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10 Need To Knows For Your First Spin Class

Recently, I saw someone ask if indoor cycling classes would benefit them when cycling outdoors. To be honest, this is a valid question and some years ago, I honestly thought there was no value in indoor cycling for cyclists.

Back in 2014, when I got a bike for commuting to work, I was sure there was no point to me riding a bike indoors and taking part in spin classes. Why would I cycle to a studio, cycle on a stationary bike, and then cycle home?!

Then I decided to take on a duathlon and realised that my casual cycle commute was not gonna be enough to get me race ready. In that situation, it then made sense for me to add a spin class or two to my workout schedule in addition to cycle commuting. Especially because when you’re commuting, you really don’t get to put in max efforts… it’s more like “junk miles” that will eventually help you build up your fitness.

During the days of me frequenting boutique spin studios, I got chatting to friends and fellow fitness fanatics and for many of them, they were taking part in their first ever spin class! It got me to thinking again about my first ever spin class and I wondered – what does your very first spin class feel like? And why have they never been before?!

My first spin class was pretty daunting but I can honestly look back and laugh now! My friend Lex had been raving about her class instructor and telling me how good the music was. It piqued my interest but I knew how hard a workout it was and at that time in my life I would usually shy away from really hard stuff!

But I went along eventually, and damn, I got worked! Lex had told me that you work so hard you can feel sick… and feel sick I did! I remember recalling the route from my bike to the bathrooms (as it was a new gym for me) ready to empty my guts. I’m sorry.

If it’s any consolation, I was okay in the end and I enjoyed it enough to go on to get my indoor cycling qualification and some. The biggest factor in that experience personally though was the instructor – she was great and her music choice kept me going from start to finish!

After that class, I asked everyone about their experiences… I asked why they’d never been… I asked how they felt the first time…and I asked what tips they would share with a newbie. This is the summation of all the responses…

1. WHAT TO WEAR TO YOUR FIRST SPIN CLASS

If you’re a cyclist, the dress your bottom half as if you were going for a ride; padded shorts, cycling shoes and chamois cream.

Otherwise, just go for a pair of form fitting (tight) 3/4 tights or shorts. That way, you won’t have any extra material flapping around you during your workout. A sports bra is still required (get some sports bra advice here); a medium impact one will do. And then finish your outfit off with a sweat wicking top as believe me, you will sweat.

When it comes to footwear, most studios have dual pedals with tie cages on one side so you can wear regular trainers and clips on the other side so you can use cleats by clipping into the pedal. Some studios will provide cycling shoes free of charge, some will require you to pay and some just won’t offer them. You definitely get a more balanced and efficient workout when wearing cleats but may take some getting used to!

Don’t forget the usual gym stuff too – does the studio provide a towel for during class or showering afterwards? Do you need a padlock for the lockers?

2. YOU NEED TO ARRIVE IN GOOD TIME 

This will allow you to be relaxed at the start of the class, find your bike (most studios these days allow you to prebook a bike) and get your bike set up correctly.

The most important adjustment is of the seat height. You can usually also adjust the handlebar height and distance from the seat. The instructor should be able to help you with this if you don’t know where to start.

3. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THE SEATS SUCK

If you cycle already you know that it takes a few rides before your nether regions acclimatise to the saddle. It might just have you walking like a cowboy for a couple days at worse. But there are options available in the form of padded shorts, padded seat covers (here’s an option for around a tenner) or you can sit on a towel.

4. PACE YOURSELF 

If you are a runner you’ll know all about why you shouldn’t bolt out of the starting pen! We learn to pace ourselves so we can sustain the effort for the duration of the race, or i this case, class. Don’t go full out in the first track… find the balance between pushing yourself and pacing yourself.

5. DON’T GIVE UP – IT TAKES TIME TO ADJUST 

It seems most people don’t entirely enjoy their first spin class. But all the feedback I’ve had has said to keep at it. Most people reckon it takes 3 – 5 classes to fully adjust and get into the swing of things. Then, you will love it!

6. HYDRATE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER CLASS 

It’s important to get your fluids in to be able to ‘perform’ at your best. It will help you to sustain your effort through class and then help you to recover afterwards.

You don’t have to wait for the instructor to say “take a sip of your drink!” ….just drink when you want! Oh and the obvious choice is water, but you can also use hydration tablets which replace electrolytes lost through sweating.

7. IT’S YOUR FIRST SPIN CLASS BUT YOU ARE IN CONTROL 

My friend Tash had this to say: “First session of spinning was an eye opener, not gonna lie I felt a little bit intimidated! I didn’t understand how everyone was cycling so fast until I found the little dial that puts the resistance up and down and mine was high!

My tip: don’t always put your resistance up when the instructor tells you if it’s you first session.

Tash

I kept stopping and that was because the resistance was too high for me. Get to a comfortable resistance; I think it’s better to do that and keep going rather then stopping and starting – you will build up your stamina.

