Actually, it’s not LIKE riding a bike, it IS riding a bike.
Some people run, some people do yoga, some play recreational sports (like soccer) and some people do karate.
I have, over the years, tried every single one of the above physical activities and failed miserably. Shin splints and plantar fasciitis make running unbearable, I like yoga but I don’t bend, I tried but can’t play soccer to save my life and karate was fun until it became – well – not fun.
I’ve also tried golf (Zzzzzzz), skating (the ice is very hard when you fall), skiing (too expensive) and tennis (in my case, it’s more aptly called “chasing the tennis ball across 4 tennis courts”).
I know that it’s very important to stay active as we get older to keep our muscles working, our weight down, our bones strong and our heart healthy. But its not easy for those of us who didn’t grow up playing sports and just never found that one activity we really enjoy that doesn’t feel like exercise.
Well, I finally found it and it’s spinning!
Here is an exercise that has no complicated rules to learn, needs no special or expensive equipment, can be done all year round by anyone of any size, age and fitness level. And best of all? It requires absolutely no skill!
Spinning is indoor cycling but it’s not your mothers old stationary bike from 1972.
Indoor cycling has come a long way baby.
Spinning bikes look more like racing bikes and all elements can be adjusted to fit each individual rider. The handlebars and seat move up, down, forward and backward. Arrive a bit early to your first class and tell the instructor it’s your first time. He (or she) or another more experienced participant will help you adjust the bike properly.
Spinners are the nicest people in a fitness class that I’ve ever met!
There is a tension knob on spinning bikes that you use to make the pedaling easier or harder following the instructors direction. Keep the tension low for very fast pedaling and speed or turn the tension up to work the legs more and when you rise up off the seat to mimic cycling up a hill.
You control the resistance on your bike to make it only as hard as you can manage. No pressure to keep up with the rest of the class. There are lots of times that I stay seated when everyone else is up off their seats simply because they are more fit than I am.
There is a girl who is always in the front row that pedals so fast, I can’t even watch because I get dizzy. It’s insane!
A good spinning instructor will cycle (pun intended) you through various work out phases using sprints, hill climbs and flat pedaling (this is kind of a rest period where tension is low and pedaling is relaxed). This is all done with the lights down and the music loud creating an energized atmosphere.
The thing I love most about Spinning is that anyone can do it. It requires no real skill so even a 50-year old, moderately fit woman with no previous experience can take up the sport.
Other things I love about Spinning:
- No impact so it’s easy on your joints (important at our age)
- It doesn’t require any coordination (the same cannot be said about the boxercise class I tried)
- The room is dark so you don’t feel self-conscious if you can’t keep up (trust me though, everyone is so “in the zone”, no one is paying any attention to you)
- You only go as light or heavy as you are able
- It is a great cardio workout
- You can bike 4 miles in one direction and you don’t have to turn around and come back!
I take my spin class at the gym that I belong to but there isn’t always a class at a convenient time for me so I will often do my own spin class by myself. The spin bikes are in a separate room so I go in, dim the lights, put on my headphones and crank the music on my ipod.
I generally pedal seated for one song and then do one song pedalling up off the seat – up, down, up, down – for 30 minutes. It’s a great work out and more fun than the regular stationary bike or eliptical machine.
So, if you are feeling that you want to get more exercise but haven’t found “the one”, I recommend you give a spin class a try. No skill required!