Stuff We Love: 4 Essentials for Spinning Class

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/2/2011 10:00 AM   :  41 comments   :  84,093 Views

I have had a strong and unwavering love of Spinning ever since I took my first class 10 years ago. Soon after, I completed my certification to teach Spinning and I've been teaching at least once class per week for the last several years. And this time of year, Spinning is a great workout when you don't want to go outside, but don't necessarily want to trudge on the treadmill for an hour.

I teach at a gym where a lot of serious cyclists train. They take Spinning mostly when the weather is too bad to train outdoors, and you can easily pick them out of the crowd with their cycling shoes, padded bike shorts and cycling jerseys, water bottles (or often, sports drinks), watches, and bandanas. It can be intimidating for any newcomer to the class. But technically, you don't need anything special for Spinning. Standard workout clothes, a hard-soled pair of athletic shoes, and a water bottle will do just fine. But there are a few extras you could consider purchasing in order to make your ride more comfortable—and get more out of it. Want to know my must-haves for Spinning?

Gel Seat Cover ($15-$30)
As often as I ride, it's important to stay comfortable. The saddle (seat) on a Spinning bike can be very uncomfortable for most people. They say that you get used to it after a few weeks of riding, but I for one never got "used to" the hard saddles on the Spinner bikes. One solution is to wear padded cycling shorts; these are super comfortable and can be worn in Spinning and when biking outdoors, but they're also pricey ($40-$100 a pop). And if you ride many days per week, you'd need several pairs (think: $$$). So I invested in a gel seat cover. I keep it in my bag and tote it to and from class. My first ($25 from Spinning.com) lasted for several years' worth of 5-times-a-week Spinning classes. When that one wore out, I bought a less expensive version from Target that's hung in well for the last few years. Compared to that hard, uncomfortable bike seat, using a gel seat is like sitting on a cloud! This is the best investment I've ever made!

Cycling Shoes ($85-$300)
Cycling shoes are a bigger investment, but you can find great deals on a good pair of shoes. I've seen people buy them for as little as $40 during end-of-season (or online) sales. If you go to Spinning regularly (or ride outdoors), clipping in to your pedals makes a world of difference. Cycling shoes make a huge difference in your Spinning classes, and they last a really long time because they don't get worn down from impact the way running shoes do. They connect your foot directly to your pedal (no more pesky cages around your shoes) and with that better connection, you're able to pull up more strongly, which means greater speed, smoother pedal strokes and better hamstring engagement. That adds up to one great workout. Most Spinning bikes are compatible with SPD or LOOK cleats (cleats are usually a separate purchase from the shoe itself, around $20), so check your facility first to see which types of pedals they have. My shoes by Pearl Izumi cost $125. I've worn them indoors and out for more than five years now, and hope to continue wearing them much longer!

Heart Rate Monitor ($50-150)
I can't imagine working out without my heart rate monitor. Once you get one, you'll wonder how you went so long without it. It's always important for you to monitor your intensity level during exercise, and Spinning is no exception. Most Spinning classes put large emphasis on specific heart rate zones, so a monitor will help you know exactly how hard you're working so you can adjust if you need to. I recently upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner watch with a heart rate monitor. It was pricey, but it does so many things (measures my running pace and distance, too) and I'm completely happy with it. You can find a great heart rate monitor without all the bells and whistles for less money though. Here's a guide to shopping for one.

Reebok Compression Shorts ($20)
These are my new favorite workout shorts. You can't beat the price—or the fit. They stay put with no bunching or chafing, and I can wear them for running, strength training and of course, Spinning! These are great for riding b/c they don't, well, ride up. While you can wear any kind of bottoms for a Spinning class, shorts of Capri pants are best. Avoid long pants that could get caught in the pedals when you ride.

Now tell me: Are you a fan of Spinning classes? Have you invested in any of these items? If so, did they make a difference for you?

