The Bottom Line
- An effective workout
- Allows you to train in the offseason
- Varied routines keep things fresh
- Great for all ability levels
- You don't have to wear your helmet :-)
- You're not on a real bike
- Classes can become monotonous
- You have to push yourself for maximum effect
- Spinning classes are done in a fitness studio, with various light and music settings to create an energized atmosphere.
- Instructors guide participants through workout phases. Warm-up, steady uptempo cadences, sprints, climbs, cool-downs, etc.
- You control resistance on your bike to make the pedaling as easy or difficult as you choose. Constant adjustment is normal.
- All you'll need is workout clothes, a towel (to wipe your face) and a water bottle.
- Spinning bikes have toe clips so you can wear tennis shoes. But many pedals also work with Shimano-style SPD cleats.
Guide Review - What Happens in a Spinning Class?
Imagine a whole bunch of exercise bikes lined up inside a health club studio. Riders are on each one, spinning the pedals at a rapid pace. The lights are turned down, pumped up music fills the air and an instructor with a headset sits atop a lead bike, calling out commands.
"Climb out of the saddle," she barks at the class. "Big hill coming!"
The riders rise as one, pedals spinning faster as they grimace with exertion, sweat dripping off their bodies.
What you're witnessing is a spinning class, a workout option available at fitness clubs everywhere. Spinning is a relatively recent phenomenon, where participants take part in a group workout on exercise bikes that typically lasts anywhere from 30-75 minutes. The classes are lead by instructors who normally guide participants through a series of phases, from warm-up to more challenging phases, to a period of peak effort followed by a cool down.
In spinning classes, the intensity of the workout is influenced by a couple of things:
- cadence, or pedal rate
- resistance of the bike's flywheel, which can be continually adjusted throughout the class to make pedaling easier or more difficult
- by the rider's body position, as they either pedal from a seated position or rise from the saddle.
Ultimately participants determine their own levels of exertion, something that works better for some folks than others. For instance, I personally find myself slacking from time to time in a spinning class if I don't stay focused. I know that I do better when I'm being pushed, like when riding a real bike and the only option to hustling on a group ride is being dropped.
But a good instructor can certainly encourage and motivate you to push yourself, and you'll most likely find spinning to be a vigorous workout. It's a decent way to stay in shape when you can't get outside on the bike.