Spin Class

01.25.2010 | 8:31 am

Last Saturday should have been the source material for Part III of The Marathon Chronicles (read Part I and Part II here) — the part where The Runner dragged me on a fifteen mile run.

To my great dismay, however, we had a nice big snowstorm Friday night, rendering the streets an icy, snowy, slushy mess on Saturday. Not ideal for a big run.

I was kidding about the “great dismay” part, by the way.

I called The Runner, asking for an alternative workout idea.

“There’s a spin class at Gold’s Gym in an hour. We could do that,” she said.

I was intrigued. You see, there are three forms of cycling that I have never tried, but have always been curious about, mostly because they seem so bizarre. These include:

  • Unicycles
  • Recumbents
  • Spin class

Well, maybe it was time to tick the “done” box on one of those items. I found an ancient pair of road shoes I knew had SPD cleats, put together a complete, matching Fat Cyclist kit — I know it’s important to look good when going to a Gold’s Gym — and headed out the door.

I Inspect Everything

The Runner and I got into the spin room about thirty minutes early. There were about 90 stationary bikes, all adjustable in pretty much every direction.

“Oh good, we get a place near the fan,” the Runner said, as she picked the bike closest to that fan. I chose the bike next to her. I did not realize at the time how incredibly important that would turn out to be.

I busied myself setting the saddle height. Then the saddle position. Then the bar height. Then the bar position. As others trickled in, I noticed that nobody else adjusted anything but the saddle height. Evidently, I’m a bike fit snob. Or just a goofball.

The Runner and I started warming up — high cadence, low effort. Then I turned the little knob that controls the resistance. One half turn was all it took to go from virtually no resistance to completely locked up. Which meant, basically, that I’d be giving the knob little nudges when asked to increase or decrease my effort, instead of the big manly power-twists I thought would more accurately represent the change in how hard I was working.

Which meant that I’d be forced to use other methods to add drama to my spin effort:

  • Dramatically squirting water from my bottle into my mouth, onto my head, and down my back
  • Dramatically toweling my face off
  • Dramatically gritting my teeth during maximum efforts

As we warmed up, I noticed one other guy, in full Pearl Izumi PRO kit, doing the same. I looked at his legs. Hairy. I waited until he made eye contact, then flexed my freshly-shaved quads. He looked down and away, deferentially. We both knew who was the alpha male in the room.

Then the instructor came in, and it was her turn to be inspected. The first thing I noticed was her legs.

No, not for that reason.

I noticed her legs because they were freakishly skinny. Seriously, her quads were no bigger than my calves.

And then she climbed up on her bike and started warming up. At which point it was all I could to not go over there and volunteer to help her get her position set up properly. Her saddle height put her legs at 35 degrees at maximum extension.

And then there was the cockpit. So cramped I was surprised her knees didn’t hit the bar with every rotation.

To my credit — and to The Runner’s relief — I refrained from going over and setting the bike up for the instructor.

I Give 110%, Which May Actually Have Been 92%

And then the spin session began.

The instructor took us on a virtual bike ride, having us adjust the resistance for climbs, sometimes standing up, sometimes sitting down, and sometimes increasing or decreasing our cadence.

All of which is fine, and pretty much what I expected.

But there were parts that were hard for me, as a cyclist, to get past. For example:

  • She said we were riding on a mountain road, which definitely indicates a road bike. But then — when she wanted us to just use our legs, not our upper bodies — she’d have us stand up, go to high resistance, and tell us we were riding on a “swinging bridge,” which would probably be best handled on a BMX bike. In any case, on a swinging bridge I’d definitely stay seated and would go for high cadence, low effort riding so as to keep the side-to-side motion to a minimum.
  • From time to time she’d let us know we were on singletrack, which made me start thinking about real singletrack, which made me wish desperately that I were not in a gym at all. In any case, now I’d need to be on a mountain bike, which made me think that this instructor needs to pick a better riding course, because it’s hard to pack three different bikes with me.
  • Sometimes we were asked to “run” on the bike. I didn’t get this at all until I saw a few people swinging one arm at their sides. I tried this for about one half of a second before my ridiculosity meter went so far off the chart that I had to go back to both hands on the bar.
  • We were supposed to put our hands behind our backs and ride sometimes. I have a feeling this would be frowned upon in a group ride.
  • At high effort — when we were supposed to be at a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 — the instructor would be turning such an incredibly slow cadence that she would have been a swerving mess on a real bike. (I wanted to raise my hand and volunteer it would be more efficient to turn a higher cadence at a lower resistance, but had the sense that this kind of feedback was not currently being sought.) Curious as to what it would feel like to have that much resistance on a bike, I tried ratcheting the tension until I was going at the same cadence as the instructor. Unfortunately, my legs are so powerful that the friction caused by the bike’s braking motion briefly set the wheel on fire. Fortunately, my sweat quickly dowsed the flames.

