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Spinning for Real Cyclists

Spinning for Real Cyclists

If one of the main attractions of cycling is getting outside and exploring the great outdoors, what possibly can be the attraction of spinning?  You’re locked in a dark sweat box for an hour and shouted at by an over enthusiastic instructor (or worse an unenthusiastic instructor who doesn't even get on their own bike!) whilst pounding the pedals at a ridiculous pace and power to keep the heavy fly wheel moving. People pay to do that?! 

Yes they do. Lots of them.

Spinning if done right is in the premier league of calorie-burning gym classes. You're looking at burning a whopping 400 to 600 calories during a 40 minute class. OK it doesn’t replicate riding on the road, nor is it really trying to, but a spin class thrashes the alternatives (such as 40 minutes on a standard exercise bike).

And yes it is fun. I get to listen to dance music newer than my 90s vintage collection As the pedals spin faster and the endorphins are generated, combined with the right sound track and spin class can deliver a natural and healthy high. 

With the right instructor, the right music, a challenging programme and the right attitude in the class you can leave the spin studio exhausted and elated at the same time. Actually that last point is important. Get the level of class right and the static peloton can create an attitude that sees everyone drive themselves to their pain and endurance thresholds and beyond.

It’s not competitive, it's collective!

So what type of cyclists should spin? All of them of course.  Anyone staring out riding a bike, maybe you’ve signed up for a charity ride or a sportive, use spinning to build a base cycling fitness and start to develop the muscles you’re going to need on the road. 

More experienced cyclists can use spinning to supplement their winter training programme when road miles are limited by the bad weather. Or maybe your work doesn’t make commuting by bike viable. If you can fit a gym session into the working day, then consider a spin class.

Lastly it’s a good way to come back from an injury and start building base miles if you’ve fallen behind target. Because like ‘real’ cycling, spinning isn’t load bearing - so you can start back on the spin bike earlier than other forms of exercise (best get your physiotherapist’s or doctor’s all clear first).

Use it as your cardio, a means to a fitness enhancing end, or integrate Spinning into your wider cycling or just enjoy it for 40 minutes when you are uninhibited to push yourself as hard as you can, with no coasting downhill or getting stuck in traffic.

It’s just you, 20 other spinning lunatics, the music, the lights, the instructor, the bike and an ever growing puddle of sweat on the floor.


the author

Ben Walder

Ben is a keen cyclist, road and mountain biking, runner, skier and even enjoyed a brief flirtation with boxing. He’s cycled John O Groats to Lands End, London to Paris in 24 hours, 5 countries in 3 days and ticked off some legendary climbs from the Tour de France. When he’s not dragging his mates out on cycling adventures across Europe he’s being dragged around by his 2 young daughters to karate, ballet, gymnastics, tennis and swimming..