The lights are down, the music is pumping and you’re sweating profusely. Spinning (or, indoor cycling) is still as popular today as it was when it first became mainstream in the 1990s.
It’s almost impossible to not come across a spin class at your gym – its reputation has been bolstered by fitness professionals and advocates alike (you’ll probably know someone who swears by it).
Should you buy into the hype? Well… yes!
There are vast benefits to be had, and if you’re looking for something a little different, then spinning might be for you.
With this in mind, here are seven reasons you should get spinning – compiled by DW’s resident fitness expert and personal trainer Carly Tierney, we have all you need to get pedalling.
1. Smells like team spirit
One of the best things about spinning is that it’s really geared toward group motivation. You’ll most likely be in large classes and, with the music blasting, you can feed off the energy in the room and really push yourself.
You’ll be part of a real community. A genuine sense of camaraderie and being ‘in-it-together’ makes this gruelling exercise routine worth it – you’re all on the same team and you will be motivated by someone on your right and left.
Depending on your nature, this team spirit can be turned into some healthy competition. Within the bounds of reason and your particular fitness level, you can partner up with a friend and challenge each other.
A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that a hearty dose of competition is an excellent way to squeeze the best from a workout, as it forces you to raise the bar to match the person next to you. Remember your limits, and enjoy it.
2. Spin classes = great tunes!
Spinning instructors insist on filling the room with pounding beats of almost any genre you can think of.
There are even spinning classes with musical themes, each creating a different vibe to help push your workout further. Not a fan of electro? Never fear, there will most likely be something for everyone – you can find a class leader who shares your taste.
It’s often compared to the environment of a nightclub, as you tap into the communal energy and move to the rhythm of the music (there’s far less chance of a hangover here, though!)
Carly explained how the combination of pounding music and lights-turned-low can benefit you.
“The theory is that spinning in the dark with the music pumping helps you to concentrate and distracts you from the fact that you’re actually on a stationary bike going nowhere fast.
“It’s also useful for when the cycling gets tough and you don’t want anyone checking out your exercise face!”
Often find yourself blowing hair from your face with a determined, sweaty scowl? In a spin class you can unleash a grimace that befits the most gruelling workout, and nobody will know…
3. Don’t fancy road cycling? Sign up for a spin class
If you’re not completely confident on the road but want to benefit from all that cycling offers, then a spin class should be right up your street. It’s more of a communal activity than road cycling, and from a convenience point of view, it’s great.
Spinning provides complete flexibility and simulates the riding experience; you’ll go through hill intervals to mimic the rigors of outdoor cycling, sprints to recreate the adrenaline rush of a lung-bursting finish, and warm-down sessions as your ride comes to an end.
You’ll also get a few more benefits with spinning. On spinning bikes, the freewheel weighs around 30-40 pounds. This is the reason why your wheel keeps turning even after your legs stop.
In an effort to slow down, our hamstrings will react to this additional circular motion by contracting at the top of the motion. This results in an ‘eccentric motion’, meaning that your hamstrings work harder.
A great option for those who are looking to pep up their “Leg Day”.
4. It’s a low-impact exercise – great for recovering after an injury
With a low-impact activity like spinning, you can engage in some light-to-moderate exercise without putting your joints under too much strain
If you have a niggling injury that keeps rearing its ugly head, then head to a spin class. Your workout can be as gentle or intense as you like, preparing you for more rigorous exertion as you recover.
Spinning takes you off your feet, giving you a great lower-body workout without exposing you to too much contact with the ground. You’ll safeguard yourself from more damage while giving yourself a stellar cardiovascular workout.
5. Spinning is for everyone – no matter what ability
It’s one of the most all-inclusive fitness activities you can do. Whether you’re a seasoned regular or you’re yet to strap in, each spinning bike has variable settings to suit you. Speed, resistance and hill inclines – the class is set up to help you hit your individual goals.
This is what makes spinning great. In a room full of fitness enthusiasts, you can have a mixture of abilities all motivating each other. The regulars are often happy to lend a hand to someone new (fixing your bike into the correct position for the first time can be tricky).
Carly had some encouraging words of advice for anyone thinking about joining a spin class.
“Spinning is fantastic for all ages, levels and abilities. You can go at your own pace and classes and instructors are generally friendly and welcoming.
“It’s a fun workout and you’ll leave feeling euphoric.
“I’d say that you should maybe turn up five minutes early to let the instructor know you’re new and to ensure that you have time to adjust the bike so it’s comfortable and suits your body.”
If you’re feeling a little intimidated at the prospect of a spin class, then know that there are others in the same boat (or bike, we should say). With a fitness professional at the helm, there’ll be plenty of help at hand if needed.
6. Conquer stress with spinning
Spinning is a proven stress-buster, and while that can be said for a whole range of cardiovascular workouts, a spin class is particularly beneficial. It’s shaped by social interaction and, unlike other activities, can help you meet new people.
It can help a range of ailments. If you feel like you’ve gone a while without proper social interaction, then signing up to a spin class can lift your mood. After a gruelling session, you’ll leave the class feeling invigorated and wanting more.
7. Pedal your way to a slimmer, more toned body…
Spinning is renowned for being an intense cardio workout that targets the lower body. But did you know that it’s also great for your core?
Carly advised us on the correct spinning form. Ensure that you’re performing the movements as described and watch your body transform. There are three variants of good spinning form.
“The first position would be sitting in the saddle, just riding as you’re seated. The second position is when you stand upright and, the third position is when you actually bend forwards and reach out over the handlebars. This activates your core muscles.”
Of course, there will be a professional leading the classes so any bad habits won’t go unnoticed. Most instructors will use all three positions and might even throw in some extra movements – such as handlebar push ups – to give you a unique full-body workout.
Fuel up – what to eat before a spin class
Like anything in health and fitness, you need to maintain balance. To attain that goal physique, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your spin classes with the proper food.
Wondering what you should eat before and after the class? Carly provided some expert, tailored-to-spinning nutrition tips.
“A carbohydrate-rich meal such as rice, chicken and broccoli is ideal around an hour to an hour and a half pre-workout. The chicken provides protein to optimise muscle recovery.
“If you’re short on time, a snack such as a banana and some almond butter is great. The almond butter will provide both energy from the fat, and recovery from the protein.
“Other good foods to fuel spinning could be egg on toast, dried fruit and protein shakes (amazing for convenience and a post-workout snack).”
With the above knowledge in tow, and a few spin classes incorporated into a comprehensive health and fitness regime, you can hit your fitness goals and have a great time while you’re at it.