Oh and beware of jelly legs when you get off the bike to avoid a Bridget Jones moment!”

8. THIS AIN’T A CYCLE IN THE PARK 

You are there to get a great workout right?! You will hill sprint, hill climb, cruise, be seated, standing… you might even do muscle isolations or use weights! Hand positions change too but just keep an eye on your instructor (and the pro next to you) and follow what they do.

The music will be akin to a nightclub hopefully so you will be feeling the beat at the same time. Tash says: “Its a tough session, don’t go into it thinking you are going for a lovely cycle ride cos you aren’t! It’s hardcore leg abs and shoulder work. Not forgetting your poor butt (the seats are very uncomfortable!) but once the adrenaline starts pumping you feel great!”

9. IT’S THE INSTRUCTOR THAT MAKES THE CLASS…

Neil from @Velocity_Cycle says – “It’s the instructor who makes or breaks a #indoorcycle class. Anyone can be a DJ on a bike, not everyone can instruct :)” …so if one instructor doesn’t work for you …choose a different one.

10. YOU WILL SURVIVE  YOUR FIRST SPIN CLASS

Seriously, you will! The discomfort of the seat and all that, is only temporary. You will finish the class on a high having forgotten the moments that you felt like you couldn’t give any more, but you did! YOU WILL SURVIVE!


So what’s stopping you now?! Scared you won’t like it or you won’t be able to do it?! Simple – take a friend along for moral support. There is nothing quite like having someone to glance at when the going gets tough!

Got any tips to add for first timers?!

What was your very first experience of spinning like?

Elle

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14 Comments

  1. Kristin @ ExerciseBikesExpert
    March 18, 2015 / 07:02

    Thanks for your tips Elle! I LOVE spinning as long as the instructor is sufficiently hardcore 🙂 I usually do it on an 'off' day of running (although it's definitely not a true 'off' day) since there's no actual pounding and mostly just a LOT of cardio/detox-sweat-fest. I would recommend: not eating close to spinning, always bring water, and cycling shoes. The ability to clip in makes the workout WAY more effective.

    • Elle Linton
      March 19, 2015 / 12:14

      Yes me too Kristin! These days I am using it to supplement my triathlon training so I can work up some speed in my legs 🙂

  2. Sarah Fab
    February 4, 2014 / 14:01

    Love this! I am trying to get into spin and actually taking a certification class this Saturday, boy do those seats hurt! 🙂

    • Elle Linton
      February 4, 2014 / 22:24

      Awwww Sarah! i did my certification a few years back…aint nothing quite like sitting on a spin bike for 8 hours! lol good luck and enjoy! 🙂 x

  3. Lucy Edwards
    February 1, 2014 / 19:17

    One thing that went wrong for me in a spinning class last year, was the laces of my trainers were flapping about and got caught in the pedal, they got completely tangled and the force caused the laces to completely rip out of my shoe! I spent the rest of the class unpicking my laces and pieces of my mangled trainer from the pedal! I had to leave and bin the trainers as they were completely destroyed! Now I make sure to tuck in my shoelaces so they don't get caught!

    • Elle Linton
      February 1, 2014 / 20:47

      Oh Lucy!! That sounds horrific! lol I think I will remember this every time I go spinning! 🙂 x

  4. Anonymous
    January 31, 2014 / 09:12

    Don't be shy to ask for help in setting up the bike correctly for you… some are quite complicated with lots of adjustable parts. It means you will ride efficiently and it will save your knees.

    • Elle Linton
      February 1, 2014 / 20:46

      This is very good advice! …it will also make for a more comfortable experience!

  5. Kristen
    January 31, 2014 / 01:56

    Oh these are soooo true! I've only taken 2 spin classes so far and they KILLED! I almost puked in the last one (in a good way, if you know what I mean) so it was definitely a good workout! I'm a runner so I'm used to working hard but that instructor pushed me farther than I thought I could go! These tips are great!

    • Elle Linton
      February 1, 2014 / 20:49

      keep going Kristen! According to this you have another 1 – 2 classes to go before you are hooked! I'm sure cyclists feel the same way when they run! 🙂 x

  6. Helen
    January 30, 2014 / 22:41

    Me too! Im a little scared…. super annoying that the tubes are down that day too 🙁

    • Elle Linton
      January 30, 2014 / 22:55

      Ooooh first class for you too?! Exciting! Just go with the flow and enjoy the experience! ….awww who needs the tubes anyway! PLENTY of buses pass close by to the Holborn Studio!! You will have to let me know how it goes and if this post was true to life / helpful!! 🙂 x

  7. Lauren
    January 30, 2014 / 11:29

    I'm going to my first ever spin class at Boom Holborn next week, so this post is perfect timing- Thanks!

    • Elle Linton
      January 30, 2014 / 16:07

      Awesome! Enjoy yourself! You will have to let me know how it goes and if this post was true to life / helpful! lol 🙂 x

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