How to prepare and tips to keep in mind when signing up for your first spin class session
I (Rob, a member of BEMH indoor cycling team) will never forget my first spinning session. Unfortunately, it didn’t get off to an excellent start, and it was all my fault. It all started when my sister asked me to join her in a spinning class that she and her friends had been going to. As a cyclist myself, I thought it wouldn’t be too challenging, and I’d come out the other side just fine. The night before the class, I had gone out with some friends of mine and let’s say I had got a bit carried away at the bar. I turned up to the class the next day, and I was far from my usual bubbly self. I was just on time and struggled to set up the bike, but the saddle, I’m sure it was too low. The instructor, I’m sure they had picked up on this and didn’t go easy on me. It was so tough, and constantly I wanted to take myself off the bike, but I dug in, and eventually, I got to the cool down and then just took myself home to bed with an achy knee.
Unfortunately, I had made what was meant to be a fun, enjoyable experience of exercising something awful, and it took me a while to return to the spin bikes. It didn’t have to be this way, and I wish I had made a better effort to prepare for this. When I did, I went prepared, and then I fell in love with indoor cycling. I am now an instructor and have taught hundreds of classes over the years, and in this article, I want to tell you about how the best way to prepare for a class is.
When you first choose to join a spin class, I highly recommend making some inquiries about available classes. I recommend first asking your friends about where they go. It’s pretty easy to chuck a post out on Facebook or Instagram just asking about where’s best to start. If you get comments like “This class is a killer” or “I couldn’t walk for days after this class,” Id avoid these. What you’re looking for is someone to say, “The instructor is welcoming and nice.” Then when you know where you’re going, call the venue, get booked on, and ask for more information.
Pick the right Class
After you have made some inquiries on classes and called the studio or gym, it’s worth taking a bit of time to pick the suitable level for your first time. Some studios will have a beginner class or an introduction to spinning class, and these are perfect. I wouldn’t make a mistake that I did and go for an hour advanced class and just get tested the whole way through just because your friend is going to that class. Anything that is relatively short, like 30-45 minutes, and is not a high-intensity interval class is a great start.
I highly recommend turning up for your first class early. It’s always nice to have a chat with other people joining and making some friends before you start. Alongside this, it also allows you to introduce yourself to the instructor. They will help you set up your bike, and when they know you are new to indoor cycling exercise and if they are a decent instructor will make a conscious effort to make you feel at home. When I get new clients, I often take them aside and explain to them that the door is open and they can cool down and leave at any time and do whatever they can in the first session and just to enjoy the experience. This would get the nerves out of the way for a lot of people. Once the place is familiar, get your bike set up either by the instructor or yourself and get used to how the bike feels and works.
When it comes to spinning, proper clothing will help. In spinning studios, it gets hot, so something light that you can sweat in is the way forward. If you find the saddle uncomfortable, some padded shorts will help relieve you of this pain and make the session much more enjoyable. Shoes you want, something substantial like a running shoe or the clip in spinning shoes providing the bikes have the right pedals. When it comes to being male or female, we all have areas that might need support, and I’d make sure you have something to hold everything together while you spin.
What to bring
Most spinning studios require you to bring a towel. I’d go for a towel that’s not full bath size and not hand size look for something in between. Sports towels are the way to go, and most come with little pack-away bags too. Another thing I’d recommend is to bring a sports bottle with some water or juice in it. I usually bring a light jacket as when I’m finished, I’m generally quite sweaty and like to cover this up on the walk through the gym on the way out. The best way to approach what to bring is by asking the gym or studio what they require or recommend you to bring, as some studios need different things and have different rules compared to others.
It’s always important to go into classes and new experiences with a good mindset, and by this, I’m talking about a positive attitude. If you think it’s going to be awful, it probably will be, so if you think it’s going to be fun, it probably will be. Mindset matters so much, and when I get people to come along to my classes for the first time, I tell them to relax and just enjoy it for what it is. The things to remember are your there to make a positive change for yourself and experience something new. You are not there to be tortured and suffer.
When the class starts
The best advice I can give you is to go in slow and find your pace. Each bike has a separate resistance, and that’s a very personal thing for you. So pick your resistance and then find some rhythm and pace. Listen to the instructor and just take your time to make the changes that they ask. If you are unsure, check what everyone else around you is doing and follow them. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is going in way too strong, and by about halfway, they are too tired to carry on. It’s much better to take the first half pretty easy and then put the power down later when you’re closer to the finish. You will have plenty of spinning classes in the future to find your feet with this, so don’t rush it. When it comes to standing, make sure you have enough resistance in the bike to do it safely and only do this when you feel confident enough to. There’s an art to standing, and the only way to find it is experience and time. If you don’t feel confident doing things, tell your instructor and don’t feel the need to do them if you’re not comfortable. It will be testing, but it will get easier with consistency and experience.
After the Class
You may feel a little tender on your behind, and your legs might hurt a little too. It takes time to adapt to these new movements you are not used to. Remember, it won’t be like this every time, stay consistent, and the recovery will be much easier every class you take. Warm baths and protein-rich meals are the best of healers.
A Final Note
Spinning is a great experience, the buzz of the class, the camaraderie of you all being together and working out, the music and lighting, taking yourself to places you didn’t think your body could handle. It’s incredible and one of the most empowering ways to get fit. The most important thing is to enjoy it and remember why you’re there.