My first spin class well over 3 years ago left me feeling like my heart was going to erupt out of my chest! Since then I train 3, sometimes 4 times a week, doing the arduous 45 minute class. I can't say it's a doddle as the instructor regularly tweaks the classes so that we can endure the maximum in pain as we scale a deep hill and sometimes he's kind enough to allow us to get off our bikes and perform 30-50 squats! Pure heaven ;-)
Now, to the basics - what is spinning?
Spinning is the creation of Jonathan "Johnny G" Goldberg who, during the 80's after a near collision, developed an indoor training exercise that would mimic the conditions you get in the great outdoors. The bikes themselves are Star Trac manufactured stationary and weigh in the region of 20kg the majority of bikes have a weighted flywheel which is key in mimicking the momentum felt when cycling outdoors. There are pedals, of course, which can be used in conjunction with special cycling trainers or with your typical running gear.
As with all bike's the saddle height can be adjusted as well as it being moved horizontally for a more comfortable riding position. The handlebars can also be adjusted vertically so that you can be in a position that enables you to effortlessly go from racing to uphill climbing. For convenience the handlebars have the added feature of dual water bottle holders - sometimes one is just not enough! The saddle is ergonomically designed but if this is not comfortable enough for you gel seats are available for purchase. Lidl tend to do some brilliant offers on biking accessories as does Sports Soccer. Personally, I have found the padding present on the bikes to be more than adequate but some people prefer to bring their own extra padding.
The classes incorporate hill climbs (where the resistance is turned up to replicate climbing up a steep incline), spins (lowering the resistance so that you can just feel it on the top of your thighs and going at full pelt). There needs to be some level of resistance on to ensure that you don't cause undue pressure on your knees.
The class begins with the Instructor dimming the lights and switching on the 'disco lights' - if you suffer from the strobe effects, it is best to give this class a miss. This creates an atmosphere in the class which enables you to focus solely on the training at hand. The warm up typically consists of a combination of fast spins with a little extra cadence to get those leg muscles warmed up.
Imagine the beat of Michael Jackson's Bille Jean - this is a typical track which begins with a little resistance and gradually, after a series of quarter turns, manifests into an arduous uphill struggle. During the 45 minute torture we get through roughly 10 tracks - depending on the length of some as Rihanna's extended version of Russian Roulette in an arduous 6 minutes. At times the instructor likes to 'mix it up' by incorporating push ups, dips and squats, all whilst on the bike, which are a test for your co-ordination skills. More recently there has been the additional of a new 'sports specific' spin class at my gym whereby we work at varying intensities - 70%, 80% then spurts of 100%, sometimes all in the saddle, which, believe me, you feel the effects the following day!
The class ends with participants gasping for breath and having sweated enough to call off the drought season! We perform a few stretches, involving the upper body and mainly focused on the legs - being the main muscles used. The instructor always applauds the class for their efforts and we do likewise for him/her.
Advantages? All year round attendance can be achieved without the excuse that the weather has played a part in missing a session. There is no need to get down and dirty with the terrain, you can be in the comfort of a gym. The Instructor occasionally participates and the class environment can make you push yourself just that little bit harder than lone training could achieve. You can burn up to 500 calories in 45 minutes and can build on your cardio endurance in a safe environment. The exercise itself is low impact and thus less likely to cause injuries. The social aspect cannot be overlooked - I find that i always end up competing with others and this enables me to get more out of the class.
Possible disadvantages - if you already suffer from knee/back problems it may be an idea to get checked out with the doc prior to booking yourself in.
Personally I find this to be a fab workout and feel invigorated once it's completed! So, with all the Olympics drawing to an end, why not give it a go? What's the worst that can happen.........
Thank you for reading :-)
Spinning is a demanding, but fun work out!
Before I tried spinning I thought it would just be boring - on indoor bikes trying to pedal as fast as you can, but this is not true. I have been to spinning weekly for about 2 months now and I love it. It is a great cardio work out and dependant on how hard you work, can burn up to 500 calories a session!
Basically it is based on indoor bikes, there is a group of about 15 people and one instructor at the front. The instructor gives you instructions on what to do - stand up sit down/how much resistance etc. They will often give you options though - they don't force you to do anything which seems to hard for you. They play loud music during it aswell - usually very dancy to give you a beat to keep going!
The class usually lasts between 45mins-1hour, however at some gyms you can also get a beginners spinning. THis lasts for half an hour and is a great way to ease yourself into it. There is a warm up and cool down section at the start and end of each class aswell.
This class is great if you want to get fit fast! It is also good for toning up you legs, bum and arms. It also works your stomach aswell! I haven't been going for long but I have already noticed a difference in my stamina, excercise I used to find impossible is now a lot easier.
I wanted to try spinning since seeing Simon Pegg in Run, Fatboy Run and when I found out the local gym had several spinning classes I decided to go and give it a try. I have been hooked on this form of exercise since and have been spinning once a week for over a year.
I know once a week doesn't sound much but it is easy to fit into my routine and means I don't really have an excuse not to go if it is only once a week and it is a great form of exercise which I do enjoy. The spinning teachers keep telling us how spinning is the best form of aerobic exercise and you can burn somewhere between 300 - 500 calories depending on your weight and how much you push yourself.
Spinning is also known as indoor cycling and is taught in small classes of about 15 - 20 people. There is one bike at the front (the instructor's) and the rest of the bikes are arranged in a semi circle around the instructor's bike.
Spinning uses special exercise bikes with a fixed wheel and a resistance button to add or decrease the resistance as required. There are no handbrakes and the only way to stop is to push down on the resistance button.
The class is set to music and most of the time it is the commercial dance/pop music - this is to help motivate and set the pace of the class as you are supposed to cycle to the beat of the music. Classes can last between 45 minutes to an hour. All classes start with a gentle warm up and then resistance is added or reduced as the class progresses to give you a varied workout. The instructor would also add encouragement and give you verbal descriptions of where you are i.e. you are on a flat road, or you are now cycling up a hill. You can expect to stand and cycle like you are pushing up a hill, bend over and hover over the seat or sit down and cycle with lots of resistance on. The spinning happens when you are cycling as quickly as you can with very little resistance at different intervals.
I think this is a fab form of exercise. It doesn't only just work your legs and bottom but it also works your stomach muscles too so you can get that flat stomach you always wanted! It increases your heart rate and I have noticed the benefits of a weekly class as my stamina has increased and whilst I am no where near like the experts I can keep going for the whole 45 minutes. The music is a must to motivate you and its great especially for those steep climbs! You definitely get out what you put into a class and whilst I am not as competitive as some of the others, I do like to see how much I have improved and challenge myself each week to improve on the week before.
