These Spin tips will keep you sweating, smiling and secure knowing you’re doing it right.
First, here’s a little history on how Spinning was first created. Back in the ’90’s medical anchor, Ileana Bravo and I interviewed the founder of something people in Miami were talking about called “Spinning.” We produced a health segment for NBC Miami and interviewed the Founder of it. His name was Johnny G.
The TODAY SHOW picked up the Miami story and spinning spun off nationwide. Johnny G. wanted other people to be able to reach their champion within from anywhere the same way he desired to after being sidelined in a car accident.
The founder, Johnny G’s full name is Johnny Goldberg. He was a champion endurance bicycle racer. His passion to create a different type of indoor bike was ignited after he was hit by a car while training on his bike outdoors at night.
Following that accident, Johnny G. spent ten years developing the right type of indoor cycle that would feel like his real road bike.
The Spinner® bike officially launched in NYC in 1993 and was offered at Crunch Gyms.
Here’s what the bike looks like.
Spinning is still hotter than ever because of all of the above and more.
Now you know why it’s so popular with men and women. Here’s how to do it right.
Proper set-up and form helps you avoid injury and maximize all those health perks.
Everyone can benefit from a few expert tips. Numero Uno: Warm up.
Warm-up moves can help you burn more calories, reduce risk of injury, and improve your performance on the bike. Of course, certain warm-up moves will be more effective than others, so choosing well is important.
Your quadriceps — the large group of four muscles on the front of your thighs — drives the motion of spinning workouts, providing power to move the pedals. You can get your quadriceps ready for spinning with body-weight squats, light pedaling and the standing quadriceps stretch. To perform that stretch, stand with one hand leaning on a wall for support, and the other hand holding your foot to your buttocks so you are standing on one leg. Be sure to flex your knee completely when performing the standing quadriceps stretch to ensure you are fully stretching the muscle.
Your hamstrings are located on the back of your upper leg, and like the quadriceps, they are involved in every pedal stroke when spinning. An easy way to get your hamstrings ready for spinning is to bend over and touch your toes. You can also sit down and perform a sit-and-reach motion. According to a study from the February 2005 edition of the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” performing static stretches rather than dynamic moves is preferable for improving flexibility.
Your back muscles have to work hard to maintain proper posterior chain alignment and prevent you from slouching over when you ride. Thus, it’s important that you warm up your back muscles to prepare them for that work. You can stretch your back muscles in several ways, such as by lying on your back and pulling your knees to your chest, or doing the cat-cow stretch.
Although your shoulders don’t push the pedals, they do help support your upper body while you ride and assist in steering. Moves such as jumping jacks, arm circles, and extending your arms behind your back as far as you can will help you get your shoulders loose and ready for your spinning class.
The muscles of your calves are small, but they can produce a lot of power when cycling. Both squats and jumping jacks can help warm up your calves, but you may also wish to perform calf stretches while leaning against a wall. To do so, put both hands on a wall and lean into the wall, with one leg bent at the knee and one extended fully back.
Now that you’re warmed up, I spoke with Spin Instructor Pro, Julie Insogna to get more tips:
FIRST, TELL US WHEN AND WHY YOU GOT INTERESTED IN SPINNING?
During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I was living in Hoboken NJ without electricity for several days. It was such a depressing time to see so much of my community struggling with damage from the storm.
My sister convinced me to take a trip into NYC to take a spin class with her.
She had been begging me for years but I always said no as it sounded horrible to me! But I needed to do something to get me out of the house so I decided to go.
Within one minute of my first class I knew this was the perfect exercise for me!
The music, the lights, the control I had on how hard I could work (or not!), the energy from other people in the class, watching and following a bad ass instructor- and then there was the emotions of the ride- I could not believe there was a type of exercise out there that would make me FEEL emotional.
I will forever remember the playlist included a Whitney Houston song and I just cried eyes out because it had been such an awful week at home and I cried while spinning- I was sweating, crying and loving exertion single minute of it.
I knew in that very first class that I wanted to be an instructor and I wanted to try and give that kind of power and passion to others!
Many people do not realize that spinning truly is a full body workout.
The biggest benefit of spinning is the cardio workout- in 45 minutes you will experience optimum cardio exercise and burn maximum calories.
Instructors take riders on a fitness journey of intervals bringing your heart rate up until your breathless and back down to a moderate level.
Your lungs and your heart are getting the exercise they need!The best part is in addition to a getting a cardio workout your will tone and build muscle not only in your legs which is an obvious benefit but in your upper body and your abs as well.The variety of sprints and climbs and flat roads with an increased resistance will tone your entire body.Focusing on form and increasing your resistance from class to class and within song to song will absolutely build muscle, tone your body and increase your cardiovascular strength!
