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What is Spinning?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Spinning is a type of aerobic exercise, done by cycling indoors on a stationary "spinning" bicycle. Most gyms offer this type of indoor cycling either on its own, or as a class, and they are extremely popular. Most classes are structured similarly in each gym.

In a spinning class, an instructor will sit on a stationary bicycle in the front of the room, facing a room full of people each on their own stationary bicycle. Often, the lights are turned fairly low in the room, and there will frequently be loud music playing to help motivate the exercisers. The class will begin with a warm-up period, followed by a 30 to 45-minute class, and a cool-down period.

During the actual class, the instructor will call out visualizations for the students. For example, he or she might state that they are traveling up a hill, and they should stand up on their bicycles and push themselves harder. The purpose of the instructor is to motivate the students to increase their activity level and to vary their pace on the bicycle, thereby increasing their heart rate and receiving the most aerobic benefits. Students of all abilities and fitness levels may participate in this type of exercise class.

While spinning, the students are able to set the resistance levels on their bicycles themselves. This is beneficial if a student finds that pedaling at a certain level is becoming too challenging. It also allows students to slack off if they are not naturally inclined to push their athletic ability to its limits. Using a stationary bicycle in a class is an excellent way to burn calories in an activity that does not require a great deal of coordination.

Spinning is a great addition to a varied workout routine. This type of indoor cycling class should not be one's only source of exercise, however, because it works a fairly limited number of muscle groups, and can lead to muscle imbalances. It is important to do other aerobic activities such as brisk walking, jogging, or swimming, along with strength activities such as weight lifting to ensure that the whole body is being exercised.

Apart from an exercise bike, the only gear necessary is a water bottle, comfortable, hard-soled sneakers, a towel for wiping sweat, and exercise clothing that fits well. One of the benefits is that a helmet is not necessary. It may be a good idea to try an indoor cycling class before signing up for a package deal. If it is not a good fit, or one has sufficient self-motivation, it is possible to get the same workout independently on a stationary bicycle at the gym or by riding outside.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Glasis — On Feb 10, 2014
You're right, Certlerant; a variety of stationary bikes can be purchased for home use, but they are very expensive.

Also, as the article says, the best results come from an exercise routine with a variety of components.

The cost of home equipment and availability of every type of exercise equipment and instructions at a gym are good arguments for joining a gym.

Also, gyms have personal trainers on staff who can address fitness and nutrition needs and help tailor your routine to your specific lifestyle and needs.

By Certlerant — On Feb 09, 2014
For those slackers the article refers to, that is, people who want to ride the stationary bicycle for exercise, but do not want to push themselves as hard as an instructor may want, a spinning class may not be the best idea at all.

Most gyms today have bikes that can be set to functions that allow you to manually increase speed and incline level and even have preset courses to give the sensation of riding on a mountain trail or through the hills and valleys of a city.

These bikes can be purchased for home use, as well.

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