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  1. #1
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Spin Classes. What should I expect?

    The Local Y just got in Keiser Spin Bikes. I have no idea what to expect. I'm not even sure they have an instructor yet.
    Last edited by jethro56; 12-12-11 at 12:00 PM.

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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Expect to get out of it what you put into it, Jethro. The instructor (whoever that ends up being) has no idea what the setting is on your bike's tension knob, so they can't tell if you're working or loafing. At least until the sweat starts pooling under your bike.

    The other thing I pay attention to is my knees. A lifetime of cycling advice that said "build mileage spinning before you try to mash big gears or you'll blow out your knees" makes me cautious, especially as I get older and more susceptible to injury. One of the teachers at my gym likes to push a lot of resistance while seated, and I steadfastly refuse to do it, at least not to the extreme he suggests. I'm doing this in order to get a jump on next season so I can enjoy cycling more. If I'm going to risk injury, it's going to be doing what I love, and not prepping to do what I love.
    Craig in Indy

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    First of all, you will love those bikes. We have them at the gym I go to, and they are by far the best spin bikes I've ever sat on, and I've been on a lot of them. If you have shoes with SPD cleats, take them. They clip into the pedals on the bike.

    As for classes, most of them will be focused on cardio. You won't get a bike-specific workout in them, but you will burn some calories. Occasionally you'll find a class taught by a cyclist (we have a triathlete that teaches classes at our gym, but not very often), and those classes are the most beneficial. But, for me, spin class is about burning calories and working on your cardio, which they are effective at doing.

    If you class has fans, position yourself in front of one. Take a towel and a water bottle to class.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    Expect to get out of it what you put into it, Jethro. The instructor (whoever that ends up being) has no idea what the setting is on your bike's tension knob, so they can't tell if you're working or loafing. At least until the sweat starts pooling under your bike.

    The other thing I pay attention to is my knees. A lifetime of cycling advice that said "build mileage spinning before you try to mash big gears or you'll blow out your knees" makes me cautious, especially as I get older and more susceptible to injury. One of the teachers at my gym likes to push a lot of resistance while seated, and I steadfastly refuse to do it, at least not to the extreme he suggests. I'm doing this in order to get a jump on next season so I can enjoy cycling more. If I'm going to risk injury, it's going to be doing what I love, and not prepping to do what I love.
    Actually, on the Keiser bikes, they have a computer and a lever that adjusts tension on the wheel. So when you adjust the tension, the "gear" on the computer changes, so the instructor can say "everyone get into gear 8" or whatever. They also have power meters, but I don't know how accurate they are. But, at least, they are good to be able to compare your numbers to the person next to you. The computers are even compatible with Polar HRM straps.

    http://mseries.keiser.com/m3.html
    Last edited by IAmCosmo; 12-12-11 at 12:17 PM.

  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    The Local Y just got in Keiser Spin Bikes. I have no idea what to expect.
    Bad techno music.

    All joking aside, I think everyone else covered the actual stuff involved with spin classes. They tend to vary the routines, but all of them are some type of interval training from what I've seen. Very good for building strength and increasing max cardio threshholds. I haven't met anyone who came out from a winter of spinning and didn't improve on the roads next spring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAmCosmo View Post
    As for classes, most of them will be focused on cardio. You won't get a bike-specific workout in them, but you will burn some calories. Occasionally you'll find a class taught by a cyclist (we have a triathlete that teaches classes at our gym, but not very often), and those classes are the most beneficial. But, for me, spin class is about burning calories and working on your cardio, which they are effective at doing.
    Ain't that the truth?!?! I have only had one instructor who knew anything about actual cycling. He was also a triathelete. Most of the instructors I have had pedal at cadences you would never replicate on a bike for any extended period of time. I thought one instructor's legs were going to fly off she was spinning so fast. But as you note, it's an effective cardio workout.

  7. #7
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    I was thoroughly humbled my first (and subsequent) attempts at spin class. I'd averaged 300 miles/month on my road bike in the previous 3 years and took a look at the chumps in their sneakers and cotton T-shirts and thought I was going to show them a thing or two. Yeah, just not the same things I wanted to.

    The instructor I had was very young and immature and made some very disrespectful comments about anybody who wears colorful lycra/spandex to ride a real bike or who is over the very ancient age of 30 (I am 55 and prefer HiVis when riding in traffic).

    The guys in my bike club who take spin classes have shown tremendous improvement in their ability to climb. Me, I am a very poor climber and standing on the pedals I only last a minute or so. The flywheel on the fitness club spin bikes threatens to tear my legs apart at the knees when I forget; the saddle is torture to sit on; and basically the bike can't be adjusted for a good fit.