Throughout the session, the instructor called out the effort she wanted us to put out. “Go to a 9,” she would call out, which I would interpret as “you should feel like barfing but can probably hold it back.” And then she’d call out, “Now go to 10!” Which I would interpret as, “This should feel like a sprint finish at the end of a race and should not be sustainable for more than one minute, tops.”

And then she said, “Now go higher!”

“But I’m already at ten,” I thought. “I’m maxed out.” But just to see what would happen, I’d nudge the resistance up a hair.

And I was able to keep going.

So I nudged it again.

Still going.

So, evidently, my perceived maximum effort is really about my 85%. Which means I’ve been slacking a bit.

Okay, maybe a lot.

Catastrophe Averted

The thing about spin classes is that riding technique isn’t rewarded, or even encouraged. You can thrash around and pedal squares and ride with your hands behind your back, and that’s just fine.

Which means that if someone ever wants to go on a ride with you and uses “I’ve been to spin class a lot” as their justification for why they’re in good riding shape, you may want to keep your distance.

And so the irony is super sweet that I very nearly caused a multiple-bike pileup in the spin class.

It was during a standing, 30-second standing sprint, I think at level 7. I was putting in about a 7.28 effort, though, because that’s the kind of guy I am.

And then I pulled my left cleat out of the pedal on the upstroke.

My knee came up nearly to my chin and I leaned heavily and wildly to the right, very nearly crashing into The Runner. Which — I have to assume — would have caused her spin bike to fall over into the next person, causing a domino-style crashing cascade of spin bikes and humanity.

Which would have been embarrassing.

I Am Strangely Competitive

The Runner and I didn’t talk during the spin class. We did, however, have a competition…which she was likely unaware of, but which I’m sure she’ll be very excited to find out about right now.

The competition was called, “Who Sweats More?” And the rules were simple. Whoever had the larger diameter sweat puddle at the end of the spin class, wins.

She won. By a landslide. Or by the sweaty equivalent of a landslide, anyway.

Before I knew it, the 45 minutes was over. Which is odd in itself — 45 minutes on a bike, even at high effort, kind of feels too short.

My overall impression? spin classes might in fact be an interesting and fun way to change up your workout, and they probably burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.

But I really doubt they make you a better cyclist.

Running With the Runner

Since we had originally planned on running that morning, The Runner and I decided that after the spin class we should get on the treadmills and run for a bit. The Runner was not — according to her — feeling great, so we agreed to run for just a mile or so.

The Runner got a fifteen second head start, so right off the bat I had some catching up to do. Surreptitiously, I looked at her pace and distance, and kept increasing my speed to see if I could “catch” her.

We hit the mile mark. I hoped she would slow down to a walk.

She kept going.

So I accelerated, and eventually — just as we hit the two mile mark, caught up. Yes, victory was mine. Meanwhile, I was hoping hoping hoping she would slow down.

Which, mercifully, she did. Which is good, because I was about to find out what happens when you throw up on a treadmill. Which is interesting-sounding in the abstract, but not necessarily something you want to see close up.

As we got off and headed out the door, I decided I would not mention that I had caught her. Because, you know, just knowing that I did was enough.

Then The Runner said, “I saw you managed to catch me.”

“Oh, really?” I said, feigning surprise. “That’s interesting.”

“That’s really good,” she continued. “You should be proud.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” I allowed.

“Of course,” she concluded, “I was running on a 4% incline at the time.”

PS: If you’d do me a favor and vote for me for the 2010 Bloggies (Best Sports Weblog, Best Writing, Weblog of the Year categories), I’d appreciate it.


  1. Comment by kingsbridgedr | 01.25.2010 | 2:44 pm

    Fatty! I think we must be cut from the same cloth…! I have a few friends who are trying to get me to go to a spin class and I just can’t imagine… So much sweating for not going anywhere!

    Have I told you I hate winter?

    Hoping for summer!

  2. Comment by kingsbridgedr | 01.25.2010 | 2:45 pm

    Oh yeah… I rode outside on Saturday and froze my butt off! Any suggestions for keeping your feet warm below freezing? And not attending a SPIN class?

  3. Comment by dug | 01.25.2010 | 2:45 pm

    spinning rocks. just don’t do it at a gym with an instructor. i bought my own spin bike for those winter days where the avy danger is too high to hike. i’m working my way through 24 (before this winter i had never seen a single episode–it’s revising my views on torture, but i’m not sure which direction).

    at the risk of being mistaken for skippy, here’s how i feel about the spin instructors that introduced me to water boarding:


  4. Comment by KK | 01.25.2010 | 2:49 pm

    I’ve had to do far too much pedaling indoors this winter, including spin classes. I think you called it, Fatty: good calorie burner, very limited cycling benefit. Google “Jennifer Sage” for some thoughts on how to making spinning more applicable to cycling and avoid doing the silly (and dangerous) stuff.

