If you love cycling but the idea of pedalling out in the midst of a downpour doesn't appeal to you in the slightest, then how about spinning classes? You can spin a couple of times a week alongside cycling to ensure that whatever the weather, you get a healthy dose of saddle time in each week.
Spinning has taken the nation by storm in recent years - everyone seems to be at it from the self-confessed cycling addicts to exercise-allergic office workers. What's so good about it that the UK can't get enough? We asked an international spinning master instructor, Michelle Colvin, to tell us exactly why we should all start spinning.
I actually wasn't fond of Spinning when I started back in 2000 because it was hard on my legs. However, as I began to get accustomed to the training and saw some weight loss and muscle definition appear, I was hooked. A spin class can burn on average 500 calories. Even at challenging levels, other cardio equipment couldn't burn that many calories in such a short time.
Spinning can be performed as an anaerobic exercise, pulling energy from reserves and building up muscular endurance over an extended period of time. However, there are also aerobic benefits. Spin classes include both endurance and cardiovascular training.
Heart health is an obvious benefit, as is lung capacity. As we work harder we will learn to work on controlled breathing, as well. This may help with anxiety and help lower the heart rate when in a situation where physical exertion begins to take the breath away.
Progress At Your Own Pace
If you prefer to pedal a little slower than the class then you can't get dropped, and you won’t feel out of place for not knowing an aerobics or step routine. No one knows what level anyone else is working at, and you are free to progress at their own pace.
In a spin class, the challenge is constantly changing. As you work through each level you tend to lose track of time. Using language and visualisation techniques, spinning instructors can create positive mental distraction and minutes pass by like seconds.
Several people avoid the treadmill, elliptical, and stair stepper because of the traumatic impact on their knees or feet but with spinning this impact doesn't exist.
It is also a good workout for those who cannot use the treadmill or elliptical because of arthritis. Indeed at the moment, I am using my spin classes to actually rehabilitate an injury I recently acquired to my medial collateral ligament caused by a bad fall whilst skiing. By keeping my knees symmetrically tracking with the cranks, there is no discomfort and I’m actually strengthening the area around the injury.
It will not take long for your efforts on a spin bike to show up as weight loss, but there is another great benefit to spinning: it uses large muscle groups in your legs. It doesn't take long before your thighs, hamstrings, and calves begin to take shape. Three spin classes a week will make a difference in the shapely appearance of your legs.
Lower Your Body's Workout Breaking Point
As you learn to work harder on the bike you will begin to find that the breaking point, at which you begin to feel the workout, will become lower the harder you work. The benefit is that once you reach a breaking point and work through it, you get the natural endorphin kick that most athletes enjoy.
The great thing about working your body into this kind of shape is that you feel better throughout the day and you have more energy. You are simply training your body to work more efficiently.
Get An Abdominal Workout
Spinning instructors should always cue reminders about technique and posture. Correct posture is important to work for the right muscle groups. In addition to the major leg muscles worked during a spin class, the abdominal muscles get a workout as well.
As you ride, unlike racing a bike on the road, you get an upper body rhythm going that helps you keep your leg rhythm. The movement from a slightly bent position and side to side works both the central abdominal muscles and those along the side of your abdomens. This is a technique known as rhythm release.
You may not see immediate results of your abdominal work, but over time you will feel your entire body begin to tone up, including your abdominals.
Regardless of your fitness level, riding spin bikes keeps everyone together. This goes beyond sitting in the same spin class, but each individual works equally as hard at their own level. It is amazing how you can feed off the energy of other riders when you begin to fatigue and start thinking you might want to quit.
Riding together also gives you the opportunity to encourage others. You can inspire those who have not yet reached your level of fitness, while those stronger than you inspire you. Working together, everyone who rides can reach their goals.
I've found Spinning does two things mentally. First, the warm up and cool down are great ways to relax. Before and after putting your body through a strenuous spin class you can close your eyes, work just a little, and allow the physical exertion to become a catharsis for releasing pent-up emotions.
Spinning also builds mental strength. When you ride, there are good days and bad. The important thing is that you carry through with your regular spin routine. Push through difficult times, work up the hill climbs and ride through the endurance training.
Self-discipline of the mind gained from spinning can be applied to all areas of life. It is most beneficial in areas of self-control and confidence. Spinning® really does help to develop a positive, "can do" attitude.
Michelle Colvin teaches spin classes week. Find a spin class near you.
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