Yes, you love hopping on your bicycle when it’s nice outside, pedaling from one place to another, and getting in some good exercise. But the thought of sitting on a stationary bike and sweating in a dark room for 45-minutes baffles you. What enjoyment could you possibly get out of that? And isn’t it kind of girly? Don’t be so quick to turn your nose up at spinning, or an indoor cycling class.
“Spin is a place to come and get motivated and get the endorphins flowing,” says Keoni Hudoba, creator of the Cyc Method used at Cyc Fitness, a spin studio with locations in Texas, Wisconsin and New York City. Plus, you can burn anywhere from 600 to 800-plus calories depending on your intensity and how long you’re in the saddle. Still not convinced? Here are eight reasons you should learn to love spin class.
1. You’ll get the energy you need to give 100 percent the whole workout.
From the instructors to the music to the constant change in lighting, good spin classes never seem to have a dull moment. “The best tweet I’ve ever seen someone post after taking my class was ‘I came tired, and left alive,’ says Hudoba. “You’re going to come and have an instructor who’s giving 120 percent and that’s contagious.”
2. You’ll push yourself to the max, but no further.
Spin classes aren’t made for Tour de France contenders (well, maybe some are, but not your average class). They are for everyone from beginner to advanced levels of fitness. “We focus on metabolic intervals, light resistance to heavy resistance, so your legs burn and are challenged, but never feel too fatigued,” says Hudoba. And Cyc isn’t the only studio going this route. Almost all studios take an interval approach to pedaling on “flat ground” versus pushing hard to “climb a big hill.” Interval training gets the heart rate up so you can burn more calories in less time. “It may hurt a little to walk up and down the stairs after class, but who doesn’t love knowing they worked hard?” says Hudoba.
3. You’ll get lost pedaling to killer music.
And after taking class a few times, you’ll learn which instructor you like best, and who has the most similar taste to you in music. There’s nothing like keeping pace with a good beat, and seeing everyone else around you on the same count. Research even supports that athletes work out harder when listening to music at a faster tempo. “Music is a huge part of working out,” says Hudoba. “It allows you to bring up feelings and emotions that you wouldn’t think about at the office. If you had a bad day, it helps you restart.” And you may discover some new jams to download at home and add to your own exercise playlist.
4. You’ll get a full-body workout — not just legs!
Didn’t expect to see weights in a spin class? It’s becoming more and more popular, as well as the use of resistance bands. While spinning is great for your legs, different methods are focusing on giving riders more of a total-body burn. “If we’re promoting a full-body workout, we want to make sure we’re delivering,” says Hudoba, whose method at CYC Fitness incorporates sports-inspired movements like dribbling a basketball or speed bagging while holding weights to activate minor muscle groups in the arms and shoulders. And in the meantime, you’re still pedaling. Though the weights may seem light at first, after a few songs, they’ll feel like bricks and impose a real challenge — no matter your strength level.
5. You’ll get used to that sore butt feeling.
We’re not going to lie, if it’s your first time spinning, or you haven’t been in a while, chances are, your bum will be sore the next day. So what can you do to avoid squirming at your desk the day after? Be sure you’re not in the saddle the whole time. “Though it might seem easier to stay seated, heavy-resistance saddle riding at, say, 22 torque, that could hurt,” says Hudoba. Most classes will have you in and out of the saddle every other song. “If we spend 50 percent of one song out of the saddle, the next one we’re in,” says Hudoba. Still not comfortable? Try using a padded seat or shorts with a shammie in them.
6. You’ll define and lean out your legs.
Notice we didn’t say bulk up. And Hudoba hears it all the time. “It’s a huge misconception that ‘my legs are going to get big if I spin,’” he says. “If I chest press 300 pounds, yes I would get bigger, but that’s like riding with high torque for eight hours.” The interval training that most studios practice, with some upper-body work, allows you to tone muscles that you may have not even known you had and sculpt your body back into youthful shape.
7. You’ll feel that team spirit.
While it can be fun to go on a ride alone to clear your thoughts, the energy you feel from your spin class peers is contagious. “If you come into class and really show up, your 45-minute ride could feel as fast as 20 minutes because you’re enjoying it,” says Hudoba. “For instructors, it’s all about entertaining, interacting with the crowd and having a great time so that riders aren’t watching the minutes drag on — that’s the worst kind of workout.” And when blacklights are switching on and off, and the person next to you is screaming out in anticipation and excitement for the coming climb, you won’t even realize it’s your second-to-last song. You’ll be having too much fun working out and sweating.
8. You’ll leave feeling euphoric.
“That’s the best way to describe the energy high that sticks with you after the ride,” says Hudoba. “I always try to make the last song a powerful one so that people remember it as they leave.
Choosing to ride doesn’t mean giving up all other exercise and trading in the barbell for spin shoes. But if you’re healthy and injury-free, adding cycling into your workout regimen a few times a week can only advance your fitness. And if you’ve decided that spin is the way you’re going to get fit, then don’t be scared to fully commit. “No matter which method you choose, spinning in any capacity is amazing for you,” adds Hudoba. “It can only help you better yourself.”