or imbalance to further damage my already diminishing cartilage. Anyone that can’t handle biking on the road due to fitness level, medical issues etc. would benefit greatly from this kind of workout, not just athletes. A class environment isn’t required, but it’s ideal for beginners, those with poor fitness, anyone that needs some structure to keep at it. People who can stay self-motivated don’t really need a ‘class’ but it can be a lot more fun when you do it with other people. Personally I find that a book or a movie is far more effective. Set a pace, and distract yourself from how much it hurts, or music with the right beat to keep a pace you can handle. I’m pretty antisocial though, and ‘normal’ people would probably enjoy some companionship when working out.

August 4, 2013 at 11:17 pm
(55) Silvercar1 says:

I can’t ride a bike! So spinning is brilliant for me love it but worried ill get hip/ knee problems

September 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(56) effie says:

i am female ,54yrs and run go to gym and body balance.today after gym i was persauded to do a half hr spin class. tough!! have been feeling sleepy ever since and just want to sleep. have i done to much? dont feel energised atall.!

September 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm
(57) bill says:

The problem with spin is your bodyweight helps you. The bigger you are, the easier it is to push the pedals. It is sort of “fake” exercise because you don’t have to move your bodyweight, and real work is MxD. That said, it is a great workout for heavy people who don’t like to move or little runners who need more leg endurance. If you really want to get a workout, try Crossfit

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