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By: Zdenko Kahlina
My First Spin Class
Tonight I finally made it out to an indoor spinning session with Speed River Cycling Club. I was a little worried because I don’t have a stationary type bike trainer and I wasn’t sure how it would work out on rollers. I decided not to clip in… which turned out to be a good move since I did slip off the trainer 3 or 4 times.
There were a couple of disadvantages to using rollers but I would consider them pretty minor. The first thing was the open space in the gym meant nowhere to grab on to help you get on your bike and get going… or, if you wiped out! Fortunately there were a bunch of steps and skids lying around and one of them made a perfect platform for mounting and dismounting. Another disadvantage was that standing is not as effective… I tried, but rode off the rollers pretty fast…. so in the end I just ramped up the resistance and stayed in the saddle for all the standing intervals. The last thing was getting my towel caught in the spokes and getting ejected. (Unlike the stationary trainers, your front wheel spins the same as your rear on rollers) Overall though, things went well and I got a killer workout!
Our ‘instructor’ was a Sufferfest training video called Local Hero that included 85 minutes of various intervals set to footage from the UCI Road World Championships and various pro races. The structure of the intervals and the peer pressure from the other guys made this the best workout I’ve ever had on the bike trainer! Not a bad way to spend a snowy, -12 C Canadian evening.
What Happens in a Spinning Indoor Cycling Class?
Spinning classes or other indoor cycling workouts can be a great way to get in a vigorous workout — burning calories and keeping your muscles in shape — especially during the off-season. But you have to have a high tolerance for exercise bikes and being cooped up inside with a bunch of other sweaty people for this to be a satisfying alternative to the real thing.
- An effective workout
- Allows you to train in the off-season
- Varied routines keep things fresh
- Great for all ability levels
- You don’t have to wear your helmet
- You’re not on a real bike
- Classes can become monotonous
- You have to push yourself for maximum effect
- Indoor cycling classes are done in a fitness studio, with various light and music settings to create an energized atmosphere.
- Instructors guide participants through workout phases. Warm-up, steady uptempo cadences, sprints, climbs, cool-downs, etc.
- You control resistance on your bike to make the pedaling as easy or difficult as you choose. Constant adjustment is normal.
- All you’ll need is workout clothes, a towel (to wipe your face) and a water bottle.
- Stationary bikes have toe clips so you can wear tennis shoes. But many pedals also work with Shimano-style SPD cleats.
Guide Review – What Happens in a Spinning Class?
Imagine a whole bunch of exercise bikes lined up inside a health club studio. Riders are on each one, spinning the pedals at a rapid pace. The lights are turned down, pumped up music fills the air and an instructor with a headset sits atop a lead bike, calling out commands.
“Climb out of the saddle,” she barks at the class. “Big hill coming!”
The riders rise as one, pedals turning faster as they grimace with exertion, sweat dripping off their bodies.
What you’re witnessing is an indoor cycling class, a workout option available at fitness clubs everywhere. It is a relatively recent phenomenon, where participants take part in a group workout on exercise bikes that typically lasts anywhere from 30-75 minutes. The classes are lead by instructors who normally guide participants through a series of phases, from warm-up to more challenging phases, to a period of peak effort followed by a cool down.
In indoor cycling classes, including the popular Spinning® version of this training, the intensity of the workout is influenced by a couple of things:
- cadence, or pedal rate
- resistance of the bike’s flywheel, which can be continually adjusted throughout the class to make pedaling easier or more difficult
- by the rider’s body position, as they either pedal from a seated position or rise from the saddle.
What Is Group Ride?
Everyone finishes first in Group Ride! Pedal in groups, roll over hills, chase the pack, climb mountains, and spin your way to burning calories and strengthening your lower body. This 60-minute cycling program is geared for anyone that can ride a bike. Motivating music, awesome instructors, and an inspiring group environment lets you ride on!
Ultimately participants determine their own levels of exertion, something that works better for some folks than others. For instance, I personally find myself slacking from time to time in an indoor cycling class if I don’t stay focused. I know that I do better when I’m being pushed, like when riding a real bike and the only option to hustling on a group ride is being dropped.
But a good instructor can certainly encourage and motivate you to push yourself, and you’ll most likely find an indoor cycling class on a stationary bike to be a vigorous workout. It’s a decent way to stay in shape when you can’t get outside on the road.
