I recently joined a spin studio because I kept hearing about the many health benefits of spin classes, and I wanted to experiment with more invigorating and enjoyable forms of cardio. I regularly have personal training sessions at a gym, which mostly involve strength training such as calisthenics and weightlifting. I was doing enough squats, lat pull-downs and deadlifts each week. What was clearly missing from my health and fitness routine was cardio. The problem, I realized, was that I hadn’t yet found a form of cardiovascular exercise that I genuinely enjoyed enough to want to do it regularly, all year round. It wasn’t until I tried spin classes at Spin Society that I found out I could not only enjoy cardio – but actually crave it.
The only other form of cardio I’ve tried that I genuinely enjoy as much as spin, is hiking. However, my favorite hikes aren’t safe to do alone, and it requires planning, packing, arranging carpools, and can’t be done as spontaneously as a spin class. My favorite hikes also closed for the winter months, whereas indoor cycling is a rain-or-shine, winter or summer activity.
When I tried spin, I was immediately hooked. The obvious benefits of spin classes such as an incredible cardiovascular workout, high calorie burn, and the uplifting in-class vibe were to be expected. Some of the benefits of spin classes I wasn’t expecting included how much my mood would steadily improve once I added spin classes to my routine. I started going to a 50 minute spin class about 3 – 4 times per week. I noticed physical changes such as weight loss and a more toned physique, but I was most impressed by the significant mental health benefits of spin classes.
Before we get into the benefits of spin classes and indoor cycling, you might be wondering what spin class is:
What Exactly is a Spin Class?
Spin classes involve a special type of stationary exercise bike with a weighted flywheel in a classroom setting, where everyone gets their own bike, and the instructor’s bike is at the front of the class. The instructor will have prepared a music playlist for each class, often selecting tracks that are the ideal beat for pedaling, and they also tend to prepare special lighting with glowing candles.
Typically in a dimly-lit ambience to remove the element of comparison and allow you to turn your focus inward, you end up focusing on the music, your own rhythm, and your inner strength. This ability to find my inner strength was almost surprising, as someone who is not a high-performing athlete by any means.
One spin class, which is about 50 minutes long, can burn anywhere from 600-1000 calories depending on how hard you push yourself during class.
Indoor cycling classes (spin classes) are not just for hard core athletes. No matter what your current fitness level is, you can join a spin class at your local spin studio and get a fantastic workout. Many first-time riders end up purchasing an unlimited monthly membership, quickly realizing they’re in love with spinning.
I quickly realized that spin class is an environment that encourages you to push yourself, while you’re still able to go at your own pace. It was different from other brightly-lit workout classes I’ve attended in the past, where I felt self-conscious and obligated to interact with others socially, even if I wasn’t in a social mood.
At Spin Society, the class is in session within a dark room. The only lights are typically some cool, blue and green candles. I could focus on myself and my workout, although the change rooms after class were great for a short but fun dose of social interaction.
When you attend your first spin class, you’ll want to arrive about 15 minutes early so that an instructor can help you set up your spin bike. You’ll be able to adjust the height of the bike’s seat and the position of the handlebars to best suit you, and the resistance can be adjusted throughout class. Spin studios provide special cycling shoes that clip into the stationary bike, which you return after class. When I attend my spin class, the only thing I bring with me are two water bottles (one containing regular water, and one infused with electrolytes.) Everything else is provided by the spin studio, including a clean sweat towel.
Benefits of Spin Class (Indoor Cycling)
Let’s dive into some of the top benefits of spin class. We interviewed an expert named Lucy Ulmer, the Director of Instructors and co-owner of Spin Society. Spin Society offers online guided rides for those of you who have a stationary bike at home, as well as in-person group spin classes at their beautiful studio. Below are some of the advantages of becoming a member of a spin studio and attending spin classes regularly:
1. Overall Health: Spinning Improves Cardiovascular Endurance, and Strengthens the Heart and Lungs
One of the top benefits of spin classes is that spin is a great way to exercise the heart muscle, improve cardiovascular endurance, and keep your heart and lungs strong and healthy.
The thing about cardio is that you need to do it regularly in order to reap the health benefits and improve your cardiovascular endurance. Spin classes are so uplifting and fun that you’ll end up wanting to attend class regularly, thus increasing your weekly cardio.
Lucy Ulmer explains, “The benefits of indoor cycling positively affect physical, emotional and mental wellness. The science of cycling is generating power through speed times resistance. At Spin Society we place a big focus on learning how to use the resistance of the bike to keep the mind focused and the body engaged in doable but challenging work. The body will respond to what the mind feeds it. In our studios that’s what we aim to do: connect the mind with physical performance.”
When you improve your cardiovascular endurance through something like regularly attending spin class, you’ll find that other activities become easier because your endurance has improved. For example, you might have an easier time keeping up with friends on a challenging hike, or you’ll be able to kayak or cycle faster and for longer this summer.
