As long as I can remember, I was into fitness. I was an active child, athletic and competitive, always trying new sports. Even as a teenager, I loved lifting weights, trying challenging workouts and pushing myself physically. I remember when I was about 17 years old, I read a small blurb in a fitness magazine that talked about this workout called Spinning. It mentioned that it was a major calorie burner (somewhere near 600 calories per hour, if I remember correctly), and that it was a great workout. "What is this Spinning thing," I wondered. Whatever it was, I was definitely going to try it.
By the time I moved away to college a few months later, I got my wish. Not wanting to gain the notorious freshman 15, while trying to maintain a good level of fitness (without the aid of the after-school sports practices I was accustomed to), I started going to the university rec center and tried Spinning for the first time.
That magazine was right. It was intense and challenging. But they didn't tell me that I'd be so sore for a few days (from sitting on that rock hard seat known as the "saddle") that I'd barely be able to sit on my cushioned desk chair in my dorm room—ouch! Despite the challenge (and the discomfort), I made it to Spinning class three times a week and I was hooked. Fast forward a few years later, and I became a certified Spinning instructor myself so that I could share my love of Spinning with others.
I believe that Spinning, which is an indoor group cycling class, is something that people of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from—I've seen it myself and in my students. If you think Spinning isn't for you or tried it and didn't like it, here are 6 reasons to try Spinning that will change your mind.
Burn More Calories: I may be into fitness, but like everyone else, I have trouble motivating myself. Gone are the years when I lived for pushing my body to the limits. If I have the choice now, I'm most likely to choose light, comfortable or moderate exercise vs. challenging myself. If I head toward the cardio machines at the gym, I'm more likely to breeze through a so-so workout wishing I were doing something else. That is why I love Spinning so much: It makes me push myself. If I were left to my own devices, sure I'd work out; but I'd go easier on myself and put less time in. Spinning classes help motivate me to work harder and get a better workout (which means better results and higher calorie burn) than I know I'd do on my own. If motivation is an issue for you, or you'd rather walk when running starts to feel tiring (I'm right there with you!), then Spinning class could be just the ticket you need.
Give Your Joints a Break: Spinning is a low-impact cardio exercise, which means it's easier on your joints, including your knees and ankles, than many other forms of cardio. Many people who are rehabilitating injuries or recovering from surgeries are advised to try low-impact forms of exercise (like biking or Spinning) in lieu of jarring activities like running. If you have an upper body injury, you can still ride the bike and get a good workout. Even if you don't have joint issues now, it's a good idea to alternate your high-impact exercises with some low- and no-impact exercises like Spinning to avoid overuse injuries and give those vulnerable joints a break every so often.
Stay in Control: How many group workouts have you ever tried that can easily seamlessly accommodate beginners, people with injuries, hardcore exercisers, young and old, and advanced exercisers in a single room? Not many, I'm sure. That is the beauty of Spinning: It's something everyone can do. You should think of your Spinning instructor as a friendly guide for your workout. He or she usually has a general plan in terms of movements, intensity changes and pace, but really, YOU are the one in control. You decide how much resistance to add, how fast to pedal, and how hard to work. This means that people of all fitness levels can take the same class and all get a great workout. I always encourage my students to listen to their bodies, monitor how they're feeling, and to go easier or harder than I dictate, if they choose. My classes have included teens, seniors, beginners, triathletes, people with joint injuries, runners whose doctors told them to lay off the running for a while—you name it. We're all there and we're all getting a great workout!
Enjoy the Great Indoors: Many people love biking—and the benefits it provides as a great cardio workout with low-impact on the joints—but don't love biking in traffic on the streets. Spinning will provide the same benefits without the uneasiness of cycling in a high-traffic area that's unfriendly to bikes. If seasonal allergies or extreme weather (too hot or too cold) forces you to take your outdoor workouts inside, Spinning is a great alternative.
It Doesn't Cost Much: Many fitness trends and classes cost a pretty penny. Spinning has been around a while and at most gyms, classes like Spinning are included in your membership fees. If your gym doesn't have Spinning (or you'd like to try it), most locations will allow you to try a class for free. Spinning.com also includes a directory of gyms that offer free class passes. (Be aware that not every gym is part of this database; call a gym near you to ask if they offer a free class.) If you commit to Spinning or join a gym that has it, you don't need any special equipment or attire to get started. Sure, a padded gel seat ($15) might ease the discomfort you feel in the beginning (yes, it does pass with time), and cycling shoes ($80 and up) could help you get more out of your workout, but you really don't need anything except a water bottle.
Feel the Energy: I always say that people either love Spinning or hate it. When you're at a class, chances are that everyone there loves it (otherwise, they wouldn't be there). That creates a positive, high-energy atmosphere that can motivate you to push yourself and make you feel good about working out. It makes the whole workout experience more fun—and helps you feel connected with the people around you, like you're all in it together. Sometimes, when I'm taking a class, I challenge myself to match the pace of the instructor—or another student—for a little friendly competition that only I know about. But at the same time, Spinning is non-competitive. You don't have to feel self-conscious for "modifying" the workout—probably no one even notices if you're going slower or choose to sit instead of standing. And if anything, they're secretly rooting you on. Look around at all the different people who are all there for the same reason, and you can harness that energy for a great workout that you can feel good about!
If I haven't convinced you to try a class yet, read What to Expect from a Spinning Class for more info or join the Spinning Enthusiasts SparkTeam to ask questions and get tips. It might take more than one try before you can really decide if Spinning is right for you, so I always recommend trying something at least 3-5 times before you give up on it.
Have you tried Spinning? If so, what do you think about it? If not, are you willing to give it a chance now?