Spin, Spin, Spin
As a rower in high school indoor spinning classes were popular forms of cross training in between erg workouts and Salt Museum runs. In college I began to have an illicit love affair with spinning, whipping through lift routines in order make the midday class. So when eventually I fell out of love with rowing and decided to retire, I turned to the cycling team to fill the holes in my schedule and workout fixes. I love spin class, I’m great at it, and I’ve done hundreds of them. I’ll be awesome at cycling! This was my thinking as I signed up for the listserv at Student Activities day. It took one 2-hour ride for me to realize—spin class was NOTHING like riding a bike.
Spin classes shouldn’t be seen as parallel to actually getting out and riding your bike but it does provide benefits when added in to your fitness routine. Spin classes were an integral part of our team’s training in the winter. They are a fun way to get in a serious cardiovascular workout, racking up intensity and maxing out that heart rate. And who ever said working out shouldn’t be fun? Friends, music and a lively, creative instructor can make a spin class into something you look forward to doing and continuously coming back to. Unless you are doing hill repeats or sprints, it’s unlikely that you are getting in many intervals in your riding. Intervals teach your heart how to quickly increase and then come down. Each time you reach a certain heart rate and then bring it down, it will be a little bit easier to hit that heart rate once again. With this, your muscles develop a higher tolerance to lactate build-up and your heart is better able to deliver oxygen to the muscles you are so vigorously working. In short, intervals are a great way to strengthen your heart, deepen your lung capacity and increase your overall fitness level… without the hill repetitions, of course.
One crucial thing that spin classes are not strong in, however, is muscle building. You just can’t mimic a climb on a spin bike. And while the cardiovascular benefits of spinning are important, if you don’t have the muscle to back it up, your legs will be burning while your lungs are waiting for something to happen. The only way to climb a hill faster is to do it again. Just like the intervals, the more you hit the top, the more accustomed your body will be and the easier it is next time. Bike handling is another facet of riding that is lost on spin bikes. In a spin room, you are safe from broken glass, sand, wind and ice. While this is often the point of spin classes, many obstacles like these will still be present when the roads finally thaw over. If you plan on riding with a group, being able to handle your bike and being comfortable in wind or on rocky roads is imperative for safe riding. But it all comes with practice and logging in the time and miles. If you are a recreational cyclist and or new to the ride and prefer to learn the ins and outs of bikes when the weather is more forgiving, then spin classes are a fantastic way to keep your metabolism, fitness and spirits up through the cloudy and cold of Syracuse this season.
We’ll be offering several classes throughout the week starting in November. So stay tuned and keep checking back to find out which class will fit for you.