Spinning was a bit daunting when I tried it the first time and I didn't enjoy it at first but the secret to enjoying this is to go regularly so you are able to build up the stamina. I wouldn't go as far as saying this class was easy but after a few weeks and my overall fitness had improved I gradually started to enjoy it a lot more. The class I go to caters for all abilities and you are asked to work at your own pace and you control how much resistance you add on.
After a class I do like to feel the beneficial pain of a good workout and it pleases me no end when I notice I don't have flabby thighs!!
I think spinning if one of those classes that you'll either love or hate. I have recently joined a new gym (after being a coach potato for the last year and a bit) and they have a class called "Indoor cycling" which is just another term for the killer class that is spinning.
So what is it? Well basically a group of stationary bikes, with very uncomfortable seats, on which you sit and peddle for 45 minutes to an hour. There are gears or levels which increase or decrease the intensity at which you work, the idea is to keep up with the instructor as they take you through the work out. Sounds easy? Think again!
I convinced my boyfriend to come with me the first time, now he loves it and I go because I know its good work out for me. The class at my gym is always packed, they have about 10 - 12 bikes and if you don't book well in advance you won't get a place. It's important to make sure that the bike is adjusted to your height, our instructor showed us how to do this in our first class, and at every class checks with each participant before the class starts that they have adjusted the handlebars and seat on their bike. When getting on to the bike check that the resistance is at the highest level so that the peddles are stationary and step over through the front of the bike rather than cocking your leg round the back (which seems more natural but can be painful because there is a huge metal bar there!) Ensure that your feet are strapped into the peddles, and you are ready to start.
Our class starts with a gentle warm up on the lowest resistance for about 5 minutes, and then the pace is picked up. The class involves what I would describe as interval training, timed intervals at different speeds and resistances which are then repeated, some seated some standing. The good thing about spin is that you can turn the resistance down at any time if it feels too hard or difficult, but in my class there seems to be a competitive edge where people really push themselves. I combat this by sitting on a bike at the back so I can work at my own pace, each week I try to push myself a little harder.
Possibly the worst thing about spin for me is the uncomfortable seat, which can be painful for a couple of days afterwards, the instructor (quite seriously) informed me that you can buy special padded bottoms, I'm not sure that I'm quite into spin that much!
All in all a good work out which can vary in intensity from instructor to instructor. I'm not a huge spin far and choose to go to one class per week, which is enough for me.
I gained so much weight whilst pregnant with my son, due to the fact that I stopped exercising and just ate whatever I wanted for nine months. Seven months since the birth, my greedyness has left me a big wobbly lump of lard.
I'm exaggerating of course, but I am am trying to lose one more stone to get back to my pre pregnancy weight with a mixture of healthy eating and exercise. Most of my time is taken up with my son, but I have managed to schedule in 45 minutes, four times a week for exercise. I decided to give spinning a try after hearing really good things about its calorie burning potential, and because the classes at my local gym only last 30 minutes, I knew I could easily fit it into my lifestyle.
Spinning uses special exercise bikes with 20 gears which increase the resistance of the bike when raised, and a screen which will tell you the RPM, and calories burnt. RPM stand for revolutions per minute, so basically the higher the RPM, the faster you will be pedalling.
The class is set to music, and the instructor will be sat in view of the participants. She/he will shout out instructions for you to follow, for example telling you to lower or raise the gears, add more RPM or less RPM etc. You will also be changing positions frequently and will be surprised how many positions you can pedal with.
I wouldn't say that I enjoy spinning, it is really tough and halfway through the class I really feel like giving up but don't, as you get spurred on by the instructor and don't want to be the only person in the class to stop.
I have found that depending what gears I use, I can burn between 220 to 320 calories in just 30 minutes which is great.
I have found that spinning really helps to tone up the legs and bum area aswell as giving a good cardiovascular workout.
Althogh the class is tough, you are in control of the resistance (gears) so it can be suitable for all levels of fitness - even beginners - making it a fantastic start to fitness for overweight people.
I take a number of different classes at my local gym where I am a member and one of those I take occasionally is a spinning class, this does not mean you spin around faster and faster until you fall over rather it is the fact tht this is an exercise cucle based class where you are exercising on the bike, hence it is your feet that are spinning around.
Each session lasts for an hour and this includes the warm up and warm down so you are working really hard for about thirty five to forty minutes in all. I only do this class occasionally as I do not want to end up with chunky calf muscles that too much cycling can develop.
The bikes are all fixed wheel ones and at my gym all the class participants are arranged in a semi circle facing the instructor, the bikes are similar to normal exercise bikes with a digital control panel that allows you to alter the amount of reisitence you are pushing against. The class is done to music and you do a range of different movements on the bike and you also alter the resistence for some parts of the class, some of the cycling is done in the sitting position while at other times you will be out of the saddle for short bursts that really get the heart pumping.
As a form of exercise it is a good work out, much better and safer than riding on the road and without te exhaust fumes of cars to have to deal with, plus having the motivation of exercising with others is a big help, the gym provides the bike all you need is some good trainers, comfortable gym kit and a drink, I also wear gloves to stop my hands chafing from gripping the handle bars.
It is worth giving it a go but make sure you check out the standard of the class before signing up because there are different levels at my gym and the hard class is very demanding.
My first introduction to Spinning was through the film "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion". That was about 1998, back when Spinning was a new activity mainly found in the gyms of La-la land where it was primarily the concern of ladies who lunched, perhaps to burn off all those lunches. Since then it has spread quickly and can be found in gyms throughout the world - I've never done a Spin class in the UK, but I have done them in Australia, the USA and now, in Mexico, it's one of my favourite gym activities. It is however SO much more than just sitting on a bike and pedalling, so...
WHAT IS IT?
Spinning is the common name given to group cycling classes. Sometimes it's called Indoor Cycling, sometimes it's called RPM (the brand name of the Les Miles classes, the same guy who introduced Body Pump, Body Combat etc). Spinning is actually a trademark (see www.spinning.com) but like Hoover and Sellotape and Kleenex (what they call tissues in the USA) it has become the generic term used for classes that are not franchised to the company - this being Mexico, even if the rest of the world called it by a generic, non-trademarked name, I'm 99.9% sure they'd still call it Spinning here anyway).
