Spinning - This Week's Grobby

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Pink Floyd has a bike and, thanks to this week’s grobby (Greatist lingo for hobby), you can ride it if you’d like. Developed by professional cyclist Jonathan Goldberg, indoor spinning classes focus on increasing cardio endurance by simulating outdoor biking through varying resistance, speed, and positions. So it may just be time to channel Lance Armstrong and embark on a tour de spin.

You Spin Me Right Round – The Need-to-Know

Jonathan Goldberg developed spin in the 1980s as a way for cyclists to train during the winter. In order to replicate the true feeling of an outdoor ride, including the hellish hills, Goldberg had to do more than build a standard stationary bike. He added a mechanical device called the flywheel which, when adjusted, affects peddling resistance. Depending on the adjustment, riders may feel like they are hauling a polar bear up a snowy hill or sprinting down a smooth street, all without leaving the temperature-controlled comfort of the gym.

During a 45 to 60-minute class, riders bike through a series of hills, sprints, and intervals. By increasing the resistance during a hill climb, riders strengthen leg and abdominal muscles while potentially reducing LDL-cholesterol (the cholesterol that most directly contributes to strokes and heart disease) [1].

In addition to changing their simulated terrain, riders frequently change positions  throughout the routine. Often used for sprint sections, the flat positions allow riders to reach 80 to 110 RPM (revolutions per minute, for those who don't speak "bike"). The seated flat position requires riders to sit with hands placed on the center of the bar (first position), while the standing flat requires riders to stand with hands on the bottom of the handle bars (second position). During interval sections, riders often “jump,” meaning they alter between seated and standing flat for eight-second durations.  When it comes time to climb, riders may stay seated with their hands in second position or stand while holding the top of the handle bars (third position).

Every class offers a different "spin" (sorry I'm not sorry) on Goldberg’s exercise. As spin gained popularity in the 1990s, Goldberg decided to trademark the title and the program. All classes and products labeled “spinning” come from the man who started it all with nothing but a bike and some music. Offshoots include the similar LesMills’s RPM series, whereas NYC based (but expanding) Flywheel and SoulCycle classes incorporate arm exercises, including lightweight curls and presses. Who says people need hands to ride a bike?

I Want to Ride My Bicycle, Bicycle, Bicycle – Your Action Plan

Even though instructors guide the routine, the rider chooses how hard he or she pushes. Someone can simulate a cruise, for example, through Central Park while another creates a climb up Mt. Rushmore. The personalized intensity makes it easier for people with joint or muscle problems to participate in the class. But spin classes don’t cater to those who want to look pretty at the gym. Sweat is inevitable during spin, and it ain’t too pretty.

Before riding off into the sunset, do some research! Check the cost, since some gyms offer free classes with membership while others charge $15 to $25 per session. Also ask what type of shoes the class requires. Although most gyms allow people to use regular workout shoes, some may require spin-specific footwear. If the latter is the case, ask whether or not they provide them. First timer? Tell the instructor so he or she can assist in setting up the bike, especially since the wrong setting could lead to an inefficient workout or even potential injuries.

Warning: The first few classes might result in soreness in the butt and, well, other, more private parts of the body. But we think it's a manageable and fun way to try something new, so that's why it's this week's grobby!

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Works Cited

  1. Resistance exercise plus to aerobic activities is associated with better lipids' profile among healthy individuals: the ATTICA study. Pitsavos, C., Panagioakos, DB., Tambalis, KD., et al. University of Athens, Athens, Greece. Quarterly Journal of Medicine September 2009; 102(9): 609-616.

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