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Spinning classes!!??(19 posts)

Spinning classes!!??MXL02
Jul 30, 2002 1:39 PM
I went to spinning class this AM with my wife. When I told the instructor I was a Roadie, she got somewhat intimidated and said, "Wow, maybe you otta teach the class." We all laughed and then started the class (and I'm thinking this is going to be a piece of cake). I then proceeded to get my A$$ kicked. It's like a 45 minute sprint interspersed with some major climbs. I was dying at the end.

My question: does stationary spinning translate effectively for cycling conditioning?
re: Spinning classes!!??jtolleson
Jul 30, 2002 1:54 PM
To a point. It emphasizes high intensity, so an HRM is great to ensure you are doing reasonable interval work (spending both enough time above and below LT). I definitely felt that I got stronger, especially for intervals and climbing.

It can't substitute for endurance oriented base miles, but I'm a pretty big fan of spinning.
re: Spinning classes!!??stevesbike
Jul 30, 2002 2:03 PM
check out Arnie Baker's book, smart cycling, for effective stationary trainer workouts and compare to what you did in the spin class for how it might translate. Since you went with you wife, it seems the biggest benefit of the class won't work for you--the favorable male/female ratio!
re: Spinning classes(long)!!jjdbike
Jul 30, 2002 2:20 PM
Spinning RULES!
I am a cyclist & a Spinning instructor. Yes Spinning is cycle-like, but its not your bike, on your roads or race course. But the muscels and fitness transfer very well INMO. I think the biggest possible weakness & variable is the instructor. Many instructors have never been on a bike that actually moves. Also, many are group fitness/aerobics people who treat it like an aerobics calss instead of a trainning session. I belive that for an effective Spinning class, everyone should have on a HR monitor, know how to use it, & know their own respective zones. Classes should be catorgerised based uppon the FITT principal (ie. frequency, Intensity, time, type). The true Spinning classes are supposed to be divided into "energy zones." These are endurance (LSD), strength (climbing), interval, and Race day (all out the whole time).
It is no substitue of course for out door miles. But when its too hot, cold, wet, dark, or you just want to train w/ some cool people w/ some cool tunes, its great! The fixed gear can really help smooth out your stroke. You can close you eyes & work on your breathing, stroke, posture, or you gan crank down the resistance and work strong exploseive sprints!
By the way. In my opinin, for a Spinning instructor to be effective they need much more than the minimum training of the Spinning program. It is good, but not enough. They need to have e deep understanding of cycling, periodization, and exercise physiology. So make sure that you find a good & well quailfied instructor & a good class. The first clues are 1. does the instructor have on a HRM 2. do the participants. 3. is the class profile (type/energy zone)titeled, labeled, or introduced? 3. do some or most of the people in the room look like they are cyclists (i.e. bike shorts, shoes, great legs etc.) If so hop on & ride on. If not, hit the life cycle.
Quick questions.fracisco
Jul 30, 2002 2:39 PM
1. What type of pedals do spinning bikes normally use?

2. How does the spinning bike fit? It seems like it could be detrimental to spin a lot if the position on the bike was bad.

3. How do you fit spinning into your overall road miles as a workout? Is it on a break day, or do you do it as a replacement for what would be a training ride?
Quick questions.MikeBu
Jul 30, 2002 3:02 PM
The spinning bikes I have seen, Schwinn, use Mountain Bike SPD pedals on one side and have a clip cage on the other side.

The bikes have alot of adjustability but you may need to finetune your seat height/Knee over pedal position by messing with the seat itself because the adjustments built into the bike only do so in 1/4"=1/2" increments.

Biggest problem I see with spinning classes is that they don't run more then a hour in length.

But they are quite fun and time does go by pretty quickly compared with riding a trainer solo.
Jul 31, 2002 7:34 AM
The cage can be disengaged to use the Look pedals underneath.
Quick questions.MikeBu
Jul 30, 2002 3:19 PM
The spinning bikes I have seen, Schwinn, use Mountain Bike SPD pedals on one side and have a clip cage on the other side.

The bikes have alot of adjustability but you may need to finetune your seat height/Knee over pedal position by messing with the seat itself because the adjustments built into the bike only do so in 1/4"=1/2" increments.