Special bikes are used, which are different from those you normally find in a gym next to the treadmill and cross trainers. Spin bikes have a saddle like a normal bike (not with a back support, like a lazy bike) and have cages that you strap your feet into so they don't spin off the pedals. They have a resistance knob in the middle which you alter to make a workout harder or easier) and have a break as well, that often looks like a big dog's tongue. The handlebars are generally 'W' shaped, and are adjustable, as is the height of the seat and its horizontal position. You can find a holder for your water bottle in the centre of most bikes, and towels can be wrapped around here or threaded through the handlebars. I know it sounds stupid, but just to be sure, you do NOT need to be able to ride a bike to take a Spin class, since the bikes have only one wheel, and that's just for show really - the front and back parts of the bike are set solidly on the floor.
Spin does not require special clothing, but good trainers are a must (that said, I bought mine from a Mexican supermarket, so a posh brand is not essential as long as they're sturdy). I tend to wear my usual gym gear to classes, but some people go all out with little cycling outfits of tank tops and matching lycra shorts. These people are the exception rather than the norm (even the instructors don't tend to go for the full hog) and generally result in the rest of us rolling our eyes behind their backs. It's like the Friends episode where Joey dressed up in the Porsche clothing line to impress the ladies - it just reeks of trying too hard. (NB: These people also often bring their own seat covers to class. This requires double eye-rolling).
Spinning is a great cardio workout, and the resistance elements help you built and maintain muscle. Different sources reckon you can burn between 500 - 800 calories in a typical class though this will depend on your weight, how hard you work, and your level of fitness. The main focus of the workout is on your legs, back and hips. Classes can focus on fat burning or cardio fitness, which is a bit of a misnomer since cardio fitness also burns fat. Generally pedalling slower against high resistance expends more energy than pedalling faster against low resistance, though a class tends to include both of these. I have been back Spinning for two months now after a long break, and do feel my legs are more toned though I'm not convinced bigger calves is better than the former cankles I was sporting so proudly before.
Because it offers both cardio and resistance, Spinning is a nice complete workout - throw in some press-ups and some ab work at home, and you have a nice little exercise routine. I combine these things with hours of walking through the streets of Mexico City on a daily basis, and get the same workout I used to get from hitting the gym every day (but driving to work) in the UK.
A TYPICAL CLASS
Different teachers and different gyms take different approaches to the activity, but they all have some common features.
Usually there are rows of bikes facing the front, and one instructor's bike facing back towards them, so you can see what the instructor is doing. Some trainers spend the whole class on the bike while others walk around "motivating" the cyclists from time to time. In my current gym we seem to have a rather 'special' member who likes to sit on the instructor's bike, and so the instructors have to either take a seat on a regular bike or spend the class standing rather than cycling.
Spinning classes are set to music, which is usually high-power, high volume tracks. These depend on the instructor and to some extent the country, but regular artists include everyone from Rihanna to Right Said Fred. In Australia, Voo Doo Child was the song of choice, and featured in every class we took.
A class lasts 45 mins - 60 mins, and during that time the instructor leads the class through a "choreographed" cycle. This includes:
* A warm up where you start to cycle while stretching out your arms, your shoulders and your back, ready to spend an hour hunched over a bike.
* Changing the resistance using the dial in the centre of the bike.
* Changing the hand positions - there are 3 of these which include top of the handlebars, bottom of the handlebars and in the middle, hands close together.
* Sitting or standing to cycle, and while standing, leaning forward, standing tall or bending over with your arse in the air.
* "Dancing" on the bike as my instructor likes to call it - you move from side to side, cycle with one arm behind your back (rapidly changing from right to left) and generally boogie in time with the music for a few tracks.
* A cool down where you stretch on the bike, and then dismount to do some leg and
Each of the positions works your muscles in slightly different ways. It's important to have proper form while standing and a good instructor will check people are ok and correct them if needed. The handlebars are for stability and support, but should not take your weight. I've had many people say to me that they find Spinning fine until it's time to stand up...and then they collapse. I have had the opposite experience - I struggle with a high resistance when sitting but can stand up and 'jog' for ages. I think it's because it's a more similar movement to a cross trainer (my equipment of choice for the last year) and because, well, you do have gravity on your side.
The teachers here also like to concentrate on core stability, so at times we have to cycle without holding on, hands on heads and stomachs pulled in tight, and at other times we are only allowed to rest our fingertips on the handlebars for balance. This is quite fun since most people (me included) are useless at this, and one of our instructors in particular likes to make a contest out of who can balance for the largest number of cycles.
Some teachers like to pretend it's an outdoor cycle, and try to simulate hill climbs and descents, sprints and interval training. Others just change the routine with each CD track, going fast or slow to match the music. I have heard of gyms where they project images onto the wall as if you're in some kind of cheapo holodeck set-up, so you can pretend you're literally cycling though the countryside, but somehow I always imagined the smell of sweat and the pumping music might detract from this.
Theoretically, the instructors will offer "enthusiastic coaching" throughout the class. In reality this ranges from making you sing along to the songs to whatever the particular shout of choice for the country is: in Australia they favoured "Come on...Come on" whereas here they like a simple "¡Venga, Venga!" If you Spin in your country, I'd be interested to know what you have yelled at you every class...
Some teachers yell out numbers throughout the class, for how hard you should be working on a scale of 1-to-10, or 1-to-20. This is a perceived rate of excerption (though some people use heart-rate monitors to help them with this). Others just tell you to go easy, medium or maximum. Spinning is a non-competitive activity. You cannot tell from looking at someone's bike what they have set their resistance too, and therefore how hard they are working. You can tell how fast they're going, but that's about it. I like this, but it also annoys me a little that I cannot tell what resistance I am at, which I would like so I can work on increasing this over time as my fitness increases. You can take a break at any time during the class by sitting down and lowering your resistance and speed. Instructors build in group breaks too, between every track for some, or every two or three tracks for others, when you're encouraged to sit back down, sip some water and breathe deeply for a recovery period before you start again. I try to hold out for these breaks since it pushes me harder, but every so often you need to slow down the speed or reduce the resistance to a level that suits you for half a track or so.
ISSUES / PROBLEMS
* If you don't adjust your bike properly you can strain your back as you lean on the handlebars.
* If you're not used to cycling, then the day after you might be walking like a cowboy thanks to all the saddle time. Although, it does allow you to update your Facebook status to something smutty along the lines of "Zoë can barely walk after last night's activity"
* For the first few weeks I had a permanently bruised knee because I kept bashing it on the knob you use to adjust the height of the handlebars, which is located (on our bikes) to the right of the stand. Whenever we had to stand up I would whack it hard once before I remembered it was there.
* Most Spin studios have at least one wall lined with mirrors. If you have a large bum and sit with your back to these mirrors so you don't have to look at yourself, be aware that by doing this you're angling yourself so as to make the rest of us see how the saddle completely disappears under your, ahem, voluptuous backside.
