Updated: June 4, 2015
What is spinning? Spinning ClassesMost health clubs these days offer spinning and cycling classes. But what is spinning? Think of it as an aerobics class set to music, with participants riding specialized "spinning" exercise bikes. Spinning started in California in the late 80s and early 90s, but it has really become a popular form of exercise over the last 10 years. Unlike a regular exercise bike workout, spinning involves a variety of movements and speeds, with spinners sometimes standing on the pedals and other times sitting like normal, somtimes pedaling at top speed and other times recovering at a slower pace. And unlike most modern exercise bikes, a spinner has a large flywheel front wheel, meaning there is real momentum and resistance. When done correctly, spinning burns a lot of calories - up to 450-500 for a 45 minutes workout. Most spinning workout average 45-60 minutes, with movements synchronized to the music soundtrack that sets the pace. One nice thing about spinning classes is that anyone can do them -- if you get tired, you simply lessen the resistance on your bike and reduce your pedaling speed.
Best Spinning Workouts - Cycling for lean muscles!
Spinning is best for toning your front and outer thigh muscles, not so great for the glutes and hamstrings, so you'll want to do some other lower body workouts as well. But spinning classes are a great addition to your cardio routine, offering less impact and stress than jogging or treadmill workouts. Your local gym probably offers spinning classes. Make sure you ask for some help during your first class -- your instructor can help you adjust your spinner bike, for example, which is very important. You'll want the seat height set so that your knees are just slightly bent at the bottom of the downward pedal movement. If you find your knees hurt, try raising the seat slightly, and lower it if your crotch or lower back is uncomfortable. Spinner bikes also let you move the seat forward and backward, not just up and down. You should be able to reach the handlebars with your elbows slightly bent -- adjust the seat accordingly. For beginners, you normally have the handlebars a little higher than the seat as you learn to balance and move on the bike -- over time, the handlebars should be about in line with the seat height. If you get tingling or numbness in your hands, try raising the handlebars slightly. You'll definitely want a water bottle on hand for 45+ minute workouts, a good towel, and padded cycling shorts are popular as well.
Once you get going, you'll find there are 5 main spinning movements or positions. As we said, spinning classes involve both standing and seated positions. The first is the seated flat position, which is just a normal biking postion, hands in front of you, seated flat on the seat. Next is the standing flat where you stand on the pedals and essentially "run". Then come the seated and standing climb positions, with increased wheel tension and in the standing position, a hunched over position and extended hand grip. Finally you have the jumps, which involves controlled movements from sitting to standing and back to sitting, over and over. You'll learn all these moves during your first spinning workout. Keep an eye on the other spinners around you for tips on how to move -- that's a nice feature about being in a class, is that you are in a big motivated group all working together to burn calories and get fit! For more information on how spinning classes work and where to find a spinning class near you, visit Spinning.com. If you are interested in buying your own spinning cycle, check out the Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II Exercise Bike at Amazon.com for $649 or the Schwinn IC Elite Indoor Cycling Bike for $1100, both of which are good solidly built bikes that get good reviews from customers. You can browse all the spinning bikes online here.