How To

    How to Spin Your Way to Health: A Beginner’s Guide

    Spinning classes can seem intimidating at first, but the basics are actually quite easy to get a hold of.

    Entering your first spinning class can be intimidating. The lines of bikes seem to taunt the inexperienced cycler. Those who are already accustomed to the sport may appear to stare you down as you hasten to the nearest bike. I know I’m not the only one who is overwhelmed by the sport of indoor cycling, but, if you are like me, you can’t help but be intrigued by this cardio phenomenon.

    Believe it or not, no matter how new you are to the sport, there are a few simple things that you can do to prepare yourself for this intense workout that will make it more enjoyable and leave you wanting more.

    First of all, consider the fact that spinning utilizes three main variables:

    • Body position
    • Cadence or revolutions per minute
    • Resistance

    All workouts simply modify these factors to make the workout more or less intense–so each workout can be customized to your experience level.

    Next, think about what you’re bringing to class. We all know that when you’re riding a bike for a while, no matter how you’re built, your butt is going to hurt. So wear those padded shorts, or bring a towel to give yourself a little extra padding.

    Also, this is not a sport where you can tough it out without water. You are going to sweat and breathe heavy and, if nothing else, you may need to pour that water over your head, so don’t forget your Nalgene at home.

    When you get to class, make sure to adjust your bike. You don’t want the seat to be too high or too low or else you’ll be feeling it later, and not in a good way. Knee and back pain accompany bad bike settings. You want your knees to be slightly extended, but not so much that you can’t put full pressure on the down stroke of your pedal. The handlebars should be positioned so you are leaning slightly forward, but not so much that you feel like the Hunchback.

    Lastly, and this is the obvious but important one: don’t give up. No matter what class you are attempting, the most important thing you can do is just keep trying. Find settings and speeds that work for you, regardless of what the instructor is doing, and measure your success based on that.

    Spinning is a class that can be whatever you want it to be. You can allow those around you to push you to go faster and harder or you can focus on simply continuing to pedal.

    Either way, when you’re walking out of class with sweat pouring down your face, it’s hard to not feel like you just summited Everest on a mountain bike. And that is something worth pedaling toward.

    Image courtesy Juan Sebastian Quintero Santacruz Caicedo Ricaurte/Wikimedia Commons

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