Disclaimer: I do know how to ride a real bike that moves, but I also live in San Francisco- the city filled with hills, one-way streets, and cars driving in the same lane as cyclists. I’m so easily startled that I worry about OTHER people on bikes. I just can’t use it as a way of transportation here without potentially having heart attack scares constantly. Just can’t.
This is why I love spin class. Getting roughly the same exercise indoors without the risks of accidents, sun burns, and bug bites anytime regardless of the weather outside? Sign me up.
My qualifications: About 20 classes in the past 6 months
What it is: You ride on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere, but you can adjust the resistance to simulate going uphill or on a flat road.
What you’ll actually be doing: Cardio. A whole hour or so of non-stop cardio. Strength & endurance training. The instructors will let you know what pace of a certain number of rotations per minute to follow, and when to add or decrease resistance. They also try to make the class less boring by mixing in intervals, riding off the saddle, or “jumps” where you switch your positions while continuously pedaling, etc. Usually there’s a bit of time for you to stretch in the end.
What you’ll be working on: Besides obviously working the leg muscles and building your stamina, cycling actually also uses your core a lot since you have to lift your knees up to do each pedal, which forces you to contract your abs. It also helps with your hips and rear end. Gotta look good in those leggings or skinny jeans!
What to do about the bike machines: I’ve tried spin at three locations and they all had different machines. Some are more customizable than others in that you can adjust the seat and the handlebars both vertically and horizontally to allow you to be in the best posture. If you’re an average height person (unlike me), then the most basic machine should suit you fine. Some bikes are more high-tech than others with sensors to monitor your heart rate, or have a color screen, etc.
Music you are most likely going to hear during class: Songs that gradually build up, or super upbeat music. All genres besides country, pretty much. Personally I think the background sound is crucial here in a spin class. We can’t help but try to move to the beat of the current track, which is why good instructors know the importance of pre-made playlists. There have been many moments where I thought I was too tired, but when a Rihanna song comes on, I revived and pushed my pedals to the rhythm while mentally singing “WHERRRRRRRE HAAAAAVE YOUUUUUU BEEEEEN ALLLLL MYYYY LI-AYEEE-FE!”