Biggest problem I see with spinning classes is that they don't run more then a hour in length.

But they are quite fun and time does go by pretty quickly compared with riding a trainer solo.
Quick questions.jtolleson
Jul 30, 2002 3:24 PM
You've gotten a good answer about the pedals, and the setup certainly gets closer to a roadie position than any Lifecycle or regular stationary bike. You've got seat height, seat fore-aft, and bar height to work with.

I don't consider spinning a recovery day. It is more akin to interval workouts. Shorter time, but high effort. I compare it to a hill climb day, even.
Depends on the class, club and instructorColnagoFE
Jul 31, 2002 6:00 AM
The original JGSI Spinning program uses "energy zones"--basically heart rate-based training so the schedule is made up of interval, recovery, strength (hills), and race day (all out effort similar to a TT), and endurance (steady in the saddle riding). Many other programs such as Reebok et al. are out there and are nothing more than aerobics on a bike. Some "Spinning" instructors and clubs also never teach anything other than the old "All-terrain" class where it's basically a free for all and not heart rate based. check out for more details or to ask questions on their forum. Just for full disclosure--I'm a JGSI Certified Spinning Instructor, but I still think their program is one of the best ones out there. Also in class YOU control the speed you are pedalling and the resistance so there should be no excuse for going too hard or too easy. You control it to a great extent--not the instructor. It's often the hardest to go easier when you need to. It's always easy to hammer.
re:HRMs and cycling classestheBreeze
Jul 31, 2002 7:40 AM
I am the coordinator for the indoor cycling program at our YMCA. (Note: "Spinning" is a trademark name, and there are other very good training programs out there. All our instructors are ACE certified as fitness instructors first, and then did several specialized training programs in addition. About half are road or mtn bike riders.)

It would be great if all our participants could have heart rate monitors, but financially it's just not feasible. The YMCA can't afford to provide one for every rider, and many members don't want to or can't afford to buy one. Those who do have one are encouraged to wear it and use it, but we also teach by perceived effort. This is why just being a good cyclist does not qualify one to teach indoor cycling. I agree with the above that the instructor needs to have a background in practical exercise physiology, including the principles of interval training and safe and effective class design.
ACE beef with them and perceived exertionColnagoFE
Jul 31, 2002 8:25 AM
I am an ACE certified personal trainer (as well as JGSI Spinning Instructor) though I have never actually trained anyone other than myself (long story). The biggest problem I have with ACE is that it is all "book knowledge" and no practical--plus you forget about 90% of it as soon as you take the test (the written test is pretty hard and long). You end up learning a lot of good stuff, but I don't think it really prepares you for "real life" training. Not sure about the ACE Fitness Instructor cert, but if it contains no "hands-on" I'd probably have the same complaint with it. I hear the heart rate monitor argument all the time from clubs, but I don't buy it. Without monitoring people work way harder than they should/need to (perceived exertion is very innacurate--especially for beginners) and "Spinning" gets a reputation as a "ball breaker" workout and not a legitimate way to train. No problem with the occasional "All-terrain" class. In fact, I teach them all the time at clubs that don't care about heart rate based training, but a program like that is kinda one dimemsional in my opinion. What I'd be interested in is Watts-based training. Anyone make a indoor cycle (not Lifecycle) that gives Watts readings?
ACE certs. Fitness Inst OK, Pers. Trnr. maybe nottheBreeze
Jul 31, 2002 11:10 AM
Most any certification, or college course for that matter, is "book knowledge." That's what the real world is for, getting hands on experience; hopefully with guidance from a good mentor or supervisor.

I agree with your assesment of the ACE Personal Trainer Cert. which is why I went with the NSCA-CPT for my personal trainer certification. I started as an ACE Fitness Instructor, and for the purpose of teaching group fitness classes it is good. For any kind of more advanced or one-on-one type of traning or instruction, it doesn't require enough knowledge. Which is why it's a GROUP instruction certificate.

NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Assoc.) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) are the only truly not-for-profit agencies out there doing fitness instruction certification. ACSM had a "Health Fitness Instructor" certification that is more rigorous than the ACE group cert. But it really doesn't include much on actual class design.

