When I was younger, “spinning” was called “riding a bike.” It was fun, for the most part, and a good way to look for trouble with my girlfriends or, much later, look at autumn leaves with my husband. Today, spinning classes are all the rage, and the type of bike riding you do looks nothing like those sun-dappled daytrips to gaze at fall foliage. Instead, riders pedal together indoors on a fleet of stationary bikes under the motivational leadership of an instructor. Some classes feature pulse-pounding pop music; other keeps the lights low. No matter the atmosphere, spinning is a fun, high-energy way to stay healthy.
1. It’s Low-Impact
With all the music and words of encouragement, spinning classes may be high-octane but, unlike running or dancing, spinning itself is not a high-impact activity. Instead, it’s gentle on your joints, which makes it an excellent type of exercise for older riders or those bouncing back from injury. With spinning, the chances of a stress fracture or torn ligament are virtually nonexistent.
2. It’s Not Boring
Unless you have an iPad and a Netflix subscription at your disposal, putting in an hour on the treadmill can be a real snoozefest. Whether you’re walking or running, you’re also unlikely to vary your pace. In spin class, your instructor will have you changing your pace and your resistance throughout the entire workout. This variety is great for your muscles and a sly way to keep you from getting burned out.
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3. It Burns a Ton of Calories
How’s this for a statistic? An hour-long spin class typically burns about twice the calories of other exercise classes. What’s more, all of that variety described above makes it a HIIT workout, i.e., a session that combines high-intensity bursts of activity with lower-intensity recovery movements. HIIT workouts cause your body to keep burning calories and blasting away the fat long after you’ve left the gym.
4. You Can Pick Your Own Pace
Just because your instructor cranks up the pace or the resistance, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. With spinning, you can ride at a level of challenge that works for you. (P.S. No one else will be able to tell what resistance your bike is set to.)
Similarly, if you have any mobility issues, you can adapt your workout to fit your needs. If you have a bad back like me, for example, you can stay seated throughout the class instead of standing up when prompted.
5. Weather Can’t Cancel Your Class
Walking is great exercise. When rain, snow or sleet are part of the forecast, however, your motivation to lace up your shoes and don 19 layers of warm clothing may wane. In some cases, such as those involving ice, it may be downright dangerous to walk, jog or break out your trusty Schwinn. Since spinning takes place indoors, you can rest assured that a downpour will never cancel your workout plans.
6. It’s Good for Your Whole Body
Think spinning’s just good for your legs? Think again. It’s also a fabulous workout for your core and your cardiovascular system. A spinning class really gets your blood pumping, which can lower your chance of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.
7. It’s a Group Effort
My favorite part of attending spin class is the community spirit. Sure, your instructor will motivate you throughout your ride, but so will your classmates. You’re all in this together. If you often find yourself in need of encouragement when you sweat, spinning is an excellent choice. I’ve made lifelong friends from spin class.
Don’t let the fear of a group class or a lack of cycling experience stop you from spinning. Your local gym likely has spinning classes for all ages and levels of experience — and a bike with your name on it!