More intense than riding a stationary bike, most indoor cycling classes last for 30- to 75-minute sessions. Spinning is definitely no ride in the park, though. It will amp up VO2 max (the rate oxygen is carried to the muscles), a sign the body is being pushed. Plus, all that pedaling will work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core. Studies have also found that indoor cycling can help shed unwanted pounds and potentially ward off migraines, while keeping impact on your joints to a minimum.
Your Action Plan
Whether you’re a spin class newbie or simply brushing up on the etiquette, here are some tips for a successful joyride:
- Suit up. The body will definitely work up a sweat, so throw on moisture-wicking clothes to keep cool and dry. As for the feet, cycling shoes are required for some classes, but normal athletic kicks will work fine in most cases.
- Take a seat. If it’s an option, reserve a bike online to guarantee a spot in the class. Otherwise, get there early to snag a seat. And newbs, don’t head straight to the back—getting a bike up front will make it easier to follow along.
- Adjust your saddle. Getting the perfect fit on the bike can be tricky, but a general rule of thumb is to adjust the seat to be even with your hip. As for the handlebars, position them so the neck and back doesn’t strain. And strap or clip in the feet: The balls of the feet should rest on the center of the pedal and if you’re strapping in, make sure they’re secure.
Know the numbers. Some instructors call out numbers to indicate how far you should be rising out of your seat. Roughly, position one is sitting in the seat, position two is a slight hover over the saddle, and position three is a more dramatic hinge forward, but here are the specifics on each.
- Insist on resistance. There are no real gears to change, but there will be a resistance knob or computer. This will control how hard the muscles need to work to increase RPM (that’s bike talk for revolutions per minute).