Go for a Spin

If you’re in the market for a challenging workout, or a cyclist looking for a way to escape Mother Nature’s bad days, indoor cycling may be for you.

Group indoor cycling, or “spinning,” is a fast-paced workout on a stationary bike led by a fitness instructor. This popular fitness trend has stood the test of time; indoor cycling has been around for over 30 years. Spinning classes are available at nearly every gym that offers group fitness, and studios dedicated to indoor cycling are popping up across the country.

Is this fitness phenomenon for you? Here’s what you need to know before you hop on a bike.

Indoor Cycling Basics

Indoor cycling classes are intense, and challenge even hardcore fitness buffs. The workout leaves your heart pumping, legs burning and body dripping with sweat. In a 45 minute class, you’ll burn anywhere from 350 to over 600 calories, depending on your build and how hard you work.

If you’re a fitness newbie, though, don’t let the high intensity of group cycling scare you off. Many gyms offer beginner cycling classes. Keep in mind, too, that you control the speed of your pedal stroke and the resistance on your bike, so you can back off whenever you need a break. Cycling is also non-impact, meaning it won’t harm your knees or other joints.

What to Expect in Class

Most indoor cycling classes last between 45 and 60 minutes, but they can be shorter or longer. Your instructor may dim the lights and crank up the music to create a fun atmosphere. In some classes, a large screen displays a video of a bike course to simulate the feeling of riding on the road.

First, you’ll pedal slowly to warm-up. After that, most of the class will likely be in an interval format. Your instructor will yell out commands or give cues so you know when to switch up your workout. You’ll be asked to pick up or slow down the pace, adjust your resistance (to make it feel like you’re climbing a hill) or come out of the saddle and pedal while standing. You’ll end with a cool-down and stretching session.

Tips for a Smooth Ride

· Tell the instructor before class starts if you are new to cycling. He or she will help you set up your bike, give you tips on technique and summarize what to expect during class.

· Wear proper shoes. Any pair of athletic shoes will work. You can strap your feet into the pedals so you won’t slip mid-ride. If you have special shoes you clip to your road bike, they may also fit certain spinning bikes.

· Invest in bike shorts. Choose a padded pair to reduce the chance of chafing or discomfort during your ride.

· Bring a water bottle. You will sweat a lot during a group cycling class. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout will help you stay properly hydrated.

· Don’t forget a hand towel. Use a hand towel to dry your face or hands throughout the ride and keep yourself more comfortable.

· Consider investing in your own indoor exercise bike to get a great workout in the comfort of your living room.

Have you tried indoor cycling? I remember the first time I took a class. I was expecting an easy ride, but I got an exhilarating — and exhausting — workout!

Sources:

http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2581

http://bicycling.about.com/od/trainingandfitness/gr/spinning.htm

http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/Spin_Your_Way_to_Winter_Fitness.htm

http://north-carolina.flywheelsports.com/why-flywheel

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