* If you choose to wear light coloured trackie bottoms (think grey, or baby blue) you WILL get dubious sweat patches on your bum, and look like a twit if you then head home to change rather than showering at the gym. I find that Primark's £2 range in black solves this problem.
* Because most gyms offer open classes, you may be with people who can go harder, go faster, go for longer than you when you start. My motto is "Go Hard or Go Home" but that's for me compared to myself, not to the other members of the group. If you get hooked on the speed and the number of knob-turns those in the matching outfits with monographed saddle covers are managing, you will feel very disheartened very quickly. To distract yourself, see if you have a large bum in the room (see above) and smirk at that instead.
* I have never had a Spin injury. On the contrary, I have a newly sprained ankle (I fell...off a curb...while wearing flat shoes, but I SWEAR if you saw the state of the streets in Mexico City you'd only be surprised it took me this long) and I have been taking it Spinning this week, which it quite liked. The exercise is quite good because it holds your foot still in one position, so you've less chance of jarring it as you might with aerobics or boxing.
SPINNING IN SPANISH
When I moved to Mexico I could have heated debates in Spanish about the environment or immigration (the A/S topics we studied) but barely knew the parts of the body. Spinning in another language is not that hard though, and the instructors tend to instinctively mime along with their instructions, showing you when you need to be up, down, forward or back, and when to circle your shoulders or stretch out you back. The only real difference between Spin here and the rest of the world is that sometimes after class and after stretching, one instructor in particular will slap on some salsa music and have us dancing in the adjoining studio to shake up bodies that have been hunched over a bike for the last hour. Since Spinning is one of the few classes in a gym that attracts a good number of men, this is a fun, social way to end class, though I can't imagine it happening in sunny Manchester any time soon.
I have a low boredom threshold when it comes to exercise but give me a magazine or a book, or, at a push, MTV, and I can stay on that cross trainer for over an hour. I don't cycle much when I go to the normal gym but I do love Spinning, and it's definitely the music (and the instructors, and the, ahem, 'special' people) that keep me interested. I can do 3 or 4 Spin classes a week and still not be bored of it. Spinning is great because you don't need the coordination you would need for, say, an aerobics class, because there are only 2 moves really (and one of those is sitting down), but it still gives you a good cardio workout. It's a fun activity and the group atmosphere is motivating, especially since the same people seem to come back again and again. It's like one happy little Spinning family, and I think everyone should give it a try.
You may have seen Spinning advertised on your timetable at the gym and wondered what it was - this review is meant to explain the mysteries of Spinning to you.
**What is it?**
Well its not as it sounds - standing in the middle of a field and spinning around, but is infact a cycling class on static bikes. By static bikes I mean bikes similar to a standard exercise bike, but slightly heavier and more solid so that you can stand up and cycle on them. Spinning bikes also have a small dial on the crossbar which you can turn up or down to change the resistance against which you are pedalling. For example you can turn the dial up to a high resistance and have to pedal very hard and slowly against it, as if you are cycling up a steep hill, or you could have a lower resistance and cycle quickly as if you were cycling along a long, flat road.
A Spinning class would normally take place in an aerobic studio with all of the spinning bikes facing forwards towards the instructors bike, so that the instructor can see the class and call out what you need to do. Depending on the size of the studio, there will be between 15 and 25 other cyclists. The class normally lasts between 30 minutes and an hour and would be accompanied by music. A Spinning class is suitable for all fitness abilities as you can turn the resistance dial up or down depending on your own abilities. For example, a beginner may need to only turn the dial a small amount before the resistance against the pedals makes it hard to pedal, while an experienced cyclist could turn the resistance up to a much higher level, but everyone can participate in the same class.
**Who started it?**
Spinning was invented in 1986 by an American ultra-endurance athlete called Johnny Goldberg. Today it is the most popular indoor group cycling class in the world.
**What happens in a spinning class?**
At the beginning of a Spinning class go in and find an available bike. You will need to make sure the saddle and handle bars are at the correct height for you. The height is adjusted by a small handle, which you pull up before you adjust the height and then push back down to lock the saddle/handlebars into position. The saddle should be in line with the top of your hip and your knee should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If you are beginner, start with the handlebars fairly high, and then reduce the height of them as you become more familiar with Spinning until they are the same height at the saddle.
Once you have adjusted your saddle and handlebars get onto the bike. On the pedals there are straps to hold your feet tightly against the pedals. Put your feet into these straps and pull the end of the strap to tighten it. On the other side of the pedal there are step in attachments for those of you with proper cycling shoes. Start cycling gentle to warm up before the class starts. If youre new to Spinning make sure you tell the instructor so that he/her can give you some extra guidance throughout the class.
The class will obviously differ depending on each instructor, but each class will follow the same format. The class will be accompanied by music with each song lasting roughly 3 minutes. The class will start with slower songs which you will cycle along to at a slow, low resistance pace, and perform some warm up stretches with your arms and shoulders. Each song will gradually get faster and the instructor will ask you to turn the resistance dial up. During some of the songs you will be asked to stand up out of the saddle and cycle standing up. This is much easier than it is on a normal bike, as Spinning bikes are built with a very heavy frame which keeps the bike upright and stops it from wobbling! As you are cycling the instructor will describe the route which you are cycling along, so that you can visualise yourself cycling uphill before peddling fast downhill on the other side.
There are racing style handle bars on the Spinning bikes, which mean that the handle bars curve up at the end and 3 different hand positions which the instructor will call out to you. The first hand position is with your hands positioned centrally on the handle bars. The second position is with your hands positioned just before the curve on the handle bars and the third position in with your hands holding on right to the top edge of the handle bars.
Towards the end of the class, the music will reach its peak and you will be asked to cycle at the toughest possible resistance you can manage. You may be asked to cycle for 4 counts sitting down in hand position one and then stand up and cycle for 4 counts in hand position 3, and then carry this on for the rest of the song, reducing it each time to 3 counts, 2 counts, to 1 count before sitting down towards the end of the song and peddling as fast as you possibly can!! Dont worry about not knowing what to do as the instructor will call everything out as you are going along, and it is always easy to copy everyone else on the bikes around you.
The songs will the gradually slowdown, as will your cycling, enabling you to cool down and bring your pulse back down to normal. The class will finish with more arm stretches while seated on the bike, plus leg stretches standing on the floor beside your bike. After the class you will probably have to wipe down you bike with water and towels which will be provided.
It is worth noting that there are no breaks on a spinning bike, so make sure you slow your pedalling down to a stop before you get off the bike.
