Spin Doctor

Last night I visited an old friend that I later realized I had been missing a lot–the spin bike.

I used to spin at least once a week and always loved it, but lately I haven’t been too inspired to attend a class, nor did I know the schedule. While I was home for lunch I happened to look up at the group fitness schedule and noticed Wednesday spinning had been moved earlier to 5:30–perfect! (And I also noticed that they are now offering spinning at 5:45 am twice a week?? Score!) So I packed my gym bag with capris and a tank, perfect for the sweat session I had been needing.

Spinning bikes

I was a little concerned about the wear that spinning could do to my legs, which is part of why I hadn’t been doing it with my half marathon training. But I wanted needed a good sweat session without much thinking, and that’s what spinning is best at. So I reminded myself that I controlled the resistance and to not overly challenge my legs (afterall, it was my first class in like a year, plus I had a long, hilly run coming up this weekend).

Fifty-one (yes, the instructor had our class last 51 minutes…) minutes later, I was soaked with sweat with a clear, relaxed mind. I did a set of push-ups (really focusing on my form in the push-ups) and some ab exercises before stretching. I find it really important to get in some core work when you’re doing spinning because you might forget about your form on the bike.

When I started spinning a few years ago, I was lucky to have had a couple of instructors who really helped me learn about proper form and how to get the most out of the workout. (I’ve found that the instructors at my current gym don’t focus on that very much, which is a shame.)

I’m going to try to incorporate more spin classes into my cross training now that the classes are being offered at more convenient times for my schedule. And I hope I can get M to rejoin me on a bike (he went a couple of times last year).

Your turn: What workout have you realized you’ve been missing lately?


Going for a Spin

A couple of years ago I decided to try the one class that made me nervous, and now I love it. Have you tried it? I love spinning. I love how you’re in control, and while they say no one really knows how hard you’re working, I still get competitive and want to work harder than my neighbor. I love how you can get your heart rate sky-high, then bring it back down and surge it back up again…all within a few minutes. And I come out of there soaked, tired, but happy.

I love the pounding music, too. Although some times I’ve had instructors play rock music that just seems like it drones on and on, the ones that play the best beats bring me back to their classes.

Now I’ve heard a few instructors suggest doing a few separate exercises for those that spin often, mostly to work on strengthening your core. Here’s my typical spinning workout:

  1. Stake out a bike and set it to the correct position for me (if you’ve never gone to a spin class, be sure to ask your instructor how to do so), then leave my water bottle and towel at my bike.
  2. Warm-up: I usually walk/run a half mile around the track in the gym at an easy pace, just to get my muscles warm.
  3. Light stretch, concentrating on my legs and my back for the most part.
  4. Ab workout: this may consist of straight leg raises (lower abs), bicycle crunches (obliques), raised leg crunches (legs raised either 90* or straight up, I’ll reach up towards my toes to lift my shoulder blades off the floor), etc., etc. I tend to do this for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how much time I have before class.
  5. Plank: I try to fit in at least a 45 plank on my forearms. If I have time, I’ll do side planks on each side as well.
  6. Light stretch again, then head to the spin studio for class.
  7. After class, I stretch more than the instructor has us do in class. I focus on my calves, hamstrings, and the outside of my hips.

I always make sure I drink plenty of water throughout the class and afterwards, because you lose a lot of water in those 45 minutes. When I come home, I usually drink a some Powerade Zero to help replenish a few minerals as well.

Tonight I participated in probably my last spin class for quite a while. I’ll start my 12-week training schedule, and I’ve been warned about doing much spinning while training. I don’t want to risk any undue stress on my hip flexors. So, I won’t be doing much spinning while I’m training.

Are there other activities that you’ve had to give up while participating in your running training programs?