To spin or not to spin – definitely one question we must have all asked ourselves at least once in a lifetime. Just the once because spinning is like the Marmite of the fitness world – you either love it or hate it. If you do discover you love it, lucky you; this will be the start of a lifetime love affair with the saddle, the resistance and the padded leggings. If you hate it for no other reason that you tried it once a few years back, keeled over the bike and almost died hyperventilating, word of advice: give it another go. Take it from the girl tried it once a few years back, keeled over the bike and almost died hyperventilating.
I first tried spinning when I was 22, living in my first bedsit in Camden Town; one spring my landlady and I, finding most evenings were spent chatting and eating take out, while her husband was away for a week, decided to take up gymming. Unfortunately for us, we started with spinning. That is one hour of my life I have blocked from memory that I will never get back.
Fast forward to 2014, with a shiny new gym membership I decided to give spin another spin – and lo and behold, encouraged by an inspirational instructor who admitted to having keeled over the bike and almost died hyperventilating at his first go, I vowed to keep spinning. Three years on, I wish I had not quit at my first try.
I hear you ask why. Prepare to be converted.
Spin is high intensity training
When you are fat-rich and time-poor, it is important to do the maths and invest wisely. Want to have a solid 30-minute work-out that pays dividends? Look no further than spin. It will be the hardest working 30-45minutes off your day and the results will be well worth it.
You get immediate results
The results will be well worth it and swift. I have had my fair share of hours spent on the treadmill, playing around with the pace, intensity, incline and not getting any results. In my humble gymming experience, spin is straight up miracle worker. Within just a couple of weeks, you will feel yourself toning up. Give it a month of spinning three to four times a week and you will definitely see inches shaved off your hips.
You will be sweat-soaked from the roots to your hair to your underpants by the end of that lesson. Hence make sure you’re stocked up on water.
Look out for a good instructor
Try different sessions at different gyms or even at the same gym. The guy who got me to give spin another spin was one of those hyped up instructors who would occasionally jump off his bike to come and fiddle with people’s resistance levels or breath down your back to get you up to 135rpm but he made it all fun but challenging his charges in a fun way. The instructors that make classes worth it are those who put in the work as much as you do and keep you pumped up and keen to outdo yourself for the whole 45 minutes. Don’t be afraid of the pushy pedal pushers as they often end up being the most fun instructor.
Fiddle with the bike settings.
Don’t push your limits too soon
The best instructors are those who, while challenging you, also remind you to not push your limits too soon. Spinning along 20 odd other people in a room can easily bring out the competitive beast in you, but remember you’re not racing anyone but yourself, so take it easy. If you cannot add any more resistance after three full turns, then leave it. If you cannot get to 135rpm, save it for the next class. With every class you will yourself getting stronger and faster and readier to take on the challenges you’d struggled with before. Also remember to give yourself rest days to recover and let your muscles relax.
Invest in padded leggings and spin trainers
Your bum and your feet will thank you! Four years of spin and occasionally if I forget my padded leggings in the wash, I can feel a saddle shaped dent carving a place on my backside. Never fun when you are trying to cycle at top speed. As for trainers, regular running trainers tend to have more flexible soles whereas on a spin bike you need firmer soles to push through. As a novice, if you spin in your regular trainers, you may end up getting cramps in your feet. Once you’ve learned the technique in spin trainers, you can potentially spin in your normal trainers as your feet will be used to the motions.