  5. Comment by SpencerSalmon | 01.25.2010 | 2:49 pm

    This one time I was in New Zealand and I walked past the most intense spin class ever! There was loud techno music playing, and the instructor had a microphone and she kept yelling at everyone.

  6. Comment by centurion | 01.25.2010 | 2:51 pm

    Actually, I find that spinning helps with smoothing out my pedaling when I ride outside. And the instructor is really cute.

  7. Comment by Alon | 01.25.2010 | 2:51 pm

    Yah, I’ve been a cyclist for many years now, and only took my first (and so far only) spinning class a few months ago. I went for the double session because, you know, I’m a cyclist! Gosh, that sucked!

  8. Comment by Jeff L. | 01.25.2010 | 2:52 pm

    Classic…this post sounded like you were channeling my thoughts and experience with spinning. Of course my post would have come out much less witty and entertaining than yours…since you are a super talented celebrity blogger, of course.

    One request…can you do a blog on mountain bike tires? I’m currently using Kenda Small Block 8’s on my 29er and I’m looking for something new. Maybe if you did a review of your favorite tires (in a humorous way but with real depth and sincerity), some companies will send you the tires and you could forward them to me after you are done? Okay, maybe not.

  9. Comment by Matt | 01.25.2010 | 2:59 pm

    If you were also running a 4% incline, you would have caught her faster. Since uphills are easier for cyclists. Right?

  10. Comment by Allan | 01.25.2010 | 3:02 pm

    Spin classes are all about taking what is fun out of cycling.

  11. Comment by Jeff | 01.25.2010 | 3:05 pm

    I believe the lesson here is that buying a full season of 24 is a much better investment in your bike fitness than a gym membership.

  12. Comment by schmei | 01.25.2010 | 3:12 pm

    I love The Runner. That is all.

  13. Comment by mark | 01.25.2010 | 3:12 pm

    “But I really doubt they make you a better cyclist.”

    One of the spin instructors at Treehouse did Lotoja this year. She started with the first wave before it was even light and finished right before they closed the course at 8:30 p.m. 15+ hours on the bike.

    So yeah, she finished, which not everyone did. But I would venture a guess that it was an act of will on her part and that the spin classes didn’t prove all that helpful.

  14. Comment by Randoboy | 01.25.2010 | 3:15 pm

    Some of the spin classes taught by people who actually ride outside can build cycling fitness. The others, where you get gimmicks like hands-behind-your-back and stumps and jumps, are very popular with housewives trying to justify an extra muffin that morning.

    Ummm … muffin.

  15. Comment by Rabbie | 01.25.2010 | 3:16 pm

    Spinning is fine, but you need to have decent equipment (e.g. more progressive resistance than just half a turn from zero to max) and an instructor that just concentrates on the basics.

    After my spin class today I felt like Tom Boonen. Less to do with my all out final sprint effort, more to do with the instructor choosing ‘Cocaine’ as the cool down track.

  16. Comment by NYCCarlos | 01.25.2010 | 3:17 pm

    @kingsbridgedr – do you have overshoe booties? They’re my best investment of all time. They keep your feet so toasty. I got the Shimano P.R.O. ones from PBK (http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=NP07780) … awesome. They’re windproof and warm. I love them.

  17. Comment by Duncan Watson | 01.25.2010 | 3:20 pm

    One of these days you will now have to try some racing recumbents like the ones pictured here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/8790575@N05/548653679/
    (from 2007 RAAM). Or this http://www.flickr.com/photos/flowtik/2803733710/ (IHPVA 2008 world championships)

    If you are ever interested I know a couple of people who could set you up.

    There is a recumbent shop less than 10 miles from where I live. I intend to visit and report my findings in the near future. And I’m going to buy a unicycle, too. – FC

  18. Comment by Cat | 01.25.2010 | 3:21 pm

    Sounds like an instructor who would drive me crazy. I’m a spin instructor snob. There’s only one instructor, out of about 12 that are scheduled at the local Y, that I like to ride with. She competes in crits and is a serious triathlete. She does a lot of speed drill and interval work that I find helpful, and always puts up some good video on the big screen. Yesterday was the Vuelta from 2004. Nice.

    But she’s the exception, not the norm. And there’s nothing worse than a spin instructors who aren’t cyclists and who don’t know how to use a spin class for actual training. Most of our instructors split their time between spin and aerobics classes and they like to do repetitive 2 or 4 second “jumps” and other ridiculous things that would never, ever, make a difference in cycling.