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Comments

  • 41
    I have a gel seat cover and it makes a huge difference. I don't think I could make it through a 45 minute class without it. I'm now weighing the idea of buying special shoes but I haven't decided yet. - 6/19/2013   10:54:46 AM
  • 40
    I know this is old, but I'm trying my first class this week. Can't wait! - 9/2/2012   10:13:39 PM
  • 39
    Love spinning it really has helped me with my cycling and my endourance.. level
    great work out even for beginners - 4/2/2012   6:21:38 PM
  • 38
    I've been going since late January. At first I had to force myself - and my motto was "what fails to kill me only makes me stronger". It's took several weeks but I finally got the hang of pacing myself better, and now this has actually become fun - sort of! I've got a Garmin watch/heartrate monitor and find it helpful.
    My classmates are mostly college students - I'm twice as old as they are - but I don't care.
    Today was the best I've done so far - pretty much kept up with the standing/sprinting/etc. AND felt fairly perky at work afterwards. If I push too hard then I'm exhausted for the rest of the day.
    I've been biking outside a bit this spring and have noticed I'm stronger going up hills now. - 4/2/2012   6:12:14 PM
  • 37
    I have been to spin class 1 - 3 times per week since January... I love it... I still can't do all the standing, and hovering that the instructors ask, but I can do a lot more than in my first couple of weeks. I have a memory foam seat cover, and I wear shorts and t-shirt and my regular workout shoes. I would like to get the cycling shoes, but that will have to wait. Water is always a must. :)

    I sometimes do a cardio dance class after the spin class.... makes for a great cool down. :) Other times, I do a strength and toning class before spin class. - 4/2/2012   12:08:33 PM
  • 36
    I want to give spinning a try and this blog has lots of nice tips. I think a gel seat for $15 would be a worthwhile investment. - 4/2/2012   11:08:32 AM
  • 35
    I love spin! I am currently looking for a strapless heart rate monitor that won't break my bank but is accurate. I 've had the $30 range versions and they just weren't reliable, but the heart rate with strap version just isn't comfortable for me and becomes a distraction. If anyone can recommend a good one then I would love to add it to my spin arsenal. - 4/2/2012   8:19:23 AM
  • DAWNMARIENYSSE
    34
    I have been attending "group cycling" classes (the name Spin is copywritten I believe) at several local YMCA's for over a year. It is a terrific workout and you can dial your resisitance up or down according to your own ability when you begin. The heart rate monitor is great, and dont underestimate your need for water. I always freeze about 2 inches of my 20 ounce water bottles, so I bring 2 bottles to class, since I drink it faster than it thaws. You can expect "bike butt" the first coupel times you ride, but keep at it and it will get to where you don't notice at all, even without padded shorts or a gell seat. The classes gave me confidence to buy a bike and now I ride at the YMCa during the bad weather, but outside when I can. I even asked for bike racks at my work. - 3/23/2011   12:54:01 PM
  • MICHELLETENNANT
    33
    I started spinning regularly Jan 2011 and since I took measurements 1/28/11 I am down 2 inches on every major body area for a TOTAL OF 10.5 INCHES. I am not new to exercise, but I am new at actually seeing results from my efforts. I'm so in love with spinning (and the results I see) I have decided to get certifed next weekend -- just for fun. - 3/19/2011   10:53:54 PM
  • 32
    Just took my 1st spin class & was happy that I was able to do the entire thing. The only problem is that the gym no longer allows the instructors to use their own music so they don't know what song is coming up next which is definitely bad for the class. I've gone in and used the spin bikes a few times during my workouts when there isn't a class and it is a great workout; gets my heart rate up & really burns those calories! - 2/27/2011   9:39:28 AM
  • 31
    I recently tried this class, and loved it, but when I got off that seat, I couldn't believe how bad my tush hurt. lol. I will get the gel seat and give it another try. - 2/20/2011   10:55:16 AM
  • 30
    I've only done "spinning" once. It was actually called Group Cycling b/c neither of our Y's instructors are true Spinning certified. It was love/hate for me too. For one thing I was not comfortable even though the 4 very young and buff guys (yes males) that I worked out with were very nice and didn't ridicule me I still felt out of place with me huffing and puffing and sweating like a horse! Also, it wasn't only my rear end that hurt really, really bad after class, but my private area too! I haven't been back yet, but plan to try a class with more women in it. I just need to figure out the schedule. The things I loved: 1) sweating like a horse 2) my HR staying in a max zone and the intervals within the class 3) being able to follow the class without seeing.... As you know, I'm blind and cycling is a great group cardio class for a person who can't see, or can't see well. The instructor showed me how to adjust my tension and while I may not had it on exactly 7 or 5, I knew my ranges and could adjust. The next time I do go I may buy one of those seat covers and it may be a better experience for me! LOL! - 2/4/2011   6:04:05 PM
  • 29
    I just started spinning. First class had me signing up for 5 more. 2nd class wasn't sure if I wanted to go back. 3rd class ... LOVING IT!!! Everyone should give it a chance. - 2/4/2011   11:41:17 AM
  • 28
    Back when I was a kid (a LONG, LONG time ago), I would ride for miles and miles all over town. I'll have to see when spinning class is held at my local Ys (one by work and one by home). - 2/3/2011   2:48:10 PM
  • 27
    I came to LOVE spinning. Taking the lesson from SparkPeople, I prudently started off slowly and increased speed and resistance as I felt able, absolutely ignoring what the other riders might think of me. (It is not about me, they were concentrating on their own performances.) I built up to three times a week.

