Spin Doctor: Master Your First Spin Class

Shed the training wheels and ride like a pro with these 4 tips


Spinning is as popular as ever, and with the weather getting a bit colder, it may be time to consider trading in outdoor cycling for an indoor studio. Yes, taking your first spinning class can be intimidating, especially if you’re surrounded by pros, but don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of the high-intensity exercise.

Be prepared to take full advantage of the high-energy music, dim lighting and strong group atmosphere with these basic tips, and you’ll leave class completely sweaty and totally accomplished:

Get the Right Gear
You work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and core during spinning class, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable in the process. Since you’re going to work up a sweat, moisture-wicking clothes are your best bet to stay cool and dry. This is not the time to layer up. A light, fitted tank and shorts are ideal. If you’re worried about the saddle of the bike, it might be worth your time to look into padded bike shorts for extra comfort. As for shoes, your normal sneaks will probably do the trick, but some studios require cycling shoes, which connect your feet to the pedals more securely (and help improve power transfer from your feet to the pedals), so check in advance. And don’t forget a towel and a big water bottle. It’s vital you stay hydrated through the steep "hills" and challenging resistance levels. 

Set Up Your Bike
Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor to help set up your bike—it’s what they’re there for. You need to make sure your seat height is in the right position so that you get the right amount of knee extension and don’t have to reach down to the pedals. You also need to adjust your handlebars’ height so that your arms are at a comfortable distance. If needed, you can adjust the seat position by tilting it back or forward. Lastly, make sure your feet are securely latched into the pedals and start adding resistance. There should always be some resistance on the pedals, so it’s up to you to find a level you’re comfortable with.

Master the Three Positions
First position is sitting in the saddle, pedaling as you’re seated. Second position is standing upright, and third position is when you bend forward and reach out over the handlebars, heavily engaging your core, shoulders and triceps to remain upright. Ask your instructor to demonstrate these positions before you start to ensure you have the right form in each.

Go At Your Own Pace
Spinning instructors will tell you time and time again that this is your class and your ride. Make the most of it by pushing yourself, but know when you need a break for water or a quick breather.  You don’t have to follow the instructor’s lead each time they tell you to increase speed or resistance. Instead, listen to your body and stop comparing yourself to everyone else in the class.

And, most importantly, have fun! Sure, the first class is nerve-racking, but if you let go and enjoy it, you’ll be much more likely to come back for a second or third class. Who knows? You might even decide to branch out even further by taking aqua cycling. That’s right, you can actually spin in water. Now get pedaling!


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