    When I end up with one of those instructors (who aren’t only annoyingly perky, but who also tend to yammer incessantly about NOTHING throughout the class) I just shut them out and do my own workout. I’ve even thought of bringing in my iPod so I don’t have to listen to the chatterboxes while I work on my drills, but somehow that seems rude… :)

  19. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 01.25.2010 | 3:23 pm

    I’ll vote for you in the bloggies because I surely can’t vote for you in the who’s the toughest athlete competition when the runner is also on the ballot.

  20. Comment by Tex | 01.25.2010 | 3:38 pm

    What the others have said is correct Fatty…the instructor makes all the difference. Plus, for us flatlanders, spin class is a great way to work at higher resistance levels to simulate hills without having to drive 2 hours to find some real ones. After about a year of 2-3 classes a week with instructors who actually ride and who understand how to integrate spinning into a real cycling fitness program, I am riding much faster and I recover much quicker after hard efforts and climbs.

    Spinning will never really replace real saddle time, but for those of us who are not multiple award winning bloggers being courted by professional racing teams and who are not graced with living 2 minutes from God’s cycling playground, it is a good way to get in weekday mileage without having to climb on the dreaded trainer in from of a TV.

  21. Comment by Joel P. | 01.25.2010 | 3:40 pm

    Thanks for letting me experience a spin class without actuallly attending. I think I will stay home on my trainer with my mp3 player.
    Joel P.
    P.S. My “I AM NOT DOING AN IRONMAN” training is going quite well, will keep you posted on my progress.

  22. Comment by bubbaseadog | 01.25.2010 | 3:42 pm

    the runner rocks. but a sunday ride where two thirds of it against a 35mph wind in your face 47mi could probably surpass one spin class im just saying!

  23. Comment by Carly | 01.25.2010 | 3:45 pm

    As a Spinning instructor/road cyclist/triathlete I probably would have had a word with your instructor after the class!
    Unfortunately too many Spin classes end up containing contraindicated movements (swinging arms, hands behind the back…wtf??), giving participants the wrong idea about cycling.

    If you are ever in Winnipeg, Manitoba (google it)- bring your Fat Cyclist kit to one of my classes and I’ll show you how it’s done!
    (complete with constant technique critique, tempo sets, pedal stroke drills, killer climbs, etc.)

    I also agree with the comment above- Jennifer Sage is an awesome indoor cycling resource and she has a great ebook out if you want more info.

  24. Comment by Frank | 01.25.2010 | 3:49 pm

    Some more entertainment. Stupid roller tricks. Good music too.

  25. Comment by duane | 01.25.2010 | 3:55 pm

    I took some spin classes while training for Marine Corp Marathon. It was not as fun as the real thing – but not horrible.

    I took a friend of mine to a class on a wednesday night (he is a roadie). We were both wearing SPD cleats – after a sprint he tried to coast and drink. The wheels kept spinning and so did the petals. He was launched up in the air and almost fell off the bike.

    I almost fell of the bike because I was laughing so hard.

  26. Comment by Stephen | 01.25.2010 | 4:06 pm

    But at least you can drop her out on the bike…right?

  27. Comment by tim | 01.25.2010 | 4:11 pm

    I did my first spin class with my wife on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Things seemed fishy when the instructor said “remember you must keep your feet level – no moving them up and down” just as we were starting. About 1/2 the class was at resistance of “10 +” (to burn off that extra turkey) with cadence around 15 standing up – Looked like the whole class was on steppers. Unfortunately for me I had set my seat up in a bicycle position with the handlebars stretched out like normal rather than a stepper position where I could stand straight up and hold on to the bars – so it was a long hour. I realized that day that it wasn’t about getting better as a bicyclist. I haven’t been back – just riding the trainer in the basement and getting out on the real roads in spite of the cold.

  28. Comment by MattC | 01.25.2010 | 4:20 pm

    I think the trick here is having dual-state residency. Utah in the summer for the incredulous biking moments from the house, and southern/central CA in the winter. Did my fav canyon road ride yesterday…it got down to an EXTREMELY chilly 51(F) during my ride…brrrrr! Actually rode with a wind-vest and arm warmers (Team Fatty 2010 of course!) Made me wish I had my knee-warmers with me! (hey Fatty…no leg warmers in the new kit…whats up with that?) And my toe-warmers were pushed to the edge of their operating range. But then it warmed up to a pretty decent 62 on the way home (which is still chilly btw). Oh wait…we already have TOO many people here…never mind…it sucked. HORRIBLE I tell you…HORRIBLE!

