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Old 10-24-11, 06:15 PM   #1
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Anyone try a spining class? Cramps?

All season long I road 30 - 50 miles / week. Tonight I did my first 'spinning' class. First the good news. A. I was cycling. B. I worked up a good sweat. Now the downside. We spent ALOT more time standing than what I'm used to and I managed to get a good case of calf cramps. Does anyone have any tricks to keep the cramps at bay? Does anyone else 'spin' in the winter? How do you like it?

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Old 10-24-11, 07:30 PM   #2
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Repetitive topic. Lots of posts on this. Consensus seems to be that spinning is good for strength and endurance but not for technique. For that need actual biking on road or maybe trainer.

Yes, if a person is not in good condition leg cramps can happen. Contrary to popular myth generally cramps are not due to poor hydration or diet. They are due to lack of physical conditioning. I did my first spin class today since last winter. Also, haven't ridden a bike since last May. I did do a gentle spin last Saturday. After today's session my legs are sore and I had cramps, just as I expected. I can tell the legs are tired because they feel like 2X4s with lead attached. But, in a couple weeks all that will be history. No cramps. No lead legs.
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Old 10-24-11, 08:10 PM   #3
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I do spin classes on rare occasions and they are not my favorite. The way to visualize a spin class is that you are riding a fixed gear bike that does not fit very well. Typically, instructors stand a lot but this varies. I try to get a close bike fit, bring the bike up to what I like to spin and spin as I feel. I pay some attention to the class but I am not compelled to do all the things the instructor may suggest. Also, they tend to spin a lot faster. This is due to the fixed gear nature of the bike. So another way to injure yourself is spinning too fast. For a trackie like me, that is not a problem but... the bike does not fit like my track bike so I do not go for real fast spinning.

Cramps are typically from lack of conditioning and standing puts a lot of stress on the calf muscles and at a lower cadence which means more stress.
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Old 10-24-11, 09:59 PM   #4
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What Is A Spin Bike?

Most posters do not appear to understand that a spin bike is just another tool in a fitness gym. It is not there to teach cycling. In fact most people in a spin class are not cyclists. They are in the class for aerobic fitness as a variety to other routines. If a person goes into a spin class with the idea it is going to be a perfect cycling practice tool they will be disappointed.

On the other hand if their class is led by a good instructor, they remember it is their ride and their goal is to develop fitness while exercising leg muscles and coordination it can be a very good experience.

Last edited by HawkOwl; 10-24-11 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 10-24-11, 10:51 PM   #5
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I belong to Equinox gym and their spin bikes are pretty good proxies to a regular bicycle except they are fixed gear and the fit may not be great. We have Schwinn bikes which have a complete suite of electronics including a power meter. The power meter is not that accurate but it is indicative of the level of effort and provides repeatable results. The pedals are either cages with straps or Look compatible pedals that seem to work with SPD -Sl cleats. Many bikes are set up with SPD cleats. The saddle is okay and the seat to bar drop and reach can get pretty close.

