Spinning, also known as studio or indoor cycling, was originally designed to help train professional cyclists, but it has now taken the exercise world by storm. Known for its loud music, the demanding voice of the instructor barking orders, dim lights and the sound of many bikes working together, a studio cycling class is extremely challenging.
Spinning works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hips and abdominals. It’s an excellent method for losing weight, because it burns a tremendous number of calories. It also boosts cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone and endurance. One caution: Although indoor cycling can be adapted to all fitness levels, a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (www.acefitness.org) found that it may be too intense for beginners, who might feel obligated to keep up with the pack and end up overexerting themselves.
Compared with running or aerobics, studio cycling is a low-impact exercise that’s easier on the body, particularly the joints. Also, many people find the team aspect appealing. Participants should be in moderately good cardiovascular shape.
- Clothing: Unlike cotton, a synthetic material will wick sweat away from your skin, keeping you warm even during cool-downs.
- Heart rate monitor: Some bikes may have them built in, but if not, you may want to get your own monitor to tell you exactly how fast your heart is beating. It’s great for beginners, who sometimes overexert themselves and may need to slow down to a safer speed.
- Bike shorts: Comfortable shorts with padding in the seat area, which provides some needed cushioning.
- Towel: It’s useful to mop up sweat on your face and hands. A bandanna or sweatband will also work.
Preparing for Class
Any aerobic exercise will get you in shape for class, but not surprisingly, riding the stationary bike on your own time is a big help. Walking and biking are good options for everyone, especially beginners, because they’re relatively inexpensive. Step aerobics, using a stairclimber, running and downhill skiing are other excellent choices because they target the same muscles.