    As much as I hate it, I'm sure that means it's good for me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post

    The instructor I had was very young and immature and made some very disrespectful comments about anybody who wears colorful lycra/spandex to ride a real bike or who is over the very ancient age of 30 (I am 55 and prefer HiVis when riding in traffic).
    When I belonged to a gym I would go to spin class, after a few classes I started using my riding gear, so if the instructor made any comments she would have been talking directly to me. After a few classes in my gear, I noticed more people coming in riding shorts and cleated shoes but most would't wear a jersey. But I figured that if it wicks sweat better then why not. I figure that if other guys have a basketball jersey on for hoops then why not a cycling jersey.

    I like the spin class, I tend to work harder when someone is yelling at me to get my butt in gear.
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    Senior Member caphits's Avatar
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    SWEAT!

    One weird thing I noticed was that it took me WAY more resistance to get the pedals going as fast as I could, for the sprints. I got the one at the gym to 190 RPM. I wish it worked like that on a real bike though.

    Oh yeah, expect the class to be made up of almost entirely women. (The ones I have been to have been like this).

    Don't be afraid to wear at least your cycling shorts/bibs. You are still sitting on a saddle, and you don't want any discomfort. I just wear a normal athletic shirt, rather than a jersey on top though. I feel like I would REALLY stick out if I did.
    Last edited by caphits; 12-13-11 at 01:10 AM.
    Cap-hits, not Caf-its

  10. #10
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    I wear all cycling gear, with the exception of jerseys, in my spin classes. The things jerseys are best at aren't needed in a spin class, but everything else, from shorts to shoes to even gloves (I find the bars way too slippery when my hands sweat, even though the bars are rough, easy-to-grasp material) is. The participants in our classes are split about 50/50.
    Craig in Indy

  11. #11
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    It'll be interesting to see who shows up when classes start. This summer all I saw were Walley World bikes in the rack and very few of them at that. I can't imagine not wearing bibs and gloves during the sessions. That will probably raise expectations beyond my abilities but I'm used to under-performing. Maybe I could get a jersey and have poser printed on it. The bikes have clips on one side of the pedal. Still debating if I want to go in that direction but the concensus here has steered me right so far.(Bibs,Brooks,90+ cadence, ect)

  12. #12
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I started spin classes this year after DST kicked in and the days were to short for an after work ride.

    The sessions are brutal, but they've been doing me a world of good. I had an accident earlier in the year, breaking my kneecap and I have been unable to stand on the pedals to get uphill. Because the spin bikes have a flywheel, I had a little inertia to help with that and I am now able to hammer uphill standing. (I think half the problem was knee strength and half was needing confidence that the knee was not going to fall out from under me while riding). Blood pressure is noticeably down and weight is stable (though not declining much right now).

    On the gear question, I am mostly using my riding gear. Riding shorts and gloves from what I already own. Can't stand sweating into cotton, it's like wearing a large sponge. Ugh. Though I could use my riding jerseys, I bought some wicking workout shirts, a couple from sporting goods shops and one of the Tech-tees from Performance. (I also plan on using them when doing summer yard work). I did go and buy another pair of riding shoes, as my usual Specialized shoes don't have much grip on the soles, so they made it difficult to do the post-spin stretches. I bought a pair of what I think of as touring shoes. Ones that have full tread on the bottom and a recessed SPD cleat. Can't stand pedaling with sneakers for more than the most casual of rides.

    As I said earlier in my post, I am finding these session brutal but highly beneficial. (But, as someone else said, you can make it as easy or hard as you want, since you are in control of the tension knob.) I've wanted to stop at the 30 minute point a few times, but a class full of women and my macho pride keeps me going the full hour.
    Last edited by Yo Spiff; 12-13-11 at 09:26 AM.

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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Your experience with spin instructors may vary, if they are riders the workout will be different than if they are aerobic instructors. Rider-instructors will kill you. Sometimes I simply ignore the instructors entirely; bring my own tunes and do my own workout.

    You look a little foolish wearing a kit to spin class. Runner wear is perfect, e.g. dri-fit shorts and tee, though biking shorts make sense. I wear a liner under running shorts.

    Keiser bikes are the worst of all the spin bikes I've tried. You can't drop the handlebar to level or below the saddle, and the bar as not adjustable fore and aft. The Q on the pedals is beach cruiser distance. Something to check, the Keiser bikes are bolted, not welded, to the frames..and the bolts come loose. Before you pick one, do a once over to make certain nothing's loose, I saw one come of it's base in my class and another with handlebar lifted off...(I quit that gym).

    Plan to sweat. I bring a big bottle, two if I do back to back classes.

