What Is A Spin Class? Types and Benefits, Explained By An Instructor

Our in-house Spin Instructor Robbie takes you through everything you need to know

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reviewed by Ben Gibbons

My first experience of a spin class was going with my sister, who was a regular to the spin scene. Before we went, I asked her, “What is a spin class?” She told me it would be tough cardio session, but it will be very fun. She couldn’t have been more right.

Resistance up, resistance down, fast cadence, slow cadence, climbing position, aero position, SPRINT. The instruction came thick and fast, but nothing compared to how high my heart rate was throughout the session. 

Although very challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed the spin class, and when the opportunity arose to become a spin instructor, I had to go for it. Five years later, I still take the opportunity to teach and highly recommend spin classes to anyone.

In this article, I will be telling you everything you need to know about spinning as a successful instructor who has been on many people’s journeys and knows all the ins and outs of it.

We will be discussing:

What is a spin class? Three women on exercise bikes work out at a gym against a green background.

What Is A Spin Class?

A spin class, also known as a spinning class, involves joining a group of people, jumping on a stationary bike, and cycling indoors. Spinning is an excellent way for many people to exercise together at their own pace and intensity. 

The instructor will run through a profile that might simulate riding a bike up a mountain or even cycling in a peloton on flatlands. They will run through different intensity levels and use many different cadences to challenge you and keep the workout dynamic. 

How long is a spin class?

Spin classes can last anywhere from 20 minutes all the way up to 90 minutes. In modern times, you don’t even have to go to a spin studio to train, but bikes such as the Peloton mean you can do it from your own home.

What is the difference between A spin class and Indoor Cycling Class?

It’s also very good to understand the term “spinning,” as many people consider it the same as indoor cycling. A Spinning instructor is certified to teach Spin, while an indoor cycling instructor could be qualified for group exercise instruction.

Spin is a brand, and they generally only like studios to call their classes spinning if they use a Spin-certified instructor or their official Spinning bikes.

Hence, many gyms call it indoor cycling class or HIIT class instead of spinning when they are very similar.

Three spin bikes in a row, with a pink background.

What Is A Spin Class Bike?

Spinning and indoor cycling are done on what is called a spin bike. These amazing machines range from $150 to $3000, depending on what you are looking for and the experience you want. 

Each spin bike will have a flywheel on the front or rear, a unique set of spin handlebars, typically bullhorn style, and a resistance adjustment dial. It will offer a huge amount of adjustment on the seat and handlebars to suit various riders. 

Spin bikes come in two different types. You have fiction, which creates resistance on the flywheel with a brake pad, and frictionless, which uses magnets to create resistance for the rider. The high-end bikes such as the Peloton and NordicTrack are typically magnetic.

Spin Bike Or Exercise Bike 

Understanding the difference between a spinning bike and an exercise bike is important. A spinning bike is more aggressive with a slim saddle, a large flywheel, and clip-on pedals, but most importantly, it gives you the ability to stand while you are riding. 

An exercise bike is found in a gym and is only used for sitting down. It generally has a wide, comfortable saddle, a small flywheel, and an upright riding position. Trying to stand on an exercise bike will be very uncomfortable. 

Six people all cycling on indoor bicycles.

Different Types Of Spinning Classes

When it comes to spinning and indoor cycling, many classes often run in a studio. Here are all the classes I came across in my years as a participant and instructor. 

Classic Spin Class

A classic spin class has a mix of all the elements of cycling. You have sprints, climbs, intervals, sitting, standing, and rest periods to keep you enjoying every moment on the bike. The beauty of a session like this is you never know what’s coming next unless the instructor tells you. 

Interval Spin Class

An interval class is typically a lot of high-paced work mixed with rest. It could be two minutes of maximum effort followed by two minutes of rest, repeated again and again. You also have high-intensity interval training, which is a short session with lots of hard effort and very little rest. 

Endurance Spin Class

An endurance spin class is where the intensity of the class will typically be moderate throughout and will stay consistent. This could be a warm-up, 50 minutes at moderate intensity, and a cool-down. 

