It should be well known by now that I am a great advocate of group fitness classes. They’re motivating; they’re fun; they’re sociable and you’re guaranteed to get a set amount of exercise in, as once you’re in that room…there’s no walking out without drawing plenty of attention to yourself! I’ve tried various classes over the years, but there’s one that has got to be the queen of the fitness class. The exercise session that strikes fear into the heart of many a gym goer….
I first tried a spinning class in a brave moment at Fitness First in 2008 and have dabbled with classes in various locations ever since. The concept of stationary biking like this (given various names according to gym licenses) has taken the fitness world by storm, and it takes a brave gym bunny to sign up for their first session.
If there’s one thing to be said about the class, it’s that it works. It’s often the one class type on the timetable that insists on pre-booking, and rarely will a saddle be seen empty. To get booked in at one gym, I even had to set my alarm for 6am to make sure I grabbed a spot before the sessions for that day were full by 6:05am!!
There are many variations in class styles, but fundamentally it’s stationary cycling on a specially designed bike which you can easily vary the resistance on. Classes are usually 45mins long (or an hour for the hardcore!) and consist of a series of sprints at a lighter resistance, hill climbs at a higher resistance, and a range of combinations in between!
After joining the new gym last week, I thought I’d brave a class; my first in 3 years. I was the youngest by far, but don’t let that deceive you….these regular spin-goers are pure beasts! I was well and truly shown up by lycra-clad cyclists of all ages.
If you try anything this New Year, brave a class at least once…. that way you can either join in with the complaints about how hard it is, or be proud of yourself for heading back for more!
Top Spinning Tips
Find a class style you like – some are in their own room with disco lights and music blaring, some are as part of the gym with the music in the background, some have instructors who will make you want to cry! Don’t be put off if you don’t like your first session; shop around.
Arrive early to your first class – some of the bikes are a bit fiddly and may take some negotiating. Keen spinners will often reserve their bikes early on with a towel or bottle, so if you want to hide at the back make sure you get in there first! It’s also good to let them know if it’s your first time so they don’t go quite as hard on you!
Adjust your bike properly – the saddle should be around hip-height when standing next to the bike, and the handle bars should be adjusted to a comfortable height so you’re not leaning too far. Your instructor can show you the best adjustments for your size.
Wear supportive shoes – thin pumps are no good for standing tracks…the pedals will dig into your feet making it harder than it needs to be!
Consider a saddle cover – particularly if you’re going to attend regular classes. Not being used to sitting in a saddle like that can lead to a very uncomfortable day ahead!
Stay hydrated – you’ll sweat plenty, and if you’re not used to such intense cardio you can quickly feel the effects! Make sure you take constant sips of water between tracks, and always slow down if you need to.
Stick it out!! – I’m pretty sure I was seeing stars around half way through my first class last week, and vowed to stay as far away as bikes as possible. Lo and behold, 2 days later I found myself back in the saddle (excuse the pun). It’s a killer workout but you’ll reap the benefits in fitness, and maybe one day you’ll even find yourself looking forward to that next torturous session 😉