Everything you need to know about spinning

The workout
During the class you vary your pace - sometimes pedaling as fast as you can, other times cranking up the tension and pedaling slowly from a standing position. This helps you to focus inwardly and work on your mind as well as your body.

The upside
Spinning burns serious calories, works your heart and builds thigh muscles. It doesn't involve a lot of coordination so it's easier to concentrate on your form than in other types of aerobic classes. You can finish a spin class, regardless of your fitness level, simply by adjusting your pace or the tension knob on the bike.

The downside
Spinning doesn't work all leg muscles equally, so without some cross-training, you may develop muscle imbalances. Serious spin enthusiasts have to watch out for overuse injuries in their knees, hips and lower backs.

The pros say...
If spinning is your main source of exercise, we recommend doing some resistance training workouts that include exercises for the hamstring (back of thigh), buttock and inner thigh muscles.

Riding with an incorrect seat-setting can also lead to injury. Set your seat height so that your knee is slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Set the handlebars so that they are level with the seat. When you lean forward and place your hands on the bars, there should be a slight bend at your elbows.

Other than the bike, here's what you need for a safe, comfortable ride:
a stiff-soled shoe with good ventilation (running and aerobic shoes, which are soft-soled, may leave your feet numb by the end of the class);

towels, for wiping away sweat and for draping over the handlebars so your hands won't slide out of position;

a full water bottle because you're definitely going to sweat. Most spinning bikes are equipped with a water bottle cage so you can place your water within easy reach.

Time: Classes usually last 45 to 60 minute.

Patty Slack, Fitness Instructor, World Class Health Academy

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