View Full Version : Spinning Newbie

10-24-2006, 07:04 PM
I'm thinking of doing some spin classes at my gym at work, but I have no idea what to expect.

I've gone in there when there isn't a class and tried out the bike, so I know enough to not expect it to feel like riding my bike outside.

What are the classes like? Why don't the bikes have a cadence monitor? Do I need to bring in my HRM?

I just don't want to be the idiot who has no clue the first time I go to a class:)


10-25-2006, 03:39 AM
First thing to remember - nobody will be watching you. They'll be too busy watching themselves in the mirror (if there is one) or sweating.

You can bring a heart rate monitor if you like. You might want to arrive a little early & tell the instructor that you are new so she can show you the basic moves and help you get situated on your bike. You control your ride with the resistance knob. It's just like riding outside - less resistance = higher cadence. When you get out of the saddle to stand or climb, be sure you have a fair amount of resistance to hold you up. You don't want to tweak your knee or your back.

10-25-2006, 06:12 AM
I understand your concerns about being a newbie, but you'll find that spinning is pretty straightforward. Just a few suggestions that my instructors try to drill into our head: Keep you shoulders relaxed and "out of your ears." Try to keep you foot flat through the entire pedal stroke. When you come out of your saddle to climb, try to keep you butt over your saddle and bend at the waist (keeping a flat back) so that your nose is almost touching your handlebars. My instructors sometimes specifically tell us to get in that position to isolate our leg muscles, but I've also read that it will better help develop the butt muscles that you use when climbing (both seated and standing) outside. When you're spinning at a high cadence, try to tighten your core.

I typically wear my bike shorts for comfort. I also wear my gloves because the nerves in my hand are easily irritated. That, and my hands get really sweaty. You don't have to use such things, however.

Do you know what kind of pedals the bikes have? If they're like the ones at my gym, they're "two-sided." One side has clipless pedals, the other has toe cages. The clipless pedals at my gym are really hard to get in and out of so half the time I have my cycling shoes on but just use the toe cages. I'd say more people than not just wear tennis shoes.

I, too, would recommend getting there a little early--not just the first time but thereafter as well. It's nice to have enough time to set the bike up correctly and to get warmed up.

Some classes and/or instructors are easier than others. No matter what, just go at your own pace. The instructors are there to guide you, but at the end of the day, it's your workout. If you start to feel overtaxed or something starts to hurt (in a bad way), back of the cadence and/or resistance. Be sure to drink plenty of water. I also like to eat a small snack about an half-hour before class.

It's a great workout. I'm not a "gym" person, but I love the intensity of spinning and it's really helped my road riding. And I don't know why the bikes don't have a cadence monitor on them. I've wondered that same thing. Finally, while you don't have to have an HR monitor, I think its a helpful training tool. I don't wear one but would like to invest in one soon. My instructors swear by them.

Have fun.


10-25-2006, 06:28 AM
Not to threadjack, but is it better/more beneficial to have a spin instructor who also does outdoor cycling?

10-25-2006, 11:16 AM
Personally, i think it is better when the spin instructor has actually biked outside since they were 12 years old. This is a big debate amongst instructors. Good athletes dont necessarily make good coaches and can someone who hasn't biked much really coach biking sort of arguments...

I teach mtb, and i race mtb, and road ride for cross training. I have been coached and i have been told that my teaching has definitely improved with ever experience I have. (i.e from starting to race, to now). So i think the more experience an instructor has with ENDURANCE training the better an instructor they can be for spinning. I don't htink a low impact group fitness instructor can effective train spinning for a performance oriented group, but maybe more for a general fitness group. Does that make sense?

this is my opnion ONLY, and i know many disagree.

Not to threadjack, but is it better/more beneficial to have a spin instructor who also does outdoor cycling?

10-26-2006, 06:59 PM
Hey thanks for the responses.

I did go to my first spin class today and I survived! Though barely... I'm wondering, is my heart rate supposed to be over 80 percent max. for 45 minutes straight? I would never keep my HR that high for that long on a regular outdoor ride.


10-27-2006, 08:27 AM
my observations on this are that its a function of goals and objectives... I just got in shape this year so I am no expert but have been learning a lot. When I started 10 miles seemed like a big deal. Now I am hoping to prep for a century and triathlon in 07.

I think spinning is like cycling but not quite the same, and just that little variation is enough to make you doubt what you thought you knew about your fitness. This is why in my own little fitness journey I have not only decided to cross train, but every few weeks do one completely different activity. It doesn't have to become something I do regularly, but the idea is to surprise myself somehow. For example, I can be riding outside 3-4x a week for 30+ miles, but go to a spin class and feel like I am going to keel over as it is a constant effort, no stopsigns or downhills or roadside country stores.

Or be going to spin 3x a week and go for one 30 mile ride and feel very sore after - "what is this balancing thing I must do???".

The upshot is my body pretty quickly adapts to whatever my routine is, so I can't stay in one routine and expect overall progress. I think this is why most exercise programs I've been looking thru change something in the focus every three weeks or so.

That said, if and when I am prepping for a specific event, the last few weeks/months depending on the nature and duration of the event, I would try to be goal specific. After all, if you want to do that one thing well, then you have to do that one thing a lot (practice).

