This is kind of an update on spinning since I have previously blogged about the benefits. But now that I have been doing it regularly (twice a week for one hour) for over 18 months, I thought I’d tell you more about my experience.
Many people I talk to, who are not spinning, tell me they consider it a very hard exercise, and mostly they mean that they consider it too hard for them. Well, that is probably true – everything is hard when you start out! Let me assure you though that it is totally doable. I used to hate it, I felt so unfit and uncomfortable on that bike, and looking at everyone else in a spinning class I thought no way I belong here! But that is exactly the point – I wanted to belong! I wanted to feel and look like everyone else in that class! I wanted to be that fit and toned and sweaty and feel those vibes. Well, there is only one way to achieve that – jump in and start doing it.
I was hiding at the back, in the last row, in a corner when I decided to take the plunge. But let me assure you, when you start out in your first few spinning classes, nobody expects you to be at a “certain level”. The good thing about spinning is that you are in control of the “dial” (the little wheel or knob on the bike where you set the resistance). You go as hard as your level of fitness lets you. Nobody is going to check on you or ridicule you. It is up to you to get the most out of a spinning session.
Let your instructor know that you are just starting out and he will make sure to explain the right setup of the bike, which is really important, and guide you through the session. She or he will ask you if you have any niggles or pain so they can give you alternatives. A lot of people have lower back issues for example, so for them a higher armrest or less time out of the saddle is important.
I used to run quite a bit, but these days spinning has pretty much replaced my running. This is due to my dodgy right knee that just plays up when I run more than 5 km. That is the great thing about spinning – it’s very easy on your joints and I never feel my knees, no matter how hard I go.
As I have mentioned, I wasn’t a big fan of spinning at the beginning. It just seemed so hard. But how I have changed (note to self – stay open to new challenges)! It is one of my favourite workouts now that I never miss. The main reason is the vibe that I feel in those sessions – a group of people riding a bike, sweating it out to some great music, pushing themselves and each other to their limit. At the end of a 60 minute spinning session, I’m usually soaking wet (big puddles of sweat around my bike too!) and so super high on endorphins, there is no better feeling. You feel so accomplished and proud knowing that you gave it your all.
Of course, there is not just the addictive (being high on endorphins is just as addictive as opium) nature of spinning. There is also big physical impact: my fitness has improved heaps – my heart is stronger, I can push myself harder for longer. And then my legs and booty! The quads get nicely chiseled, the hamstrings get formed, the butt gets lifted and cellulite reduced.
I’d recommend spinning to anyone. A lot of people think of spinning as a cardio workout. But to be honest, for me it is not so much of a cardio workout anymore as I tend to push myself hard in terms of resistance. That means for most of the session I have my dial turned up high, so my quads, hamstrings and glutes need to work really hard to get those pedals moving. Of course, it is difficult to say how much of the definition I have developed in my legs and booty is due to spinning since I do a lot of other workouts as well (Muay Thai training, weight lifting – squats, lunges etc. – and hiit training), but I am sure that spinning is contributing its share. In my case, spinning accounts for between 25 and 40% of my weekly training volume.
One more thing – the quality of a spinning sessions depends a lot on the instructor. It’s not just the choice of music (you want to match the beat of the music to the required cadence on the bike), but the energy an instructor brings into the class that is really crucial. A good personal trainer can inspire you, get you to push hard(er), and to not give up too soon. They can bring amazing vibes and fun to the session. Have you watched Bridget Jones’ Diary Baby? I love that scene where the spinning instructor pulls out his water gun and splashes the class participants – it looks like so much fun! So if you’ve had a bad experience somewhere, give it a go in another class with another instructor. You may be surprised….. And as always – let me know how you went!