Maybe you’ve heard other moms talking about how great spinning is, maybe you saw the movie, I Feel Pretty, and wondered why they showcased a spin class as the exercise she chose to lose weight; or maybe, you’ve been seeing the ads on Facebook for Peloton and started to wonder what the whether spinning is for you?
In today’s post, I will share why I’ve been spinning for nearly four years both at home, at the gym, and at a studio; and will cover the spin class benefits for your body after just your first class.
What is a spin class?
A spin class is a 20, 30, or 45-minute workout on a stationary bike. Usually, a high-energy instructor leads the class along with motivating music.
You’ll pedal on the stationary bike following the beat of the music and you’ll change pace (speed) and resistance (how hard it is to pedal) throughout the workout. These changes will help you simulate climbing a hill, riding on a flat road, and more.
If the description above is already intimidating you, don’t let it. It just means that you are not going to be sitting there for an entire class pedaling and getting bored. A spin class is anything but boring!
What are the physical benefits of spinning, and what muscles do you work out during spinning?
For starters, spinning is a terrific cardiovascular exercise –please consult your doctor if you have any heart issues. That means, it’s a terrific exercise for your heart and your heart is a muscle. At first, you might be a bit short winded but the more you do it the more endurance you’ll build.
Spinning works out your quads. The quadriceps are the big muscles founds on the front of your thighs. Each time you push the pedal down you’re engaging your quads. When you add resistance and “climb” it’s like adding more weight to those muscles.
Your Hamstrings are the back side of your thighs. They support your legs as you spin so just like the quads, each time you push the pedal down, they hamstrings help lift it back up. Strong hamstrings provide stability to your knee joints and help you do other movements like walking or running.
Skinny calf muscles rejoice! I was speaking of mine but if you want to shape up your calves, spinning will do it! Strong calves stabilize your ankles and feet, they provide power when you walk, run, and jump. Plus, they’ll make your legs look awesome without the need to wear heels.
Your glutes! OMG, your glutes (your rear side) will get a makeover over time. My husband used to joke that I had a flat butt years ago but spinning changed everything! I actually like my butt and there’s less jiggle.
When you use your legs to extend your hips your glutes are working; and with spinning, when you rise up off the seat -another reason to try it- you engage your glutes even more. And we all know that a perkier butt makes you look better. There’s that too.
Spinning also works your back because the muscles that run along your spine, along with other muscles in your back and core, stabilize and support your torso and hold it in that pitched-forward position providing toning and strengthening benefits for these muscles.
After a few years of spinning, I have not developed a six pack -it won’t do that- but you’ll eventually look leaner in the muffin top and bra-bulge areas -ha!
Where do you spin and how much does it cost?
You can take a spinning class at most gyms where they are nearly always included with your membership. Just check the fitness class schedule for times.
You can also go to a spin studio where all they do is teach spin classes throughout the day. You’ll pay anywhere between $30-$40 per class and scheduling ahead (a reservation) is usually required.
Finally, you can spin inside your home with a home spin bike. You can purchase a traditional stationary bike or a Peloton bike to get your workouts on. With a traditional bike, you’ll need a good playlist and some videos (plenty on YouTube).
The other at home spin option is the Peloton Bike where incredible instructors will lead you through different workouts in length and experience. I purchased a Peloton in 2016 after going to spinning at my gym and at a studio for more than 6 months. I found the investment to pay for itself in about a year and I’ve never looked back.
The Peloton Bike has transformed how I work out, and I’d love to share it with you. With the Peloton Bike, you can join live and on-demand studio cycling classes all from the convenience of home. There are thousands of classes to choose from, they fit into my schedule and challenge me daily. I absolutely love it, and it would be even more fun if we could ride together!
Enter my referral code: GEUUPV during Bike purchase, and get $100* towards bike accessories (like shoes, heart rate monitor, and more).
Do I need special shoes for my first spin class?
It depends on what class you take: at most gyms, you can wear regular gym shoes and there will be cages to keep your foot on the pedal. But specialized studios (like SoulCycle and Flywheel) use bikes that only work with cycling/spinning shoes.
Cycling shoes have hard soles and clip directly into the pedals, which helps stabilize your feet and allows you to more effectively work your glutes and legs when your feet are in the cages. Wearing cycling shoes is also a little safer for spin class because you won’t slip out while pedaling, so if you think you’ll be going back to class, it could be worth the investment!
I wore regular sneakers for nearly 6 months before I bought a pair of cycling shoes and after I purchased them, I felt like I got a much better workout. Most gyms have two sided pedals so you can use your sneakers and you can clip on with spin shoes.
While pricing of cycling shoes can vary tremendously, for an indoor workout all you need is a pair like these with the clips.
What do I wear to my first spin class?
One of the benefits of spinning at home is that you can wear whatever you like! At home, I wear running shorts or yoga pants and a sports bra.
At the gym or a spin studio, most people wear workout pants, a sports bra, and a top. The truth is that nobody cares what you look like since after class, everyone is drenched in sweat and that’s a sign of a great workout!
How do I set up a spin bike?
The first time I went to class at my gym, I did not have my bike properly set up. My seat was too high and therefore, I was sore “down there” the next day. In spite of that, I came back for more a few days later and I arrived a few minutes early to ask the instructor for help setting it up. It made such a difference!
At a spin studio where you pay to go per class, there are always assistants inside the studio to help with set up. Arrive a few minutes early and let someone show you how to adjust your bike. You’ll be so glad you did!
