By Neville Wadia
Spinning has become a popular exercise class offered by major gyms and studios across the country. If you're considering signing up, here's a quick intro to the exercise to help you understand what you'll be getting out of it.
Benefits: Spinning is a full-body, cardiovascular, aerobic workout that gets your heart rate up, tones your lower body muscles and burns fat, if done properly.
Before you start: Check to make sure the class your gym offers is led by a certified spinning instructor, who has been taught how to structure an efficient and safe workout. Also, make sure the gym has the proper equipment for spinning; spinning requires specific stationary bikes different from the ones next to the treadmills. Finally, make sure the seat height is adjusted to be level with your hip when standing next to the machine with both feet on the floor.
The instructor should start with a mild pace to warm up your body, before accelerating.
During: Spinning is done in classes, to loud music, with instructors at the front (hopefully on a bike, too) shouting instructions to the class. If done well, spinning is a high-intensity form of interval training that alternates between fast and furious and slower-paced stationary cycling. Because of this, your heart rate will likely go up and down throughout the class, rather than stay at a sustained rate.
While you're spinning, be sure to actively push the pedal down and pull it up with your legs, rather than rely on the momentum of the wheel. This push-and-pull motion is what strengthens your quadriceps and hamstrings respectively. Make sure you are not bouncing in the seat or moving your upper body too much. If you are, then check the bike's resistance, as it may be too easy or too hard respectively. Standing while spinning allows you to work your glute (butt) muscles, so be sure to rise and lean forward when the instructor tells you to.
After a work-out: At the end of a class, the instructor should end with a decelerated pace to steady your heart rate and cool down your muscles. Feel free to do some gentle stretching, if you're feeling tight, too.
Also consider: Consistency is key when it comes to spinning. Set a pace that's good for you; if you can't keep up with the instructor's speed throughout, it's better to follow a slightly slower pace that still allows you to increase and decrease speed when you need to and last for the entire workout.
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