2. Motivation: Spin Instructors Motivate You, Uplift You, and Help You Push Yourself
If you find that you don’t push yourself that hard when you work out alone or attempt a gym session, you’re not alone. I was the same way, but found a surprising inner strength during spin class, with my instructor’s encouraging guidance.
As Ulmer puts it, “Just as it takes a village to raise a child, at Spin Society we believe it takes a village to raise an adult. We live for the opportunity to elevate each other through physical movement and mental connectedness. The instructors remind riders daily that the energy you bring to your bike is contagious and you get to share that feeling with those you see outside the studio. So, why not choose to amp up your life on the bike? Time to say yes to the rest of your life with a room full of supportive people.”
Since everyone in the class has committed to stay on their bikes for the 50 minute duration, accountability comes into play as well. You’re held accountable to push yourself for 50 minutes, because everyone else around you is in it with you.
3. Ride to the Beat: The Music Played During Spin Class is Carefully Curated to Get You in the Zone
You need to be ‘in the zone’ to truly push yourself for a 50 minute cardio workout. The music in a spin class is a strategically selected playlist made by the instructor, and it’s extraordinarily helpful for getting you in the zone to push those pedals.
Ulmer explains, “Music is our muse at Spin Society and is carefully curated to keep the attention of our riders no matter what age or musical background you gravitate towards. Music is also selected to help you find the beat and use it to challenge yourself. We believe that our playlists drive the energy of the room and foster an environment where having fun and working hard can co-exist.”
4. Full-Body Workout: Spin Instructors Incorporate Arm and Core Exercises in a Spin Class
It’s a myth that indoor cycling classes are just a leg workout. Most spin classes are carefully choreographed to include arm exercises, core, glutes and it ends up being a full-body workout.
The type of full-body choreography during a spin class is especially likely to occur if you join a spin studio.
Ulmer confirms, “At Spin Society we have created a specific set and amount of choreography to help our riders find the rhythm, work together, and focus on using their core versus over-gripping or leaning into the bike handlebars. Our upper body movements in class have purpose and intention.”
5. Strength in Darkness: The Dimly-Lit Atmosphere Evokes Inner Strength and Focus
The best workouts are the ones where you’re truly focused, and able to find your inner strength. I knew this, but I didn’t know a dark atmosphere would help me achieve this type of focus.
At first, I was surprised by the lighting in spin class. A dark room with some interesting candles and an eerie glow. However, I immediately realized I loved it. The darkness completely removes the intimidation of any judgments, comparisons or competitions.
This type of lighting is one of the top benefits of spin classes in my opinion, because it allows you to focus on yourself, your workout, and find your inner strength. Personally, I found that the darkness evoked heightened emotions within myself that made me want to push harder. As an added bonus, I knew nobody could see my face puffing and panting.
6. Low-Impact Exercise: Spinning is Easy on the Joints
There are many benefits to choosing a form of cardio that qualifies as low-impact exercise. Something like running, for example, is not low-impact exercise and it’s harder on the joints.
Ulmer explains, “Low-impact fitness is movement that is gentle on your joints and gives you the ability to feel continuous motion. Spin Society has created programming that allows the body to feel increased strength, boosts cardiovascular fitness and provides a low-impact workout safe for all fitness levels. Whether you are a beginner or an avid rider, spin studios can help guide a powerful workout that anyone can cater to their fitness abilities.”
7. Benefits of Spin Class to Train for Outdoor Cycling
Spin class could help you become a better outdoor cyclist, help you train for a Triathlon, or even help prepare you for cycling outdoors for the first time if you’re thinking of buying a bicycle.
Lucy Ulmer says, “We love to support our riders in their endeavors outside of the studio. The indoor bike allows for training without distraction (think no red lights or pedestrians!) and truly listening in to what the body can do. Personally, I have used our spin classes to help increase stamina and mental focus to train for Ironman Triathlons and Marathons. In the studio, the instructors provide motivational techniques riders can use on their outdoor bikes to push themselves when they don’t have a full room of riders surrounding them.”
In spin class, you’re training the muscles required for being a strong outdoor cycler. Many outdoor cyclers also go to spin classes. One of the benefits of spin classes is that you’ll feel more confident and be safer on an actual bike ride outdoors.
8. Mental Health Benefits of Spin Class: The Uplifting Spin Class Can Significantly Improve Your Mood in the Long Term
Long-term mental health benefits of spin class can be expected if you attend class regularly, especially when it comes to improved mood. I have noticed improved mood, reduced anxiety, and reduced stress. Anxious energy trapped in my body is released during a challenging spin class, and I can see how this will be a long-term benefit if I continue to stick with spin.
Lucy Ulmer says, “Many of our riders consider spin class as therapy for the mind, which allows for living more in the present with a particular focus on supporting yourself off the bike. We use the bike as a tool for mental preparedness in our lives. We become more alive and ready to take on what we aspire to do off the bike.”
In general, exercise releases endorphins and is known to be a brain-boosting, mood-boosting activity. However, spin class is especially uplifting because of the motivational instructor, the energizing music, and the friendly community.