**What should I wear?**
Wear whatever you feel comfortable in to do exercise, for example, a t-shirt or vest and jogging bottoms or shorts. If you wear long jogging bottoms you may need to tuck them into your socks so that they do not catch in the bike chain, so cropped trousers or shorts may be more suitable. You may want to invest in padded cycling shorts to make the saddle slightly more comfortable, or a gel filled seat cover but it is not a necessity. You get quite hot and sweaty in a Spinning class so make sure that if you are wearing lots of layers you can take them off as the class progresses. On your feet you should wear normal gym trainers or specialist cycling shoes that you can clip onto the pedals.
**What do I need to take with me?**
Make sure you take a bottle of water with you. You can put the bottle in the clip on the bike beneath the handle bars and the instructor will pause in-between songs to allow you to have a drink of water. When you pause to drink, make sure you keep cycling, even if it only at a slow pace, as it will make it easier to start again! You could also take a towel to wipe your face and hands if they get sweaty, but again it is up to you. Ive also seen quite a few people bringing an extra towel to sit on to make the saddle a bit more comfortable.
**What is it good for?**
Spinning is good for giving you a heart-pounding, yet low impact workout while maintaining the ability to go at your own pace. In a 40 minute class you will burn off an average of 500 calories and you gradually find yourself developing a leaner, stronger body. The high resistance cycling will help build up strength in your legs and bottom, which means you not only get shapelier legs but also increase your metabolism since muscle needs more calories to sustain themselves than fat does.
**Can anyone do a Spinning class?**
Yes - because you can go at your own pace by controlling the resistance on your Spinning bike, anyone of any fitness level can take Spinning classes as a way of getting fit. There are no complicated moves to learn and regardless of how fit, flexible or coordinated you are, you'll get a great workout. If you are recovering from an injury make sure you speak to the instructor or your doctor before starting a Spinning class though.
Unlike traditional aerobic classes such as Step, there is usually an equal mix of female and male cyclists taking part, plus people from all age groups.
**Where can I do it?**
Spinning is taught in over 100 countries at over 5000 gyms, so there is bound to be a class close by. Most gyms and health clubs offer Spinning classes so check in your local Yellow Pages to find your closest gym Spinning is a trade name so the class may be called something slightly different, for example, Cycle Reebok or Pedal X.
The price for a Spinning class will vary depending on your gym. Most gyms include Spinning classes in their monthly or annual gym membership, while others will charge between £3-£4 for each class.
**What I think**
I have been taking Spinning classes for a couple of years and thoroughly enjoy them. I get bored by just going to the gym and cycling on a normal exercise bike, but Spinning allows me to cycle in a fun environment to great music, and to receive encouragement from an instructor the whole time. Seeing the people around me pushing themselves makes me want to push myself harder and cycle at a higher resistance. It is an ideal class for those who enjoy cycling, but do not want to go out on their bikes on cold, rainy days. There is often low lighting in the Spinning studio, so there is no reason to feel self conscious and think that other people are looking at you. In truth you will be working tooo hard to notice those around you anyway! Since taking Spinning classes I have noticed that my legs have become stronger and leaner, and I find outdoor cycling on a real bike much easier and can cycle for longer periods of time.
If you begin to feel faint or dizzy, slowly stop pedalling, carefully dismount from the bike and inform your instructor immediately.
For more information contact your local gym, health centre or go to www.spinning.com
Thanks for reading and happy Spinning! Helen
I think it?s probably fair to say that most women speak with two voices. So for example, when I watched a recent documentary about Jennifer Lopez, my (loud) outer voice was saying, ?Oh for GOD?S SAKE, what a ridiculous woman. Who the hell cares about her arse? Anybody could look like that if they had her money!? etc etc. But my quieter, inner voice was saying, ?Sigh. Look at that rear end. Wish mine was as pert as that. I?d kill for those buns.? My inner voice won that little argument, and before you can say cellulite, I?d signed up to add spinning to my bulging gym class repertoire. Now I?ll be honest. When spinning first burst onto the gym scene a few years ago, I was pretty sceptical. After all, it?s just going quickly on an exercise bike, isn?t it? And that?s not exactly new ? I mean, who here doesn?t have a dusty old stationary bicycle taking up space in the spare room? Spinning looked to me like just another fad from across the pond, designed to part us with our cash. However, I soon learned from friends who had actually tried it that spinning was in fact a whole world away from plodding along on an exercise bike in your pyjamas with Abba on the headphones. Spinning was a whole new approach to the world of stationary cycling ? and one that was catching on with as many men as it was with women, a sure sign that it wasn?t just a girly aerobics fad. Most decent gyms will have a bank of exercise cycles as part of their ?cardio theatre? ? as they rather bizarrely call it. These bikes are often very advanced, with all sorts of whistles and bells attached, including of course the beloved calorie counter. But a spinning bike is nothing like this. It?s pared down, has a hard seat, and only one wheel. It looks almost like some kind of medical contraption, and I must admit at first glance it?s less than inviting. But with J-Lo?s glowing buns hovering adamantly in my mind?s eye, I was willing to take the risk and give
spinning a whirl. Here?s what happened: OK so I turned up to my spinning class in plenty of time to adjust my bike. The seat is meant to be at hip height but I found this was too high, resulting in a very sore backside the next day! Stick with what you?re comfy with would be my advice there. I sat up high on the seat, and off we went. The class began with a ?gentle warm up?, but it wasn?t so gentle for me, as even adding the slightest bit of resistance caused my leg muscles to scream and my lungs to feel like bursting! I stuck with it though, and after the warm up the real work began. I should point out that after the ten minute warm up, sweat was running down my face so much that I had to take my glasses off to avoid a slippy nose/ smashed specs incident. So the rest of the class was done with very poor vision! The great, strong music kicked in and off we went, on an hour long endurance ride, up hills, along the flat, and (mercifully) also enjoying ?recovery? periods. My particular class is called ?RPM?, and consists of lots of separate dance tracks, each with their own cycling programme. The music is pretty much what you?d hear at a gay disco ? funked up remixes of female vocalist tracks like Cher, Pat Benatar and Sophie Ellis Bextor etc, with a few ?classics? thrown in too. This is great, as it means the tempo is always varied, and that there?s some great, hard beats to keep up the motivation. Some spinning classes are done to an hour long mix of generic music, and these are much harder going in my opinion as they don?t provide that ?lift? that only really funky, poppy music can give you. The instructor kept barking out unfamiliar phrases, but I quickly caught on. For instance, ?Ride easy!? doesn?t refer to your lax morals, it?s just a term to describe sitting in relaxed fashion, both hands on the bars, cycling at a relatively easy rate. She also kept saying, ?And a little bit more!?, meaning, turn that dial and add