    After proving to myself that I would stick with it, I bought a heart rate monitor. Following the HRM numbers, seeing them improve and competing against myself really added energy to my workout.

    My next purchase will probably be cycling shoes and compression capris. - 2/3/2011   1:23:24 PM
  • FREELIKEME
    26
    I love spinning class. My kids and I participate in a family spin class at our local Y. Thanks for sharing the info on the padded seat because that is always my challenge. - 2/3/2011   1:06:52 PM
  • 25
    I've not been to a spinning class, I don't think my knees could handle it, but I know I would love it, if I could go. - 2/3/2011   12:12:28 PM
  • 24
    I spin four to six days a week depending on my schedule. Recently, I bought a heart rate monitor and it's makes a big difference in my workout. I've been spinning regularly for about a year. I started five years ago and stopped, I wish I would have continued. I plan on getting my spinning certificate by next year. It's my favorite workout! - 2/3/2011   1:04:43 AM
  • 23
    I have been wanting to try Spinning for some time now, but have yet to do it. There are a few Spinning classes at my school gym and I really need to buck and go! - 2/3/2011   12:55:40 AM
  • 22
    I take Spinning once or twice a week. I did invest on the gel pad. Yes, Yes Yes, IT DOES WORK!!!! woohoo. - 2/3/2011   12:16:46 AM
  • 21
    Love the shoes! Love my heart rate monitor...I am padded enough for the seat...never heard of the shorts or padded ones at that...I ride heavy and hard. The heart rate monitor changed the way I work out- what I perceived was different from what I achieved. - 2/2/2011   11:16:00 PM
  • 20
    My DD is 20 & she joined a gym last year & went to a SPIN class as it was offered there. She did the full hour along with 7 other women. After they were finished, they all came up to her and the instructor was amazed. She was the first NEW person who'd ever done the full hour class on the first day since the Instructor began teaching the class 8 years ago. My DD just laughed. - 2/2/2011   10:42:42 PM
  • 19
    I started a spinning class at the beginning of January (2011) and I love it! As an obese, middle-age woman, I was highly nervous about going. I didn't think I would be able to keep up. The truth is the class is run in such a way that you can workout to your own abilitiy and no one is the wiser. When the instructor calls out to make an increase in resistance or pick up your cadence (how fast you pedal) you just do the best you can. I think it is a phenominal form of exercise. I just completed 5 weeks and I am hooked! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a good workout. Yes, it will be hard work, but isn't that why you workout in the first place? Spinning gets results! - 2/2/2011   10:00:32 PM
  • 18
    I have never participated in a spin class, but love riding my bike in spring and autumn.
    The local YMCA has spin classes, so I reckon I will try out a class- with water bottle for sure! - 2/2/2011   4:39:37 PM
  • 17
    I ride a bike outdoors. Have never participated in spinning. - 2/2/2011   2:54:45 PM
  • 16
    I LOVE SPINNING! It is completely addicting. Unfortunately my gym I moved to about a year ago has a really poor program and the instructors call it "cycling" so they don't scare anyone away from the intensity that spinning is known for. I'm looking into getting my certification and trying to start teaching. It also inspired me to save up money for a road bike. I can't wait to buy it and get outside for some rides. - 2/2/2011   1:58:37 PM
  • 15
    Spinning is what I do on my alternate days from running. I love it so much, I finally broke down and bought a spin bike for home last weekend (Pro--Form SPX on sale for $299 regular $799!). We've had snow and ice here for two days so I couldn't run or got to the club, but lo and behold, I got in 60 minutes this morning and 90 minutes yesterday. Size 8 here I come!! - 2/2/2011   1:49:12 PM
  • 14
    I started spinning when I joined Spark People and found out that I was not able to walk on the treadmill. I have had both hips replaced now but enjoy the spinning so much and have just continued. I read a good book while spinning so have some real me time while getting some cardio! I spin every morning and could hardly manage 5 minutes at a time when I first started but have progressed to 30 minutes and 6 miles a day. - 2/2/2011   12:36:58 PM
  • JILLSKY
    13
    I have a love/hate relationship with spinning. I know it's good for me and that's why I do it but it is such a challenging workout and sometimes I push myself to far. - 2/2/2011   12:10:21 PM
  • 12
    I love spin! I dont have shoes, a seat cover, or shorts. But remember the water bottle for sure. Our gym has recently introducted the RPM spin classes and they are great - 2/2/2011   12:03:24 PM
  • SPINNER86
    11
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE SPINNING!!!!! It is my most favorite activity and a class that I will move mountains to take. I bought the clip in shoes 1 month after my first class, I knew Ilikeit that much. 5 years later, things haven't changed. I won 1st prize in the Spinning section (w SPUN for 3 hrs) when my gym raised money for a local charity and got the gel pants. I would never buy them but they are nice to have.