Our YMCA requires a group instruction cert.(most have ACE, a couple instructors have AFAA), teaching "audtion" classes, plus yearly evaluations and CEU requirements. Our fitness director is TOUGH, and she also does regular seminar classes and brings in outside people to keep our knowledge the most current. This is what should be expected of ALL fitness clubs, but a lot of big for-profit clubs or small community centers aren't as rigorous.

It's all about being educated consumers and finding a place that feels good to you. The general population has a WIDE variety of knowledge when it comes to health, fitness and training.

Regarding watts based training. I think it would be great. I don't think a power tap could be added to any current indoor cycle used in classes. The problem might be that class participants might get into a numbers competition. That's the benefit of current bikes not having any kind of numbered resistance scale or cadence meter. Like you said, the class has enough of a reputation as a ball breaker without adding an extra level of competition.

see 'ya on the road...
HRMs can be had for under $20 nowColnagoFE
Jul 31, 2002 8:26 AM
I saw some off-brands at Costco for $18 the other day. If you can afford $100 for shoes you can afford a HRM.
Wow! Are they reliable?? (nm)theBreeze
Jul 31, 2002 11:12 AM
no idea...but you can get polars for around $40 (nm)ColnagoFE
Aug 1, 2002 6:28 AM
re: Spinning classes!!??xxl
Jul 30, 2002 3:18 PM
I've been spinning for about two years, and riding for too many years to count, and I'm a huge believer. It's definitely not the same as riding real miles, but I noticed a big difference in my pedal stroke, endurance, and overall riding ability as a result of the classes. I also notice that I never coast anymore when I'm riding OTR.

It does make a major difference, though, if your instructors have actually ridden, since the workout "profile" is largely at their discretion. Some instructors really think the workout through, and make it a grueling, yet ultimately rewarding, experience; others simply urge one to "crank up the resistance," regardless of what kind of workout it's supposed to be. And I've noticed that some of the questionable (from a roadie standpoint)"moves," such as sprinting from a climbing position (?), two-second "jumps," or the "lunges" that some instructors are so fond of, have been phased out of the "official" spinning program, but not all instructors are aware of this. I simply treat what is said in class with a grain of salt, based on my road riding experience. My instructors all ride, which helps immensely, and they're really into HRM stuff, which I find useful.

I have to admit, I thought "group stationary bike training" sounds goofy, but I always get a good workout. I've been told that the 45 minute workout is roughly equal to a short, fast ride, about 15 miles or so, and this feels about right.
highly recommendtarwheel
Jul 31, 2002 4:42 AM
I've been going to spinning classes for about two years, usually about once a week. I tend to spin more in the winter, or on very hot or rainy days in warmer months. I agree with JT that spin classes are more like doing intervals, so you can pack in a lot of training in an hour or so. I generally get to the class about 15-20 minutes early and warm up doing an easy spin. Then I really go all out during the class. I have found that spin classes really help my hill climbing and cadence speed. I NEVER climbed out of the saddle until I took some spin classes and now find it very helpful on steep climbs. This is a skill that you can really develop in spin classes as most of the ones I go to spend about half the class doing standing climbs and sprints. The downside to spin classes are the occasional instructors who treat the class like a glorified aerobics session. I try to avoid those instructors or just ignore the routines and spin away when they start doing crazy calesthenics. Spin classes are also a great place to practice one-legged spinning, which is a great way to increase your cadence. Spinning is also a good way to relieve the boredom of riding the same routes and routines every day. They play loud music in class and they're are other people to talk to and look at.
highly recommendsam-g
Jul 31, 2002 10:15 AM
I second the recommendation. Several years ago I took up spinning on the advice of several members of my marathon training group as a means of cross training without putting on more (running) miles. I had no problem handling the intensity, just the period of time necessary to break in my A$$. Most of the instructors at my club are roadies and they eventually got me out on weekend group rides on a borrowed bike. One thing led to another and I finally bought a road bike which was found on this web site's classifieds. I'm still running and plan on at least one marathon per year, but I definately enjoy my weekend rides allot more than the group runs. Several weeks ago I did my first century on the first leg of an MS150 and joined the pub crawl that evening. Usually I just crash after a marathon. I highly recommend spinning classes.