If you’re a biker and you step into a spinning class, you may recognize a few things. Copious amounts of spandex with padding around the seat, rigid cycling shoes with a three-bolt cleat (oh, the rhymes of sports). But if you’ve had little experience on a bike since you had streamers on your handlebars, it may look a little intimidating.
Here are 8 tips and pointers for any new student:
1) Tell the instructor you’re new to spinning, and come early. They’ll teach you how to adjust the seat and handlebars so there is minimum knee or hip strain. It’s easy to learn and soon you’ll be doing it yourself.
2) Spinning shoes are designed to transfer power from the cyclist to the pedals by strapping your feet in. Don’t worry about buying a pair before you know if you love spinning. If you have some, work at getting the foot into the cleat by bringing the pedal to six o’clock (the bottom of the pedal stroke) and standing quite firmly on that leg while wiggling it slightly forward and back until you hear a click. You’re in! If you have traditional running shoes, wear the pedal strap, and make sure it is adjusted to be firmly strapped on your foot.
3) Take it easy. There’s a lot of fast movement, and sometimes quite a bit of ‘leaving the saddle’ (standing on the pedals and leaning forward as you confront a hill). Don’t worry about increasing the tension if it feels like too much already, and if you ever feel it in your knees, pull back!
4) Spinning music is often blasted. If you’re sensitive to loud noise, bring earplugs (some studios may carry these for you).
5) The knob underneath the handlebars is what you want to turn towards the right when the instructor tells you to increase tension. Make sure all tension is off when you begin the class by turning the dial to the left. Some instructors will tell you to “dial two full turns” or something along those lines. Remember that every bike is different and every body is different, so the number of turns will not be effective to bring everyone in the class to the same level, on the same ride. Listen for other cues, such as “this is a small hill” to bump up the tension to what you would imagine this would feel like.
6) A quick lesson on hand positions: two hands close together on the first handlebar is first position. The hands taken wider on the handlebars is second position. When you reach your arms to the farthest tips of the handlebar, that is third position. Be careful of fast “pushup” exercises on the bike – without control, these can do very little for your arm muscles and too much for your elbow joints.
7) Drink a lot of water. You may be focusing on all of the things you’re trying to remember, but make sure to bring a big bottle of water to enjoy as often as possible. It can be easy to feel dizzy when you’re dehydrated, but this easy to prevent. Sweat, drink, and sweat again.
8) Bring a towel to drape over the handlebars to wipe away all that juicy sweaty goodness.
Enjoy the ride!