Dynamic Spin Class

A dynamic spinning class is when you’re not just cycling but moving around the bike a little more. You might find yourself hovering over the seat, bouncing up and down on the handlebars, or even pedaling backward. It is commonly taught but not always recommended by instructors. 

Other Types Of Spin Classes

There are many other types of classes, such as recovery classes, beginner classes, power classes with power meter bikes, and I have even seen no seat classes, which is ridiculous.

Two people sit on a indoor cycling bike smiling.

7 Key Benefits Of Spinning

#1: Fitness Improvement

Spinning classes come with a lot of great benefits. Here’s why we highly recommend getting yourself one to give it a try.

If you want to improve your cardiovascular health, then a spin class is not only a great cardio workout but also helps you build muscular strength and endurance. You can make a big difference to your fitness for not much time required on the bike. 

You’ll get a great full-body workout, particularly on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

#2: High-Calorie Burn

Is spin class good for losing weight?

The next point to mention is calorie burn. Spinning can burn anywhere from 300 to 800 calories an hour, and for some people, that’s over a third of your daily allowance. If you have a weight loss goal, the bike could be the key to success. 

#3: Low-Impact And Recovery

Spinning is not only a great way to stay in shape but also is a very low-impact form of exercise. This means you are not digging into your knees as if you were running and generally have short recovery, meaning you can train more regularly. 

#4: It Suits All Abilities

Do you need to be an experienced cyclist to try spinning?

When it comes to spinning, you each have your own bike and control your own resistance. You could be a beginner and be cycling next to a professional cyclist and still be getting a similar experience.

Spin is accessible for all fitness goals and fitness levels.

#5: It’s Fun

Going to a spin class is a lot of fun. The music is pumping, the instructors are giving you direction, and you’re in a group of people pushing toward the same goal. It’s an exciting feeling with all the endorphins flowing through your body. 

A woman cycles on a indoor bike in a dark room.

#6: It’s Social

Another great benefit of spinning is that it’s very social. If you go to a class, you are thrown into a situation where you can speak to many other spinners, and that’s a great way to build friendships with like-minded people. Even online classes on Peloton are social!

#7: It Can Be Done With People Or Alone

Spinning can be a lot of fun with others, but if you want to do it alone, purchasing a bike and then spinning at home by yourself is very easy. I love to train with others, but it’s great to have a bike at home ready if I’m tight for time.

What should I expect from my first spin class?

Spinning classes are generally held in either spinning studios or at local gyms. Look around and find out more on websites of venues close to you so they are easy to get to. 

Top Tips For Your First Spin Session

Your first spin class can be exciting but very nerve-racking at the same time.

Here are some top first time tips from a long-time spinner and an instructor. 

Here’s What To Take

I recommend when going to a spin class to take:

  • Water 
  • Towel
  • Fitness Clothing
  • Good Supportive Shoes
  • A Good Hard Working Attitude

You will also find most spinning bikes to have clip-in pedals where you can use special cycling shoes with SPD pedals. 

When You First Get There

I recommend getting there 15 minutes early and introducing yourself to the instructor when you first get there. Tell them you are new and ask them to set up the bike for you. So few people ask and go in hiding at the back when it’s great to get involved.

Two indoor cyclists sit on bicycles with a yellow background.

Don’t Go Crazy

One of the biggest errors I see people make when first going to a spin class is working way too hard. They end up tired and uncomfortable halfway through, which ruins the experience. I have even seen someone leave early because they are so exhausted. 

Remember to go in and have fun on your first couple of sessions. Try not to overthink the process. Just enjoy the miles and slowly build up your confidence. The instructor will understand if you don’t want to stand or sprint because it takes time to gain confidence and ability.

A Final Note

Is a spin class a good workout? 100%! Spin classes are a great way to stay in shape and a lot of fun.

As a participant and instructor, I highly recommend trying a few to see what you think and if it’s the exercise for you. The benefits are amazing, and you will make some great new friends.

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Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

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