Author Topic: Spin classes  (Read 5304 times)

Spin classes
« on: January 23, 2009, 10:30:58 pm »
My new Years Resolution was to say 'eff it, why not' rather than 'eff it, I can't be arsed'. This resulted in me going to a spinning class with a friend in the wharf.

For those who don't know spinning, it's a room full of stationary bikes, a very loud sound system, and an instructor who tells you what to do, e.g when to pedal hard, when to change position and when to crank up the resistance. It does seem a very good way to get fit.

However:

I missed the initial instructions, and had no idea what I was doing
The flywheel has no freewheel, so like a fixed bike, if you don't move your legs fast enough, you can get bucked out of the saddle.
It's very very noisy (the music).

I'm too used to normal cycling, so as soon as I got on the bike, it felt very strange cycling with no resistance so I immediately increased the resistance to a level I was happy with, a big mistake. Little did I know every few minutes the the instructor would say something about 'taking up water', and motion turning the resistance knob to increase the pressure. So every time she did it, I'd turn the knob a full turn. Subsequently I discovered she was actually saying 'turn it up a quarter'. So not only did I start at a resistance that was far too high (the resistance I'd normally cycle at), I was then compounding the error by increasing the resistance 4 times too much.

This led to me struggling to turn the pedals, while everyone else was spinning away like mad. Eventually with 5 mins of the class left I figured out what was going and cranked the resistance back down.

A lot of it feels totally alien to real cycling, e.g out of the saddle, pedaling like mad, but only being allowed to use 2 fingers of each hand to support your upper body on the bars etc, or being off the saddle, but then lowering your bum so that it's now lower than the saddle and then pedaling like mad.

I don't think I've ever sweat so much in 40 minutes before.

Would I go again?

Probably.

If any fixed riders want to build leg speed for high speed descents, I strongly recommend a spinning class...

After the class, I still had to cycle 7 miles home, and following the ludicrous resistance levels I'd been trying to push in the class, cycling home was a breeze.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2009, 10:40:07 pm »
The best spin classes I've been in have been led by fitness instructors who were cyclists themselves. An awful lot of spin class instructors know a fair bit about leading exercise classes but not much about real world cycling.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2009, 10:47:26 pm »
I love spinning classes. And I don't mind if they don't know about real cycling - it's a different thing, really, and the hardest workout ever. This is making me want to go to one!

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Spin classes
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2009, 10:50:06 pm »
The mistake a lot of people make is to think it is stationary cycling. It isn't.

The effort levels are different, the way of easing yourself through effort levels is different and the bike itself is different.

But when you get used to it, it can be very good. Treat it as an excercise technique to learn and you will do fine. Think of it as cycling and it will be very hard and very frustrating. I found it improved my riding.

The thing I still can't do is the sprints. 30sec flat out. Not too much of a problem. Then repeat 6 times at 1 min intervals. I am looking for a bucket and a CPR machine... after the third rep.

Then again I am spinning it rather fast and heading well into the tunnel vision try not to fall off the bike level. Which is probably a bit intense.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2009, 11:07:23 pm »
Spinning classes are great, I go 3 times a week.   :thumbsup:

Very tiring, good exercise, and able to sprint with head down not worrying where I am heading....

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2009, 08:44:10 am »
As seems to be being said, I think it all depends on the instructor.

I used to do spinning at a local leisure centre - great instructor who took the time to make sure everyone knew what was happening and was getting what they wanted.

She left, cue new instructor who started off with "this is a class for fit people, not cyclists" and over 50% of the time was spent on upper body work (so he could display his physique)

I've done other good ones, and less good ones. At one place I said that the volume of the music was hurting my ears - "I like it like this" was the instructors reply.

One point, do watch the maintenance and check the bike - I've had several bent pedals and worn toe straps that could cause injury.

Julian

  • samoture
Re: Spin classes
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 11:22:45 am »
I really like it, but you do have to remember that it is a fitness class led by a fitness instructor, using a fitness machine that resembles a bicycle.  Sort of.

It is absolutely not a cycling masterclass. 

45 minutes of spinning leaves me practically comatose.  I won't be trying to do press ups on my handlebars on my road bike any time soon...