At home, in my Peloton, I set up my bike’s seat prior to a workout if my husband or one of my kids used it. With a Peloton, you get expert set up after delivery and they make sure the bike is good to go. With any other bike, you’ll need to watch a video to learn how to set up your bike.
Is it OK to take a break in spin class?
Of course! I will tell you that for my first month I took a lot of breaks. The truth is, that nobody cares and no one is looking. There’s no way to tell how much resistance is on your bike or how hard you’re pedaling, so feel free to give yourself the break you need to get a safe workout.
I promise you that you will get better with each class. Meaning, the more you do it the more resistance you can add and the more you can endure. Your body is strong!
Is spinning good for weight loss?
Many studies suggest that spinning is an excellent workout for weight loss. It’s a high-intensity cardio workout that will burn about 500 calories in a 45-minute class. And the resistance you add on the pedals helps build and tone your leg muscles.
Personally, spinning has been one of the best things I’ve adopted into my workout routine to give my legs shape and reduce the jiggle. Yes, things jiggle a lot more after you have kids!
Is spinning a good exercise?
In short, yes. It’s an effective and efficient way to burn calories and the pedaling gives you resistance. In my Peloton, I can see exactly how much resistance I’m adding and over time I’ve been able to add more, which is a sign that I’m getting stronger.
That said, if spinning is your only exercise, you might not achieve your fitness goals with spinning alone. And let’s face it, most of us aren’t instructors teaching six to ten classes per week!
For me, the biggest benefit from spinning is happiness. When I get off the bike I feel accomplished and like I did something for me. Now, it’s part of my self-care.
Speaking of Instructors, are they all the same?
When I first started, my friend told me that there’s a spin instructor for every person out there. And she was right!
Most gyms that offer spin classes have a couple of instructors on the rotation. It’s a good idea to meet them before your first class or ask the fitness director about their personalities and music preferences.
Spin studios have a lot more instructors to choose from on their roster and places like Soulcyle have information about their instructors online. That said, I’ve been to classes with instructors that I loved and others not so much. In the end, it’s trial and error until you find an incredible instructor that motivates you to give your best out on the bike.
One of the reasons why I bought a Peloton bike to spin at home is because after 6 months of spinning at my gym I realized that I had found a workout I really (really) loved. The only problem is that at the times I was able to go, at 5:15 am, there was only one instructor I liked. The other, while she’s nice, has terrible taste in music and after a couple of weeks, I realized it was the same playlist on repeat.
With my Peloton bike, I’m able to jump into a live class or select a previously recorded class on demand, filter it by instructor, class length, music genre, and more. I like options. I like working out when it’s convenient for me, and I love an instructor that can push me to a better workout. I can honestly say that having a Peloton at home has been the best investment I’ve done for my physical health in the last decade.
Spin Terms 101
The first few classes I just pedaled. I sat on my seat and pedaled. I learned to change my resistance and my leg speed but that’s about it. Then, I realized that there were other things one could do on the bike to get the most out of a workout.
Here are some of the most popular terms you’ll hear on the bike and what they mean:
“Up your resistance / Turn the knob to the right or left”
The first time you go to a spin class, it’s a good idea to get there early so you can set up your bike. During the setup, someone will point out a round knob on the bike. Turn it right and the resistance goes up and it gets harder to pedal. Turn it left and it loosens up and it’s easier. Playing with your resistance to learn how it works is essential since it will change how your ride.
“Get on your flat road”
A flat road is the foundation or your starting point of a spin class. It’s not super loose and your legs are going all over the place; it’s the point on your knob that gives you some resistance on your wheel to support your pedaling but not so much that you feel like you are pedaling through mud. As your legs get stronger your flat road resistance will change.
“Gear up,” is another way of saying, “increase resistance” or turn the knob to the right (for most bikes). If you have a monitor, you’re able to know exactly how many “gears” or how much additional resistance you’re adding because it will show you. Otherwise, many instructors will tell you to do a “quarter turn” and “one full turn” of your knob.
What I love about my Peloton -no, this isn’t a sponsored post but I love my bike- is that it measures everything and I’m able to see my numbers and improvements over time. Adding resistance is easy peasy because the instructor will always give you a number range on the resistance.
The first time I heard the instructor call out to sand off the bike I didn’t know what to do. Wait, what? Stand up on a bike? Yes! and it’s so much fun.
However, I didn’t know how to do it at the beginning. It took me a few classes and tries but now it’s great! If you can’t get the hang of it, just sit and pedal away. No one cares. Really!
To stand, you must first have enough resistance on your pedals to create a bit of resistance (about 40 or more on your Peloton). You’ll shift your weight forward so that your booty is out of the seat and your weight is over your pedals.
“Have a smooth pedal stroke”
Having a smooth pedal stroke means putting the same motion on your food pushing down as you pull up. After I purchased spin shoes, I found this to be much easier than my food inside the mesh with the sneakers.
Now that you’re familiar with a few common spin phrases, you can join your first spin class feeling confident that you’ll be able to follow along. And remember—every person in that room had a “Day 1” -or day 2, 3, 4, and more for me!
Spinning is as close as you can get to riding a bike outside, complete with hills. The difference is you get to do it in a comfortable room with energetic music and other people with similar goals, all having fun getting fit together.
Plus, it’s a very effective way to give your muscles a workout, which means they’ll get bigger and stronger as your whole body becomes leaner and your metabolism increases. That makes it much easier to do what you want to do: stay healthy and look fabulous.
I can honestly say that jumping on my bike for a quick 20-minute spin or doing a full 45-minute class is the best part of my day. If you’ve never tried spinning, give a couple of classes a try. You never know when you’ll discover your next favorite exercise!