  29. Comment by judi | 01.25.2010 | 4:38 pm

    really GREAT post!! i was having the LOL’s. :) so glad to see you enjoying life.

  30. Comment by Joel | 01.25.2010 | 4:45 pm

    “My knee came up nearly to my chin and I leaned heavily and wildly to the right, very nearly crashing into The Runner. Which — I have to assume — would have caused her spin bike to fall over into the next person, causing a domino-style crashing cascade of spin bikes and humanity.”

    One of two reasons I’ve never gone near a spin class (fear of causing the referenced pile-up).

    The other being that I live in CA and even when it’s not so nice it’s usually nice enough to ride the natural way – outside.

  31. Comment by fern | 01.25.2010 | 4:51 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe you’ve never been to a spin class before. The key to having a successful spin class is to find a spin instructor who plays music you like and then make it your own by (1) only participating in those aspects of the class that you feel like participating in and (2) ignoring everyone. As you point out, being near the fan is also critical.

    At my gym there are spin bikes in the cardio room, so I prefer to ride a spin bike without having to endure spin class. Another alternative to spin class are the Expresso video game bikes which are at a lot of gyms – - while it is impossible to achieve anything close to my preferred bike fit on them, they are awesome because (1) they track your power and RPMs while you ride, (2) you can race against yourself (it’s ironic how competitive I am with myself!), and (3) while no substitute for going on a real bike ride, the video game aspect is kinda fun.

  32. Comment by RyanT | 01.25.2010 | 4:58 pm

    Ha ha, glad you finally got to experience the spin class. I feel your pain. I find myself going to my happy place a lot.
    I am a little ashamed to admit that I do attend spin classes on a regular basis, I have ridden recumbent bikes (post tune test ride only!) and I actually own a 6 foot unicycle that I only ride about once a year when nobody is looking to proove to myself that I can still do it. I am a dork.

  33. Comment by JL | 01.25.2010 | 5:14 pm

    In which The Runner effectively says, “I am not left-handed.”

  34. Comment by Chris | 01.25.2010 | 5:22 pm

    OK this post was funny. I was going to stop reading this blog and destroy all my Fat Cyclist merchandise but you really pulled it out with this one. Good Job Fatso… oops I mean Fatty.

  35. Comment by Bill H-D | 01.25.2010 | 5:22 pm

    Agree with others who say it’s about the instructor, but some of it can also be up to the rider. Like the trainer, a spin bike can be a good place to work on your pedal stroke I’d say. And with a power meter, you can see how circles are better (and how keeping your upper body still transfers more power through to the drive train).

    The positions – (1) seated, (2) standing up like no cyclist would ever do so that you are catching the most wind possible, (3) bent forward out of the saddle, and then whatever is in between those last two (breakaway?) – can be useful to start to feel different muscle groups. On a long climb on the road, I found that helpful because I could get out of the saddle and move most of the effort back to hamstrings and minimize effort on the quads for a while…then switch back. All the time indoors going nowhere makes you concentrate on things like that.

  36. Comment by Actionjack71 | 01.25.2010 | 5:27 pm

    I will say I agree with you!!! I use spin classes only in the last resort!!!!

    Good luck on the run!!!

  37. Comment by Kim | 01.25.2010 | 6:06 pm

    As a housewife who ate an extra muffin this morning, thanks to my spin class, I thought I would leave a comment. I love spin class! In fact, I love the exact class that I saw you and the runner in on Saturday morning. I don’t really think of it as a way to work on technique or train for an event. I just enjoy getting my heart rate up, improving overall strength and endurance, sweating off a few pounds and letting my mind wander. I’ll be doing my triathlon training on a real bike when the weather warms up, but until then I’ll keep “running” on my spin bike. (For a real challenge try doing it with NO hands on the handlebars)

    For a workout that more closely simulates real cycling, try the 1 hour spin class at the same gym on Friday mornings at 5:30!

    When I saw you and the runner at the gym, I thought maybe you had given into pressure and were going to sneak in a swim workout, but . . . no

  38. Comment by Marilyn | 01.25.2010 | 6:17 pm

    Spin class is just not the same as being out there on the road. I did spins classes 2 winters ago when the roads were too bad to go out on but so far this winter I have been able to get out 5 days a week which is great!!!!

    Kingsbridgedr I have lake road shoes which are great for those cold winter days which I have been out at 15 degree temp. and just wear summer socks with them. I also have the 3 in one socks which are fleece, wick away and wind resistant that I use also with my regular bike shoes.

  39. Comment by MB | 01.25.2010 | 6:59 pm


    There’s some great spin instructors at Dimple Dell Rec Center in Sandy if you ever want to ride with teachers that actually ride. The evening class is taught by a guy who races every weekend, and the morning classes on weekdays are taught by his wife. They’re both great and they don’t do any of the crazy stuff it sounds like this instructor did!

