If you’re a cyclist currently on hiatus because of the snow or cold weather, or maybe recovering from an injury, it’s great to know that there are other activities you can do to keep you cycling legs in good biking shape.
What activities? Have you considered attending Spin classes?
There has been quite a lot of debate on the issue, some cyclists claim that there is no benefit from these classes and that there is nothing in common with the two activities that would translate to its effectiveness, but maybe we need to take a look at the facts at hand to know if this is actually true or not.
In this article, we are going to take an in-depth look at the benefits and commonly asked questions about Spin classes, as well as pointers on how you need to prepare yourself should you want to give it a try.
Spin class and indoor cycling classes are two different entities based on branding, but they basically run on the same concept. In comparison to actual cycling, spinning is much more intensive and would require more stamina. Choosing to spin during winter would be a great alternative to cycling.
What is a Spin Class?
It may be surprising to hear that there is actually a difference between indoor cycling and Spinning since they both make use of the stationary bike. The term “Spinning” is actually a registered trademark to the company Mad Dogg Athletics.
In fact, the use of the word “Spin” to describe just any type of indoor cycling class is incorrect. The term should only be used when referring to cycling classes that actually use their equipment.
John Baudhuin founded the Mad Dogg Athletics company in 1994 but has trademarked the term “Spin” or “Spinning” a year before that.
The equipment used for “Spinning” was invented in the 80s by the co-founder Johnny Goldberg, and after the company was founded, Mad Dogg Athletics started developing fitness programs using the equipment.
It didn’t take long for them to start manufacturing and distributing products and equipment worldwide.
Therefore, a Spin class is an indoor cycling class that uses Mad Dogg Athletics Spin Bikes. The Spinning program itself is not just about exercise, it is a state-of-the-art program that uses a variety of movements and motivational coaching that keep participants hyped up.
There is a global community of Spinners with 35,000 recognized facilities, 200,000 certified instructors, and millions of riders.
Can Anyone Take Part in a Spin Class?
There is no particular age requirement or restriction when it comes to Spinning. But you would need to make your decision based on appropriate information to be sure you are safe during the session:
- Spinner bikes are built for individuals who are at least 4 feet and 11 inches. This, however, is not an exact minimum because of other determining factors like leg and torso length.
- If children are to join the class, they need to be mature enough to be responsible for themselves. They should be able to follow the instructor’s commands and not deviate from the program for their safety. It would also be important that they get a briefing with the instructor prior to the class itself.
- For teenagers, climb hills should be discouraged. Higher resistance would be bad for the growth plates in their bones. Exposing them to this kind of exercise, this could stunt their growth.
One thing that’s great about the Spinning program is that it is adaptable to your fitness level. Everyone can benefit from the program and because you can work at your own pace by adjusting the resistance of your Spin bike, practically anyone can do it.
If it is your first class, and you’re scared if you can work your way through the session. All you need to do is believe and trust in the capability of your body. It is important not to push yourself too hard, Spinning is not a competition.
What Should I Expect in My First Spin Class?
Pop culture has painted a quite intimidating picture of what a Spin class is. You’d probably expect a bunch of red-faced pedal pushers listening to each and every command of the instructor who is probably yelling amid the rhythmic beat they are exercising too.
It’s not surprising that Spinning is not as inviting as you would think it would be, but even if so, it’s still worth a try. Here are some things you should expect in the first class you attend:
- Classes Fill Up Fast
If your gym hosts Spin classes, you can be sure that there are regulars that attend these sessions. If you don’t arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before the class starts, you might not get a place. So, whether it is your first class or your tenth, it is important to be there early.
- How Long is a Spin Class?
Spin classes will definitely not last for longer than an hour. Ideally, they run for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your instructor’s planning and routine.
- Spinning is Not Like Riding a Bike
Unlike leisurely bike rides, Spin classes include sprints and a variety of resistance levels. It is quite different in terms of how much more work and technique comes into play while you are Spinning. Therefore, Spinning is a much more intense workout versus cycling, in spite of the lack of the need for balancing.
- Sweat, Sweat, and More Sweat!
Being the intense workout it is, you can definitely expect a lot of sweat. Some first-timers would even forget to bring a towel, assuming that it would not be such a difficult workout, only to find out the opposite.
- Constantly Hydrate
Due to the fact that you will be sweating a lot during one session, you would need to replenish the water you have lost in order to keep up. Bringing enough water to stay hydrated is a must. This will not only prolong your participation in the class but will also help you balance the electrolytes during your workout.
