Saturday, January 13, 2007

What I Learned My First Time At Spinning Class

I recently returned to officiating basketball by taking a job as a referee for the rec league at my local county fitness center. The pay is peanuts, but it comes with an excellent benefit; a full membership to the center.

For months I have seen the signs about spinning classes taught at the center, but I have never tried it. When the forecast high for Salt Lake City was announced at 18 degrees for today, I decided that trying a spinning class might be a nice idea. I ended up really enjoying it, and learning a few things as well:

What I learned about attending a spinning class
  1. Show up early so you can pick a bike. I actually got to the room about 15 minutes early, and already 2 bikes were taken. Several of the others had broken water bottle cages (I observed during the class that this is because people try to bend them to hold the little mega-mart half-liter water bottles). You will want to note fan and stereo position and pick a bike located according to your preference for those influences.
  2. Show up early so you can adjust your bike. The bikes used in this class are Schwinns, with spring-loaded adjustment points for seat and handlebar height, and seat fore/aft position. It took me about 4 tries to get to a position that was relatively comfortable, but I still wasn't completely happy with it when the class started.
  3. Spinning class should take the place of a strength workout, not an aerobic base workout. There is a lot of sprinting, and a lot of out of the saddle riding to approximate climbing. If you are looking for an hour of riding at 55-65% of your max heart rate, ride the lifecycle.
What I learned about myself by attending a spinning class:
  1. I don't ride out of the saddle enough. The biggest hill on my commute is a freeway overpass. I hardly ever ride out the the saddle unless it's to stretch or to change my position for a second. I only made it half way through a couple of the climbing sequences. More than once while out of the saddle my heart rate spiked up above 185.
  2. I would kill myself on a fixie. I have a couple of friends that are into the single-speed and fixed-gear sub-culture. Over the last couple of years I have thought about building up a single speed for commuting. If I did that I would have to install a freewheel. The spinning bikes have a fixed gear and flywheel with felt brake pads used to adjust the resistance. At least 4 or 5 times I found myself nearly pitched over the handlebars when I tried to stop pedaling, or I tried to adjust my position and forgot to keep my feet turning.
  3. I like being pushed in the class environment. There were a number of exercises directed by the instructor that I have know for years I should incorporate into my training but I never do. Besides the sprints and climbing which in addition to their own merits as training devices also served as an effective interval workout the instructor directed one-legged drills and a nice stretching routine after the workout.
There are three spinning sessions a week at my fitness center, and I think at least while the weather stays frigid, I am going to try and add at least two sessions a week.

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