In no way whatsoever am I a spinning expert, BUT I have been consistently going to classes for a little over a month now and I thought I would share some of my beginner tips. I mean, it doesn’t take years to learn a few good lessons!
So after the post about my first spinning class experience, I got a few questions about what made me want to try, what it is exactly, how many calories I burned, etc. Looking back in retrospect, I went about the whole thing entirely the wrong way. I just woke up and decided to go one day and did the research later after I realized I enjoyed the class. And now, I want to share some of that research and my own personal experiences. Basically, these are the things I wish I had known before I went to my first class.
First things first, spinning is a low impact aerobic exercise that involves a stationary bike, loud music, and an instructor guiding the class through different “terrains.” Depending on your gym or studio, the bikes will probably vary. At my gym, the rider gets to set the resistance based on the perceived rate of exertion (more on that in a minute). The room is usually dark, and at my gym, the instructors play videos. The most popular being Tour de France.
Now, I only have spinning experience at one gym, and things may be different wherever you decide to take classes, so understand that some of this information may vary. So at my gym, the five levels of resistance are light, light to moderate, moderate, moderate to heavy, and heavy. And again, the rider has to decide what each one means for him/her. Moderate for one person may be heavy for another. The instructor will yell out the levels and guide the class the entire time so that everyone knows when to turn the knob and increase or decrease the resistance. And every class I have been to has been different – even when it’s the same instructor teaching it. The style is most always the same, but the ride is always a little different. For example, in my class today, we started off at light to moderate, went into heavy, and stayed there for a good portion of the class, whereas last week we started off at moderate, went into heavy, back to moderate, etc.
If you’d like more information on the core movements that occur during class, take a look at this document. And if you’d like to know more about hand placement, go here. Both of these are way better than any explanation I could give. My best advice for adjusting the bike is to just ask the instructor for help. He or she can help determine the appropriate settings. And as far as form is concerned, the two things I’ve learned to pay attention to are my shoulders and my elbows. Shoulders should be relaxed the entire time, and elbows should be in.
So, most classes last for 45-60 minutes, with light stretching at the end. I have no idea how many calories I personally burn, but I hear most people burn 500-800 a class. Again, it just depends on the individual and the level of exertion put forth.
Thankfully there hasn’t been anyone like that in my classes. Everyone is super nice and encouraging!
Now for a few of my personal tips.
1. ALWAYS bring at least one bottle water. If you don’t have water, don’t go to class. Trust me on this!
2. Make sure you have at least one towel with you during class. And get ready to sweat!!
3. Leave enough time at the beginning of class to adjust your bike. I’ve seen people come in right as class is starting and because the room is dark, they have to either deal with the setting as is or leave. Most stay and deal with it. Ouch!
4. Take it easy your first couple of classes. Make sure your form is correct. Ask questions after class if necessary. Expect to be sore after the first class (and maybe the next couple as well). And never base your progress on what others are doing. The beauty of spinning, in my opinion, is that it’s an individualized workout – base it on your own capabilities and limits.
5. Light resistance does NOT mean no resistance at all – always make sure there is some form of resistance when you’re spinning. No resistance is bad for your knees. I just learned this a few weeks ago. Oops!
6. Something I learned pretty early on is ensure that my weekly workouts are full of variety. For example, I take spin twice a week, run twice a week, and do some strength training one to two times a week. I am also trying to make it to at least one yoga class a week. And from what I can tell so far, all of this variety has made me stronger.
7. Be sure to fuel properly. Don’t ever go to class on an empty stomach. For example, I go to the 5:50-6:40 am class at my gym, and I make sure to eat a good solid dinner the night before, a small snack on my way to the gym, and a wholesome breakfast before I head to work. Something I was not expecting right away was for my hunger levels to increase so much. Now, on spin days, I’m sure to pack a good lunch and a couple of snacks (always include some protein).
8. Most importantly, have fun! If you find that you don’t like a particular instructor’s style, try another class. Give it a fair chance. It can be intimidating at first, but you’ll never truly know if it’s for you if you don’t try!
Just look at home much fun these guys and gals are having!
Are you a regular spin class attendee? Any tips to share? And if you’re not, what’s holding you back?