- Your Muscles Will Get Sore
Spinning takes your body to a whole new level. You will feel muscles that you never used before starting to ache. It would be advisable to take your first class right before the weekend, with everything sore, you may not be useful at work or anything else. This is just a phase, it will pass after the first two weeks or so.
An important thing to remember is that each Spin class is different. The program itself is quite flexible and focused on the five core movements: seated flat, standing flat or running, jumps, seated climb, and standing climb. It just depends on the instructor teaching, how these movements will be used.
What to Bring to Spin Class?
Before hitting the gym, preparation is key. You would need to prepare your things before the class for the session itself and after. Here is what we recommend you prepare:
- Head Bands, Hair Pins, Hair Ties
While Spinning is a relatively low-impact exercise, there is still a lot of movement. To be more comfortable during the session, it would be best to tie your hair and keep them out of your face during the duration of the class.
- Water or Sports Drinks
As we have mentioned, hydration is a must. Not being able to hydrate before and during a class can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Water is great for rehydration, but sports drinks that can balance out your electrolytes would be the best option. Whichever you choose, be sure that they are placed in a bottle that isn’t too big for you to place on the bike or hold.
More than just being able to wipe your sweat away, the towel is actually good to have to keep on the handlebars during the workout. Most handlebars can be quite slippery, especially when sweat is added to the equation.
- Recovery Fuel
No matter what your fitness level is, Spinning can bring out your inner athlete, either way, you would need some sort of recovery fuel to give your body and an extra jolt of energy even after a session has passed. Protein bars are a good source of energy and they come in all sorts of flavors and types.
- Change of Clothes
After a long session, with constant sweating, having an extra set of clothes can definitely help with comfort.
At the end of the day, the one important thing you would need to bring to a Spin class is your determination to actually finish something you have started. If you are new to Spinning, this could definitely give you an extra boost of confidence and motivation.
What to wear to Spin class?
With whatever sport or activity you plan to take part in, it is essential that you are properly dressed to ensure comfort and safety as well.
In Spinning, here are the specific clothing that you would need to wear for the class:
- Moisture-Wicking Clothing
The principle behind wicking fabric is simple. The fabric pulls moisture from the body to the exterior portion of the clothing. This way, the sweat produced by our bodies can easily evaporate.
Natural fabrics are known to absorb moisture, synthetic material does not. Which is why most moisture wicking clothes are made up of polyester blends and are engineered with an anti-moisture technology to keep you feeling dry throughout the workout.
Moisture wicking clothes come in various forms appropriate for your preferences. Big brands like Nike and Adidas have a large selection for your needs.
- Padded Cycling Tights or Shorts
If you are new to the world of Spinning, one thing you need to know is that most of the strain during the workout will be on your behind. Some regulars would bring in padded seatings to ease the discomfort.
- Cycling Shoes
If you have decided to continue with spin classes, the best investment you can make is to purchase a pair of cycling shoes. These shoes are specifically designed to keep your feet safe and secure on the pedals especially during high-speed movements.
Cycling shoes can easily clip onto the pedal. This gives you a more firm position on the pedal, which avoids possible injury. If the gym you go to does not provide cycling shoes, or you are not ready to buy a pair yet, you can use regular athletic shoes as long as their soles are stiff and can hold firm onto the pedal. It’s highly discouraged to wear running shoes since the flexibility of the sole can lead to injuries.
- Appropriate Support (if needed)
If you have been prescribed to use any form of support, be it knee, ankle, or wrist support, be sure to have them on during the session. Even as a low-impact activity, the constant motion in varied resistance can cause discomfort on previously injured parts.
- Loose Cover-up Top (optional)
Most spin class spaces may be quite cold during the first part of the session, for women who wear sports bras to the gym, it would be advisable to take a loose cover-up top just in case. This top should be of breathable material and wouldn’t cause any distraction during the routine.
How Many Calories are Burned in a Spin Class?
There are some claims that an hour-long class could burn a thousand calories in one sitting, but is there any truth to it? Experts say that Spin classes are not focused on how many calories you but, but how much you are sweating out.
Let’s go back to the basics, calories are a unit of energy. Specifically, it is the amount of energy that is required to increase the temperature of a kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. By this, we understand that we burn calories during exercise because it is consumed when our bodies heat up.
Ideally, an average person must eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day to maintain an average weight and size. The problem most overweight, and obese people face is that they consume more than the ideal calorie intake and do not exercise to consume those calories and use them as energy.
The amount of calories you burn is irrelevant to how long you cycle or what kind of routine you do. It is based on your body’s process and your effort. Working hard throughout the session would mean that you are using at least 85 to 95 percent of your body’s capacity.
