Find YOUR Activity that Lights You Up – Mine is Spinning!


In today’s episode of #fitnessonFriday I am going to share with you a new workout obsession of mine – spin classes.  You’ve heard me mention my love for spinning before, but today I’d like to dive deeper into why I have become so in-love with this type of exercise and what to look for in a spin class if you take my advice to ‘give it a spin’.  Pun intended, friends!  Let’s go.

I get so jazzed and pumped up every time I even think of spin classes.  And, anyone who lends me their ear surely does get an ear full about why I am enthusiastic about this low-impact, yet heart-rate elevating form of exercise.  I rave about the instructors, who are all very individual in their types of workouts, the structure of each class, the energy they bring to the room, the music they play, the comments and jokes they share with us, the places they take us on our rides, the professional tips they provide – during each 45-minute session we are together.

It’s a wonderful thing when you get so excited about being able to move your body, get a great workout in and leave the session so on top-of-the world that you just can’t wait for the next session.  You simply want more, and I always leave feeling 100% better than when I started the spin class. 

So, I know a lot of what I am going to share with you is specific to MY spin classes and MY gym’s instructors.  However, this should give you some idea of how spin classes should be and could be IF you find the right environment and motivating instructors. 

First and foremost, spin classes are not for hard core cyclists, as I had originally thought to be true.  You can find quite an age range of participants and varying levels of fitness among the spinners. 

When I became a bit interested in spin classes, I looked at the gym schedule and saw that a class was about to begin.  So, in stealth mode I tiptoed toward the spin room.  Just as I got close to the door, a man came out and asked me if I wanted to join the class.  I stuttered, and made all kinds of excuses why I couldn’t take part and explained I only wanted to watch a few minutes to see what it was all about. 

Well, before I could blink an eye,

 Bill, the spin instructor that day and a very enthusiastic cyclist himself, had me all set up on a bike, adjusted to my height, spinning and feeling still a bit apprehensive.  Suddenly, the lights went out and we began to spin.  Bill had assured me that I was free to leave whenever I wanted, but I ended up staying to the very end and from that moment on…I was hooked.

The wonderful thing about spin is ->  It is completely YOUR ride.  The instructors will guide you through the workout provided a range of RPMs and a suggested tension level, but ultimately YOU do YOU and what feels best for you and your body.  The person next to you is pushing themselves in a different way than you are.  The person in front of you is taking it a bit easier.  It is so individual and the instructors always emphasize “It’s YOUR ride. Adjust accordingly.”

Imagine doing a workout looking up at a screen all the while being taken to exotic, far-away places you’ve never visited before.  Doesn’t that sound a bit dreamy for a workout?  Well, this is exactly what happens…

The lights go off.  The huge screen in front of you lights up and we are off cycling the hilly countryside and winding roads of: the Italian wine country, quaint French villages, Hawaiian islands, tropical-looking Croatia with palm tree-lined streets, the picturesque state of Oregon, the vineyards of California, around Lake Tahoe, or the Scottish Highlands from castle to castle avoiding herds of sheep crossing the roads.

And the icing on the cake when you are in one of Bill’s spin classes…the dreaded climb at the end.  He takes the class (no one left behind) up mountains of Switzerland or France with anywhere from 10 – 16 switchbacks to navigate.  It is quite intense but the feeling once you reach the ‘virtual’ top is nothing short of incredible. 

It’s comparable to being in a movie theatre with the only difference that you are sweating profusely, and your heart is pumping like crazy, your legs (quads in particular) are burning depending on how high you increased the tension, but your self-confidence and pride are off the charts because you accomplished an exhilarating workout and you pushed yourself to endure. 

The burn I feel during spin class isn’t telling me to stop; it’s telling me it’s working.

Not only will such a workout elevate your self-esteem, but it will also do your heart a lot of good.  With the sprints that are baked into each workout, your heart rate is elevated to provide an outstanding cardio workout without being hard on your joints.  That is one of the main reasons, I am able to get in a tough cardiovascular session.  Running and power walking have not been options for several years now due to my mobility issues, so when I discovered the kind of workout you can achieve with spinning, I was thrilled.  Sometimes, I walk into class with pain here and there (whether that’s coming from my hips or lower back) BUT I always leave with NO pain.  I’m not making any medical claims here, but it works for me and if you are craving an excellent cardio workout but you have been sidelined from putting any burden or pressure on your lower limbs, be sure to look into and try a spinning class.  It truly has been life-changing for me.

