Of all the exercises, I would have to say spin class or cycling class is by far my favorite. As my friends very well know, the only place I've ever been graceful is on a stage. In real life I am a clumsy mess, who is commonly known for breaking things at gatherings...weddings, Christmas parties, Wednesday lunch.... So for me, the safest way to cycle is on bike with one wheel on a road going nowhere.
Spin classes can definitely vary by studio, but in my experience, they will typically involve (obviously) a stationary bike, music, and an instructor. Most of the Boston based studios I frequent are also dark and involve free weights as well. Each stationary bike has a knob that adjusts the tension on the wheel - the higher the tension the harder it is to peddle. The class will be choreographed to the music so the instructor will tell you which way to turn the knob and for how long to simulate riding the bike on an actual road or hill. In addition to tension, there are also three positions in spin class. Clearly I am not a certified spinning expert, so I'm not going to go into technique but here are some things I've learned:
- It's true what the instructor says, the less you move your upper body the more energy you can exert in your legs
- If you really imagine pushing down from your bottom ribs, you will.
- If you don't keep your hips back over the saddle in position 3, your back is going to be angry later.
- HYDRATE EARLY - if you're going to class in the morning, drink a lot of water the night before
So you've been to spin class before and don't need all this silly insight? Well, then I will just tell you about my experience at Flywheel in Back Bay, Boston.
Typically, the classes are a bit pricey but your first class is free - that's how they get you addicted. The studio is located in the Prudential Center and is easy to get to via MBTA. Driving is only tricky with regard to parking. Always sign up for class via the app or website since some classes definitely sell out. You can reserve your bike before hand (which I love, I'm a back row or aisle kinda gal) and they offer shoes since the bike requires clip-in shoes. Thank goodness, those baskets annoy the f*ck out of me, they're like muzzles for sneakers.
Fill up your water bottle and grab a towel on the way into class, because you are definitely going to need it. There are always Fly Staff around to help with setting up your bike. The thing that sets this place apart is the tech. Rather than tell you 'a quarter turn on, half turn off, etc.' they use Torq (tension) and give numerical ranges of Torq along with RPM (speed). You earn points based on your torq and speed. "Current Power' is also on the tech pad, I'm not really sure what that is but if it's over 20 you're working your ass off, congrats! HERE'S THE BEST PART - you can opt in to the 'Torq Board' and COMPETE against the other people in the class. For anyone competitive ::cough:: ME ::cough:: this is the best thing ever for 3 reasons:
- It keeps you honest and makes you constantly push yourself instead of giving into the voice in your head saying it's too hard.
- It's super dark in the room, so no one can really see you dying.
- The music is really loud, so no one can hear you sucking wind.
The instructors are great, motivating, will remind you of proper technique throughout class. Music is a great combination of remixes, mash ups, old school, new pop, rock, throw backs - you really can't go wrong. During races your Torq name will light up rainbow on the board if you're in first place. If this happens, it'll be the best part of your whole week and anyone else who has been to flywheel will understand. There is always an arm song where you can opt for a 2-lb bar, 4-lb bar, or use both. Peddling and using weights is a complete game changer of hard. After that, only 2 songs left and you're done! A quick instructor led stretch gets you off the bike without passing out and you're on your way with a major sweat inducing workout done in 45 minutes and 600-900 calories gone (based on my experience.)
I am also going to take a moment for my own personal PSA: when you are leaving class and getting your things at the locker, don't f*cking stand there checking your phone and putting your clothes on like there isn't 20 people waiting for a free locker or to get their stuff from the locker below yours. Get your shit and find somewhere else to get assembled.
All in all, even if there isn't a Flywheel studio near you, spinning has become such a popular fitness activity with studios popping up all over I encourage you to switch up your usual gym routine and check out a class. For more about what to expect from your first spin class, please refer to this Buzzfeed list. At the very least, its good for a few chuckles!