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Thursday, September 17, 2009


I started taking Spinning classes at the Y in the fall of 2005 after I had competed in my first two sprint triathlons. I had not been a very enthusiastic cyclist and I figured that Spinning would help me do a cycling activity through the cold Chicago winter months.

The Evanston Y has an excellent spinning program – twelve cycles, a dedicated room just for spinning and an enthusiastic and well-trained cadre of spinning instructors. The Y offers early-bird classes almost every morning, a couple of mid-day classes and several evening classes.

I started taking a class on Tuesday morning and within a few months I was taking three to four early-morning classes every week.

From iVillage:

Spinning 101
By: Liz Neporent
Nancy Chiocchi

The Scoop on Spinning

Spinning was created by world-class cyclist "Jonny G." Goldberg as a convenient and quick way to train for races. In 1989, he and John Baudhuin opened the first spinning center in Santa Monica, California and then developed a program to certify other spinning instructors. Curious to know about this spinning thing? The following info will help you decide if it's for you:

What is it? Spinning is an aerobic exercise that takes place on a specially designed stationary bicycle called (obviously enough) a spinning bike. As you pedal, motivating music plays and the instructor talks you through a visualization of an outdoor cycling workout: "You're going up a long hill now, you can't see the top yet.…" 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.

Why we love it: Spinning burns serious calories (about 450 in 45 minutes) and offers an awesome aerobic workout that makes your heart pump fast. It also tones your quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and outer thigh muscles like nobody's business! Because you stay in one place with the same basic movement throughout, Spinning doesn't involve a lot of coordination; it's easier to concentrate on your form than in other types of aerobic classes. And although you follow the general instructions of the spinning teacher, you are in control when it comes to your pace. You can finish a spin class, regardless of your fitness level, simply by adjusting your pace or the tension knob on the bike.

Drawbacks: Spinning does not work all leg muscles equally, so if you spin without doing some cross training activities, you may develop muscle imbalances. Spinning every day can also be too much of a good thing -- real spin enthusiasts have to watch out for overuse injuries in their knees, hips and lower backs. If Spinning is your main source of exercise, we recommend doing some resistance training workouts that include hamstring (back of thigh), buttock and inner thigh exercises.

Spinning is a great cardio workout so I continue to include it as part of my weekly routine, but now I only spin once a week. I need to spend more of my cycle-focused training on my own bike, because it is a different setup from a spin cycle so in lieu of spinning I ride outside or, when the weather is bad (or dark) I plan to use a bike trainer, so I can get more comfortable with my tri bike.

My plan is to still spin every Thursday morning with Arawa McClendon. Arawa is also my massage therapist and later in the month I will have a post on Massage.

Arawa’s class is challenging. Today, after a warmup, we did an interval ride which included: spinups with slight resistance, eight-count and four-count jumps (moving from seated to out-of-the-saddle and back again), sprints on a hill (high resistance, out of the saddle position), tempo ride, more sprints, hill climb, sprints on a flat surface (seated, less resistance), another tempo ride, and more jumps.

I am sometimes tempted to point out to Arawa that the term interval implies that something is supposed to happen between activities, maybe something like a break, but I’m usually too winded to say anything and I’m afraid she might take it the wrong way, and make things even tougher.

Most of the folks in the class have been spinning for several years. I know most everybody by name and I think the early morning aspect of the class and Arawa’s conscientious attitude and her consideration for the class helps to create a bond. Most of my training is solitary so having an opportunity to socialize is a nice respite.

The other reason I spin on Thursday is that I’m relatively good at Spinning so I get a little ego boost which I need because two hours after the spinning class I have Yoga, and that is a humbling experience.

Wednesday: Ran the Lakefront for 55 minutes;
Thursday: Spin class - 60 minutes; Swim - 15 minutes; Yoga class: 90 minutes;

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