What Is Involved?
Group Ride uses cycling principles and matches speeds, positions, and resistance levels to music, creating a simple, fun, and effective way to cardio train in groups. The class is broken up into songs of different terrains, speeds, and intensity. One minute you will be climbing the Alps, the next minute you will be hanging onto the back of a peloton, just cruising … all to a jamming soundtrack.
Group Ride has very controlled speeds to ensure that everyone can “keep up.” As you gain confidence and increase your fitness level, you just keep cranking up the resistance.
Who Is Group Ride For?
Group Ride attracts many different users because of the ability to ride your own bike and control the gears. Group Ride is for anybody who wants to improve their cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, burn fat, shape and strengthen their lower body, and have fun doing it.
- New exercisers will be successful in Group Ride because of the simplicity, controlled speeds, and the ability to work as hard as you want.
- Group Ride is great for everyone, conditioned and deconditioned, experienced or new to cycling.
- Group Ride is a great cross-training option to add variety to any workout. Even avid cyclists are attracted to REVS as an indoor or off-season cycling option.
How Often Can You Do Group Ride?
Because Group Ride is a cardiovascular training class, you can do it once a week in addition to other workouts or you can do it most everyday. As a beginner to exercise you wouldn’t want to do too much too soon, but as your fitness level and recovery improve, you will be able to increase workout volume and intensity.
How Can You Expect To Feel?
It is perfectly normal to feel apprehensive and nervous before your first Group Ride class. Most of us do not like to be “new” at something. It is especially important in Group Ride to acknowledge that you may feel uncomfortable in your first class. Learning the feel of the bike seat and how to “ride” your bike will take some time. Once your apprehension fades and you become comfortable with the class, you will discover that Group Ride is a fun and addictive workout.
During the Class
Time will fly. You might have mixed emotions. You will probably be excited and apprehensive at the same time. Just go with it. Remind yourself that you are new and that you have to start somewhere. It might seem like the class is moving a little faster than you would like, but that is only because the terminology and movements are somewhat unfamiliar. In addition, your rear end may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but you will adapt. With each class, you will become a little bit more comfortable.
After the Class
You will be excited to get your first class under your belt. It is important to know that you will be sore. With any new workout or at the start of any exercise program, you experience muscle soreness. This is because your body is adjusting to the demand being placed on your muscles and is perfectly normal.
What To Wear
The most important thing to wear is appropriate cycling attire. It is well worth it to invest in a pair of cycling shorts. Cycling shorts are padded and give a little extra comfort where needed. These shorts can be paired with a top in which you can sweat. You perspire a lot in Group Ride! Once individuals are hooked on Group Ride, they often choose to buy cycling shoes. These are not necessary for the workout and are a matter of preference. We advise that you wait until you see how much you like the program before investing in cycling shoes. Regular workout shoes are fine to wear.
What To Bring
Bring your energy, a towel and a large water bottle. Hydration is extremely important in REVS.
It is important to arrive 15 minutes before class to meet the instructor. During these 15 minutes, the instructor will ensure that you are comfortable during your first class and answer any questions you may have. The instructor will ask you such questions as:
- Have you ever exercised?
- Have you ever participated in group fitness?
- Have you ever participated in group cycling?
- Do you have any injuries or problems that might affect your ability to participate?
Arriving 15 minutes before your first cycling class is also very important so that the instructor can show you how to set up your bike correctly.
Where To Position Your Bike
The best bike position is within clear view of the instructor. It is not necessary to be at the front, but try to be in the center of the room.
How To Approach Your First 3 Classes
It is good to attend your first couple of classes with the simple objective of learning how to “ride” your bike, the class format and the basic terminology used. Try not to concentrate so much on the quality of your workout; that will come later as you become more familiar with cycling. Try to approach the class thinking more about how to adjust the resistance and less about keeping up. Since cycling for the entire class during your first couple of classes can be quite challenging, please feel free to stop if you feel that you have had enough. However, if you stop, be sure to stretch thoroughly. Another option is to stay seated on your bike and pedal slowly to help in recovery. No one minds if you do this, and the instructor might even recommend it.
Talk To the Instructor
Remember to talk to the instructor after class. For example, let him or her know how you felt and if anything was particularly challenging for you. The instructor will then make recommendations for your next class. Most of all have fun during your first Group Ride experience!
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