Foodie Fitness Corner: Hillery’s Guide to Spin Class!

(Also check out: Stay Safe During Summer Workouts!) 

Spinning Out of Control!

Workout clothes? Check! Adventurous attitude? Check! Body Media Fit to measure how much this is all burning? Check! 

Over on Obesity Help, there are tons of people that always post about how great spin class is (not to mention the great calorie burn).  I’ll be honest….I didn’t believe them. 

You see I’d peeked into the spin class at my gym a few times and to say it looked intense is an understatement.  I’m not an exercise wimp in the least …I just didn’t get what was so great about it.  So I went into this exercise review thinking it was the perfect opportunity  to change up my workout routine and try a class that I wasn’t sure I’d like.
I mean what’s the worst that could happen?  I’d hate it, I’d write this article telling you all how much I hated it, and that would be that. 
So to prepare to meet this challenge…I did a bit of research.  Apparently, a spin class is supposed to mimic actually riding a bike course…going up and down hills, speeding up/slowing down on straight level surfaces and the like.  The music is supposed to help with cadence and to set the speed of peddling and is used as a motivator. Ok, all that sounded ok, but the only real way to judge spin is to try spin. So that’s what I did. And for good measure (and since she lives close by) I made Nik go with me!
Like I said, I was skeptical about this whole thing but I wanted to go into this class with an open mind and I’m so glad I did because I FREAKING LOVE SPINNING! But wait I’m getting ahead of myself.
When you go to spin for the first time you might want to plan to arrive early. This gives you a chance to get your bike situated and make adjustments to both your seat and your handle bars. 
Sit on the bike with your feet in the pedals. Set your seat height so your knee is slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Set the handlebars so that they are level with the seat. When you lean forward and place your hands on the bars, there should be a slight bend at your elbows…if not adjust your seat forward or backward as needed.  Once you’re all set up the instructor will start the class with a warm-up. 
After the warm up the workout gets more intense as they go into some of the moves that mimic a real bike ride, like:
  • Sprints which are a maneuver that uses light resistance to mimic fast sprints on a bike on a level flat surface. 
  • Jumps which are basically a maneuver of getting in and out of the “saddle” (seat) in a smooth, controlled movement (alternating between sitting and standing in timed intervals of a few seconds.  (Foodie Nation Warning:  This is the maneuver that results in the crotch soreness that a lot of people experience after their first spinning class.  DO NOT….I REPEAT DO NOT slam your body into the seat when doing jumps.  I am not responsible for battered and bruised va jay jays and man parts!)
  • Climbing which can be done seated or standing and mimics riding up a hill (the steeper the hill the higher you turn up the resistance). 
  • Running which is an upright, standing position that uses light to moderate resistance to mimic running on a bike (you know when you watch Tour de France and you see Lance Armstrong standing up on his bike peddling, that’s a run). 
As I’ve said before, I loved the workout. Nik, once we picked her up off the floor SAID she liked it too and we’ve both added spin classes to our weekly workout routines. That’s why I feel totally confident in recommending this workout to the Foodie Nation for a lot of reasons. First, you can work at your own pace and not feel pressured to “keep up”.  Just peddle…that’s it.  You don’t have to increase the resistance if you don’t want to, you can decrease the resistance whenever you want, and most importantly no one will know but you! 
It’s also a low impact class.  I know a lot of folks suffer from knee injuries (myself included) and spinning is a great class to take if you are in that situation.  There’s no jumping around, no jarring positions.  All you have to do is sit down, peddle, and get a great workout.  I’m also learning…that spinning is an excellent workout for strengthening the core and lower back. 
Now there are a few things that you might want to invest in to make your spin experience more effective and comfortable. Most of these things are optional but I highly recommend them (click the links to check them out for yourself): 
  1. PADDED BIKE SEAT COVER.  I got mine at Target for $15.  It slips right over the seat at the gym and adds a much needed layer of cushion to the seat. I’ve been told that the more you take spinning you develop “buns of steel” and the seats don’t bother you anymore.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have noticed that I’m not sore on my butt after a class anymore. I’ve got a good deal of cushion left on my bottom so YMMV. If you complain of your bottom hurting some sitting down…this might be $15 well spent.
  2. CLIP IN BIKE SHOES.  The jury is out on these. I’ve seen a lot of folks use them and a lot that don’t.  Most that use it prefer them because they have extra padding on the part of the foot where the pedals are and it provides a more secure footing. I’ve looked on line at the prices and OUCH.  These are not cheap.  I wouldn’t suggest investing in these unless you are SURE that you love spinning and will be taking multiple classes a week. 
  3. WATER BOTTLES and TOWEL (both are MUST-HAVES). You’re going to sweat during a spin class…A LOT.  At the end of my first spin class, there was sweat all over the bike AND the floor around my bike (gross). I drank a 32oz bottle of water AND a 24oz bottle of water over the course of an hour class and sucked down a 16 oz bottle on my way home.  Bring TWO water bottles with you (there is a reason there are two holders!) and a nice absorbent hand towel.  Trust me on this one.  
So what do you want to look for to make sure you are in a good spin class?  I’d start by looking at which classes are packed at your gym.  If people are clamoring to take a particular instructor even at the butt crack of dawn….that’s a good indication that the instructor/class is good.  Some other indicators of a good class include great music (different instructors use different styles so pick a class that has your favorite kind of music!), an enthusiastic instructor, and participants that keep coming back for more.
And there you have it….spinning gets the Foodie Nation stamp of approval.  

About Hillery

Hillery would like you to know that she DID take pics of Nik during this workout, looking all the hot mess that spin can make a person look but in a fit of vanity, Nik vetoed said pics and locked them in the Foodie vault.

But she’s willing to risk death by laser beam to get them for you for the right price.

Have a fitness question for Hillery? Email with the subject line “fitness.” REMEMBER: Hillery is NOT a personal trainer and can’t give professional advice but experiences? She’s got those by the dozen and is more than willing to share!

One comment

  1. Damn. You have me itching to try a class now!! thanks for the AWESOME review!!!