So your in a darkened, slightly claustrophobic room, sweat pouring down your face, legs feeling like jelly. You’re on an exercise bike, off the saddle, peddling so hard you wouldn't need ET’s help to take off. Looking around, your surrounded by other red faced cyclists, all gazing obediently to a kind of god like figure with a microphone at the front of the room. Orders are being thrown out from the speakers, bouncing off the walls and creating an almost electric atmosphere inside this prison of spinning wheels. You're gasping for more and more air, whilst your lungs fight to keep you conscious. Your legs have been working like this for 42 minutes and screaming so hard they can almost be heard over the music. You have 3 minutes left of this insanity, but don't worry you already knew that, because Mr.Microphone at the front wont let you forget it.
This however isn't insanity, this is just one of the thousands of spin classes happening daily across the globe. The new “hip” workout.
Spinning has in-fact been around since the late 70’s, but over the decades has slowly been growing in popularity and recently become something of a phenomenon. Now in every gym across the country there will indefinitely be “spinning” as an option as a class to take. Not only that, but companies such as Soul Cycle and Peloton Cycle don't have spinning as an option - its the only option. They operate solely on bringing the best spin classes around to paying customers.
Spinning has become a phenomenon for all the right reasons. You can train whatever the weather, its great for all abilities and fitness levels, and most of all it’s an incredibly effective workout for raising your cardio vascular fitness levels and burning calories (oh and you don't have to wear a helmet - duh). Speaking of the equipment you don't need, the only real cost of spinning is the class, since shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of trainers will do just fine.
In any given normal spin class, there will be various stages where the master instructor at the front will guide you through with an onslaught of motivational phrases and evermore electric power songs. As with most classes and forms of exercise, you will start with a warmup to raise your heart rate and circulate more blood to your muscles. Gradually the class will get more and more challenging till reaching a peak effort level. There are many ways the class will challenge you to work harder and get to this level, which will vary from class to class. For example, continuously raising the resistance on your pedals after the warmup, to the point where you might as well be wading through a swimming pool with lead soled shoes is a classic among spin class veterans. Other ways may include working above a certain level of revolutions of your wheels, or being out of your saddle for an extended period of time.
As you may have guessed, ultimately participants decide their own level of excursion within a class. Something may be much harder for a certain individual than another in a class, as the age and fitness of of each rider may range massively. This makes spinning perfect for even the most novice of spinners, working at as high a intensity they can whilst still being able to look over their shoulder and see a Wiggins-esque individual in the same class.
I myself have had the “pleasure” of taking part in many spin sessions, and feel it can be easy to slacken off from time to time during a class. This can happen for many reasons - most notably because your legs are shrieking from the excursion and throwing so many “please stop” signals to your brain its hard to not take notice. But that is exactly why the almost machine like human at the front of the class is there, to command and instruct you with their microphone to push all the barriers you think your hitting and get through it. A good instructor motivates and encourages, and pushes you to new boundaries to create one of the best full body, high intensity workouts there is.
Spinning is not only a great workout, its also one of the coolest. Recently a number of companies have sprung up across many major cities to bring their best spin classes to a major audience. For example Soul Cycle is one of those such companies, having started in 2006 with just a small studio in New York city. They now have 30 studios across the US and have plans for another 20 by 2016 - not bad for a cycling club. These such companies are now playing host to A-list celebrities who are looking see what all the hype about spinning is for themselves. Britney, Gaga and Bradley Cooper are just a handful of the stars who are looking to two wheels for their fitness fix. Oh and We almost forgot, since his retirement from professional football David Beckham has been pictured leaving a Soul Cycle studio in Brentwood, California after a spin class each morning for 3 days - now start peddling.
Don't be put off by our slightly gruesome explanation of a spinning class. Make no mistake they are tough, but nothing worth having ever came easy. If you've never been to a class, give it a go! Because who knows, Becks might even show up.
The Shake It® Team