9 things you should know before signing up for your first spin class
With indoor cycling studio SoulCycle planning to go public and a bevvy of boutique cycling studios opening in cities around the US, it's almost inevitable that you'll find yourself signing up for a spin class sometime in the near future (if you haven't already).
No matter where you find yourself on a stationery bicycle, know that most spinning classes are 45 minutes of intense, grueling cardio and strength building that can make even the most in-shape among us balk.
And though every class is different, the general tips for getting through your first ride are the same.
1. Get there early. Even if you reserved your bike online, you'll still need to set up your bike. Plus, if the class is really full and people are on the waitlist, your bike may be given away if you're running late.
2. Reserve a bike in the second row — the first row is usually filled with intense veteran spinners who take these classes religiously, and it can be helpful to watch both them and the instructor when you start out.
And even though it's tempting, don't sit in the way back. Knowing that riders are behind you and watching your pace can keep you motivated on hills and sprints.
3. Wear sweat-wicking clothes. You will sweat a lot during spinning in that hot little room. It's important to wear breathable clothing that wicks the sweat away from your body and won’t ride up. Women should wear leggings or bike shorts and a tank top, and men should wear shorts and a tank top.
4. Know what footwear you need. Some studios, like SoulCycle and Flywheel, offer clip-on cycling shoes for rent, but require all students to wear them. Others offer "basket" clip-ons that allow for students to wear their own sneakers during class.
If you're not sure what type of shoes you'll need to ride, give the studio a call ahead of class.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You'll want to be as hydrated as possible before entering the room or else you won't push yourself as hard. Bring a water bottle too for the (merciful) water breaks throughout the class.
6. Have the instructor or staff adjust your bike, but make sure it works for you. Having the seat pushed too far or not far enough forward can make all the difference in your comfort level. Start out with their advice and adjust the seat, handlebars, and height accordingly.
Also make sure everything is properly secured before locking yourself into the bike. Wobbly handlebars or a wiggling seat will take you mentally out of your workout.
7. Focus on your posture. Relax your upper body and hands. Riders tend to clench their shoulders and cling to the handlebars, but your hands should be soft (no 'white knuckles') and shoulders loose with your neck long and back straight.
It should feel like a lot of your weight is in your feet and legs — not in your hands — and that your core is engaged.
8. Go at your own pace and stay in the saddle. Observe the form and pace of the instructor and others around you. Listen to the music, and do the best you can. If you're really tired, bring down your resistance and try to keep up.
9. Stretch! Afterwards, your hips and quads will really be feeling your work out. Take the time to stretch either on or off your bike so that you avoid any future injuries.
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