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What to know before your first spin class

April 14, 2021 katiegibbas

What to know before your first spin class

April 14, 2021 Katie Gibas

Before you attend your first spin class:

  • Wear something comfortable but not too loose
  • Get a pair of comfortable workout clothes or bike shorts
  • Bring a towel and water
  • Sign up for a basic spin class

I left my first spin class wondering how on Earth people enjoyed it. I was uncomfortable and struggled with the workout. It took me a while to want to try another.

But I did give it a second chance. I bought a pair of bike shorts, chose a different class, and eased into it (unlike the first time, where I treated it like I was a regular cyclist), and I had a much more enjoyable experience and eventually started teaching some classes of my own.

Spin can seem a bit intimidating and intense, but don’t let that hold you back.

“I always call it the great equalizer because if you were to go on a run with a group of 30 people, it’s obvious if you’re a beginner that you’d be at the end of the pack. When you’re spinning or indoor cycling, you’re keeping up with everybody. Nobody can tell who’s doing what and has the most resistance on,” says Alexandra Leo, who owns BikeOrBar, a spin studio in Buffalo.

Rachel McCrone is one of the owners at Revolution Buffalo, another indoor cycling studio. “You really have to come in with an open mind. Our goal is to make your day more positive,” she says.

If you’re looking to take the leap into spin, there are a few things to know before you go. Instructors recommend wearing a comfortable workout legging. I decided to get bike shorts and use a chamois cream to prevent chaffing, which significantly helped my comfort during and after class.

It’s also important to choose the right class for you. Spin instructors recommend choosing a class that is 30-45 minutes for your first time.

At Your First Spin Class:

  • Arrive early to check in with your instructor
  • Ease into it and don’t overdo it
  • Drink Water
  • Have fun!

“We have an email that goes out to anybody who comes for their first time, saying, ‘Hey, we’d like you to come 10 minutes early so we can show you around.’ We take a really detailed approach. Our front desk staff and the instructor will work with that person to make sure they’re set up properly on the bike. We want to make sure they’re getting the most out of their first experience,” McCrone says.

Getting the right fit on the bike and checking in with the instructor ahead of time is critical, especially if you have any concerns or limitations. That way, the instructor can offer you modifications.

Instructors recommend just feeling things out during the first class, rather than pushing too hard.

“Don’t overdo it. Overdoing it is usually the death of any exercise program,” Leo says. “When you try to go all out, you usually don’t come back. Don’t push yourself. Ease into it. Don’t do what everybody else is doing. Just do what feels comfortable.”

“Listen to your body and make sure you adjust as you go,” McCrone adds. “It’s you and your bike and your mind, and you can take it wherever you want.”

“It’s meant to be motivating and fun. The music is beating. It’s usually dark, so you don’t feel self-conscious,” says Leo.

If traditional spin still isn’t for you, consider trying an aqua cycling class. Pre-pandemic, I taught hydrorider at Buffalo’s Jewish Community Center (JCC). You’re about waist-deep in the water as the bikes sit on the bottom of the pool in the shallow end. It is like a traditional spin class, but instead of controlling your resistance with a knob, you spin your legs faster to create more resistance. Being in the water also allows you to get off the saddle and spin in a recumbent position behind the bike. Like traditional spin classes, we added weights for a strength element and use the bike to do pushups, dips and sit-ups.

There are plenty of spin options out there, and “Everything is what you make of it. If you want to have fun, you’ll have fun,” Leo says.

Katie Gibas

Katie spent 12 years as a journalist, including hosting a monthly national Healthy Living show. You can usually find Katie and her husband traveling, skiing, and scuba diving. Of course, Katie is a huge Bills fan, even naming her dog Chug Flutie.

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