Tips For Your First Spin Class

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I’ve been obsessed with Flywheel since the beginning of the year. I don’t know what it is about indoor cycling, but I just can’t get enough of it. I’ve coerced many of my friends and coworkers to go with me, and I know some of you have jumped on the bandwagon as well! But that first class can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to spinning, or working out in general. I remember being crazy nervous the first time I stepped foot in the studio. But you have to start somewhere, right?

So for those of you still on the fence, I thought I’d try to demystify your first class so hopefully the intimidation factor goes way down. And while these tips are based strictly on my experience at Flywheel, they should be pretty universal.

Let’s do this!

Pre-Spin:

  • Sign-up. Flywheel signup is at 5PM every Sunday, and the schedule is all available online. Whether you’re part of that #dawnpatrol crew, or prefer to get your sweat on after work, there’s a time slot to accommodate just about everyone. You just need to make an account (which takes about 30 seconds), then call the studio you plan to visit and claim your first free class. Who doesn’t love free things?!
  • Make sure you eat something before you go. I try to have a protein-filled meal about an hour/hour and a half before class (unless it’s in the morning, in which case I’ll just have a protein shake or coffee — I can’t eat before I work out in the AM).
  • Hydrate! You never want to go into a class dehydrated because you’re going to be sweating out anything that’s left, and then you’re just going to feel shitty, and nobody wants that. Apples, cucumbers, and celery are all great foods to eat before hand that have high water content, but that giant glass of water will do just as well.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the studio. Especially if it’s your first class, you want to arrive at least 15 minutes early so you have time to figure out where everything is, check in, and get your bike set up.
  • Pee. Self-explanitory.
  • Put that hair up, girlfriend (or gentlemen sporting the man bun). You’ll thank me about 3 minutes in when sweat starts creeping down your back and your hair is blessedly off your neck.
  • Wear leggings or shorts, something that isn’t loose or have fabric that could get caught in the bike. Tank tops are also your best bet.
  • Bring socks. You need special shoes for a lot of spinning classes. Flywheel provides free shoe rental, but I believe it’s $2 to rent at Soul Cycle. Not sure about other studios.
  • Grab your towel and water (both of which are free at Fly). Personally, I like to take two towels — one for either side of the handlebars. I also see a lot of people take another one just to drape over the entire thing. Totally your call!

During Class:

  • Make sure your bike is set up properly. If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask! The staff will happily help you adjust your seat and handlebars to best accommodate your body and any injuries you might have.
  • On that note, make sure to let your instructor know if you have any injuries. They can provide adjustments and advice on how to best handle the workout.
  • Fact: your butt’s probably gonna hurt after that first class. Don’t be afraid to use the seat pads, usually located in a basket near the podium. (And don’t worry, after that first time, you never really feel it again.)
  • Clipping in seems like such a challenge that first time (or three). Those special shoes I mentioned earlier clip into the bike — it’s the reason you don’t go flying off the second class starts. The best advice I can give is to toe in and press down. You’ll hear and feel it once you’re locked and loaded. And if you can’t get it, just ask! The person next to you can probably help, or the instructor or staff floating about.
  • HYDRATE. You should go through at least one water bottle per 45 minute class.
  • Positions. There are three positions you use during class. First is the only one in the saddle. Second is standing tall, and third is more or less bent over the bike.
  • No death grip! Keep those hands light!
  • Shoulders back and down. They’re going to creep up as you push harder, but try to be mindful all the same.
  • Flywheel has this nifty thing called a tech pack on the left side of the bike that tells you your resistance (torq) level, RPMs, and your power. You’ll use the blue dial on the bike to adjust your torq, and obviously the RPMs are up to you!
  • Classes are generally 45 minutes unless explicitly stated otherwise. That’s roughly 11 songs that will guide you through a simulated bike ride, from flat roads to intense hills. Be prepared to work!
  • Towards the end of class you’ll have one song dedicated to arms, where you’ll still be pedaling, but also workin’ those biceps and triceps with weighted bars located on either side of your bike. Don’t feel like you have to use both bars your first time, or even do the arms sequence at all. But it’s there if you need it.
  • If you’re of the competitive nature, you can opt to have your name on the torq board, which will show you how you rank against the rest of the class. It isn’t up for the entire 45 minutes, just every once and a while for a nice reminder. And it’s fairly anonymous, listing the riders’ usernames and bike number only.
  • Smile! It’s just exercise, guys!
  • Have FUN! Use this time for yourself. Be selfish. Focus solely on yourself and what you’re doing.

Post-Spin:

  • Unclip. Heels down and swing those suckers out and away from the bike. Trust me, you’re not going to break anything. But if you really can’t unclip, it’s totally okay to just leave your shoe attached to the bike and walk out in your socks.
  • EAT. Flywheel provides free apples and bananas at every studio, so take advantage. And once you get home (or the office, or whenever it is that you’re headed), make sure to fill up on some protein.
  • HYDRATE. (Are we sensing a theme here?)
  • A shower always feels nice after a heavy hitting workout. Flywheel has really nice showers, complete with shampoo, conditioner, soap, towels, dry shampoo, deodorant, whatever you can think of, they have it. You may have to wait in line, but it’s never for that long.

What I quickly grew to love about spinning was that it felt very nonjudgmental in comparison to other group classes I’d taken. The room is dark, and no one is worried about what you’re doing, or what you look like doing it. The first month or two, when I was building my strength and still looking maybe a little foolish, I could hide in the back and still feel great about the work I was doing.

People of all shapes, sizes, and ages spin. The guy next to me during my first class had to be 90 years old and he was killing it. Big, small, young, or old, it doesn’t matter in that stadium. Spinning is a workout you can adjust to your own needs, so if you can’t match the numbers the instructor calls out, that’s okay. It’s something to work up to. Therein lies the motivation. And if you want tangible evidence, I’ve lost 30 pounds this year from spinning. Shit works, I’m telling you!

And I have found the community at Flywheel to be an incredible source of inspiration. A lot of the instructors and staff have become more than that for me, they’ve become real, genuine, amazing friends. They’re incredible people who push you to do things you never thought you could. They’ll throw you a surprise mini-birthday celebration. Sometimes I wake up to texts or Facebook messages of encouragement. If I need advice, be it fitness related or otherwise, they’ve been there for me. When my grandpa died earlier this year, they were there to support me. Instructors and fellow riders alike, they’re all there to lift each other up, and that’s something I can really get behind.

So if you’re looking for a great workout, I’m urging you to give spin a try. Flywheel is spread out across the country, and studios like Soul Cycle are also everywhere for you to take advantage of. Gyms like NYSC, Crunch, and Equinox have classes too.

Hopefully this was helpful, but let me know if you have any other questions! I’d be happy to answer them!

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