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Bridal Fitness on Paper - Spinning! Monday, October 3, 2011 ~ 11:31 a.m.

So today is all about spinning! This is a pretty popular fitness class, especially for young women, as it is a major calorie burner, without the strain on the joints and muscles that one may deal with while doing a comparable aerobic workout, such as running. My first experience spinning was about a year ago, and I'll be completely honest - it was a sobering one! I couldn't believe how difficult it was for me, given that I work out regularly! I barely made it through the class, and came close to quitting a couple of times during its 45 minute duration. I went spinning for the first time at a studio in the Los Angeles area called Kinetic Cycling. The workout room had wall-to-wall stationary spinning bikes, with one large projection screen in the front of the class. There was also a small, elevated stage just below the screen at the front of the class, which allowed the instructor to lead and spin while up on a platform facing us. The class was filled with mostly ladies in their 20s and 30s, with a few guys of all ages mixed in.


Spinning is an amazing workout, burning about 400 calories in a typical 45 minute session, but be prepared to work hard! Your warm up typically lasts about five minutes, with another half hour or so of hard core spinning, and 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down, and stretching on and off the bike. Based on my own experience, there seems to be two different ways to handle an intense exercise class like this. There are the participants who do their damndest to keep up with the instructor - even if it means having to stop every once in a while because they've pushed themselves to the brink. There are also those who use their instructor as more of a guide while working out - they tend to go at their own pace more often than not, so that they can get a good workout while maintaining a strong, steady pace the entire time. In other words, they don't always speed up when the insructor does or increase the resistance when the instructor says to. Personally, I tend to be in the first group of exercisers. I think both methods work, as long as it keeps you on the bike longer. I try my best to stay in sync with the instructor the entire time, even if it means having to stop or really slow down for a minute or two during the class. You have to find what works for you!

Bridal Fitness Review - Spinning

Overall: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Spinning is a challenging, tried-and-true aerobic workout that people of all ages, shapes and sizes can do and see results from. Just be ready to work your butt off!

The spinning classes that I have taken last for 45 minutes, and you'll literally work your booty off the entire time. The instructor runs the class to popular music with music videos, which are on display on the larger screen at the front of the class. Personally, I always appreciate having old school Britney Spears on the screen for inspiration when I'm trying to push through a particularly challenging hill or two ;)

The instructor will have you changing both your pace and resistance, in seated and standing pedaling positions, in order to keep you on your toes while burning calories and toning your leg muscles. Spinning is particularly great for your quads and outer thigh muscles, but if you're really focused on your body positioning while spinning, you can also put your glutes to work. I also had an instructor who liked to integrate arm exercises into her spinning classes - we'd keep a steady pace pedaling upright on our bikes, while pumping our arms every which way in order to feel the burn in our arms and shoulders.

Cost & Equipment Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
2.5 out of 5 diamonds
I'm blaming this slightly lower rating entirely on the shoe/foot equipment required in order to spin. If you're a regular spinner, the spinning shoes are well worth the purchase; however, if you're more of a beginning like I am, the alternative "booties" the studio will provide for you are not-so-fun.
Pricing for spinning classes vary greatly depending on where you go, but as always, I highly recommend looking out for deals in your area! I actually started spinning after finding a great deal for new customers via Gilt City, paying only about $10 per class! Keep in mind that many gyms offer spinning classes as part of their standard memberships, so your own gym is always a good place to start. There are also many spinning-specific studios popping up in major areas like Los Angeles, which tend to have better equipment and specially trained instructors, but often carry higher price tags. Kinetic Cycling is usually about $20 per class, which is a bit much, in my opinion, but like I said, search for deals!

When I attended my first spinning class, I was kind of surprised at how many participants already owned their own spinning shoes. Unlike your typical gym shoe, spinning shoes had a harder, less flexible sole, and click right into the pedals on the spin bike. However, these shoes aren't required. I always wore my regular gym shoes, and had to use some cycling shoe booties (I made up that name...I have no idea what they're proper name is, sorry! =P), which the studio would provide in order to snap into the bike pedals like spinning shoes do. I would slip my feet into them (with my shoes still on) and strap my feet in for the duration of the class. This part is always a bit of a pain in the you-know-what for me, if I'm being honest. I feel like the booties are way too hard to snap into place, they don't always fit my feet properly, and one time, one of mine actually snapped out of place in the middle of the class and I almost fell right off my bike. Yeah. Embarassing. For that reason, I'm always pretty careful about how hard I spin while wearing those dumb things, and keep an eye on how I distribute my body weight on the bike.

Other than these items, you'll also want to bring at least one towel and a bottle of water with you. If you can, bring two towels with you - one that you can drape across the handlebars so your hands don't slip once you start sweating, and another to wipe yourself with whenever you need it. PS... I know that most workouts recommend these a towel and water, but for spinning, I really REALLY recommend it. Seriously.

Time Commitment: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Like most great fitness classes, spinning is a productive use of what little time you have to dedicate to personal fitness. However, its higher level of intensity does require some commitment on your part, in my opinion.

