spin class

Spin Class: 13 Things to Know Before You Cycle

It’s been a few months since I retired my bike for the winter and I’m feeling the pain. I do miss being on a bike but until the weather warms up I have to get my fix through indoor cycling. Spinning is a great cardio workout that is a guaranteed sweatfest every time. It’s easy on the knees and I love the motivation you get from fellow riders.

If you haven’t caught the spin bug yet, I’d definitely recommend trying it out. Here are some tips to get you started.


1. You’ll need to wear proper clothing
You don’t need to show up wearing a cycling jersey and padded shorts but dressing appropriately for class will make for a better experience. Tight fitting pants/crops are great (think yoga leggings) and a good workout bra is a must. Avoid loose clothing and shorts that will ride up.

2. Go early
Get there 15 minutes before class starts to fill out forms, get acquainted with the studio, and set yourself up. If it’s your first time at a spin class, let the studio know so they can help set up your bike to match your measurements and show you how to clip in. Some places will require you to have proper spin shoes which you can rent, otherwise regular gym shoes are fine.

3. Grab a bike in the back
We look to the people in front of us for cues on what to do. If you’re offbeat or not doing something right, it’ll mess up the people behind you. Stay closer to the back until you find your rhythm.

4. Use a workout-friendly water bottle
Water bottles with screw-on lids are a pain to open and close in the middle of a workout. Squeeze bottles are more convenient and gives you the hydration that you need without breaking your flow.

5. You’ll need a towel
Be prepared to S-W-E-A-T. I like to drape my towel over the handlebars so I’m not sweating all over them.

6. Learn your positions: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
You’ll be changing positions multiple times during class. The three common ones are:
– 1st or “in the saddle”: sitting on the seat with your hands on the handlebars
– 2nd: you’re off your seat as if you’re standing on the pedals; the movement should feel like you’re climbing up stairs
– 3rd: you’re off your seat and hinging forward, your butt back and hovering over the saddle, hands at the top of the handlebars

7. Learn proper posture
Putting all your weight on your arms and death gripping the handlebars is a fast way to tire yourself out. Keep these posture tips in mind:
– Keep your weight back and never forward
– Push your booty back while keeping a neutral spine
– Keep your core engaged
– Never rest your arms on the handlebars—they’re there for balance and should be gripped lightly. A good way to check yourself is to put your hands in the “OK” gesture so that only your thumb and index finger are around the bar.
– Your shoulders should be relaxed and away from the ears
– Keep your head up

8. Resistance is your friend
The great thing about spinning is that you go at your own pace since you’re in complete control of your resistance. If you feel like your legs are spinning out of control you might need to add more; if your pedal strokes aren’t smooth you might want to take some of that resistance back. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself though because you can always dial it down if it’s too much.

Your instructor will let you know what resistance level you should be at. A “flat road” means it should be at the point where you start feeling some resistance in your pedal strokes but it’s comfortable. You’ll hear them call quarter, half, and full turns which is how much you should be turning your resistance knob. A full turn = one complete turn of the dial.

9. Your butt will be sore
If you haven’t been on a bike in a while your butt will be sore from sitting in that saddle. Sorry, there’s just no way around it. Good news is that after a class or two your butt will get use to it.

10. Stay for the cool down
It gets your heart rate and breathing back to resting levels after a high energy workout. Reduce your pace and resistance, and stretch it out.

11. Every studio is different
Some will focus on cycling performance, others will feel like a nightclub on bikes. Most studios offer intro specials for new students and it’s a great way to try out a place to get a feel for what they have to offer.

12. Each instructor has their own style and intensity
Instructors can make or break a class so if you’re not feeling one in particular, don’t rule out the studio just yet. If you found the class too intense or want a more dance-focused playlist, ask the studio for their recommendation. They can help you find an instructor that is more suited to what you’re looking for.

13. It’ll take a few classes for you to find your rhythm
I was all over the place during my first spin class — not keeping pace with the choreography, doing tap backs when I should’ve been freezing, and generally not understanding what the hell was going on. I felt like an idiot. But like most of anything it will take practice so just keep at it, you spinning superstar.


Spinning on your own? Here’s what’s on my spin playlist:
* D E E P In N Y – Bobby Nourmand
* I <3 U So – Cassius
* Bartier Cardi – Cardi B
* Watch Out For This – Major Lazer
* HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
* Fade – Kanye West
* The Weekend (Funk Wav Remix) – SZA & Calvin Harris
* Meditation – GoldLink
* Particula – Major Lazer
* Mask Off – Future

Photo Credit: Ride Cycle Club on Facebook

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