This can burn around 500 calories after an hour. Basically, the harder your work, the more calories you burn.
To efficiently calculate the number of calories you are burning during a session, using a Fitbit can be helpful. For mid-range effort during the routine, you are looking at burning 350 to 400 calories.
At the end of the day, the number of calories you burn shouldn’t be the main point of your workout. If you are working hard and following the instructors’ coaching you are sure to get optimum results.
Benefits of Spinning
There is no doubt about it, any form of low-impact cardio would be excellent for anyone trying to get on track with fitness. The benefits of Spinning goes on and on, and even with just one ride, you can feel the change.
- Improve Cardiovascular Health
Spinning involves endurance and cardiovascular training, targetted to keep your heart healthy and happy. As we push our bodies to work harder, we also learn to regulate our breathing. In addition to this, anxiety is easily controlled and heart rates have better rhythm.
- Work At Your Own Pace
Unlike other forms of workouts, Spinning can be adjusted to your pace. If you feel you are stronger, you can adjust the resistance or crank up the speed. If you are older or recovering from an injury, a low-intensity workout would suit you best.
It is important to remember that the Spinning educational program was specifically engineered and developed to benefit all kinds of individuals. The goal is to be able to offer a routine that could easily be done by different people of different abilities.
Make sure to inform your instructor of your progress, and how you feel. They won’t be able to assess your fitness level accurately by just looking at you, but an open dialogue can be very helpful.
Likewise, if you are a first-timer it is very important to let your instructor know as well. A briefing before the session, as well as proper techniques, would need to be taught beforehand to ensure you are secure during the class.
- Improve Your Body’s Capacity To Work
Spinning does not put too much pressure on your joints compared to other cardio workouts. You can actually work hard, without causing more damage to your knees, or other potential injuries. In fact, Spinning can strengthen previously injured joints. It is said that Spinning is able to improve joint and tendon health, which in turn can enhance your overall fitness.
- Lose Fat
Aside from a long list of health benefits, one of the main reasons people actually join Spin classes is to drop extra pounds by cutting fat. Spinning is quite effective and it suits all sorts of individuals regardless of age and gender.
An hour-long ride can burn approximately 400 to 600 calories depending on your body’s capacity to work. Either way, it is a great way to sweat it out and shed fat. With just a few classes you will see the difference.
- Build Lean Muscle
Before any more physical manifestations can start to appear, you would need to be consistent with your workout. Due to the fact that fats are melting away with every session you work through, lean muscles become more defined. Once you start cutting through the muscle, you can easily start defining the muscles and sculpting them to your preference. Cross-training with other programs is the most efficient, especially when you are aiming to get better results.
- Get Stronger
With every added session to your schedule, you are slowly getting better and stronger. The hard work you put in shedding the fat, improving your cardiovascular health, and sculpting your frame would result in added stamina and strength.
Spinning instructors would always mind your technique an form, and the correct posture is vital to the workout to target the right muscle groups. It is often a misconception that only the legs get the workout at a Spin class, with the proper methods in play, you can effectively work out your abdominal and upper-body muscles as well.
Aside from the physical benefits of Spinning, this workout can enhance your mental and emotional strength through self-discipline, confidence, and consistency.
What Does a Spin Class Do For Your Body?
Spin classes do not only shed fat and build muscles but since it is an excellent low-impact cardiovascular workout, there are other internal benefits you can gain from this form of exercise.
Through a one hour routine, you can improve blood flow that regulates blood pressure, increase your stamina, and enhance your mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, low-impact workouts as such can also prevent chronic issues like heart disease and diabetes.
What to Eat Before Spin Class?
Spin classes are known to be the most efficient fat-burning workouts. With just one session, people are able to burn 400 to 600 calories which is basically an entire meal.
Being as efficient as it is, it is also a tough workout. In order for you to survive the workout, you would need to eat smart and consume food that will be able to fuel your body well.
Carbohydrates are highly recommended as a pre-workout snack. The body is effective at converting carbohydrates into energy. Fats are slower to digest and would require more effort and oxygen to burn.
Here is what we recommend as a pre-workout snack, that should be consumed at least 45 minutes to an hour before your session:
- Whole grain Fruit and Nut Toast with Butter
- Multigrain Crackers with Ricotta and Honey
- Green Juice: Apples, Bananas, Kale, and Milk
- Granola Bar
These items don’t only guarantee higher energy during the workout but a more effective post-workout snack as well.