;D

fuzzy (retd.) AAGE

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Re: Spin classes
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 12:13:28 pm »
I will admit that the only thing in my recent spinning class that kept me alive was concentrating on the lycra clad buttocks of the Pretty Young Thing spinning in front of me. I was 'chinstrapped' to coin a military phrase, sweating buckets and really struggling to make mey legs go round as fast as the instructor wanted them to.

The instructor is a colleague who is a keen cyclist. He has used the spinning instructor training as a way of regaining his fitness after a motorcycle accident just over a year ago nearly resulted in the amputation of his foot. he bases his classes on cycle routes we use in the area, timing the sprints and climbs to coincide with the flats and ascents on these routes. if a climb on the route takes 10 minutes, then we ramp up the resistance for 10 minutes. The class love it. A number of the class are competitive tri athletes.
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Re: Spin classes
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 12:53:54 pm »
The only problem I have with spinning classes, is that when my client have done spinning classes and thought that it would be a great idea to start learning to cycle. It is harder to teach them how to balance, start and stop as they are so used to the stationary bike, compared to someone who have never been on a bike.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 09:53:20 am »
. . . Subsequently I discovered she was actually saying 'turn it up a quarter'. So not only did I start at a resistance that was far too high (the resistance I'd normally cycle at), I was then compounding the error by increasing the resistance 4 times too much.

I also enjoy spinning during the winter months, we have a good instructor and have built up a comaraderie within the class which has blossomed into a beer and curry night every so often.
Regarding "knob turning", you will no doubt master the art of appearing to turn the knob without actually gripping it.  If you look carefully at the flywheel brakes you will notice that some are not touching the flywheel even though the rider appears to nearing the top of the Col de Telegaphie.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2009, 08:34:24 pm »
The instructor rumbled my pretend knob turning and walked over to me and ratcheted the resistance up to silly levels i.e when I stopped pedalling, I couldn't physically get them turning again with out decreasing the resistance.
I get in such a state at these classes, the friend I go with is beginning to doubt whether or not I cycle in real life. To prove I do, I may resort to sewing audax badges to the back of my gym kit.

Charlotte

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Re: Spin classes
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2009, 09:42:00 pm »
I have a love hate relationship with spinning.

I love being able to go to 100% effort without having to look where I'm going.  You seldom get to see stars onna real bike (during the daytime, at least...)  It's like doing a turbo session, without worrying that you're knackering your bike.

I hate having an instructor who knows cock-all about riding a bike shouting at me and telling me that I'm doing it "wrong" and that when I'm out of the saddle, I should be keeping my shoulders still.  As for all that press-ups on the bars malarky, I just don't get it.

So I spin like a demon, put in as much effort as I can and ignore the silly dancing up and down that they want me to do.  This often pisses off the instructor quite a lot.
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Re: Spin classes
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2009, 09:55:15 pm »
I get in such a state at these classes, the friend I go with is beginning to doubt whether or not I cycle in real life. To prove I do, I may resort to sewing audax badges to the back of my gym kit.
They've probably already guessed from the taciturn stares over the post-class orange juice and the way you keep lobbying for classes at 2am.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2009, 09:59:10 pm »
I have a love hate relationship with spinning.

I love being able to go to 100% effort without having to look where I'm going.  You seldom get to see stars onna real bike (during the daytime, at least...)  It's like doing a turbo session, without worrying that you're knackering your bike.

I hate having an instructor who knows cock-all about riding a bike shouting at me and telling me that I'm doing it "wrong" and that when I'm out of the saddle, I should be keeping my shoulders still.  As for all that press-ups on the bars malarky, I just don't get it.

So I spin like a demon, put in as much effort as I can and ignore the silly dancing up and down that they want me to do.  This often pisses off the instructor quite a lot.

I try to keep my shoulders and head still. You don't pedal with your shoulders or arms. All your strength comes from your core muscles. Rocking your shoulders around just wastes effort.
Watch some boxing or martial arts. All the power behind a punch, kick or whatever comes from the core, not the shoulders.

Not sure about your spinning instuctors ideas with all this press up stuff though. I did some spinning last year and I think that all of my instructors were cyclists. They certainly had a good idea about cycling. Some most definitely were cyclists.
It put some speed in my legs and helped me get used to puffing a bit harder, but did nothing for my strength. Good for pedaling technique too.
The resistance had a mind of it's own sometimes though.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2009, 10:07:38 pm »
Today we did the standing up cycling holding onto the bars with only the left hand, then the right hand, and then no hands, at which point the entire class promptly (including the instructor) lost coordination/balance and all went back on the saddles.