on yet more resistance. As a beginner, of course I couldn?t add nearly as much resistance as the other class members, but the joy of spinning is that nobody else knows how much resistance you?ve got on, and so they can?t kick sand in your face! I hate being the newbie in any situation, and I found this ?ability anonimity? to be very comforting. I can?t begin to describe to you how hard I worked in that first class. I have literally never sweated so much in my life ? and folks, I?ve been to Las Vegas. Just when you think your feet can?t push the pedals round another inch, it?s time to add on yet more resistance, and stand up out of your seat in ?race? mode. This is the true killer in spinning ? the standing up bits. Luckily, these most intense sections are kept to bursts of no more than about four minutes at a time, followed by a nice ?ride easy?, but if you haven?t done it before then prepare to suffer ? it?s really, really hard. Those of you who are into sports science will be aware that repeated hard bursts of work followed by recovery time (known as ?interval training?) is the most efficient way of burning calories and strengthening the heart and lungs. With luck you?ll have an instructor like mine, who constantly shouts out encouragement and motivation ? whilst pedalling furiously herself, and even smiling at the same time! I made it to the end of my first class vowing never to try spinning again ? I was so sweaty and uncomfortable I just couldn?t bear it. But a funny thing happened during the cool down. I began to feel great. Having burned many hundreds of calories, and soaked my clothes and hair right through with sweat, I realised I hadn?t expended this much energy in recent memory. As I stretched my muscles I began to wonder if in fact I could bear to come back and give it another go. You can guess the rest ? I?ve now been going for weeks and hate to miss a class. I?m not the newbie anymore, I can add a decent amount of resistance
, and already I can feel my legs and bum getting that bit firmer. I?ve even invested in some spinning-friendly slinky cycle pants, which never fail to show up every lump and bump, giving me all the motivation I need to go on! I can?t recommend spinning enough to anybody who wants fast fitness results. You?ll burn enough calories to effectively cancel out your evening meal ? and if weight loss is your goal, this can only be a good thing. You will sweat uncontrollably, so if you?re one of these hilarious ?ladies? who think the point of going to the gym is to ponce around in Nike gear, full make up and fake nails, whilst never breaking a sweat or huffing and puffing out loud, then this isn?t the class for you. You?ll feel jolly undignified. Take a large water bottle with you (you clip it to the bike) or you will faint with dehydration. Take a towel to mop down your dripping face. And take that big, wobbly backside ? and whip it into buns of steel. Anybody got any walnuts they need cracking ?
Well, it was only through chance that I came across Spinning, well chance and cowardice. I recommended to the woman in the office a few doors down from me to join my gym, she did and started going to the spinning class on a Tuesday lunchtime. I happened to remark that "I'd quite like to go!" and one day, she signed me up for it and off we went. I wasn't quite sure what to expect and didn't look forward to it one bit, but I'm glad I went and let me tell you why. Let me start at the beginning as it's often the best place to start. Spinning is an American concept (as so often is with these new-fangled aerobic stylee things - does anyone remember taking 'slide' classes? Nope? so it was just me then) Anyway, originating back in the fashion-conscious 1980's (1986 to be presice) by a man named Johnny Goldberg. While training at the time for the RAM (Race Across America) he obviously saw a niche in the market, as he and his cycling friends wanted a way to train indoors in bad weather and conveniently, not unlike cleaner that invented the hoover - anything to make your life easier has got to be a good thing. Two years later Johnny G (as he's more commonly known) set the record for the 554-mile non-stop race across Arizona (29 hours, 46 minutes) That's 4 hours less than it was and it still stands today. (Fact taken from www.spinning.com) In a nutshell, spinning is an aerobics class that is taken on a spinning 'bike' (it doesn't actually spin though, so don't be too disappointed when it stays stationary) which is similar to a standard exercise bike (details later) originally classes were 40 minutes long, most of the American ones still are, but I'm (un) fortunate enough to attend a class, which is 45 minutes long. This seems to be the norm here in the UK. Your Bike Your spinning bike is a fairly standard(ish) exercise bike. You set the sa
ddle to be level with your hips when standing on the floor and the handlebars to be level with the saddle. The handlebars are in almost a W shape as you look at them from the seat with a half moon in the centre. The pedals have secure straps on them and are kind of 'half shoes' to keep your feet secure. It's important to ensure that your feet are safely strapped in, as you will be standing up and cycling together at some points. There's a holder for your water bottle on your bike on the crossbar (which runs on a diagonal to a woman's bike - I assume for safety reasons as there's lots of standing, sitting, cycling, standing and sitting again that goes on in this class.) You'll also find just under your handlebars on the crossbar a small dial with arrows on it. This is your resistance which aids you in making the pedals harder or easier to push. If you pull this wheel towards you it will slow down the wheel (and your feet) this is most handy if you're sprinting and are told to slow down to stop your little legs doing a Wile E Coyote™ like mine did in the first class because no one told me about it. The Class Spinning classes usually are held for up to 15 people at a time. They are held in air-conditioned aerobics studios with fairly low lighting. Your instructor will also be on a spinning bike at the front, but facing you. Some classes are held in semi-circles around an instructor, but ours is set up like a standard aerobics class. The class is treated a lot like a Sunday bike ride with your friends. You'll travel up metaphorical hills and down them too. Standing to sprint or to get up the hill and sitting when you're on back on the flat ground (you'll need to use your imagination a bit here folks). You adjust the resistance on your bike by turning the dial I was telling you about to reflect the terrain you're crossing. The bikes are supposed to be such a goo