We have many excellent outdoor road cyclists who go to the classes and we have a couple of very good road cyclists as instructors that lead good classes. When one cannot get outside, the bikes are okay. I prefer to ride the trainer or rollers on my own bike versus the spin bikes but when I am out of town and there is an Equinox in the city, I ride the spin bikes.
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Old 10-25-11, 05:09 AM   #6
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30-50 miles a week is not a lot of riding so, if you're standing a lot on the spin cycle my guess is that you might be overworking those muscles. I would start the spin classes a little easier and work your way to higher output levels and longer times.
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Old 10-25-11, 05:14 AM   #7
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I did twice-a-week classes all through last winter and I think it helped me get a jump on the season. I didn't have any issues with cramping, but I did think at least one of the instructors was asking us to do an ill-advised routine, at least for someone my age - he wanted us to do a song's worth of time spent mashing - seated, at high resistance. I wouldn't do it. The last thing I wanted out of a conditioning class was to blow out a knee. If that's going to happen, at least let it happen on the road while I'm actually riding.
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Old 10-25-11, 05:20 AM   #8
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Last Thursday I was intending to so several hard 15 minute intervals on my cyclo cross bike on grass. We had significant rain so I decided to do the workout on the trainer in the basement. It was my first day on the trainer since April. I decided to do the intervals with 15 seconds of out of the saddle every 3 or 4 minutes of the 15 minute intervals. On the 2nd interval I began to feel calf cramps and finished up the interval. On the 3rd interval I had to quit after about 1/2 way done due to cramps in both my calves. I've been doing the intervals every other week since August and the only thing that changed is the rigidly fixed bike on the trainer. I don't think the cramps were the result of conditioning. The cramps resulted in putting my body in a fixed isloated position that it was not accustomed to be in for sustained periods.
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Old 10-25-11, 06:28 AM   #9
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I agree with the suggestions to go at your own pace. I hate standing on the pedals so I only do it part of the time when the instructor asks for it. I don't always increase the tension when asked. Some of the people in the class are 1/3 of my age.
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Old 10-25-11, 06:48 AM   #10
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Ditto the do your own thing suggestions. The classes can help you to keep pushing but you don't have to do everything the instructor does. The time out of the saddle was irritating at first but I found it improved my performance on short, steep climbs so I kept it up. Our spinning bikes have good friction adjusters that enable to you change the "gear" to simulate flat roads and climbs to a pretty good degree.
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Old 10-25-11, 07:46 AM   #11
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As others have mentioned, don't feel as if you must follow the instructor. I do some spinning classes when the I feel the weather precludes riding. I'll sit in a back corner and pretty much do my own thing, which is mainly intervals. I'm often standing when others are sitting, or going really hard or fast when the instructor is having everybody recover, and vice versa. I figure I'm less disruptive to the class activities by being in the back corner. All the instructors have been cool with it, but had they not been, too bad. I'm the paying customer.
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Old 10-25-11, 09:10 AM   #12
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I've been taking 2-3 spin classes every week for 6 years @0545AM before heading to work. I've found that if I stand with heavy resistance my left knee will be sore for a couple of days, so now when I stand use a lighter setting working on technique rather than power. My spin instructors know I ride/race. I sometimes teach classs when an instructor doesn't show up. We use the Keiser M3 spin bikes with wattage, calories, cadence and I wear a HR strap. Since I'm a trackie I like to spin, but the bike computer goes blank at 140 rpm. Most of the time when the class is "climbing" out of the saddle, I sit (my regular climbing position) and climb monitoring my HR and wattage. I do all the other drills with the class.
It's your workout, but if you're just doing your own thing then spin at another time and not disrupt the class. Spin class is a group activity, embrace the group energy.
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Old 10-25-11, 09:12 AM   #13
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I typically ignore the instructors; sometimes I'll tell them in advance I have my own objectives.

What I work on is stuff that I don't normally can't do on my bike; i.e. the joy of a controlled environment. For example, interval 20 min standing climbs, setting the bars 3-4" below the saddle, cadence drills going up to 120-130. If conditions are bad outside I might do 2-3 hours alone in the spin room.

So, great tool if you use it to your benefit. Cramps? - makes me wonder if you set the bike up correctly. I set mine up similar to my fullly rotated road fit, and a tad more aggressively. Are you sure you're not in a beach cruiser position?
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Old 10-25-11, 09:54 AM   #14
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I teach spin class. I gear my classes toward outdoor cyclists, but only about 1/4 of my students are cyclists; the others are just there for the workout.

It's fine if you want to do your own thing, but like others have mentioned, do it in the back where it won't disrupt the rest of the class.

I spend a lot of time in the saddle but I realize that some people get sore and need to stand more often, so I tell them they can stand any time they need to. Same thing for those who don't like to stand for long periods - they get the option to stay seated. You should do what works for you and the instructor shouldn't get upset.

I agree that the cramps might be a setup issue, or maybe you were just spinning faster than you do on your real bike. I can hold a much higher cadence for a longer period of time on a spin bike than I can on my road bike. Maybe your muscles were just getting worked a bit harder.
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Old 10-25-11, 01:07 PM   #15
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Don't do spinning classes now as I reckon that 2 hours on the bike is better- no matter what the weather. BUT last time I did a series of classes- the instructor warned me to come in easily. Took till the 4th class before I could show any real effort on the spinner without it causing a problem. My calf muscles are pretty good- should be with the hills I have- but they do need building up. If you are at the gym- get on the running machine- set it at the steepest hill and walk. When you walk- it is heel first and then onto the toes. Stretches and builds up the calf muscles.--And walk at 4 to 6 mph. Running and you don't work the calf muscles as much.

