Spin classes are often tucked away, toward the back of a gym. This lack of visibility, coupled with the dim lighting, increases the mystery of an indoor cycling class. The mystery is one to crack open, though, as the benefits of this group exercise class are not to be missed. You'll improve your heart and lung health and burn calories as you pedal intensely through a visual world created by your instructor.
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The spin instructor can make or break your exercise class. The instructor will show you how to set up your spin bike so you are comfortable and will avoid injuries. She is there to motivate you past where you think you can go, but keep your intensity at a safe level by giving you the opportunity to do a heart-rate check. Your instructor provides visual cues to guide you on your indoor ride. These visualizations keep you focused in the moment so you get the most out of your workout.
The first thing you notice are the rows of spin bikes. The bikes are sleeker than a regular exercise bike and have fast-moving flywheels on the fronts. On the bikes, you will see a place for your water bottle. Water is very important during your spin class. The lights are usually turned low to help you concentrate on the ride, and the music is usually turned up to motivate your workout. The cycle room probably has fans to keep the temperature comfortable. Some participants bring their own gel seats to make the saddle more comfortable. You may want to do this, or wear padded shorts to prevent chaffing.
Once you meet your instructor and set up your bike, you are ready for the workout. After a five- to 10-minute warm-up of a flat-road pedal, expect to continue your ride along flat roads with a light resistance or to cycle up hills with your resistance at a tension that feels heavy. During the climb, you are seated or standing. You use a variety of cadences, from a steady-paced flat road to a fast-paced sprint. Along your ride, you jump by standing in and out of the saddle. Your instructor may also ask you to hover, which is a forward-leaning out-of-the-saddle position in which your hips are pushed toward the back of the bike. Cycling classes last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. As a beginner, you start with the shorter duration and gradually increase your workout time.
Expect to sweat during your spin class. Sweating means your workout intensity is high enough to improve your cardiovascular system. You also burn calories to fuel your workout. The creators of the spin bikes at Spinning.com report a calorie-burning benefit of 400 to 600 calories during a 40-minute spin class. The spin workout also improves the strength of your legs when you increase the resistance and climb hills. (Ref. 1) At the end of class, your instructor guides you through a cool-down and stretching exercises to improve your flexibility.