Friday, February 11, 2011

Afraid of the Spin Room?

The year was 19something (don't think I'm giving away my age) and I was in the gym working the same circuit that I always worked. I knew what I knew and I liked it that way. If you know what to expect, there are no surprises (psst…your body figures that out too). That's the way it was for me at the gym and it was good.

At least, that's what I thought until I shook it up a little. MAN OH MAN - I NEVER REALIZED WHAT I WAS MISSING!

I would always walk by the group fitness class and shake my head. To me, they were crazy people trying crazy things. I mean c’mon – a grapevine is something that you find in a vineyard (check out the Chubby Vegan’s blog) NOT a group fitness class. OK – it’s out there now. Those of you who know me well know that I am NOT the most coordinated person in the world. Scratch that - I actually have no coordination to speak of. The reason I shook my head was not because I thought they were crazy, it was because I was afraid I might embarrass myself in a group fitness class. This held me back from taking my fitness to the next level. Then one day....I looked into the window of the Spin Room.

The room was dimly lit and there were about 25 people riding furiously to nowhere. One guy looked as though he was channeling Lance Armstrong! (Go Lance Go). I thought to myself, "huh – I could hide in the back of that room and nobody would see me." I stuck around long enough to see the door open after the class ended. Along with the steam and smell, the participants poured out with smiles on their faces looking like they had just jumped into the pool with their clothes on! Now I was curious. How could they be that sweaty and be so happy?

I left the gym that day anxious to find out more about this "Spinning" thing. What I read....I liked. I was really excited to find out that every participant controls his or her own intensity more than they do in any other aerobics class. And the best part takes very little coordination because there's no crazy choreography!! HOLLA! This whole spin thing might work out for me after all. Figured it was about time to step up my game.

I went to my first Spinning class and, yep you guessed it, I hated it. Wait? What? Not what you were expecting right? Well...the saddle was uncomfortable, my butt hurt (for days) and I had no idea where I should be setting my resistance. I felt lost. Exactly that uncomfortable feeling I was trying to avoid. Thank God for the instructor who explained that ALL OF THAT was par for a first class. She even asked me to come back and try it a couple of times before I made my final judgment. I'm glad I did. I fell in love and that was all she wrote.

Maybe it's time for you to try an Indoor Cycling class. If you've never been to one, it just may entirely change the way you look at your workouts. Here’s a little about Indoor Cycling that you may or may not have known.

Classes typically last 60 minutes, cover 20 to 24 miles and burn about 700 calories or more while engaging the major leg muscles and the core. By adjusting the resistance knob attached to the brake at the front of the bike, you can tailor the class to your fitness level or mimic climbing hills or sprinting on flat roads. Contrary to popular belief, you will not get huge leg muscles from Spinning. So ladies if you’re looking for long, lean legs, take a look into Indoor Cycling.

I'll let you in on a little secret (only because I like you) nobody around you knows how much resistance you have loaded onto the flywheel. So if you are feeling sluggish that day, maybe a tiny turn works for you. If you are looking to burn off last night's Primanti's sandwich, load on more resistance - it's sure to do the trick.

Bottom line is there is no need to feel intimidated by Indoor Cycling. It's not just for those in tip top shape. If you've finally talked yourself into trying it, here are some tips:

BEFORE your first class:
  • Ask participants about their experiences.
  • Get to class about 15 minutes early so the instructor can set you up on the bike, explain safety cues and demonstrate good form (knees slightly bent when pedaling; back not hunched when you lean on the handlebars). Even though cycling is no impact, you can injure your knees and back if you are not fitted properly.
  • If the instructor does not give you special attention, leave and find another instructor (you really need to let them know it is your first time).
  • Bring a full water bottle, a towel and lightweight clothing.
  • Avoid wearing long pants, especially those with flared legs that could get caught in the pedal spindles.
  • Ordinary tennis shoes are fine.
  • Don't feel compelled to keep up with the instructor or other participants. Set small goals for YOU. Just pedaling the entire time through the first class is a great goal!
  • Use your first class to play around with the resistance and watch how the class is conducted.
  • Allow yourself about five classes before you pass judgment on cycling. You may find you take pleasure in walking out of class sweat-soaked after a top-notch workout.
Nothing pleases me more than watching that a'ha moment when people realize that they truly do LOVE Indoor Cycling. It's really not's a triumph over what you thought you could do and a realization of what you actually can do.

See you in the Spin Room!