Absolutely always introduce yourself to your instructor and tell them it is your first class. This is an absolute must.
Instructors are trained to give advice to first time riders to keep them safe and also have them enjoy their first ride.Since spinning classes can often be very intense, an instructor can explain to the first time rider that they need to pace themselves during class.There may be modifications to the amount of resistance in a first class depending on the person’s fitness level. I always advise first time riders to pace themselves throughout their first class which is usually 45 minutes.New riders tend to go really hard for the first two songs and then feel burned out right away.The secret to success is pacing yourself through the first class. Focus on form, breathing and listening to the cues of the instructor.This will guarantee a safe first ride and one that makes you want to come back for more!
The second more important thing is proper bike fit. An instructor a studio employee should ALWAYS set up your bike on your first ride.
One of the biggest benefits of spinning is being low impact on your joints and especially your knees and it has a very low risk of injury but you have to have a proper fit on your bike.
Your legs need to have a slight bend at the knee and your arms need to be at safe distance to your handlebars.
Your back also needs to have proper form with a straight and not a curved spine.
All instructors are trained in bike fit so don’t guess- just ask for help!
Bring water and more water. You will sweat! A lot!
And you need to replenish with water during class. Instructors will always cue you to drink. Sweating all the toxins out is another giant benefit of spinning so replenish that fluid with some fresh hydrating water!
I have been teaching hundreds of classes over the past few years and the one thing I always see is people holding their breath when riding!
Exhale. Let your lungs get that oxygen in and out.Just like in all exercises breathing is key but in spinning it is even more important. Also, your first class maybe a little overwhelming. It goes by very fast.I always tell first time riders to take at least 2 classes in one week (3 is ideal).This will help you truly get in the mindset of how it all works.The muscle memory for the second class is key.I 100% guarantee after one or two classes, you will become addicted just like me and you will see your body change and you will feel so good with those endorphins flying after each class!
I co-own and teach at Prime Cycle in Hoboken NJ– I teach 6 classes a week- check out our website www.primecycle.com and all first time riders can ride for free!
Thank you, Julie Insogna!
NEXT, MORE GREAT SPIN TIPS BY DEB CHESLOW:
What to Wear in Spin Class
When you first start spin, you might want to wear padded cycle shorts as the saddle takes some getting used to.
Most spin classes have bikes with pedals that accommodate people in sneakers in addition to one or two types of cycle clips that attach to cycling shoes.
When we first started spin, we wore sneakers for a couple months before making the commitment to buy the shoes. In hindsight, we would have purchased those “spin shoes” much sooner, as you have so much more leverage and less wiggling when you’re clipped into the spin pedals. It also puts much less stress on your shins and toes!
How to Set Up Your Bike
Spin class bikes are not beach cruisers. You don’t want your knees crumpled; you don’t even want them at a 90-degree angle.
You want your knees to be slightly extended but not so much that you can’t put full pressure on the down stroke of your pedal.
Most spin enthusiasts also bring their bike handles up higher than they would a road or mountain bike to accommodate running out of the saddle (we’ll get to this in a minute).
And, make sure that you’re not reaching dramatically to those handlebars when you’re seated on the bike.
Everything is adjustable and this is where it’s most important that your spin instructor get you dialed in.
Spin is All About Tension and Tempo
Your spin instructor expects you to keep tempo with the song so that everyone in the class is on the correct “leg” for certain activities.
Tension knobs on the bike will take you from no tension to “drag” (where you begin to feel tension or “the road” as they call it) and subsequent turns up from there make the ride increasingly “steep.”
While no beginner in spin class is expected to keep high tempo AND tension like the advanced riders are accustomed to, you want to work your way into higher tension as it burns more fat and enhances your cardio workout.
Initially, though, just focus on the tempo, right, left, right left, right left, march!
About Jogging, Sprinting and Running Out of the Saddle in Spin Class
Spin usually requires seated climbs and runs as well as “running out of the saddle” where you’re actually jogging or sprinting while standing above the saddle of the bike.
For beginners, the runs out of the saddle can be too demanding.
DON’T LET PEER PRESSURE CONVINCE YOU TO RUN WHEN YOU’RE NOT READY TO.
Most spin enthusiasts have been doing this a long time, BUT they started right where you are starting. When you try to run out of the saddle at the same amount of time or distance these “regulars” are accustomed to, you can hurt yourself.
Swallow your pride and stay in the saddle, keeping tempo and increasing your tension slightly until you feel you can take on a jog initially for a few given seconds. Build up from there!
When you begin to run out of the saddle, do NOT lean your body weight (or your elbows!) on your handlebars.
This puts too much torque on your knees and can damage them. Rest your hands lightly on the handlebars and focus on sitting back, above the saddle, so the strong leg muscles of your quads and hamstrings are doing the work.
