A New Spin on Cycling


Today’s spin
class is very different than the days
when you tooled around on a stationary bike thumbing
 through a magazine or watching TV. Now you’re riding an imaginary road with a bunch of other members exercising to some awesome tunes and sometimes checking out visuals, too. New class options allow spinners to pedal to Tour de France videos on an overhead screen or to a live DJ scratching out beats – a popular choice at Pure Austin. Other Austin-area gyms offer alternatives like this as well. Each cyclist may have a different goal for attending a spin class, but everyone is on the same ride and each rider feeds off a common goal to get fit.

There are many benefits of indoor cycling classes, and, contrary to what many spin-class newcomers think, you don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to participate. Some people who haven’t been on a real bike in years or have observed a class and seen a lot of sweat might be intimidated. But it’s important to understand that, unlike other group exercise classes, there really 
isn’t a coordination issue and you set 
the level of difficulty. Each rider determines the amount of tension on the bike; you can make it as tough or as easy a ride as you like. The only thing any one else can tell is how much you are sweating. (Sometimes the people most in shape sweat the most.) With the instructor’s help, you’ll get your bike set up just right for your height and reach. Cycling shorts help make the experience much more comfortable, as do a water bottle and a towel. You’re now ready for the best non-impact cardiovascular activity on the planet.

Almost anyone can benefit from indoor cycling. No matter your age or fitness level, you’ll fit in and be able to adapt the workout as you see fit. The non-impact aspect of spinning is really appealing to those who want to avoid stress on their joints. You’ll burn a lot of calories – an average of 500 calories in a 45-minute class – and spinning works a variety of lower- body muscle groups including your calves, hamstrings, gluts and quadriceps. If you’re in to any sport, these classes will provide a positive cross-benefit.

Indoor cycling covers both aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. If you enjoy sports that require prolonged endurance such as running, skiing, cycling and hiking, you’ll get plenty of sustained aerobic activity during the classes. If you’re in to intense- movement sports such as soccer, lifting weights, tennis and basketball, you’ll also get plenty of anaerobic training. Spin class may even help with your golf game.

Winter is here, but that’s no excuse for giving up on a great workout. Building a strong cardiovascular base doesn’t have to be done outside or in a boring way. Try different classes, including a spin class. You’ll be surprised at how different they can be. And once you get hooked, pick up some cycling shoes and a jersey, and really get in to it!