And we do have a machine at the gym that does work the calf muscles. You just move the ankles to lift the weights and it does work them. I had a couple of the posers follow me round the gym and wheras I was just using the weights to get movement into a tired body- they were pointedly adding max weight to each machine after I was using it. This calf machine and I do use max weight-200lbs. They got on it after me and could not work the weights- I then got back on the machine and instead of using both legs to lift the weight- I did it one legged. They looked at me in awe----I then limped away with two pulled muscles but after they had gone to the far end of the gym.
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Old 10-25-11, 07:31 PM   #16
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I rarely do a spin class. But on the rear occasion that I do if the instructor is doing stand ups I just ignore them and keep sitting. There is nothing wrong with that.
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Old 10-26-11, 08:08 AM   #17
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They have spin classes at my gym. The gawdawful music keeps me from even considering them.
I just use the bikes in front of the TVs up front.
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Old 10-27-11, 07:41 PM   #18
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I have a bicycle and a spin bike. I use both, but I have discovered that spinning and biking are not the same thing. My main problem with spinning was that it took several sessions spinning to get the thing adjusted just right. For the first few rides, when I felt I was pretty comfortable on the spin bike, I ended up with various pains and sore muscles - some pretty bad many hours later. It was always a delayed reaction, so it took a while to get the thing adjusted. Now that I have it adjusted just right, I can get a great workout on the spin bike - I can actually ride it harder than I can ride a bicycle because I am not worried about wrecking on the spinner, and I do worry about wrecking the bike. I have been riding the bike since July, and so far have had one wreck, and at my age, with a metal hip, I just don't bounce like I used to. I fell very hard on my shoulder the first of the month, and just now am not having constant pain with it. In the olden days, it would have taken a few days or a week or so, now it takes a month. I am pretty cautious.
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Old 02-01-12, 05:51 AM   #19
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I have been spinning since the end of October with a Tri club doing winter training in the pool and running.

I have had long troubles with one leg cramp. I do lots of stretches during the week, I have seen doctors and they are telling me it could be a lack of potassium and calcium. Hydration is a big factor too.

I eat very health and am in very good heath an fit as a whistle. I Kayak, Run Ride and swim.

Still cramps, tried massage therapy and that no good but they acknowledge the muscle is tight.

I do the spinning every Sunday for 2hours. I stay seated on my bike even though the coach says to stand. I am now using a heart rat monitor and notice it shoots up when I stand. Now there is a truth of a waste of energy.
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Old 02-01-12, 11:56 AM   #20
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Shreck: Thanks for bringing this old thread back. My calves burned the first few sessions.I use clipless pedals and once I just trusted that They weren't going to slip I just relaxed on trying to control my ankle position. Next was quads and holding my knees closer together and pushing straight down while standing helped them. Now I'm concentrating on getting less and less bobbing up and down while standing. My glutes are now where I feel the burn.

The bikes are Keiser's and we've only had them for a month. The instructors aren't cyclists. The head instructor knows I am and we've talked about why I don't do some of the techniques that their course includes. She doesn't have a problem with it just curious. I told her that I've learned that it's impossible to make the class just like riding. I know most of the people aren't cyclists and you have to keep it interesting so I understand why you include these techniques. When she's asked what they could do to improve the class I told her that they need to unlock the room 1/2 hour early so people can warm up better, spend some time with new people to get the bike adjusted better. Tell people that if their tired to sit and spin it out. Lastly on sprints that they shouldn't be bouncing around on the saddle. I could tell she really just wanted me to tell her how great the classes were but a couple weeks later she came up to me and said that she'd tried my suggestions and they made the classes better.
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Old 02-01-12, 12:18 PM   #21
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Jethro... good for you to let the instructor know. glad she gave you feedback too. nice.
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