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Spin Class Basics

Join a spin clas to stay strong on your bike


Spin Class Basics

Spinning is a challenge to everyone--from novice to professional cyclists.

lulumon athletica via Flickr

Justin Fuchs, owner of South Shore Bicycle and Fitness, located in Woodmere and Valley Stream, NY, likens a spinning class to "bringing an outdoor ride inside on a 50 pound flywheel.”

The certified spin instructor believes the best instructors teach at studios that specialize in spinning, but says that you can find good spin classes available at most gyms. While you can spin at home, Fuchs wouldn’t recommend that to a beginner.

Personally, Fuchs enjoys the spinning experience at a studio.

“There is something to be said for a good surround sound system and the energy of a group class,” he says.

The length of the ride varies by studio, but 45 - 60 minutes is typical. A spin room usually has bikes set up in rows facing the instructor’s bicycle. Some instructors stay on their bike the entire way, some hop on and off, and some stay off for most of the ride.

Who Can Participate?

Spin classes, especially High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes like the ones taught at Revolution Spin in Evanston, Illinois, quickly increase a cyclist’s stamina, speed and endurance.

“It's the equivalent of speed work and hill work for a runner, only about a million times more fun,” says Jason Bressler certified spin instructor and personal trainer.

The owner and lead instructor at Revolution Spin notes that any level cyclist can participate in a spin class.

“From the once a summer rider to the experienced triathlete or century rider, a spin class is a perfect class format to continue with,” he says.

Fuchs agrees, and notes that the beauty of spinning is that it is a challenge to everyone--from the most novice enthusiast to a professional cyclist, because the rider determines how hard his or her ride will be.

“As instructors, we motivate and create rides that simulate hills, jumps and flat roads, but if the rider isn’t following along with the teacher’s speed and resistance, he or she won’t get all of the benefits,” he says.

What To Bring

Participants should bring comfortable workout clothes and gym shoes--and if they have them--a pair of clip-in bike shoes, recommends Bressler. For classes that last longer than an hour in duration on the bike, padded bike shorts are also a good idea. Don't forget a water bottle if water isn't provided by the studio.

Fuchs encourages riders to wear a heart rate monitor and spin shoes. These special shoes help protect the rider’s feet, knees and hips. Because spin shoes lock in to the pedals, riders are automatically forced to maintain proper form on their lower half.

“Classifying a spin shoe is very important and I often have people come into South Shore Bicycle and Fitness having purchased spin shoes online, only to find out that the sole is too soft. It is important to have a shoe with a stiff sole for spinning,” he explains. “I also encourage a heart rate monitor in a spin class to make sure riders know where their heart rate is and do not overexert themselves. It’s very important to know where your heart rate is for safety reasons.”

‘Real Experience’

Before you sign up, you’ll want to make sure the instructor is certified to teach a spin class. Certification includes heart rate training, cadence training, proper fitting on a spin bike to minimize chance of injury, and CPR certification.

“Technically anyone can get certified, but I find that the best spin instructors have real experience. They know how it feels to climb a mountain by bike and can simulate something similar in the spin room,” concludes Fuchs.

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