Every time I go to the gym I get hella overwhelmed. There are all these machines and there’s usually some really jacked dude in the corner grunting. It can be a bit much. However, since there’s only so much I can do from home, I have to go to the gym every now and then. That’s where spin class comes in. Spin class is great because it gives a really intense full body workout and you really don’t have to think too much. If you’re thinking of trying out spin class, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up thus far.
- Take a Bike Seat
My first time ever at spin class was with one of my best friends from high school. We went cause we wanted to try something new. It was a blast and we had so much fun but the next day our butt cheeks were SO freaking sore. Just thinking about sitting hurt. After that I vowed I would never go to another spin class without a bike seat. There’s still a little soreness but the bike seat makes a HUGE difference.
- You’re Going to Sweat
I’m not talking about a little perspiration under your arms. If you’re doing it right, you will walk out of there DRENCHED in sweat. Even if you’re doing it wrong, you’ll still be soaked in your own body tears. I recommend taking a towel and wearing moisture wick clothing. Ladies, make sure to wear a supportive moisture wick sports bra. Not a bralette. Not a camisole. A full blown sports bra, because your girls will try to escape. Do not let them.
- Adjust Your Seat Properly
If your seat isn’t in the proper position, you could potentially do damage to your knees, hips, or back. We don’t want any of that. A good rule of thumb is to set your seat even with your hip while standing next to your bike. When you sit on your bike, your leg should be straight, and slightly bent once your foot is in the cage.
- Resistance is Your Friend
The best part about cycling is that YOU are in charge of your workout. The only way the pedals will move is if you push them. The only person that’s going to touch that resistance knob is you. You have complete control. This is not an excuse, however, to make it easy. You’re there to get a workout, so push yourself. When the instructor says to bump it up, then bump it up! You don’t have to increase it a ridiculous amount. In fact, your instructor will likely tell you to ease into a climb. Trust your body and trust your instructor. You’re capable of more than you think.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. HYDRATE!
Anybody that knows me knows that I hate water. I know it’s weird, but that’s a conversation for another day. Regardless of my distaste for water, I ALWAYS have my water bottle with me for spin class. I drink water before spin class. I drink water during spin class. I drink water after spin class. It’s so very important to hydrate when you’re doing an intense workout like this because you don’t want your muscles to get fatigued. I have a bad habit of not eating before a workout and water gives me just what I need to push through. Plus, drinking water promotes weight loss and isn’t that what we really care about? No? Just me? Okay…
- Get There Early
This is a pretty good rule of thumb for anything in life. For spin class specifically, you want to get there early for several reasons. First, you want to get a good bike. Not all bikes are created equal and some can be a little wonky at times. Plus, for me, I like to be in the back so I don’t feel like everybody is watching me. You also want to make sure that you have enough time to adjust your seat and stretch just in case it’s not built into your workout. In my experience, spin classes can fill up quick and it would suck to go all that way and not get a spot.
- Engage Your Core
A lot of people may think that spin class is all about the lower body, but that’s not the case. When cycling, it’s important to engage your core. Always keep a light grip on the handlebars. The handlebars should not be supporting your upper body. The handlebars are there for balance purposes only. Your core should be what’s holding you up. If you’re unsure if you’re engaging your core, periodically lift your fingers off the handlebars. If you feel shaky, you’re not engaging your core.
- Know the Lingo
Every spin class that I’ve been to is pretty straightforward. There have been a few times when I thought I knew what was going on, but I in fact did not. Spin class is a lot like life in that way. To help you out, I thought of a few spin class specific words and phrases that I’ve heard.
“Get on your flat road”- this phrase refers to the minimum resistance needed to get you going. It should feel like you are biking…well…on a flat road. It’s important to note that your resistance should never be so low that your bike is pedaling itself. That’s terrible for your knees and quite frankly, cheating. Don’t be a cheater.
“Jumps” – also know as “tapping back” is a cycling move in which you lift and almost immediately return to a seated position without fully taking a seat. The trick to this move is remembering to engage your core rather than using your arms as a hinge.
“Tabata” – this type of interval training can be really intense, but extremely rewarding. Tabata is a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) specifically timed 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. For a full 20 seconds you’re suppose to push yourself as hard as you can go followed by 10 second cool. This process is repeated several times in hopes of pushing you to your limits. As my instructor says, you can do anything for 20 seconds.
“Bump It Up” – crank it up, gear up, pretty much anything with “up” in it is most likely referring to that dreaded resistance knob. If your instructor is clear on anything it’s when to increase your resistance. Spin instructors LOVE that resistance knob. Don’t worry; soon, you will too.
- Stay in Your Lane
No, your bike cannot move. I’m talking about your metaphorical lane. In other words, focus on yourself. Another great thing about spin class is that it’s normally pretty dark in there. That comes in really handy if you’re easily distracted like me. It makes it a lot easier to focus on my own workout and not worry about what my neighbor is doing. There are all kinds of people in spin class. For some, it’s their first time ever. For others, it’s their first time this week. You can’t compare yourself to the person sitting next to you. You just have to do what’s best for you and what YOU can handle. Oh look, another life lesson from spin class.
- Have fun!
Spin class is definitely supposed to be an intense workout, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. The music is great and everyone’s blood is pumping. It’s very cathartic really. Spin class this past week was great because we all started singing together like some kind of super fit choir. The energy was great even though it was 5:30 in the morning. It’s a great motivation to help you push through your workout.
So grab your workout clothes and hit up your local spin class. Don’t forget your bike seat! Your butt will thank you.