Exercise Basics: Spinning

What Is Spinning?

Spinning is indoor cycling on a stationary bike (a bike raised up off the ground).

5 Reasons I Spin


1. It is low impact.

As a 50+ year old man who used to carry an extra 200 pounds around, my knees and joints have taken a beating. Spinning can give you that high intensity cardio workout without the pounding that running puts on your joints.  As a matter of fact, spinning strengthens the muscles around the knee, and can even help people with bad knees have more mobility and strength!

2. It is excellent cardiovascular exercise.

In a good spinning class you will have various levels of exercise including interval training that is very beneficial to heart health.

3. It allows for all levels of fitness participation.

I have never been nor will ever be the most fit person in any spin class and I like it that way. Anyone can participate in a spin class, from the newbie to the cycling professional.  Each person can participate at their own level of fitness and feel included by simply doing their best. If you are in a class and the instructor pushes you harder than you can manage, you can either sit down for that portion, or lower the tension by releasing the tension knob.

4. It is a great group exercise.

There is something very positive and motivating about working out with a group of people that pushes me to work harder. Just showing up encourages me to work hard. I leave the class motivated!

5.  Anyone can spin.

I didn’t have to have a specific skill to be able to participate. Unlike swimming where some knowledge is needed, with spinning you can begin without any specific skills, strengths, or fitness level.


Spin Class for Beginners

As a newcomer to spin class, the first thing you should do is sign up for the class. Often you will have to choose a particular bike in the room from a sign-up chart. As a beginner, choose a bike in the back (I still do). Secondly, go to the room a few minutes early for class and find the instructor.  Let him/her know that you are new to spinning. He or she should offer to help you get acclimated to your bike which will include setting the height for the seat and handles.

1. How to set up your bike. 

Every spin bike I have ever utilized allowed for seat adjustments both vertically and horizontally as well as handlebar height. A good rule of thumb is to set the height of the seat about hip height. When seated on the bike, your legs should be bent but at ease. As you go through the class, adjust your bike and discover what position is best for your body type.

2. Explore the tension knob.

The knob, which is often red, controls the resistance level of your ride. The higher the resistance is turned the harder the exercise. The instructor will give you direction as to when and how much to increase your resistance. It is important that you do your best to follow his or her instructions to get the most out of the work out.

3. Understand “spinning” terms.

There are three positions in a spin class. I have experienced many different spin instructors and they all have their own take on terms, but for the most part what I’m sharing here is pretty universal. First position is the “seated” position. Second position is standing straight up and your hands on the handlebars close to you. Third position is standing but with your hands extended out so that your torso is leaning forward as you bike.