With winter upon us, indoor training becomes the norm for many of us in Hampton Roads. Gyms are crowded, personal training picks up , and attendance at group fitness classes is noticeably higher. If you follow the fitness industry, it becomes apparent over time that fitness is mostly about trends. Whether it be personal training, group fitness, or on line DVD’s, it’s all about what’s hot! Eventually, most next great fitness revolutions end up being trends and find there way to thrift shops, eBay, or craigslist. Indoor Cycling or ’Spin’ class seems to have bucked the trend.
Indoor Cycling classes were introduced in the late 80’s. They became the rage by the mid 90’s, and have remained a mainstay of the fitness industry since. You rarely see a gym discontinue ’Spin’ Class. Today, Indoor Cycling classes have evolved from a cardio workout largely benefiting the legs to a safe, ergonomic, versatile, total body workout when properly administered.
The spin bike is a low impact, ergonomically correct, cycling simulator that allows maximum adjustment for all sizes and fitness levels. You have a tension adjustment and a brake, but unlike a bike, it has a kinetic, fixed wheel that allows your momentum to be maintained at a greater rate. Ergo, once you get going, it encourages movement with less effort thus increasing the calories burned. 400-700 calories can be burned in a typical class with your weight, calorie burning potential, being the major determining factor.
Sitting and spinning on the bike utilizes the quads and glutes. Standing utilizes the hamstrings and calves if you focus on pulling up the pedals with your legs and pushing down with your shoulders. This will also begin to incorporate the upper body into the workout. Adjusting the handlebar to a lower level will introduce core training into the mix. Heavier tension helps build strength. Higher cadence, pedal speed, tones and aids in flushing lactic acid from muscles as they fatigue. Remember to maintain a good cadence when recovering for this reason. Spinning backwards integrates more muscle groups into the routine and can add variety to the workout. Various positions of the hands can further introduce muscle groups to the workout.
The safety aspect of the spin bike is pretty easy to adhere to. Proper bike fit is important. The most important aspects is the distance from the seat to your pedal. Too low causes knee pain, too high causes hip pain. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your leg is fully extended with your heel in the pedal. This will create a slight bend in the knee when the foot is properly latched into the basket cage of the pedal. The length of the fore and aft of the seat and handlebar height should be adjusted to comfort. Next, it is important to maintain a straight spine throughout your workout to avoid a lower back injury. Also, make sure your legs are parallel and your knees are not pointing outward or in rare cases inward. This can lead to significant knee pain. You should also be aware that if you haven’t been on a bike in a while your derriere, butt, is going to hurt. However, seat pads and padded shorts are available and recommended for relief. Try to sit and stand equally in class to avoid a pain in the derriere. Pain will decrease over time once your ischial tuberosity adapts. You may also encounter foot pain. Indoor cycling shoes are available with stiffer platforms to alleviate discomfort if necessary. Make sure you drink plenty of water or sports drink during class, dress appropriate, and bring a towel. You will perspire.
Introducing a Heart Rate Monitor adds another element to the Indoor Cycling experience. Heart Zones training allows you to monitor improvement and add purpose to every class. It’s like playing a video game with your heart. A Heart Rate Monitor and a good music mix can make an hour fly by. Once your heart gets in shape, you will see the need to incorporate many positions, tensions, and cadences to maintain a desired heart rate. A total body workout will evolve as a result.
As classes progress; boxing, dumbells, medicine balls, and pushups while spinning can be introduced to enhance the experience.
It’s important to remember to not do anything you are not comfortable with, and make sure you are using proper technique. If in doubt, always ask your instructor for assistance. Don’t be intimidated, and make the workout your own. You may discover why Indoor Cycling is not a fad and has withstood the test of time.
I encourage you to watch the attached slide show and view the variety of options available within the Indoor Cycling realm.