For me, my offseason unofficially started end of Sept, and starts in earnest Monday as I have my last 'prepared' event for 06 Sunday, so I will feel free after to try things for the next few months when I will be predominently in spin routine.

pe to be b

10-27-2006, 09:14 AM
Cool. Thanks Ty. I was feeling very out of shape suddenly and wondering whether it's possible to lose all fitness in the matter of a few weeks of not riding as much. This is very encouraging!

10-27-2006, 10:58 AM
Don't worry, you haven't! Have fun challenging yourself at spinning!

10-27-2006, 07:17 PM
Spinning is a great way to train in the upper aerobic/anaerobic zones because it can be a good interval workout to help round out your training. That said, I second the opinion that a cyclist or at least someone with some endurance training makes the best instructor. The worst kind are those who treat it like any other cardio choreography class where you spend too much time standing, 'jumping', and overall not training your body to work efficiently on a bike. This irks me too because when would I ever want to stand under load for 5 minutes or more? I wouldn't. Even if I didn't have an ankle injury that makes me really not want to. I have gotten better at spinning faster in a seated position under the same resistance. The good thing about the classes is you can just sit or do your own thing (like not spin at 50rpm when the instructor tells you too--too slow for those knees!).

I recently got into cycling outdoors and I learned a lot of how to train by taking spin classes taught by a racer. Note he was also a good teacher. His 'endurance' classes bored some but I learned a lot (I was a sprinter in a previous life--I could get the intervals thing down). So I started doing longer endurance rides indoors. It's helped me on my new bike outside. So I think that while spinning IS different, it's a fun way to train if you get an instructor you like who plays music you like.

10-28-2006, 03:57 AM
The worst kind are those who treat it like any other cardio choreography class where you spend too much time standing, 'jumping', and overall not training your body to work efficiently on a bike. This irks me too because when would I ever want to stand under load for 5 minutes or more?

I don't. I replicate my road riding in spinning classes. So, often, I'm not doing what everybody else is doing.

10-29-2006, 11:44 AM
What was said about being a good teacher is absolsutely true. Just because someone is good at an activity, does not mean s/he will be a good teacher of the activity. When i taught high impact aerobics, my classes may not have been the fanciest or even the hardest, but they were safe and I think my "real" job as an educator helped me a great deal in teaching the steps to people and with just dealing with the clients. I feel the same way about leading bike rides. I may not be the fastest cyclist, but I can lead people and make it an enjoyable experience. And yes, a spin class led by a person who rides outside is really the best because it is focused on training for riding. But, I have had a few other instructors who are either runners or really good step instructors who have very good spin classes that appeal to all types of people. Yesterday, I went to my first spin class since April. It felt really hard, just like Tasha said. There's no coasting, easing up, stopping, unless you're one of those people who puts no resistance on the bike at all (and I still wonder why those people even come). The longer I exercise, the more important it becomes to vary what you do. My body just adapts too quickly if I only do one thing. I love riding the most, but I am trying to become a (very slow) runner. It's painful, but necessary or else I don't feel challenged.


10-30-2006, 12:18 PM
Well said. I was thinking about what some instructors have said to me in the past and I want to add a couple of things.

1. There are instructors who are basically poor group fitness instructors who just wind up frustrating you with weird choreography (quick count jumps between seated, standing, and climbing positions, for example-- how can you figure out your pedal stroke, general form, or cadence?), where the best thing to do during those sets is your own thing as has already been said.

2. Then there are the spin instructors who kick your butt, incorporate a lot of anaerobic intervals and steep climbs, improving your power, recovery time, and strength, yet also being very hard on your body. You walk out feeling beaten up, but you loved it (good teacher even if more drill sergeant).

3. The final group tend to be real road riders who may do an endurance ride or may do an intervals ride, focusing on HR zones and/or cadence, but you walk out ready to go another hour, feeling energized, limber, and not injured.

Good strength building and anaerobic training is useful, but I think the classes of that type should maybe follow a ride of the 3rd type or at least be not the dominant type of spin training you do. I think those lead to tendon, joint, or muscle problems if overdone. (The first group is nearly a waste of time, but at least you get to spend some 'me' time on the bike and can hopefully turn it into a decent workout.)

[There is a 4th group who is a better group fitness instructor than #1 but not a road rider and softer you than #2. There you can enjoy the good parts and ignore the stuff too much like a generic cardio class if you're not into those things--sometimes they help break up the boredom if done well with a better teacher.]

11-04-2006, 08:12 AM
3. The final group tend to be real road riders who may do an endurance ride or may do an intervals ride, focusing on HR zones and/or cadence, but you walk out ready to go another hour, feeling energized, limber, and not injured.

I finally experienced #3 this week! She was a sub from another gym, unfortunately, but it was the best Spinning class I've taken since I started riding road outside. My previous favorite instructor (who is on maternity leave) was a #2...maybe a #4...she is great and I can't wait to take her classes again because they were safe, fun and her personality can't be beat. I have just found that what I want out of a Spinning class has changed so very much since I started cycling outside. I have much less tolerance for the choreography (jumps, etc.) and just want a good solid training ride that will improve my skills on the road.

I was certified recently by Mad Dogg (Spinning) and I've been struggling with what kind of style I would take on as an instructor when I decide to start teaching. After taking this class taught by a cyclist this week, I think I can finally move forward and work on offering a class that will really help improve people's skills. She offered to take me to some other classes taught by cyclists, so I'm excited to get moving on this again!

11-10-2006, 07:20 AM
Thanks for such a great detailed response Indysteel

I am starting my first spin class next week and was wondering about all the questions you answered.