What To Expect At Your First Spin Class

Spin classes were always a mystery to me. I remember trudging along on my treadmill at the gym and staring into the cycling room. Those people are intense. There is crazy music, lots of yelling, and more sweat than a hot yoga class. Despite the intense workout, people in spin class always look so happy. They are clearly having fun climbing those pretend hills, so I had to try it.

To be honest, I did not feel happy the entire class. In fact, I spent much of the class deciding that this was way too hard and I wasn't going back. However, after a while something took over. I had a shot of endorphins and felt amazing. I started to feel what all those happy cyclists feel. I was amazed what my body was capable of. I felt the true community that spin class offers. I was hooked.

If you have also been perplexed by those happy, sweaty cyclists, maybe it's time to give it a try. From what to wear to when to arrive, we've got you covered for your first spin class!

Benefits of spinning

Spinning provides an insane workout while being gentle on the joints. This is especially great for people who have sore knees or achy backs from pounding the pavement or treadmill too hard. Because of the varying intensity levels throughout class, spinning provides a great cardio workout, as well as strength training. Spin targets and tones the thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and core. It's been proven to help you drop that stubborn weight and even prevent migraines!

Spin is also just fun. It's perfect for those people who love the music and energy of those dance workouts, but have absolutely no rhythm. Look for "themed" classes, like disco or a '90s music tribute. Working out with Britney and 'NSYNC? Yes, please!

Most bikes also provide your mileage and calories burned, so you get to see real time results as you work out. Hello, motivation!

What to wear

Start with comfortable clothes that aren't too tight. Stick with breathable, wicking fabrics so you're not weighed down by the buckets of sweat to come.

If this is your first class, don't feel like you need the padded shorts and cycling shoes. Just wear your normal running shoes. If the gym requires cycling shoes, rent some. Those are a pretty big investment, so make sure it's a good fit before spending that kind of cash.

What to bring

First, do not make the mistake I made at my first class and go without a water bottle. Even if you're one of those annoying people who "just don't sweat," believe me, you will. You won't make it through class without one. My kind instructor took pity on me and actually gave me hers.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before your class, too. The instructors at Soul Cycle recommend hydrating and eating a light snack about 30 minutes before class. This will give you fuel, but won't upset your stomach during the class.

And while you're at it, toss in a sweat towel, too. Don't want to bring one from home? The gym should provide them. Just make sure to toss it in the gym laundry after you're finished.

If you like wearing a heart rate monitor, feel free to bring that as well. Your heart rate will be up there in the middle of class, so it's a nice way to make sure you're hitting your target.

Arrive early

Spin classes are popular! Make sure you reserve your spot and come at least 10 to 15 minutes early. Some gyms even give you the option to reserve a bike online. This will give you a chance to claim your bike and start to feel comfortable.

Make sure to meet your instructor and let her know that it's your first class. Definitely let her know if you have any injuries or health conditions that could affect your workout. Even though it sounds scary, grab a bike towards the front. This will give you a better view of the instructor, and she'll be able to help you make adjustments during class. Your instructor will be able to help you set up your bike, too.

Instructor not there yet? Don't be afraid to reach out to someone in class for help with your bike or any questions you have. Spin classes truly foster a community, so you'll have no trouble finding a friendly face. Any who doesn't like to be thought of as a regular or expert?

Set up your bike

Stand next to your bike and position the seat at about hip level. This will allow you to comfortably sit with a slight bend in your knees.

Position the handlebars to allow a slight bend in your elbows. Depending on the type of bike, you may be able to adjust both their height and distance from the saddle (seat). If the handlebars are too far from you, you'll end up straining your back as you hunch forward for 60 minutes.

Make sure to buckle your feet into the pedals. The balls of your feet should sit in the center of the pedals.

Knowledge is power

Spin classes have a language all their own. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the numbers your instructor will be calling out during class. These numbers refer to where you should position your hands on the handlebars. Position 1 refers to placing your hands on the center of the bar. For the majority of class, your hands will be on the side of the bar, or position 2. Your instructor may occasionally call out position 3, which is used during standing intervals.

Sit up straight

Turns out that advice from your sixth grade teacher is actually true. Good posture is good for your health, especially in spin class. Try to stay mindful of your back during class. It's far too easy to slump forward over the handlebars, especially as you climb yet another hill. Focus on keeping your shoulders pulled back and down. Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your core engaged. Finally, focus on keeping your feet flat against the pedals, instead of just your toes.

Go at your own pace

The great thing about spin class is that you're in total control. You can slow down or ease up on the resistance whenever you feel like you need a break. Don't be distracted by what everyone else is doing. This is your workout, so enjoy it. Remember, spinning is not a competitive sport.

If you start to feel like you need a break, just remember to keep pedaling. Your legs will start to fatigue during class. Slow down or go all the way down to no resistance, but keep those legs going. There are always risks to suddenly stopping in the middle of an intense workout. The shift can be too quick for the body to catch up and result in feeling lightheaded or even passing out. Not a good look on your first day in a new class.

It's also likely that you'll feel some "saddle soreness" when you first start spinning. Those seats are not made to be comfortable, so if you need a break, try standing up on the bike or leaning forward. This soreness should go away after a few classes.

Fun instructors

Sitting on a stationary bike could get boring pretty quickly. You're not actually going anywhere, there's not much to look at, and you're sitting down. That is why spin classes have some of the most fun and vibrant instructors. Spinning is a unique form of indoor cycling, and spin instructors actually have their own certification.

Your instructor is there to lead you, challenge you, and yes, maybe even yell at you. It comes out of love, though! They have a big job of keeping everyone totally engaged in the workout for a full 60 minutes. Expect yelling, fist bumping, and blaring music. Oh, and a pretty tough workout.

And what if you're not in love with the instructor? No problem. Spin classes are so popular now, you will have plenty of instructors and gyms to choose from. Just try something new.

Climb that hill

Your instructor will keep you and your muscles fully engaged the entire class. Expect a mix of climbing hills, sprinting, standing, and flat rides. By changing up the pace and intensity, your instructor will make sure you get an amazing workout. On average, an hour-long spin class can burn up to 400 to 600 calories.