d simulation of a regular bike more so than the standard exercise bikes you'd find in the Argos catalogue or in your gym. But with out the wobbly handlebars and bits of brick/stick/old beer bottles in the road, waiting to take you down. Not in Argos, but out in the real world. The important thing about spinning is to constantly be on the go, even if you need a break, just sit yourself back down and keep those legs moving. This way, your heart rate doesn't drop too much and you don't have to work yourself back up to your exercising heart rate. This makes the class more productive for you, where as in a standard class, sometimes you loose the energy to keep marching on the spot etc. Typical Class You'd come in, adjust your bike, putting your water in the holder and towel over the handlebars (for easy access). After this, you'll start with a casual ride, followed by a sprint, then back to the casual ride again. There are three main positions on the handlebars. #1 is the centre under the middle point of the W. #2 is the bottom points of the W and #3 are the top points. You will be asked at various times throughout the class to put your hands in these positions when riding. Then, we usually, as we're riding in time to the beat, we'll stand up for 8 counts, sit down for 8. Up for 4, down for 4. Up for 2, down for 2. Then singles - which is a real killer if you're not in time with the music, so do be careful! Then back onto the ride..... The best thing about this class for me personally is there's no having to keep up with the other participants - not that I'm a fat lazy pie-eating.. beer swilling..oh wait...I've lost my train of thought..hmmmm...beer... You can literally go at your own pace. Although a lot of the work is done in time with the beat of the music, you can at any point, turn down the resistance on your bike or turn it right off and sit back, have some wat
er and you won't feel out of place as you're still working out. Because the lights are low means you aren't so conscious of your efforts/non-efforts! (And more importantly, neither are your contemporaries) You won't be grapevining to the left when everyone else is going to the right, you won't fall over (unless you're seriously unlucky) and you'll be working at a level that's good for you and reflects your own level of health and fitness. This class is bespoke for you by you. There seems to be a bit of a stigma attached to men and aerobic classes, but not this one. Our class is equally divided between men and women, in fact sometimes there's more men in there than women. Which is great to see. There are also a couple of old blue haired ladies who come along too. It is a class for everyone as it's so dictated by what you wish to achieve and how quickly. Other bits and bobs. Water Very important that you take a bottle of water along. The original selling point for this was called 40 for 40. 40 fluid ounces of water before, during and after your 40 minutes exercise. I assume that this is 40 ounces in total and not 120 cause that's a lot of water. Even for a camel like myself!** I drink water like it's going out of fashion. Actually, I drink most things like they're going out of fashion. Towel I actually take two, one for my face and one for my bum. No, you dirty-minded ork, not to wipe it, but to pad it. The one for your face is fairly important though, even if you're not a sweaty person, it's nice to have one there for your hands and for fanning yourself. Padding. Well, anyone who's ever ridden a bike for 40 minutes straight will know that they're not the worlds most comfortable things to sit on. You can wear padded cyc ling shorts if you wish, or you can fold up a towel and stick it on the
seat a la Fishbulb. Be warned though, that the towel option doesn't always work, they can and do fall off with all the sitting and standing you will do. Padding is VERY important. The first time I did this class I spent the rest of the week and a lot of the following week looking like a Spaniard that had had his donkey stolen from underneath him!!! You can buy special spinning gel pads to pad the seat out for between about £7 - 10 each. Although why they couldn't just pad the seats out when they built the bikes is beyond me. Actually, it's not beyond me it is a ploy to get you to purchase specially tailored bits for your hobby/comfort. Trainers/Clothing Sounds like an odd thing to say, but make sure you wear proper aerobic trainers. None of these 'fashion-come-trainer' things. Good solid shoes with a hard base. The pedals only cover the front half of your feet, if you don't wear decent shoes you will be crippled! Try and wear something light and either designed for cycling or with a cotton base to it or open weave. You want to stay as cool as possible in this environment. Price As with any aerobics class it will vary from centre to centre, but expect to pay around £3.50 - 4.00 per class, the same as a normal one. I'm fortunate enough to have a gym membership that covers all classes in the cost. I believe in our gym a guest pass for a spinning class is around the £5 mark. Of course, there are certain injuries that it's probably not advisable to take this class with. If you have particular problems with your knees, ankles or back you should probably try and avoid this class. However, I suffer from a terrible bad back, which not so many weeks ago, I could barely walk and I have coped perfectly well within the realms of this class. Please know your limits. Any good instructor worth his or her salt will ask these questions at the beginning of the class an
d at that point remember and advise you what portions of the class to be careful with and or omit. You should always speak with your physician before taking any up any exercise regime. You should be able to purchase all suitable accessories from your centre that provide the spinning classes, failing that most good sports store will stock the products. You can order spinning related apparel through a link off of off http://www.spinning.com. I hope you give this class a go. I'm not a bike kinda person normally, but I thoroughly enjoy it. The very best thing about this class, is even I managed to not get lost or abandoned along the way. **Contrary to popular myth, I am not and have never been a camel, however, I'm led to believe that there may be camel in my family somewhere.
When I first heard about this class I thought it sounded like torture....to much like hard work, but I had to go and experience a class first hand. On entering the room / hall I saw about 14 exercise bikes arranged in a semi circle, with one bike in the middle. The instructor showed me how to work the bike, and off I went. The class involved a variety of styles of cycling with an increasing amount of resistance....which is controlled individually. All the class is done to music. I found that I could go at my own pace, the atmosphere was much more friendly than that of other classes I had attended previously, and I thought it was more social, everyone got involved and encouraged each other. I now have to say that I have been to several classes, and make it part of my weekly work out. Most of the sessions I have attended have lasted 45 minutes, which sounds terrible, but you will surprise yourself, cycling in the class for that duration is not as hard as it sounds. There are lots of types of classes, such as total body workouts, general fitness, and my gym has a disco workout which is my personal favourite ( you cycle to the music and disco lights are on ). My only advice is, take water and a towel....because you will need it as it is an intense work out. Also it is best to book the class in advance....Have fun spinning.