Oh, did I mention you are going to sweat buckets?  Because you are.  If you push yourself even slightly, you will perspire AND burn a considerable number of calories.  Now, the instructors often say you can’t rely on the reading your spin bike gives you.  Your data is always in front of you:  your RPM, tension level, distance cycled, and calories burned.  In a normal one-hour session (that means I am in the spin room warming up about 15 minutes before the class starts), my watch and bike indicate that I burn around 500 calories. That’s what I call – a lot of bang for your buck.  I can only burn that same number of calories in a tough one-hour swim session.

But here’s the real deal… throughout the spin session, I am building up the muscles in my body, specifically my leg muscles – my calves, my quads, my hamstrings and my glutes — all get a thorough workout.

Overall, the toned look of my legs has changed from being flabby and full of cellulite to more of an athletic-looking leg.  My husband has commented not just once that my calves have slimmed down so much.  Personally, I notice it most on my quads.  They feel powerful, they appear more defined and toned, they support me 100% better than before I started spinning.

Let’s just pause here for one moment and talk about why it’s better to have muscles anyway.

One pound of muscle takes up far less space in your body than one pound of fat. Google it!  The images you find will surprise you. 

And, another fun fact about building more muscle… it burns more calories.  Put very simply, if you turn fat into muscle, your body will burn more calories.  So, my muscles that I gain from spin class and strength training are working for me literally for hours after each workout.  Spinning is like a gift to my body that keeps giving back.

One of the best things about spin class is the upbeat music the instructors play.  It really gets you moving and motivated.  For me, it’s all about the top hits of the 80’s. When those start playing, I feel unstoppable on the bike.  Karen, one of my favourite instructors, gets us all pumping hard to ACDCs “Highway to Hell” on our final climb – which is quite suitable in an ironic sense.  Jeff gets us jumping out of the saddle to Van Halen’s famous song “Jump”.

I really like the badass beats at class -> because, for me, music is like: my morning coffee, or mood medicine. A good song is pure magic.

Music has a way of picking you up and pushing you harder, and is definitely a key factor in any awesome workout.
Not only does the music make a difference, but the atmosphere is also a major factor.  Generally, the other participants are there to have a good workout and some fun too.  Bill will often team up the girls and the guys for a friendly gender competition.  Who can out cycle whom in 30 second sprints? 

When the other ladies and I meet in the changing room afterwards, we all agree that we push ourselves much more in a class environment as opposed to working out alone.  You tend to push yourself more because you are surrounded and see that others are pushing themselves to their limits as well.  It’s inspiring.

Spinning is the same as running or swimming or any cardio activity you might have tried… It is hard at the beginning; it’s tiring and you really have to push yourself to keep up the motivation to continue.  But then, after while your body reaches a point where everything actually gets easier.  After 20 minutes, your body warms up and you’ll be able to harness your full potential, which is higher than you initially thought. (Sidenote:  We always tend to underestimate our capabilities.)

The point I am trying to make here is that it activates reserves you didn’t think you had at the beginning of your workout.  Being able to get over that ‘hump’ is an amazing thing to achieve and it feels so darn good.

Pushing yourself to the limits creates a training effect.  It comes from increasing the limits a bit more, over and over again.  Without doing this, there is little to no progress.
Spin classes have offered me this benefit – me versus me – pushing the limits with each workout – making progress, gaining muscle, feeling proud, and so much more. 

I would highly recommend finding YOUR ACTIVITY – one that lights you up, fills you with excitement and anticipation, leaves you feeling full of adrenaline and that “I can take on the world now” attitude. 

It doesn’t have to be spinning, but I am sure you’ll have a similar experience as mine – IF you find the right class and instructors, who make every attempt to create an enjoyable, yet strenuous spin session.

When someone now asks me what I do for fun, I answer: “Uh, well, yeah – I ride stationary bikes, in dark rooms, with strangers to very loud music.”

And, that’s my message for today, friends.

Til next time,

Lisa xoxo 



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