Tiger

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2009, 12:38:52 pm »
I have been spinning since 2000 thrice weekly and reckon I could turn pro. It is of course a competitive sport, the aim of whcih is to leave the class having not only beaten the other spinners but also established siuperiority over the instructor.
It is essential to wear proper cycling kit for any spinning class. This helps to establish ones credentials as a serious cyclist as opposed to an aerobics class attendee. STD shoes must be worn. This alone is often onough to win and little actual riding is needed.
Having established moral superiority - engage the instructor and drop in a few mentions of ones real life cycling - establish that his/her spinning class is merely one element in your overall training programme. Specifically mention either sprint training, intervals, or hill stamina work as your agenda.
This is important as you may well need to divert from the class instruction to follow your own training regime at some point. Most likely just before you start vomiting.
Heavy sweating is mandatory and unavoidable - a drip rate of 2/3 per second off the nose can be sustained and with good aim you can create a spectacular puddle or splashing effect off the bike. This wil also secure you extra room next time as lady gym spinners often recoil in disgust if splashed a bit.  Wiping is for wimps.
As mentioned - ostentatious knob turning is good - you will quickly notice the condition of 'spinners wrist' - an inability to turn the knob without a massive twisting action visible at any distance.
Instructors are a bit of a mixed bunch. The worst are shouty children who don't cycle and are afflicted by aerobic whooping. A glowering eyes closed zoneout is often required.
Music also varies. It is almost guaranteed that you will get 'Sandstorm' at some stage.
At the end of the session there will be ostentatious stretching of calfs and quads. As a serious cyclist you don't do this - either follow your own special routine or scorn the whole streching thing since your quads/calfs are anyway so developed that a mere hour oe so hardly counts as more than a warmup.
Enjoy.


David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Spin classes
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2009, 01:46:01 pm »
Tiger hits the nail on the head..

In the class I periodically attend there are two instructors. One is american and plays an eclectic blend of music - mostly west coast stuff and keeps playing spot that tune. He likes cadence and such like. The other likes the music too loud, fell off her road bike a while back and never got the confidence to get back on it but is quite sweet.  It took me a while to work out the exercises and how to survive them (slow speed pedalling whilst squatting - standing on the pedals is hard work when you are as lumpy as me.) Sprints  - argghh why do I always go off so hard. 6x30sec sprints finish me off.
And hill climbs. If I push up to 300watts then I know I will not recover afterwards.

Loads of sweat and hard work, but a good winter contribution to fitness. Squishy saddles are really painful after a while, and I do try to clean most of the mud off the MTB shoes before the class.

..d

"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2009, 04:57:03 pm »
STD shoes must be worn.

STD shoes? A dose of antibiotics should sort that out. I don't have a STD, but I have picked up an STI from Shimano...

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2009, 05:01:51 pm »
Tiger has got this spot on. Its Psychological warfare....just you and the instructor...forget the rest....SPD shoes = great start
Using you P B P water bottle and leaving it on display for all to see - priceless!!
I'd wear my PBP dirt too - if it wasn't so damned hot!!

Sweat puddle - the bigger the better!

I can't get over some of the Pretty -young -things though,,who spin for 45 minutes and don't even break sweat - theres sometihng not right there - are they from Mars???      ;D



LEE

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2009, 05:16:59 pm »
In 2002 I went to my one and only Spinning class.  I'd just done my 9 day solo LEJoG and thought I'd show this bunch of Gym-Monkeys what real cycling was.

It was a only 45 minute class, I thought, like geraldc, I'd start off at a decent level of resistance.

Needless to say the had to get me home by mopping me off the floor and wringing me into a bucket.

My heart rate has only just returned to normal, safe levels.

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2009, 05:33:29 pm »
I had a breakthrough moment at last week's spin class. I went to the advanced class (not my idea, but my mate who later bailed on the class!). The only difference seemed to be that it was 45 minutes rather than the 30 mins of the beginners.

In the advanced class, the place was rammed, not a spare bike to be had, and the girls/ladies, were much thinner, and more serious looking than the ladies in the beginners class. The blokes however, were as lardy as unkempt as they were in beginners though.

