Spinning isn’t scary: a group workout that lets you forget about what you’re wearing

Spinning class / Image credit: Duvine.com

Spinning isn't scary: a group workout that lets you forget about what you're wearing

At its very core, spinning is a cardio workout on a stationary bicycle in a group exercise environment. Despite the rise in studios with their expensive merchandise and inspirational mantras, spinning is not an elite activity that should be only attempted by those looking for a transformational experience. It can be intimidating to set foot in these highly curated environments and feel out-of-place in your worn gym clothes.

But if you are curious about trying spinning, hereu2019s what happens once you enter the darkened world of the studio. u00a0Itu2019s not scary. Itu2019s fun, challenging, and highly individualized. And you are in control of the workout the entire time.

At your first class, make sure to get the instructoru2019s help setting up your bike. Every studio has slightly different equipment so itu2019s worth checking in with the staff about proper form. If you need to clip in with special spinning shoes, donu2019t worry if it takes you a while to get the hang of it. Even between studios, each bike may have their own particular quirk. It helps to step into the pedal and snap down as if you were in motion. Like any piece of equipment, the more you are familiar with it, the easier it gets. Again, donu2019t be afraid to ask the staff for help clipping in.

Most spin studios are incorporating one session of arm exercises as part of the 50-minute class. Make sure to check the weights on your bike and adjust as necessary. The arm workout is not long but it can be challenging. Choose a weight that you think you can work with and will accommodate biceps, triceps, and shoulder reps.

During the class, the instructor may turn up the music or their microphone very loudly to encourage an atmosphere of intensity. Some studios have earplugs available so donu2019t be shy about grabbing a pair (or bring your own!) if you are sensitive to noise. Itu2019s better to be comfortable than in pain u2014 some of the instructors are loud. Really loud.

Throughout the class, youu2019ll be guided through each song. The instructor will suggest how much tension to add to the bike. You can adjust as necessary. Because spin is an individual exercise in a group activity, itu2019s ideal for people who are just starting out or recovering from an injury. You can work at your own pace or even feel free to change up the activity. Studios are usually dark, even candle-lit, so it wonu2019t be obvious if you are unable to keep pace with the pack. Do your own workout or follow the instructor. As long as you are challenging yourself, youu2019ll be fine.

In other blogs, weu2019ve discussed exercise types that are conducive to forming cults of personality. Lead by charismatic instructors or studio owners who believe their own hype, these people can cloud the true purpose of the activity. Spin has recently become one of those places where aesthetics appears to be more important than athletics. Donu2019t be dissuaded. By focusing on what is happening inside the studio, and ignoring the racks of t-shirts with inspirational sayings, you will be treated to a 50-minute workout that will push you and have you returning for another session.

The Choose Your Own Adventure Cardio Workout

Cardio workout: guys playing basketball. Image credit: Tim Mossholder / Pexels

The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Cardio Workout

When you commit to strength training, you are building muscular endurance and strength while keeping your bones and joints healthy and strong. Fat loss is a side effect.

To balance out the good work of strength training, I recommend that my clients participate in some kind of cardio exercise. And cardio is not an exact science. Thereu2019s no X times of week + Y speed = Results. Cardio does burn calories but it also helps you keep your heart healthy and prevents disease.

Should I do cardio in the morning or in the evening?

Studies say that you should exercise first thing in the morning. They also say you should exercise in the evening. I say you should exercise when itu2019s most convenient for you. If this means going for a quick run on your lunch break or waking up at 5 AM u2014 the most important part in finding a place for exercise in your day. Make it part of your schedule and find a time that works for you. You know whenu2019s not a good time to exercise? Never.

What kind of cardio should I do?

The kind of cardio you should do is the kind that you like. Forget about keeping an eye on the calories burned square on the machine. Those numbers are estimates and often exaggerations. This means thereu2019s no point looking for the machine that burns the most calories u2014 instead find something that you enjoy. Some people love spending the focused 30 minutes on an elliptical, catching up or rewatching their favourite TV show. Others would describe this as one of the circles of hell. For others, hiking on the weekend or taking a dance class contribute to their cardio.

Like my advice when it comes to finding exercise time in your schedule, the same goes for cardio equipment and type of cardio. The most important thing about cardio is that you do it.

How Long Should I Spend on Cardio?

If youu2019re getting started, you should spend 20-60 minutes on cardio, three to five days a week. If you are new to training, three days a week is a good start. If you are more experienced, I would aim closer to the five days a week to increase your heart rate. And this doesnu2019t mean that you need to run five days a week. You can mix it up with a combination of classes, activities, and cardio machines.

Cardio is one of the few things in life that really is all about you. So be selfish and find that me time. Itu2019s your adventure, so what will you choose? f