Have You Considered Spinning?

Winter is here and the cold air and short daylight make the warm cozy bed that much more inviting. We are moving into that phase where most of us go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Add in the estimated 4,300 calories the average American consumes at Thanksgiving, and it’s a wonder that we can even get out of bed on Black Friday.{{more}}

Indoor cycling group exercise classes are one of the easiest ways to break the funk, hibernating tendencies, and constant hunger pangs that come with winter. Imagine being in a music-filled room with other riders pedaling through a preplanned targeted workout and grinning from the endorphins they are releasing while being coached by a certified instructor. What could be more fun? The hard work is done; all you have to do is ride and enjoy. You have the camaraderie of your fellow riders and coached by a certified instructor giving you encouragement and technical tips to get through the challenging sections. The hour is gone and you never once checked the time! If you can walk in the mall hour after hour sustaining the impact from the concrete, you can ride a bike for an hour. Because it is a non-impact activity, you are able to do it for a longer time and more often (volume and frequency). Maintaining a consistent schedule for six weeks will result in a sustained increase in metabolism.

Indoor cycling’s purpose is cardiovascular conditioning; strengthening the heart and lungs so the body can endure activity for an extended period of time without fatigue or injury. The legs are the vehicle that propel the conditioning and will increase muscular endurance. This means that they will be able to sustain a given level of resistance for an extended time period, such as repeatedly walking up stairs. Will your legs get bigger? No, but you are likely to see a change in shape.

Will you tone the muscles in your upper body? No. All the body’s muscle groups are not equally stressed in this activity, therefore it is not a full body workout, but other than the legs, the rest of the body is engaged in balance and stability. The deep postural muscles are used to counter and control the forces applied by the legs which in turn facilitate increased blood flow to the muscles and joints. Proper cycling technique that is both safe and effective relies on a relaxed upper body.

Will you reduce the extra weight in your midsection? With proper nutrition, probably. Your entire body is burning calories, not just your legs

Your instructor is a coach, not an entertainer. If you are being entertained by his/her antics on the bike, then there’s a good chance that the instructor is using and encouraging contraindicative movements. If you want to burn more calories, ride faster with increased resistance.

Ready to take your first class? Begin by arriving 10 to 15 minutes early and introduce yourself to the instructor explaining that this is your first class. Bike set up is the first step to a comfortable and safe ride. The instructor will explain the bike mechanics and properly set you up (seat height and forward position, handlebar height) without feeling rushed. During class, h/she will also coach the movement technique rather than simply giving the commands. Treat your first class as a learning experience. Adjust the resistance knob frequently so you can begin to understand the range of your resistance. If a portion of the ride becomes too demanding, cut the resistance back to a comfortable level so you can catch your breath. Relax and enjoy the ride!

Lesley is a health and fitness professional providing a balanced approach toward a healthy lifestyle. She can be reached at lmgiovanelli@gmail.com.