Words by Ben Woodcock
Perhaps you’re a cyclist and have been for several years. You venture out on the bike for a few hours at the weekend, and throughout the week if you’re lucky to have a couple of hours to spare. Maybe you’re a beginner who hasn’t sat in the saddle since your school years. Or possibly you’re fitness mad but you don’t think spin is for you.
If you fall into one of these brackets or something similar the likelihood is you’ve heard about spin classes and have a preconceived idea of what a spin class is like - a dozen or so sweaty people packed into a room on indoor exercise bikes, with a cheesy instructor bellowing a motivational tirade.
Not (all) spin classes are like that and not every class is quite as full-on as the adverts you see on TV. Instead, indoor spinning classes are about developing you into a healthier and happier person. You can reap multiple rewards by heading to your local spin class, keep reading to find out more.
1. INDOOR SPIN CLASSES ARE A LOW IMPACT FORM OF EXERCISE
Due to the nature of a spin class the risk of injury is extremely low. Unlike outdoor cycling, there’s no chance of you coming off the bike (we hope) and colliding with anything on the road or tracks. You can tailor the difficulty of the workout to your fitness level, which is something that isn’t always possible in outdoor cycling when you come up against a sizeable hill on your way home.
Unlike other forms of cardiovascular exercise such as running, you’re not giving your ankles, knees and hips a tough time. This makes it a perfect form of exercise if you’re returning from an injury. Coupled with the fact that you can tailor the intensity and resistance so that you don’t push yourself too hard and aggravate an existing injury if you’re not 100% fit. This is also a suitable form of exercise for those with arthritis.
2. SPIN CLASSES IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR AND AEROBIC HEALTH
The spin directly targets improvements in two organs: your heart and lungs. It encourages them to work harder to transport oxygenated blood to the working muscles, predominantly in the legs.
Over time, if you remain consistent, adaptations will occur such as your heart becoming stronger which reduces blood pressure and improves circulation so that your whole body will welcome more oxygen-rich blood. More oxygenated blood flowing around your body to its cells and vital organs means more energy and a more powerful immune system.
When it comes to the lungs, you’ll start to find it easier to perform longer duration exercises. This is because an increased lung capacity and VO2 max will help you go a little further before getting out of breath and in need of rest.
3. SPIN MAKES YOU HAPPIER AS WELL AS HEALTHIER
Even though we participate in physical activity predominantly to make us healthier people, we live in an age where we’ve started to take more notice of what exercise does for our mental well-being.
Like all forms of exercise, spinning classes causes a release of endorphins, the happy hormone, which means you’ll probably feel much better about yourself when you’ve dusted off a 20-minute, pulse-raising cycling class after work than you would if you’d headed straight for the sofa.
Going to a spin class opens you up to a community of people who push you on when you might turn for home if out cycling on your own, after time the spin group begins to become an extended family of sorts.
4. SPIN CLASSES ARE CONVENIENT AND TIME-EFFICIENT
Outdoor cycling may take up a couple of hours of your weekend. Especially, for those with a busy work and home life. During winter and its nights, you’re often limited to just the weekend. Spin classes can be as short as 20 minutes and you’ll still feel pushed and burn more than 300 calories due to the high-intensity element. This is double what you’re likely to burn from a yoga session of a similar duration.
Even if you’re a keen outdoor cyclist, the spin session would be a perfect midweek supplement to a longer endurance ride at the weekend.
5. SPIN AS A LEG BUILDING WORKOUT
If you consistently turn up to your spin class, three to four times a week, you’ll begin to notice the definition appearing in your legs due to the high volume of revolutions (cycles of the pedals) you are performing on the spin bike. We advise starting on a low resistance before gradually building it up to sculpt muscular legs if you're a beginner.
Couple your cardio spin with weight-bearing leg exercises such as squats and lunges for added muscular growth. This added muscle mass will in turn help increase your metabolism, aiding weight loss while maintaining muscle mass.
6. IT IS MORE THAN A LOWER BODY WORKOUT
While compound muscles such as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings feel the biggest test during a spin class, a 30-minute HIIT session on the spin bike goes above just the lower body. It incorporates your core muscles which contract and relax to keep you upright and stable on the bike. A consistent spell of attending spin classes will improve your posture and reduce back pain due to increased strength of the core muscles which help prevent slouching.
Away from your muscular-skeletal system, turning up to spin class regularly helps fight against the risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Spin suits so many people for so many different reasons, it will probably suit you too. It has so many benefits for both the mind and body, it is something you should try, even just once.
Whether you are the regular outdoor cyclist that needs something to freshen up your weekly routine or whether you’re somebody who’s never set foot on a pair of pedals, but is desperate to get fit by a method that isn’t time-consuming and slots into a busy work and home life. Spin and its other members, are there for you at your local class or online.