Your spin class instructor will take you on intermittent (and imaginary, of course) hills, downhills and road runs.
At times, he or she will ask you to do intervals where you sit in the saddle for a number of counts, then run above the saddle for the same number of counts – and sometimes, these counts can be just 2 or 4!
Remember the rules during intervals (or “jumps”) – if you’re not ready, sit your butt down and just keep pedaling.
If you are ready, try a few, making sure you don’t lean on the handlebars.
About “Hill Climbing” in Spin Class
Sitting on the saddle and pedaling in spin class does not necessarily mean you’re resting or “recovering.”
In fact, riding “in the saddle” with solid tension will burn more calories than sprinting.
A good spin instructor will methodically increase tension as you ride in the saddle, effectively making you feel like you’re pedaling up an increasingly steep hill.
In these situations, you want to protect your knees once again by sitting as far back on the saddle as you can.
By doing so, you’re taking the pressure of the climb off your knees and re-depositing it where it belongs – in the strong muscles of your rear end. (And last time we checked, most people didn’t need to do much toning of their knee caps.)
Beware These Spin Instructor Indiscretions …
If your spin class instructor suddenly changes counts or actions, consider that a red flag – your instructor should give you full and fair warning in advance as to what’s coming up at least a few counts down the road.
As an example, we have a great (certified) spin instructor who’s been teaching for years. As one song ends and the other begins, he might say, “This is an interval run in the saddle and out of the saddle with 30 seconds up, and 30 seconds’ recovery in between.”
Then, as the song plays, he will be adding comments such as, “Next round is just 20 seconds up, same recovery.” It’s enough to keep you informed and keep you hanging on knowing that the NEXT song will be a completely different action!
Some spin instructors will also make the error of doing extreme activities for too long. (Personally, we think this is an ego thing where they’re more concerned with looking better than the rest of the class riders than actually guiding the riders and watching the riders for signs of fatigue.)
As an example, we’ve been in classes with spin instructors who sprint (at least double-time to the beat of the song) out of the saddle for the entirety of the song. If it’s a short song around 2 minutes, and if the spin instructor offers optional breaks to sit down during the course of the song, that’s OK.
If, however, they insist on everyone in the class sprinting for a long duration, even the most advanced riders will have difficulty maintaining proper form.
In other cases, you might see a spin instructor insist on short intervals with 2 beats in the saddle and 2 beats above the saddle for several minutes at a time. An extended session of “jumps” can cause any rider to break good form, thus putting the knees at risk.
Again, if it begins to feel too much for you or a particular session of activity (jumps or sprints or hill climbing) is forcing you out of maintaining correct posture and form, SIT DOWN!
Then, as you try different classes with different instructors, you will begin to see which instructors are actually the best teachers. Even as they push you and do advanced work, they are still watching their riders to ensure safety and fun.
This brings another point to mind: Only take spin classes where the instructor is situated to watch the riders during the class. He or she will either be riding with the group and facing a mirror, or the spin instructor can position the bike to face the riders. It’s important that the gym provide this aspect in the spin class.
Music Can Be Key
Every spin instructor has a different style and collection of music. If you don’t like the style or can’t stand the music, move on. Because spin is built on the tempo of the songs, when you like what you’re hearing, you’re better able to keep the pace.
When you’re in a spin class with an instructor you enjoy and music that’s more to your liking, you’ll find the hour zips by. (Honest!)
Stick With It!
When you’re a beginner, try not to quit and leave the spin class (though no one will call you names if you do). Just sit down in the saddle, take the tension down, and continue to peddle through the end of the class if you can.
You’ll be prouder of yourself for enduring, and you can push yourself in the next class to stay up and in the class activity another few moments. Give yourself permission to build into this activity and you’ll find that you enjoy it more each time.
“7 THINGS YOU’RE DOING WRONG IN SPIN CLASS”
Johnny G. himself has an instruction video and Spinning Instructor Certification info at:
Thanks Johnny G. for keeping us sweating and smiling.
You can find a variety of Spin Shoes & Shorts on Amazon at:
Now you know why…
And why you should too!
One thing I forgot to mention is you may loathe your first spinning class. It will be hard. You will ache. You may walk out of a class early. You might exclaim, “Never again!” But, as with anything worthwhile, as we’ve heard from Spinning Pro, Julie Insogna, Co-Owner of Prime Cycle in Hoboken, NJ — if you commit to it, the rewards are worth it.
Your physical and mental endurance will keep getting stronger.
“Unleash the champion within.” ~Johnny G
Be sure to tune into Good Morning America next Wednesday when my the artist of my favorite Spinning tune will be performing LIVE!
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