Get the most out of your spin class

By Nardine Bekhit

Spinning, also known as indoor cycling, is becoming an increasingly popular addition to people’s fitness regimen year-round. The high-intensity cardio, motivating instructors and upbeat music make it fun! As a bonus, you get a great cardiovascular and resistance workout without stressing your joints.

It can be nerve-wracking attending your first spin class, especially if all you know about spin is from movies. If you’re thinking of signing up for an indoor cycling class, here are a few things to consider that might help make your first experience as pleasant as possible.

Arrive early. As with any gym or fitness studio, you may have to go over some paperwork the first time you attend a class. You will also be asked for your shoe size and be given cycling shoes with clips at the bottom for the bike pedals. They may not feel the most comfortable, but make sure you tell the staff if your toes are feeling squished. It takes some time to set up and get used to the bike, so arriving early will give you enough time to go over things with one of the staff or the instructor.

Ask for help setting up your bike. Proper form and posture are essential for performance and injury prevention. The seat and handles adjust to fit your body, but you must ask for help the first time as it isn’t always easy to figure it out on your own. Your seat should be at hip level when standing next to the bike. If it’s too low, you will feel pressure in your lower back, and your quads will work significantly harder than your glutes and hamstrings. When your foot is at the bottom of the stroke, you should have a slight bend in your knee.

The handlebars should be a forearm’s distance from the seat so you don’t feel like you’re stretching forward to reach the handlebars. Place your elbow at the tip of the seat and adjust the handlebars so that your fingertips touch the back of the handlebars. The handlebar height should be about level with your seat. Grip the handlebars lightly so you don’t have unnecessary tension in your upper back.

When the bike is set, your instructor will show you how to “clip in” your shoes to the pedals and how to “clip out.” Take a few minutes to ride your bike so that if anything feels uncomfortable, you have time to make adjustments before the class starts. This is a good habit to get into, even when you become a spin regular.

Don’t fear the tension dial. A common mistake people make the first time they attend a spin class is keeping the tension too low in an effort to ease into the new activity. However, this does make it more challenging to stay in control with each pedal stroke, increasing your chances of accidentally unclipping a shoe from a pedal.

Breathe and hydrate. Indoor cycling is as tough on your cardiovascular system as it is on your legs. The spin studio will heat up as the class goes on so focus on your breathing to avoid feeling light-headed. Your body will adapt with each class you attend. Hydration is also very important. Be sure to bring a water bottle with you to keep at your bike. Your bike will have a spot for it so it’s always within reach. You’re guaranteed to sweat during your class, so make sure you’re replenishing your fluids. Most spin studios have a water station to fill your bottle.

Warm up and cool down. Arriving early to get your legs moving and warmed up will help improve your performance in the class, which is yet another good reason to get to class early. Don’t skip the cool down and stretches at the end as they will make your workout recovery much better.

Your first spin class can be overwhelming with all the unfamiliar equipment and technical terms, but preparation is the key to success. If you’re experiencing persistent muscle or joint pain after your indoor cycling class, see your chiropractor or massage therapist and let them know about your new activity. They can provide you with specific advice to keep you spinning comfortably.


Dr. Nardine Bekhit is a chiropractor at CURAVITA Health Group – Glebe Location, formerly known as Glebe Chiropractic Clinic + Massage Therapy Centre. You can reach the clinic at 613-237-9000 or at

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