Well what can I say? I have finally found a form of exercise that I may well become addicted to. First I will give you a factual rundown of exactly what spinning is and then I will tell you about my personal experience of spinning. How's that? FACTS This exercise is conducted on a specially adapted stationery bicycle, which has adjustable handlebars (up and down, backwards and forwards) and seats. It also has a resistance grip, where the resistance is adjusted up or down depending on fitness level and specific exercise type. The class has about 10 members in it with an instructor who is also on a bike. The instructor has a microphone where he/she shouts instructions from. This is needed because there will be music playing, sometimes softly, but sometimes very loudly indeed. The majority of the muscle groups are worked in a session - the entire leg, buttocks, stomach, biceps and triceps. And of course, the all important heart and lungs. The classes generally begin with the instructor checking that everyone is strapped into their footgear adequately and is sitting at the correct height and angle. He/she also checks to see who is new and who may need special attention. Then they start a warm-up session lasting about 5 or so minutes, consisting of arm exercises (press-ups on the bike) and gentle cycling. At the end of the warm-up you should have started sweating lightly. During the bulk of the class you do a variety of different cycling styles, sometimes sitting down, sometimes standing up on the bike, sometimes peddling very fast (this is where the word 'spinning' comes from) with only a light resistance, and sometimes peddling slowly but with a lot more resistance (hill work) and all the way in between these extremes. There is an exercise called 'jumps' where you stand up on the bike and move backwards and forwards and cycle all at the same time, another called 'The Stills' where you stand up
and cycle but do not bounce as you would normally. The aim is to keep the top half of your body as still as possible and only move your legs. This is an absolute killer! And then there are the aerobic routines, where you build up a routine (as you would in aerobics) based on cycling and arm exercises. Usually in spinning you do not have to be particularly co-ordinated, but I find the aerobic routines as taxing as an aerobic class. Then there is about a 5 minute cooldown and finally a minute or 2 of floor stretches. I would suggest taking water with you, as you will sweat buckets. Also wear cycling shorts with special padding - unless you want sore nether regions, although any discomfort you may feel in this area will diminish after a few sessions. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE Before I tell you about my personal experience, let me give you a bit of history about myself so that you can understand where I am coming from. From the earliest of time, since I was a wee girl, I have literally hated ANY form of exercise (or as I call it - EXCORCISM). At school, I used to forge excuse notes from my parents to get me out of PT (Physical Training, or as I call it Physical TORTURE). At home, when dragged around a golf course with my Dad, I used to moan to such a degree that he never took me again. Needless to say, this hatred of exercise contributed to me being rather larger (bigger boned, well developed for her age? the list goes on) than I should have been. And of course, this led to exerise becoming more and more difficult. A vicious circle really. And every time I did engage in physical activity I became embarrassingly red in the face, huffed and puffed and generally made a fool of myself. Then in my late teens, I developed an interest in walking mainly as a result of having to catch buses and walking large distances to and from the bus stops and within my university campus. I really thought that walking was it, as it is gentle on
the bones and flabby bits and it cleansing to the soul too. Then spinning entered the picture? As always, I was on the lookout for quick and easy ways to loose weight. You can see I haven't learnt my lesson yet? While I was on holiday in South Africa, a friend of mine had lost a HUGE amount of weight by doing spinning every night and she looked glowingly healthy. But I had heard horror stories about spinning. In fact my mother did it once and felt so ill afterwards that she went to her doctor. He said that someone who has such a high blood pressure as hers should abstain. Horror of horrors! Sounds really dangerous doesn't it. But when my friend explained to me that there were beginners classes that weren't too bad and where people didn't look at you funny, I thought I'd give it a go. So once I was back from holiday and the New Year's resolutions were calling, I went down to my local gym to check out the scene. They offer a variety of classes ranging from Beginner's to Advanced. As the Beginner's class is only 30 minutes long I thought I could just about manage that and off I went. The first class was a liberating experience! I discovered that the beginner's class is meant for those individuals exactly - beginners. Whew! Then I felt a lot better. And when I saw that there were a lot of other ladies (and gents) who were as unfit (and large) as I was, I felt a lot better. The beginner's class is meant to be a gentle introduction to the world of spinning, where they instruct you on how the bike operates and the most common exercises that will happen in a more advanced course. The class was great because with all the explanations going on, there wasn't much spinning going on! I went back to that class for about 3 times, but guess what happened. Before long, I was getting bored and irritated with the explanations and thought 'I am wasting my time here'. The class was
getting easier. Then I realised that maybe, just maybe, I was ready for the Intermediate class. Whoa boy. The intermediate class is also only 30 minutes long, but there are no long explanations, so you get 30 minutes of actual spinning (well very nearly). The first time I attended this class, I did feel slightly out of my depth as the other class members are a lot fitter (and trimmer) than I am, but nobody looked at me funny and the instructors were very sweet and encouraging. I think they could see from my purple straining face, just how hard I was working! I will keep on with this class until I feel as if it is a breeze (like I did with the beginner's class) and then move on to the advanced class. This class lasts for 45 minutes and I would imagine that the intensity is a lot greater. Considering my past history with exercise I would say that it is a fair miracle that I am even enjoying such an intense exercise. I read something somewhere the other day that might explain it. The more intense, extreme forms of exercise release endorphins (feel good hormones) that you cannot get from a one hour walk in the park. I think that it is these endorphins which are keeping me going back. When I walk out of the class I feel on top of the world, like I have just climbed Mt Everest! I sleep better than normal that evening, the next morning I have a smile on my face and things that would ordinarily annoy me, are like water off a ducks back. Amazing. It is the best form of stress release that I have ever come across. I must add though, that in the actual class I still feel like it is a long hard slog, that I am hot, tired and that there is no way I can go on. I have not lost weight as my friend has. But I have developed really nice muscles in my legs that I never knew I had. I think if I stopped eating rubbish and went spinning everyday like her, I might have more success with the weight aspect? But we don't want to get obsess
ive now do we! IN SUMMARY? This is a wonderful sport, inspiring in every aspect! And to anyone looking for a buzz in their physical life, give your local gym a call to find out about their classes and get your lazy butt to the Beginner's class! Keep your head down and enjoy it. Good Luck!
This has got to be the weirdest exercise experience I have ever had. I visited a friend last week and she was raving about the latest fad exercise class that had started at her local health club so I just had to go along and have a try. I went to a beginners class and when the idea was explained to me, I was a little bemused by it. Basically, you spend about 45 minutes cycling on specially built exerise bikes. Sounds like a good work out but a little boring. But here's the twist - the lights are dimmed, you close your eyes and concentrate on the background music and the instructor's voice and you are transported to another world so that you are actually cycling throught the Andes or wherever it is that your instructor decides on. The instructors are trained (or should be!) to guide you into a trancelike state and they describe the surrounding scenary that you should try to imagine yourself cycling through. Sceptical? So was I. But it was actually rather good, if somewhat surreal. If you open your eyes (I had to otherwise I was going to be the first person in the world to fall off an exercise bike!) you can see the scenary that you are imagining you are travelling through on huge video screens around you which in itself makes it quite a pleasant experience. I had serious doubts about my ability to last 45 minutes on an exercise bike but you can work at your own level within the group - after all, they're not going to leave you behind :) But the main thing to focus on is the intructor's voice which should take you to a plane of relaxation which is almost a semi-hypnotic state. You have to concentrate on this and you do believe (on one level) that you really are just about to cycle up a steep hill. I cheated at one stage and opened my eyes and had a look at what everyone was doing and they really did start to strain to get up the hill and then relax when the instructor said that the path had evened out. It
was amazing. So whilst I'll admit that cycling in a room full of strangers in the dark with your eyes closed might seem a bit bizarre, it really did provide an effective workout - as I say, I kept stopping but I still felt as if I had had a really thorough work out at the end of it. A word of warning, some health clubs haven't got proper facilities and just move the ordinary exercise bikes into a different room, put some music on and turn off the lights. This won't give you the same experience and its not supposed to be as safe. Instructors should be specially trained in spinning so that they know how much high-pressure work to put on the class and when to ease the pace off. Apparently, a lot of health clubs are jumping on the spinning bandwagon without the appropriate facilitates and correctly trained staff.