    Sue - 2/2/2011   11:59:12 AM
  • 10
    I loved spinning so much, I became an instructor !! As for what do I have, I have the HRM and the cleats. I don't use the gel seat or padded shorts. When I asked my instructor what to do about a sore tushie after class, she said,"your butt muscles will toughen up with time" and she was right.

    Also, I didn't buy the cleats just to ride inside. I use them when I ride outside too. In general, a person doesn't need cleats to get a good spinning workout.

    - 2/2/2011   11:37:21 AM
  • 9
    I love spin class. I will start back soon! - 2/2/2011   11:29:10 AM
  • ABLANEY10
    8
    I have been spinning twice a week for the past 8 months. I love it...when I do have to miss a class, which is rare, I'm not myself. I definitely recommend the shoes if you're planning to stick to it, I wouldn't invest in them if you're trying it for the first or second time. I don't use a seat cover, and after the first week it didn't bother me, but I'm participating in a 6 hour spin-a-thon so I may purchase one before that. - 2/2/2011   9:12:17 AM
  • MTHURNAUER
    7
    I also teach spinning and having a pair of shoes really helps. I got a pair for my wife and another pair I gave to someone in my class that I bought on ebay for about $25 per pair. There is certainly a risk of buying something online without trying them on, but if they don't fit right, just resell them back on ebay and try another. - 2/2/2011   9:10:20 AM
  • 6
    My Dad has been challenging me to do this. I think that will be my challenge for myself in February. Get myself fit enough to do a spinning class. :) - 2/2/2011   8:49:39 AM
  • 5
    I spin regularly and will miss my class today with the weather. I own spin shoes, a heart rate monitor and at first needed the bike shorts, but now dont need them.

    I am a spin junkie!
    - 2/2/2011   8:18:22 AM
  • 4
    Thanks for the blog! It seems that I will be making some purchases in the near future. - 2/2/2011   7:48:02 AM
  • 3
    I have been spinning regularly - couple to several times a week - for several years. It is my first choice for a great workout that leaves me feeling invigorated, strong and challenged. I've been able to spin through back issues - and spinning was the first exericse I came back to after the initial 3-month recovery period following multi-level spinal fusion surgery and intense physical therapy. A real perk is the calorie burn. Spinning is a great way to help keep weight under control. I use a gel seat pad and clip shoes regularly. I've bought the bike shorts but use them mostly for outside rides. Inside it's usually close-fitting capris and a sleeveless shirt. Water bottle - I take two 20oz. bottles for my 60 minute rides! - 2/2/2011   7:43:19 AM
  • 2
    I started a spinning class a few months ago and love it! It really kicked in when I started going at least two times a week. I have never been an endurance person and running hurts my knees and back. With spinning I am able to stick with it and I am increasing my endurance. The gym I spin at has bikes that lean so that we can work out the whole body. I have a gel seat and agree it is a must. I am thinking of getting the shoes that click in and appreciate your critique. - 2/2/2011   7:27:11 AM
  • ZUMBAWITHTASHA
    1
    This is right on time... I am going to my first spin class and I see two purchases I will be making before I go... the shoes and seat cover: -) - 2/2/2011   7:26:14 AM

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