As the class was about survival, I decided to pretend I was pushing a high gear/resistance when I wasn't. This is achieved by turning the pedals in a slow jerky fashion. If you're turning the pedals smoothly, then obviously it's too easy, and it looks like you've not got your resistance high enough.

TBH that's the bit I don't understand, how can these people look like they're in such pain for the climb, and then spin like bastards a few seconds later when they're pushing the same resitance all the time?


Even so, I was still drenched at the end of the class. It was as if someone poured a bucket of water over me, and some of the ladies, were barely out of breath.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Spin classes
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2009, 08:36:22 pm »
Ah - tis not that bad. Last week I went the day after giving blood. The night before I had barely made it round a shorter hilly ride. I did a 15 min warm up. I did the first few sprints (though managed to set the resistance a bit high so I was pushing an indicated 400W for 30 secs.  Then I was dead, spinning gently (easy gear, high cadence) for the next 30 mins before climbing off early and having a good stretch.

There are some serious cyclists there who push hard gears fast for the full time.

After you with the mop and bucket.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2009, 10:32:45 pm »
In the advanced class, the place was rammed, not a spare bike to be had, and the girls/ladies, were much thinner, and more serious looking than the ladies in the beginners class. The blokes however, were as lardy as unkempt as they were in beginners though.

The blokes in the advanced class weren't any fitter than the blokes in the beginner class, they just knew where the good looking ladies were!

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2009, 11:28:15 am »
I teach spinning and other types of aerobics.  When I did my spinning qualification I chose to go with a generic "group studio cycling" qualification rather than one promoted by a specific spin bike manufacturer.  That was a good move.

The classes I do have people of all ranges of fitness attending.  They are always full.  They are based upon real cycling because I honestly can't see the point in the press ups on the handlebars - that is not an effective upper body exercise, so why do it?  I always use a wide range of music for the different tracks, so that if you don't like rock, at least you only have to wait a bit before your favoured R&B or whatever comes on.  I try to make the lyrics of the music reflect what you are doing and ensure the hard efforts are timed with the inspiring bits of the music.  I listen to the participants regarding the volume of the music.  I try to make sure the intervals are of appropriate lengths and explain why you need to take advantage of the rest/active recovery sections too, so people don't just try and hammer away for 45 minutes.

All the tracks are based on real cycling, and I never say "quarter turn" or whatever - it is up to the participant to decide the level of effort, although I spend a while in the first two warm-up tracks giving guidance as to what kind of level is appropriate by a graded series of exercises to establish appropriate resistances for sprints, seated climbs, standing climbs etc.

So, I have things like a Madison, a team time trial, a 2 minute flat out time trial, a high cadence mountain bike climb, rolling terrain and so on.

It isn't cycling, but I do spend a bit of the warm-up track with exercises designed to encourage heel-leading on the down stroke, pulling up on the up stroke and so on.  As a result I have quite a few cycling club members who come to the class for training and enjoy it.  A lot of people say my classes are very different to anything they've done before, but they really like them because they are much more like riding a real bike.

A lot of spin instructors use gimmicks (e.g. "running" or hovering with knees very bent, and the knees forward of the toes).  I try and assess any movement for its safety and effectiveness and only use those movements that are safe (I don't think some of these movements are very safe for knees and therefore don't use them).  I've been to some horrendous classes where people are asked to remove hands from handlebars while standing - would you do that on a real bike?  No!  Does it risk people who aren't stable suddenly falling over and having a bad accident?  Yes!  So why do it?

I think spinning is excellent anaerobic threshold training.  It is less good as pure aerobic endurance training, and it isn't cycling.  It is rubbish for upper body training, but you can use it to some extent for core/cross stability training if you set up the exercises right, and progressively, with good instruction.  I enjoy teaching it and the clients seem to like it.
Spinning, but not cycling...

Re: Spin classes
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2009, 08:56:08 pm »
after 3 years not riding a bike - sad i know, i've deceded that i have to lose the 7lbs i put on last year - so my friend works at the sports centre and i knew he was taking tonights lesson. so i jumped at the chance of a cancellation and got stuck in.
enjoyed it, and i will try to attend at least every other week an try to get out on my bike!