This Instructor’s Spin-Class Tips Will Make You Feel Prepared and Motivated
Spinning is far more than biking made stationary, to the point that even seasoned cyclists might not be sure what to expect when they step into an indoor studio. Spin class offers a totally different environment, complete with unfamiliar equipment and not-totally-intuitive terms.
For example, “jumps” here aren’t a BMX move. As Stephanie Beck, a spinning instructor at Chicago’s Webster Place Athletic Club, explained, a jump is when you sit in your seat while pedaling, then stand up, and then sit down again. Typically, she has her students do strength-building jumps for at least the length of a song during her classes, which also incorporate hills and sprints.
If that sounds like hard work, you’re on the right track. But Beck is skilled at positive encouragement, which she uses to ensure exercisers work their hardest and reach their own personal finish line. Below, her tips for preparation and motivation comprise an introduction to spinning class for beginners—one that’s equal parts intimidating, intriguing, and sweaty.
How to prepare for spin class
Don’t automatically dismiss spin shoes.
“In spin class, you want to keep a flat foot when you’re riding,” Beck said. “A lot of times people, especially if they’re wearing gym shoes, they’ll point their toes … or they’ll push with their heel.”
Spin shoes allow you to clip into the stationary bike’s pedals, which can improve your form—and in turn makes the workout more effective.
Bring a towel, a water bottle, and a good attitude.
Part of having a good attitude means understanding that it’s your first time. “Don’t judge yourself on other people’s [workout]. Embrace wherever [you] start.”
Arrive ready to party.
“Most spin studios are on the dark side,” Beck said. “People like to spin in the dark.” Spin studios often enhance the nightclub-esque atmosphere with colored lights, black lights (for glow-in-the-dark spin), and live DJs.
Don’t worry if you’re sore the next day.
It’ll be mostly focused in your legs, your quads, and your glutes. You generally won’t be dealing with joint pain, though: “[Spinning] is a great way for people who need really low-impact exercise to get a really effective cardio workout.”
How to stay motivated during spinning
Listen to heart-pumping music.
Beck’s current favorite spinning song is Madonna’s “B-tch, I’m Madonna.” She loves its pounding beat. Really, great beats are a common thread through all her spinning-class playlists, which span genres from '80s rock to hip-hop. A good beat often drives the class, as it can be matched to increases or decreases in resistance—simulating climbs or descents—to vary the class’s intensity.
Visualize something positive, like drinking.
“People tell me that they visualize the bottle of wine they’re going to drink that night,” Beck said. “They straight up tell me that.”
Other students visualize themselves once they’ve achieved their weight-loss goals. “Everyone has their own personal goal,” she added. The key is not to forget it when the going gets tough.
A couple go-to phrases never hurt anyone.
“One of the ones I’ve been using lately is, ‘Please don’t leave this room wishing you worked harder.’ Or I say, ‘If you’ve got something left to give, now is the last time to give it.’”
Don’t be afraid of discomfort.
If you’re breathing hard, your heart’s beating hard, you’re hot and sweaty—all of that is normal. “If you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, you’re doing it right,” Beck said. “You want to feel that challenge.”
But don’t push yourself senselessly hard, either.
“If [students] start feeling nauseous. Or if they start to feel dizzy. Or if their ears start ringing. Those three things, they should slow down.” This is especially common for newbies; Beck recommends they take breaks as needed during their initial classes.
Photos by Grant Walsh, Groupon