Spin to Begin

Intense Workout a Great Start for Want-to-be Cyclists

Interested in bicycling your way to good health but not sure you’re quite ready to hit the open road? Spin class may be just the thing.

Spinning is a cardiovascular workout for the whole body that uses a special stationary bicycle. Led by an instructor and set to music, spinning classes are a mainstay at health clubs everywhere and will be part of the new NorthBay HealthSpring Fitness facility in Vacaville. Spinning is not just riding a stationary bike indoors. It aims to simulate all of the experiences of outdoor cycling in a high calorie-burning workout.

For avid cyclist Patrick Garner, R.N., who works in Clinical Support Services at NorthBay Medical Center, being part of an indoor cycling program helped to launch him into his love of biking.

“I do not spin but I used to,” he explains. Patrick was already a seasoned cyclist when he tried spinning and found it a beneficial complement to his routine.

“I can think of two positive outcomes from that experience,” Patrick says. “Personally I achieved greater cardiovascular fitness in a relatively short time by learning how to use a heart rate monitor while participating in training sessions focused on cardio. Prior to this I had been fairly disappointed in my resting heart rate and also my recovery period from maximum heart rate.”

Spinning is not just riding a stationary bike indoors. It aims to simulate all of the experiences of outdoor cycling in a high calorie-burning workout.

The second positive aspect he saw was with his spin classmates.”I saw a significant number of people who were not cyclists who became strong at spin class and then became cyclists, several even joining our bike club and participating in organized races and long-distance rides,” Patrick says. “It was definitely a launch pad into cycling for quite a few folks.”

There is an added benefit for those who don’t like the idea of riding in all sorts of weather—or avoiding riding because of bad weather. Spin classes are all indoors.

Patrick says he is comfortable riding in all sorts of weather and has plenty of gear and clothing to accommodate his rides—including outdoor riding clothing.

Clothing and gear is also important for those who prefer the indoor option. “If you are going to try spinning, then I think the best advice is to plan on being comfortable by having a good pair of padded shorts,” he says. “The shorts can be either the type that adhere tight to the skin like road riders wear or they can be baggy like mountain bikers wear. The quality is more important than the type.”

A good comfortable pair of shoes is also vital. “Choosing a shoe that has bike cleats that clip in is a good option,” he says. “You get a better workout and if and when you transition from spinning to riding outdoors, it is good that you have already become comfortable with being ‘clipped in.’ ”

Being comfortable is also very much about how you fit your spin bike or outside bike, notes Patrick. “You should have someone help you adjust the saddle and handle bar position on your spin bike and then remember or write down how your bike is set up.

“When you ride outside, the bike setup is just as important. A good bike shop will take time to make sure your position on the bike is optimal before sending you out. “

Patrick likes to point out is that there is a bike out there for everyone, meaning “any body.”

“Some people may think that they are too heavy to ride a bike. If you weigh 400 pounds, there is a bike out there that can carry you.”

He noted that there is also a growing availability of bikes being marketed for people who have a disability, such as cardiac disease. These have electrical assists that allow you to do rides you would not be able to do without the help of an electrical motor, including group rides.

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