  40. Comment by ChuckZ | 01.25.2010 | 7:28 pm

    If your in a good spin class, nothing you do on a bike will hurt as much as the spin class hurts.

  41. Comment by Miles Archer | 01.25.2010 | 7:33 pm

    First time I did a spin class and the instructor called out for 100%, I went completely all out. I didn’t realize she didn’t mean it. I almost passed out and had to lie down on the floor.

    Oh, and I broke one of the SPD pedals the first time on a spin bike. I wasn’t used to the rotating mass.

  42. Comment by Pip | 01.25.2010 | 7:48 pm

    Great post! I do know a woman who trained for her first century road using spin classes alone. She finished, and in a good time, but I think she may just be a freak!

    I find the trick with spin classes is to find an instructor who is also a road cyclist. Preferably one who knows about the importance of proper bike set up, even if it’s just a spin bike!

    As for her cadence, the idea is that you should be spinning roughly in time to the beat. On a big hill climb you should have enough dial on that you can still pedal in time to the music, but it should almost kill you to do it, if that make sense! Sounds like you had a really, really poor instructor.

  43. Comment by dave L | 01.25.2010 | 8:12 pm

    That is nuts. I just went to my first spin class this year TODAY! I was the only guy. Only person with bike shorts. Everyone stared when I clicked in my shoes. Does anyone else notice how everyone spins at like 110 rpm the whole time? Come on people, there is a cadence meter right in front of you. I wanted to say something, but I think everyone was staring at me slogging along at 90 rpm the whole time. If anything I take spin class as an opportunity to consciously slow down my cadence and work on applying force to the pedals.

  44. Comment by Dave | 01.25.2010 | 8:15 pm

    dug – thanks for the link to your spin class review. I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever read when you first posted it, and still do. No offense Fatty.

  45. Comment by Kendra | 01.25.2010 | 8:57 pm

    The instructor definitely makes a difference. The best instructor in the area in mho is Steve. He teaches at the Orem Golds Gym (or did the last time I checked). He is a triathlete and teaches his class more like if you were riding a bike, but of couse nothing takes the place of riding a bike.

  46. Comment by Bee | 01.25.2010 | 9:08 pm

    Interesting. I have to say that I would not ride any kind of bike over a swinging bridge, as I have a pathological fear of man-made heights. I’d probably crawl over the bridge on my hands and knees, praying hard that I would not die. Those poor suckers riding with me would have to carry my bike, and then wait while I finished hyperventilating on the other side. Did the instructor not give any indication of terror-induced hyperventilation? She’d have lost me on reality points right there.

    Spinning class is typically not there for decent technique. I find the bikes don’t even feel like real bikes, and I get annoyed with the type of instructor who likes to turn off the lights, light some candles, and tell us that we are on a “PG-13 ride” while playing the “Across the Universe” soundtrack at us. Trust me, there is no hope for cadence with those ballads. That is why it is helpful to pretend you cannot hear the instructor clearly, and just do your own workout. Or just go to yoga and tell yourself you are cross-training.

    As far as all of you with cold feet… I’m a complete dork, so you don’t need to agree with me. But I have one pair of Shimano shoes that I think are called “street” or “hybrid” shoes- they are big, clunky, and padded. They look ridiculous on a road bike, but they keep your toes toasty warm. I’ve never had a cold feet with those. You may laugh at me now, but I will have warm toes.

  47. Comment by Lisa T | 01.25.2010 | 9:20 pm

    I once responded to an ad for a spin instructor. The guy said he wanted someone who actually rode a bike and could teach like it was a road ride. So I taught the first class that way. No fancy stuff. He then told me I wasn’t “girly” enough.

    Maybe I should send him your instructor.

  48. Comment by Marrock | 01.25.2010 | 9:21 pm

    I don’t know, man…

    All these weird habits you’re developing, I may start losing some respect for you if this keeps up.

    Never could see the point of riding a fake bike when a real one is infinitely more fun and interesting.

  49. Comment by courtney | 01.25.2010 | 9:53 pm

    As a spinning instructor, I have to comment.

    Spinning, the program by Maddog, does not encourage ever swinging your arms, or taking a hand off the handlebars. That was not a true Spinning class, because those are called contraindicated movements and not endorsed by Spinning AT ALL. :)

    In my classes, we focus on longer seated climbs, fast flats, some standing climbs to really help people work hard. Sprints are used sparingly, along with a few jumps, which I know don’t correlate to real biking. I concentrate on teaching people about cadence, working at certain levels, which are entirely individual to each person.

