Spinning is one of those exercise classes which inspires dread and the response “I couldn’t do that.” I used to think I was far too unfit and poor at cardio to attempt spinning but once I tried it, I realised that it is possible, whatever your fitness level. I wanted to write some tips which might encourage you to try your first spin class!
1. Don’t be scared!
When you first walk into a spin class, it will seem intimating, I’m not going to lie. I remember my first spin class where I was greeted with people in full-on Lycra, already warming up like they’ve been there for hours. Arrive early so you can choose where in the class you want to sit and get used to the bike. A water bottle is a must and a towel is also handy as it’s a sweaty class!
2. Ask your instructor how to set up your bike
If your bike isn’t set up correctly, the class will be so much harder as a result. Ask your instructor or a fellow class-goer to help set up your bike – the moment of embarrassment will mean you get much more out of the class. As a general rule of thumb, make sure your leg extends to a slightly bent knee at the lowest point when you pedal and ensure the handlebars are aprroximately the same height as your seat.
3. Pace is king
Personally, I find the hardest thing can often be keeping up with the speed of the instructor’s pace. I pay attention to the music and find the beat, then move my legs to the music. When you’re sprinting, point your toes forward to drive your legs faster. When you are ‘climbing’ and pedalling is harder, focus on the push and pull movement to drive your legs.
4. Don’t sweat about the resistance
As I’ve said, I prioritise pace and the key is to then build in the resistance. Spinning bikes are controlled by the amount of resistance you apply using a button on the bike – twisting clockwise increases the resistance, whereas twisting anti-clockwise reduces the resistance. During a class, the instructor may tell you to turn your resistance up by a certain amount of turns – but remember that you don’t have to do this! The key to spinning is to push yourself as much as YOU want to, so keep the pace and up the resistance as and when you feel you need to.
Les Mills’ indoor cycling classes, RPM, recommend that for your first class you complete the first four tracks then leave. You may not want to only complete half the class then leave but it actually makes a lot of sense. By completing four tracks and leaving on a high, you are more likely to come back and stay for longer next time, rather than going too hard and scaring yourself off the class for life. My only criticism of this is that there is therefore no cool down – so if you do leave, please remember to do some stretches!
A spin class is a fantastic workout, but I really don’t believe it’s a terrifying class that anyone should be too scared to try. Once you realise that you are in control of your effort level and can push yourself as much or as little as you like, spinning is a brilliant class to improve cardio, tone and get fit. I get a buzz from spinning unlike any other form of cardio but it’s all about taking that first step and getting on the bike!
Have you tried spinning? Do you have any tips?