Spinning is typically 45 minutes to an hour long, with a brief warm up and cool down at the beginning and end of the class. As much as I wish it to be otherwise, there are no breaks given during your typical spinning class - you keep going until you can't go no more! Obviously, this intense aerobic workout is a great use of your time, but it's a tough class! With so many people working out in such close quarters, it's even tougher to quit or give up without feeling like you totally suck =P This may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it.

I gave spinning a 4 out of 5 diamonds for time commitment because based on my own experience, I really think it's the type of thing that requires a good amount of upkeep. If I stuck to it and went to class at least once a week, it was a much nicer workout experience than when I would just go sporadically. It's such a tough class, that if you don't keep up with it, it's definitely more difficult to get through the class when you do decide to show up!

Level of Difficulty: Four and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4.5 out of 5 diamonds
Spinning is a very challenging fitness class that can easily be intimidating if you don't know what to expect!
The entire class is run using a small electronic device in between the handlebars on your bike, which displays your time, speed and resistance. The instructor will tell you what resistance to set your bike at throughout the class, along with a speed that you should use as a guide. The actual workout will depend on your instructor, of course, which makes a huge difference, in my opinion. I've taken spinning classes where the instructor has us going the same pace the entire time - only changing up the resistance. I've also taken classes where the instructors like to mix up speeds and resistance more. Personally, I tend to favor the latter, because it keeps me from getting bored or too miserable at any one time.

If I could give you any advice about spinning, it's to do what you need to do in order to get through the class, regardless of what the instructor is doing. One of the great things about spinning is that it can be customized to any fitness level, as long as you're smart about it. This is one piece of advice that I wish someone had told me before I took my first spinning class, because I pushed myself SO hard during the first half of the class, just trying to keep up with the instructor, that I barely made it through the second half of the workout. I tend to turn down my resistance before I reduce speed, just because it's less obvious to those around you that you're taking it a little easier, and I tend to be of the belief that a higher resistance is better for building muscle, and a higher speed is better for burning off those calories!

Effectiveness: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Spinning is hard, which means that it's pretty much impossible not to get a great workout when you go. The trick, is to keep going and stick with it! If you can do that, you're golden.
It's generally common knowledge that spinning produces fabulous legs, which makes it very alluring to women, in particular. As a low impact workout, it's also easier on the joints - your knees and ankles - which tend to get beaten up the most during your typical cardio workout. A 45 minute session of spinning typically burns about 400 calories, which is generally considered a great, effective use of one's time. As I mentioned previously, the trick is getting through the class. Work at a pace that is good for you, that will keep you going for the duration of the class, but is still challenging enough. I know that I always walk out of spinning feeling like my legs are jelly and I'm about to pass out - which isn't such a great thing, I know. Figuring out what your limits are when working out can be tricky business!

Mastering your pace and level of resistance is job one, then job two is watching your form. Since you're sitting on a bike in one place the entire time, this also gives you more of an opportunity to keep your body placement in check. A few tips that I've learned from my brilliant instructors...

1) Never ever lock out your knees when pedaling and keep your pedaling fluid, 2) Keep your feet parallel to the ground (rather than pointed down, which often happens when you're trying to get over a steep hill ), 3) Keep at least 60 percent of your body weight shifted back off your arms and don't grip your handlebars too hard, 4) Keep your shoulders down so you don't bulk up on top, 5) Resist the urge to put your head down while pedaling hard (it makes it harder to breathe and you get tired way faster!) 6) Remember your core and maintain your center, and lastly, 7) When standing up on your bike, keep your butt back hovering over your seat, because you'll be AMAZED how much more you'll feel the burn back there, rather than in your quads, if you position yourself over your seat correctly.

It's also important to remember that spinning does not work all of your leg muscles equally, so if you're a regular spinner, you'll want to integrate some more resistance training into your regimen focusing on your hamstrings, inner thighs and calves in order to maintain some sort of balance in your lower body.

Enjoyability: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Not going to lie to you...this is one tough workout that can easily make you miserable if you don't maintain some perspective and know your limits!
Spinning seems to be one of those workouts that has a ton of die-hard fans; while others tend to stay away from it completely out of fear. I'm actually in the minority, as I tend to go back to it every once in a while rather than doing it consistently, but that also has a lot to do with the cost involved! Spinning will make your breathing ragged, your legs burn and push you to the brink mentally. You'll want to quit ten minutes in, and wonder how in the world you'll make through the entire 45 minutes, but you walk out of a spinning class feeling like the most powerful, bad-ass woman in the world. Like many extreme forms of exercise, you'll either love it or hate it.

If you're curious about a specific workout and you'd like for me to review it, please do leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at Sarah - at - apaperproposal - dot - com.

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1 Comment

Emma | Emmaline Bride (Michigan)

Oct 3, 2011 1:32 PM

Spinning is such a great way to burn tons of calories. It's great for the cooler weather, too, when it's more difficult to inspire yourself to go outside to ride. Great article, Sarah!