    I would recommend a different class/instructor, because this one sounds crappy. That is in no way what a real spin class should be like. I find that when I Spin consistently all winter, I ride much better when it’s nice outside. Riding on my trainer makes me CRAZY, so this is a good way to keep in good bike shape when it’s too cold for my wimpy self!

  50. Comment by James | 01.25.2010 | 10:41 pm


    Funny post, but as other have said, you really need to try a few spin instructors and find a good match. I have never been one to enjoy the gym, but I do really enjoy spin classes and look forward to them every week.

    You are wrong that they won’t make you a better rider though, as it was spin class that got me thinking about getting a bike again (had not had one since I was a kid).

    I have been riding my 29r mountain bike for a year now and just got my first road bike a couple of weeks ago. I am forever hooked, and it all started with spin.

    BTW, my wife also got into biking because of spin. She also has a mountain bike and just picked up her first real road bike today. It was her that first got me to try a spin class. That makes at least two new riders from spin classes.

    Finally, she first found your site through another exercise site’s spin thread a while back.

    I say if it has pedals – ride it! If it is to music, all the better.

  51. Comment by Robbo | 01.25.2010 | 10:55 pm

    With a 2hr-each-way commute every workday, I’ve spun at the gym nearest work for a couple of years now under the adage ‘it’s better than nothing’. I absolutely agree with everyone about instructors making the difference – my two faves are now gone, replaced by yammering ninnies asking me how I’m doing every two minutes (bored and frustrated about not actually riding, thanks all the same), and I’ve just about chucked it in. BTW, our Le ond spin bikes have a really wide range of load varience, and I can’t help but help others with bike adjustment… ;)

  52. Comment by Robbo | 01.25.2010 | 10:55 pm

    Of course, that should be LeMond bikes… duh me.

  53. Comment by roadChica | 01.25.2010 | 11:38 pm

    I’m with Cat…the only good cycling instructor is a cyclist herself (almost always “herself”). The best one I ever had was also a triathlete who knew how to ride and did a lot of work with the class to help them pedal circles, ride intervals that actually improved your cycling fitness, etc. And the music was always excellent. She stopped teaching, so I turned to my trainer and a spinning intervals book. I still miss that class.

  54. Comment by NWcycle | 01.25.2010 | 11:53 pm

    FWIW, your Spin instructor sucked. I teach Spin and I keep it as real as is humanly possible on a stationary bike in a room full of fans and other people on stationary bikes in a gym. (And, yes, good music helps). There are good classes out there – take some time to find one…it’s a long time ’til Spring and, sorry to say it, but Spin classes can really help you prepare for the cycling season. We rely on them here to prepare for the Chilly Hilly…coming up next month! Did you ever ride it when you lived in the PNW, Fatty??

  55. Comment by E | 01.26.2010 | 1:26 am

    Well your spin class seems normal…I went to one where the lights were turned OFF and a disco ball light was turned on. They play pop songs and actually have dance moves while you’re spinning, those include pelvic thrusts, the breaststrokes and biking with no hands. An incredible workout none the less even though you’re feeling really stupid doing body waves on a bike. Nothing like watching a ridiculously muscular man being able to move his body more sexily then you ever could’ve imagined.

  56. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.26.2010 | 1:48 am

    “She won. By a landslide. Or by the sweaty equivalent of a landslide, anyway.”

    Uh… I think that would be called a MUDslide.

  57. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.26.2010 | 1:54 am

    http://www.spinervals.com: All the good parts of indoor riding, without the perils and silliness of spin class…

    Coach Troy actually has a clue what effort levels make sense and how to put interval sets together.
    Puddle competitions included.
    They are hard enough to make you black out, throw up, or cough up a lung… if you really, really want to.

    Note that my use of the word “good” is highly subjective… YMMV.

  58. Comment by Valerie | 01.26.2010 | 2:13 am

    I attend the spin classes at my local rec centre and I love it! I would have to agree with the others and say that you should go when a different instructor is teaching.
    You’re not crazy for adjusting everything on your bike, I do! We’ve got the LeMond bikes that allow to adjust all the aspects of the bike.

    And for Cat, bring your ipod! I do, and actually used it the other day…the instructor wasn’t that great and her music sucked, so I did my own thing to my own (better) music! No one will notice as they’ll be too busy concentrating on the instructor…

  59. Comment by Bexi | 01.26.2010 | 2:14 am

    I take RPM (which is the les mills equivalent of a spin class basically) every now and then to mix up my workouts esp when it’s raining, 43 degrees celsius outside, or just generally hideous and i dont wanna ride alone in the blistering heat, thunderstorm or rain. and whilst it seems that les mills care quite a bit about technique, their classes aren’t about that at all… and you’re right, the only thing, the ONLY thing RPM has taught me is how far past the point of perceived pain i can push myself and (surprisingly) keep going…. it doesn’t make me any faster, it doesn’t make my endurance any better and it doesn’t make me any stronger – it just teaches me a hard lesson in pain and how hard i can push myself :) i hear ya, they’re boring, but i think necessary every now and then to remember how hard you actually can go and keep going :)