    Notice were the fans are. Not to be sexist, but the gals seem to love the fans, turn them on full blast. First decision I make is where I sit in relationship to the fans...having full blast fan on you for an hour or more is horrible.

    Bring earbuds or similar. Some of the nut job instructors blast middle school music and scream into a PA. It gets old fast, but earphones or similar tones it down.

    Enjoy.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 12-13-11 at 09:51 AM.

  14. #14
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I like to sweat so I'm with you on the fan. The instructors in the other fitness classes are all 30 ish women and vary from "You'll hurt yourself." to "This is supposed to be painfull." I'm a little afraid to talk to the head fitness instuctor as I'm known to her as a "bicycle nut". I don't want to be drafted into making the program work. Next spring, I'll want to get out and ride for real.

  15. #15
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    The suggestion to bring earbuds or some other type of plug is interesting. The instructors do like to crank the mostly-horrible techno beat "music" to near-painful levels in the name of "motivation." I don't mind too much, but what gets me is that when the instructor is female, my aging ears can't for the life of me pick out their voices from the incessant noise of the music. Guys' voices I have no problem with. My requests for increased volume from the mic usually results in feedback, so they set it back where it was. Requests to turn the music down are mostly ignored. They think if the auditory assault isn't loud enough to trigger a fight-or-flight physiological response, the class is lacking somehow.
    Craig in Indy

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    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    can't for the life of me pick out their voices from the incessant noise of the music.
    Agreed on that. It took me a few spin classes to get a feel for what the routine consisted of so that I could reasonably follow along. Still can't make out half the instructions and I usually plop myself in the front row so I can hear better.

    I do find the strong beat of the music helps me to keep pace, however.

  17. #17
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    CraigB: Kinda get your music off my lawn approach?

  18. #18
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    CraigB: Kinda get your music off my lawn approach?
    I prefer to think I'm being reasonable, not curmudgeonly. Unfortunately those younger than me rarely see it that way.
    Craig in Indy

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    They are fun. Just remember most spin bikes don't free spin, I almost ripped my leg off the first time I stopped pedaling lol!

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    Yeah, I wear cycling shorts and shoes in class. I generally wear bibs when actually riding, but I have a couple pairs of regular shorts for spin class. I wear an Under Armor style t-shirt. I don't care what anyone else thinks of me, as long as they keep it to themselves. Or as long as they are smaller than me...

  21. #21
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    My wife rarely rides a bike but does spin classes for her cardio, she uses riding shorts ever since her first time on a spin cycle. She came back from the first session complaining about an intense PITA. I told her to use her gear that she never uses and see if it feels better. She doesn't use cycling shoes but maybe that will make a good xmas gift.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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    I like spin class a lot!

    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Ain't that the truth?!?! I have only had one instructor who knew anything about actual cycling.
    One of our ymca instructors can't even ride a bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Bad techno music.
    if you can't stand this, you probably shouldn't go.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
    When I belonged to a gym I would go to spin class, after a few classes I started using my riding gear,
    at my work gym, it's probably 50/50 real bike shorts and cleats vs tshirts and gym shorts

    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    CraigB: Kinda get your music off my lawn approach?
    More like, "if it's too loud, you're too old." actually, if you don't like loud music, bring some ear plugs in case the music is too loud.

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    The spin classes I've gone too had us in this awkward half-crouching position that was completely unrealistic for real-world cycling. Sort of like "bum off the seat just an inch, hold that for a minute"

    after having knee troubles for the past few years, and working past them with specific pedals and setup, I'm hesitant to sign up for another spin class.

  24. #24
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brando_T. View Post
    The spin classes I've gone too had us in this awkward half-crouching position that was completely unrealistic for real-world cycling. Sort of like "bum off the seat just an inch, hold that for a minute"

    after having knee troubles for the past few years, and working past them with specific pedals and setup, I'm hesitant to sign up for another spin class.
    This goes part and parcel (hand in glove?) with what I was saying about my knees. Some of my instructors have had us do the "hovering" thing, too, as well as high-rpm standing spins, neither of which I will do. I can get an effective-enough workout with the rest of the program, without having to resort to something I fear might do me some damage. Young, resilient knees might be fine with it. But I haven't had those since high school.
    Craig in Indy

  25. #25
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Talked to the head fitness instructor this morning. They're going full bore on this with 3 classes a day.One (5:30 am) will be lead by a local hammerfest 35 yo. One (5:30 pm) by a staff member that's up to being able to ride 30 minutes at a time. They're still looking for a 8:30 instructor. She said "You come in about that time....." I changed the subject after that
    (puss)

    So the question now is "Should a 55 yo slow Clyde try to lead a group of 30 year old mommies?
    Last edited by jethro56; 12-14-11 at 11:31 AM.

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