As you may know from reading some of my blog posts I really love running. Nothing too crazy, anything between 5 and 10 km makes me happy. It gives me the chance to be alone with my thoughts, to clear my head, to focus on myself, my rhythm, my breathing.
But, I have to admit that lately I have really enjoyed some spinning classes, to the point that I am hardly running at the moment as I cannot fit both into my week besides my circuit and muay thai training.
Now, similar to running, I used to not really like spinning (I didn’t want to use the word ‘dislike’ or ‘hate’ here). Probably because I used to find it really hard. But since my gym here has this awesome instructor I decided to give it a go – and now I love it!
It is hard at the beginning. Literally. The spinning bike saddle is not exactly comfortable, it’s narrow and hard. However, it makes hills and mountains climbs appealing as you get to get out of the saddle and stand in the pedals. And as with everything, you do get used to it.
For many, the first challenge in a spin class is to set up the bike right. Now you can ask your instructor of course to help you with that. Here are some hints:
- Standing next to the bike the saddle should be about hip height – i.e. when sitting in the saddle your leg should be almost stretched when the pedal is at its lowest point.
- The handle bars should be at the same height as the saddle – unless you have back issues or a weak lower back. In that case lift the handle bar above saddle height.
- And lastly, the distance between the saddle front and the handle bars should be approximately the length of your wrist to your elbow. Now you are ready to go.
The first class I took was hard. I couldn’t pedal as fast as the others and I suspect my dial was set lower than everybody else’s, but that’s the good thing about spinning. You can set the dial according to your level and gradually go harder, the fitter you get. But with everyone around you working hard and pushing themselves, and an instructor that tells you to go for it, I just work out so much harder than I ever would all by myself. And with music at bpms matching the cadence of your pedaling, you feel urged to stay in the rhythm and keep going, while your legs are burning and your heart seems to jump out of your chest.
In a 60 minute spinning class you can burn between 400 and 600 calories. And you use all of your leg muscles and core as you are stabilizing your upper body while your legs move – you should not be bouncing in your saddle. It also builds endurance and cardiovascular strength – as you can tell with your heart beating vigorously, your breathing hard and inability to speak. It’s also a great cardio workout for people who need to look after their joints as it is putting little strain on them – you can always do the whole workout in your saddle, you don’t have to get up to ‘attack’ a hill or mountain.
Since I’ve started doing spinning classes, once or twice a week, I have noticed an increase in my cardiovascular fitness. I can push myself harder now, I can go faster and my legs are stronger. I also noticed that my cellulite on the back of my legs has decreased, although this may also be partly due to countless squats and lunges. Cellulite gets reduced by decreasing the underlying fat stores (spinning) and replace lost muscle tissue (work the muscles).
Here’s a summary of the benefits of spinning:
- Burn serious calories
- Build endurance and cardiovascular strength
- Work at your own level (you set the dial – and nobody can tell what you set it on!)
- Enjoy the energy of the class and some great music
- Little strain on joints
- Shaping your legs
- Work the core
- Reduce cellulite
And I promise, it does get easier the more you do it. You may even get hooked like me!