One thing you should keep in mind is timing, the timing for your meal is much more important than the ingredients of what you are eating. This schedule is to ensure that you do not suffer from an upset stomach during the workout or a loss of energy.
Meals that are often consumed during major parts of the day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner are often categorized as large meals. These meals often consist of a portion of carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. These meals must be consumed at least three hours before a workout.
Most people who are very particular with their food intake would take smaller meals later in the day. They would often ration their meals in a way where breakfast is loaded up as a large meal, and they will decrease intake as soon as dinner falls.
The size of the portions are smaller but should still contain the basic food groups. These meals should be consumed at least two hours before a workout.
Snacks are technically lighter meals that can be consumed with a bite or two. You can combine a variety of food groups together and effectively come up with a great combination that can give you an extra jolt of energy right before your workout. Snacks must be consumed at least an hour before the workout.
Examples: Peanut Butter on Whole Wheat Bread, Greek Yogurt and Berries, Granola Bars, Sweet Potato, Hard Boiled Egg, Oatmeal or even Trail Mix
If you’re not sure what you should be eating before and after a class, the simple rule is portion control. It simply means that you can eat whatever you like, but be sure to eat in moderation. Depriving yourself of the food you crave for can be ineffective in losing weight.
Tips For Your First Spin Class
Spinning is definitely one of the most exhilarating workouts available. If you thought aerobics was tough, you’re definitely in for a surprise. It may sound intimidating, especially for beginners but with these tips, you are sure to make the most out of your very first class.
- Get To Your Class Early
As we have mentioned earlier, getting to your class early is necessary to get a slot and a comfortable space. If it is your first time to attend the class, it would also be advisable to talk to the instructor beforehand and inform them that you are new. This way you would know what to do and get some handy tips that may be useful for the class.
- Have Your Bike Set-Up Properly
On your first day, you would probably notice regulars who know what they are doing. Arriving early also allows you to have your bike set-up correctly to make sure you are safe, secure, and comfortable.
The instructor will be able to recommend the ideal height of the saddle as well as the adjustment of the handlebars. Everything should be kept according to your size and proportions to avoid injuries.
- Use the Correct Clothes and Footwear
Keep in mind that Spinning will cause a lot of sweating, wearing clothes that will just absorb your sweat isn’t something we would recommend. Wearing breathable clothing, or dry-fit clothing would be more advisable. It is light and definitely more comfortable during the workout.
The proper footwear needs to be used even in your first class. Running shoes and sneakers are discouraged. The soles of these shoes are quite soft and would not be stable on the pedal.
If your gym does not provide cycling shoes, you can wear athletic shoes with a firm sole to keep your foot stable on the pedal. Wearing the right kind of shoe prevents unwanted injuries from occurring.
- Hydrate Properly
Having a drink of water or electrolytes is very important. With most of our bodies composed of water, losing water through perspiration during the workout can be dangerous if not replenished.
- Pace Yourself
Know your limitations. A spin class is not a place for competition, it is of utmost importance that you follow the instructions of the trainer to effectively do the routine, maximize your output, and be free from potential injuries.
In addition to this, it is really important to ease into the session. Do a warm-up for at least 5 minutes and prepare for the rest of the class through a series of intervals. Do not be tempted to do frequent short sprints on your first time. This will easily burn you out.
Spin Classes are an effective method of exercise that can be an alternative to biking. If you are a cyclist but winter has fallen upon your area, Spinning would be great for you.
Spinning is a trademark name by Mad Dogg Athletics, and should not be confused with other indoor cycling routines. Spinning is done through the program and with equipment specifically developed by their company. They have been fighting hundreds of copy cats for the past 25 years.
If it is your first spin class, you would need to remember to prepare your things and yourself prior to going to the class. Bring; breathable clothing, water, extra clothes, and a towel. Do not over-eat before a class and be sure pace yourself during the workout.
There is a mountain of benefits in Spinning, this includes: strengthening core muscles, improving cardiovascular health, shedding fat, and burning calories. In addition to these, your mood is enhanced and your mind is more alert and alive. Spinning is an active choice to change a lifestyle that considers all aspects of health.
With just an hour of intensive working out, you can lose up to 600 calories. But most experts would rather focus on the other aspects of the routine versus the number of calories burned.
Calories are merely units of energy, to effectively calculate how much is burned, using a Fitbit during a workout would be very beneficial.
At the end of the day, it is important to do everything in moderation. Eat well, workout, and live your life to the fullest. With Spinning, you are not only changing the way you move, but you are adapting to a whole new lifestyle altogether.