Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

Fast Bikes & Spinning Wheels

Around a decade ago, I became a certified Spinning instructor and I thought (and still do) that this way of exercising was the coolest and edgiest way to be active, not to mention fun! These days, brands like Peleton and others have made this music-filled, rocky terrain workout more interactive and user-friendly for the rider. If you aren’t familiar with spinning in the benefits you get from it, don’t worry! Trainer John has got you covered! Grab a bike and let’s ride!

Bicycle exercising, young people on exercise bicycle

Spinning, whether in a studio or at-home on your Peleton, is a completely different experience than riding on a gravel road or trail. What the spinning ‘experience’ includes is a forty-five to an hour long ride, broken down into seven or eight parts. Each section of the ride covers terrain consistent with that of climbing a hill and then coming down the other side. As one would assume, the rider is going to experience an increased heart rate, an overall workout of the quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. Your core is also one of the major muscle groups engaged as well as your lower back. Aside from the muscles being worked, spinning is overall working your cardiovascular capacity to the limit and sometimes beyond. Spinning also challenges and works on improving your balance as well. During a spin ride, you literally switch positions constantly – sitting, standing, squatting. These positions combined with your pedaling cadence and speed challenges the rider to engage muscles to assist them in keeping their balance while riding.

A lot of people feel that they need to keep up with the pace and speed of the instructor, which is totally untrue. When I used to teach spin classes, I let my riders know ahead of time to go at their own pace if they were newer to spinning or they had certain health issues. The goal is to get a good workout, not kill yourself. Below are some tips to help make your ride a great one!

Happy professional bicyclist in cycling sportswear and protective helmet showing thumbs up sitting on bike in front of green trees and smiling to camera. Sportsman satisfied after morning training
  • Make sure your bike is setup properly. If your bike is setup wrong that means your form is wrong. When your form is wrong, it screws up the power and force that is put our on your bike. If you stand next to your spin bike, you want to measure the seat so that it’s the same height as your hip. This allows for a knee bend of 10-20%, which is ideal. If you aren’t sure, ask the instructor! They are there to help their riders get properly fitting on their bikes! If you want to find out beforehand, YouTube offers some terrific tutorial videos as well.
  • Challenge yourself. According to sports performance consultants, you want to make your spin class uncomfortable as far as your effort goes. Most of your best body adaptations come from suffering when it comes to cardiovascular fitness. For example, when the instructor makes a change in resistance, take your threshold number up higher.
  • Take advantage of online communities. If you’re a Peleton or other at-home user, they connect with others online taking the same class. There are tons of different features that allow you to connect with others in the spin community.
  • No need to worry. Drop those workout fears and get into not worrying so much about what people think or how your performance is. The main thing is to listen to your body and if something feels uncomfortable, it usually means something’s up that needs attending to. This is the only thing you really should be worried about. Everything else should be fun and experiencing the moment.
  • Wear the proper gear. Spinning with the wrong gear is uncomfortable and robs you from your overall performance during the ride. Wearing the right gear will ensure you get the most benefit out of your ride. That being said…Guys, this is super important. If you want your spin ride to be a comfortable one wear BIKE SHORTS! Specifically ones that have padding in them. If you’re not wearing shorts with padding, the inside of your thighs are going to feel raw and chafed so any type of shifting or walking your legs do is going to be irritating. TO be on the super safe side, you may want to put vaseline or baby powder on those delicate areas to avoid chafing even more. OF course, this applies to women as well but after my first spin class, this happened to me so I’ve got first hand experience unfortunately. Check your footwear too. Regular sneakers may be fine for ordinary bike rides but spin bikes are specific for spin classes and spinning rides. Special spin shoes are specifically designed for these bikes because they have pieces on the bottom that actually hook on and lock into the pedals of the bike so during your ride, your foot doesn’t slip off the pedals.

Spinning can be and is a lot of fun and a very effective way to workout if you don’t take things too seriously and just have fun with it. If you have questions, consult the instructor. They usually have heard or have been asked the question before. Once your find a class that is a good fit for you, mount your saddle and get ready to fly!

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John J. Schessler is a Pittsburgh-based Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach and host of the podcast, “ManAlive”, available on Apple Podcasts. He is also a certified Sports Injury Specialist and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist and Men’s Life Coach. If you have any training inquiries or questions, please email John at: j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com.

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