Things you should know before going to your first SPIN Class.

We know SPIN class is a great workout, but let’s be real—no one wants to go out and ride a bike in pouring rain, freezing weather, or on a scorching summer day. Rocking out to great music in a darkened room with a motivating coach?

Now that's more our style.

While SPIN has been around since the early 1990s, the fitness phenomenon is still going strong.  

It's a highly effective cardio and strength workout. In one 45-minute class, you’ll ride a stationary bike to the beat of awesome music—and burn up to 700 calories in the process. Not only will your lungs be pumping, you'll also work your glutes, calves, quads, hamstrings, and core. Studies show that over time, indoor cycling can decrease body fat and body mass index, and improve overall cardiovascular function.

SPIN is definitely intense and fast-paced, but it’s a great sport for any fitness level. Unlike running,Spin is low-impact and because you determine how hard you work and your bike's resistance, pulling or straining a muscle is highly unlikely.

However, we know that the first class can be super intimidating. From adjusting the seat height to clipping into (and out of) the pedals to simply keeping up with the music, your first time SPIN class can seem trickier than whipping up a five-course meal. 


1. Reserve a bike, any bike

Most cycling studios and gyms allow riders to reserve a bike online before class, so go ahead and choose a spot that makes you feel most comfortable.  

Newbies shouldn’t be afraid of the front row.  

In fact, sitting upfront gives you a better view of how the instructor is moving and may also motivate you to work harder.


2. Dress for Success

Throw on a moisture-wicking shirt or tank top to stay cool.

Three-quarter-length tights are also a good choice—avoid shorts or baggy sweats—or go for comfort with padded bike shorts. 

They are super effective, especially if you happen to be particularly sensitive. 

When it comes to kicks, most boutique studios have pedals made for special clip-in bike shoes, and they usually offer them when you purchase a class for an additional fee.

If they don’t, any type of running or athletic shoe works fine and can be strapped into the pedals.


3. Customize Your Ride

Just a few small adjustments to your bike can make all the difference in your ride.

A simple trick to determine the best seat height: Stand next to your bike and bring the seat to hip height. Then, once you're on the bike, your leg should be bent at a 30 degree angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  

When you pedal, your knees should be aligned over your toes (as if you were in a squat).

To find the right distance between the seat and the handlebars, place your elbow at the tip of the seat and adjust the seat forward or backward so that your fingertips just touch the back of the handlebars. (Basically, your forearm should just fit between the seat and handlebars.) 

Finally, adjust the handlebar height so it feels comfortable.

The lower the handlebars, the more strain you put on your lower back, so if you have back, neck, or shoulder pain, make it a little higher and scoot the seat forward.


4. Clip In (and Out)

Despite the intense, sweaty workout in between, clipping into and out of the bike can be the hardest part of a cycling class.  

If you're in regular sneakers, place the ball of your foot in the cage directly in the middle of the pedal, making sure not to shove your toes all the way to the front of the cages. 

If you are wearing SPIN shoes, clip in one foot at a time: Tilt your toes at a downward angle on top of the pedal and then push your foot down until you feel the shoe lock in.  

It’s the same motion as clipping into skis. 

When you’re finished, stay seated on the bike and take one pedal to the bottom of the stroke at a time.  

Use some force turn your ankle away from the bike until each shoe unclips.

If you can’t unclip, don’t panic!

Just take your feet out of the shoes.

After enough classes, you’ll get the hang of it.


5. Know the Lingo

Unlike a road bike, SPIN bikes don't have gears.  

Instead, a resistance knob controls how hard the muscles need to work to increase revolutions per minute (RPM), which is the typical measure of cadence, or how fast you're going.

Think about resistance as a road:

If you were riding outside and going up a hill, that hill is your resistance. 

During class, the instructor gives you resistance numbers to match or tell you if you should feel like you're slowly climbing up a hill or riding faster on flat road.  

Increasing or decreasing your resistance knob will help you get to the right place. 

While everyone should adjust the resistance according to his or her comfort level.


6. Focus on Pulling Up

Most beginners focus way too much on pushing down.  

But the upstroke is really what provides all the power.  

Concentrating on pulling up with each pedal stroke will increase momentum and make it easier to increase RPMs.  

And here's a bonus for clip-in shoes:

When you’re actually clipped into the bike, you can focus less on keeping your feet in place and more on your stroke.

And don't forget about your core:

While seated or hovering over the saddle, use your abs as much as possible to help support your lower back.  

Try to keep your back straight

(it's OK if there's a slight curve when you're out of the saddle).


7. You Do You

Walking into your first SPIN class can be intimidating—especially when it seems like everyone around you is already a pro.  

But once the lights turn down, the music turns up, and the class starts, remember it’s all about you.  

The riders around you are focused on themselves. 

That's the beauty of indoor cycling: No one is going to bother you.  

SPIN classes directly connect the rhythm of the music with the pace of the exercise, so if it becomes too much, just close your eyes, pedal, and get lost in the music.  

Choose a class and an instructor that plays music you enjoy—and remember to embrace the beat!