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What is Spinning Class? A Guide to the Indoor Cycling Trend

BY: Editors | Sep 26, 2017

Unless you've been living on a remote island for the past few years, you've likely heard someone talking about how much they love spinning class. But if you relate this new form of cycling to just a typical session on a stationary bike, you're way off the mark. So just what is spinning class anyway? Our guide attempts to explain exactly that.

What is spinning class?

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. Spinning offers a totally different environment, complete with unfamiliar equipment and moves like jumps—when riders stand up and sit down on their bikes between pedaling—hills, and sprints.

Don't expect a stoic gym atmosphere either. Spin studios often enhance their nightclub-esque atmosphere with colored lights, black lights (for glow-in-the-dark spin), and live DJs.

What are spinning workouts like?

In a word: intense. Classes might last anywhere from 30- to 90-minutes, during which, riders move through phases of different speeds and resistance levels. Strength-building moves (like the aforementioned jumps) are often incorporated, and some classes may even utilize resistance bands or light weights for an upper body workout.

Bottom line: every class is different. If you don't like one instructor's style (too many jumps, not enough disco on the soundtrack), it's worth it to try a different instructor or different studio before giving up on spinning entirely.

What are the benefits of spinning?

Cardiovascular Workout

Spinning classes provide an excellent cardiovascular workout, and if calorie-burning is your main goal, this is an excellent choice. However, it also helps strengthen the glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings too.

Low-Impact Exercise

Another benefit of spinning is that it puts little pressure on the joints, making it ideal for those who find they can't engage in other intense forms of exercise, such as running.

What are some spin class tips for beginners?

If you're considering trying a spinning class for the first time, here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your experience:

  • Bring a towel and a water bottle: because you are seriously going to sweat.
  • Have a good attitude: First-timers often find it hard to keep pace with the rest of the class. This is to be expected. Remind yourself that things will get better with practice.
  • Reserve a bike ahead of time: Because spinning is so popular, bikes often fill up fast. Instead of showing up and feeling disappointed, see if your studio allows you to reserve a bike ahead of time so you're guaranteed a spot.
  • Adjust your seat: A bike that fits well can make the difference between a workout that's uncomfortable because it's hard or a workout that's uncomfortable because your feet are too far from the pedals. When in doubt, ask for help.
  • Consider spin shoes: 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. If you wind up liking your first class, consider investing in a pair to get the most out of future workouts.
  • Prepare to be sore: It'll be mostly focused in your legs, your quads, and your glutes. No pain, no gain!

Watch this video for advice on how to stay motivated during your spinning class:

 

This article was originally published in 2016. It has since been updated.