  60. Comment by Jenn | 01.26.2010 | 2:15 am

    I was instructor, Stateside. They won’t let me teach at my German gym, just because I don’t sprechen the lingity…rude! The reason that I’m an instructor (we’re like Marines – once you’re in, it’s fo-evah…Sempre Thigh!) is, as many here have said, the instructor makes all the difference. My first spin experience (that sounds dirty) was with a triathlete and when I moved away from that club, nobody else compared. So, ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’. I did. Thank you for starting my day with hilarity, Fatty. I felt like you wrote this one just for me!!

  61. Comment by skippy | 01.26.2010 | 4:47 am

    Many comments but nothing about the seat on these “spinning machines”!
    In June 1999 I was at the start village each day where they had a stand with about 15 machines where there were a rotating group of the locals demonstrating “Spinning”. Bystanders got roped in and I was one of those invited. The seats are so broad that I was glad to get back to the race bike and ride the stage that day. When I arrived at the finish the organiser had me stay at his village hotel and took me to his “Spinning Class” that night on the way to dinner. Not content with that he had me on the machine the next day before I started out on that day’s stage, was I glad to be sitting on a race saddle again!

    Often thought about adapting a seat to use if I considered “Spinning” as winter training. As it is a rower or “skinning (ski touring) up the piste remains the favoured form of training. See http://www.parrabuddy.blogspot.com. Hello to my fan club, back to play in the sandpit but with a purpose as usual. Living in Austria I have only one English channel, your very own CNN. Today Heather Mills asked for all your old crutches and prosthetics to go to http://www.physiciansforpeace.org she can be found on http://www.heathermills.org or go to http://www.cnn.com/impact for more info!

    Helens cycles and George Hincapie are organizing a ride in Santa Monica this weekend and the following weekend there is another ride near los angeles contact through @adventure corps . Hope my fan club are able to help your buddies get the message broadcast. I will be busy in Austria trying to be a goodie goodie!

  62. Comment by Mike Roadie | 01.26.2010 | 6:44 am

    Methinks the competition thing with The Runner will be thy ruin (psychologically) in the long run (walk).

    Just sayin’……………

  63. Comment by Koz | 01.26.2010 | 6:50 am

    I agree with the commenter who mentioned the Spinervals DVDs. I like cranking my own music and following the on-screen instructions. Better than the Spinning stuff, although I have attended a few Spinning classes taught by excellent instructors (road riders) who put some thought into their class and made it enjoyable. I come down on the side of not dissing most forms of exercise, because being at the gym doing something is better than sitting at home doing nothing.

  64. Comment by CK | 01.26.2010 | 6:52 am

    I try to attend a spin class at least once a week and i’ve noticed the biggest aspect in enjoying a class is if the instructor races in the summer. If not I dont usually get the workout I want and there are at least two Cher songs in the music mix.

    I miss summer :(

  65. Comment by MikeL | 01.26.2010 | 7:31 am

    Here is a link to Bob Roll talking about tormenting a spin instructor in SLC. He told this while speaking at the Moab Century Tour last September.

    How about getting a Team Fatty presence for the Skinny Tire Century Tour next September? I would join up for that. Team in Training always brings a big group.

  66. Comment by Anne | 01.26.2010 | 8:09 am

    I personally doubt that it will make you a better cyclist, but a spin class is great as cardio. training and you get to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.

    Time passes quickly, if you get an instructor, who knows what he/she is doing and can inspire you to give you max.

    I use spin classes as supplements to my training and have over the years tried many different instructors, some better than others and with totally different teaching methods and techniques.

    Most importantly try different instructors, if you continue to do this. You will eventually find your favorites. I have!!

  67. Comment by wvcycling | 01.26.2010 | 8:23 am

    The kinds of people I see at spin class (usually the obese type) make me feel bad for the little bike frames under them, and make me work even harder to not become them. 5′6′ 130lbs… I wouldn’t know what to do if I gained 20lbs.

    Half of the spin bikes have pedals with no bearings and the pedal wiggling off of the spindle. I tend to bring a 15mm cone wrench so I can get top pick of pedals or bring my pedals and cleats.

    I’m totally a spin-bike snob. :)

  68. Comment by cece | 01.26.2010 | 8:40 am

    Like the idea of a Fatty presence at the Moab Century Tour. I am already going! have my jerseys too! Let’s do it!
    PS. Like this Runner..she can jerk your chain pretty good!

  69. Comment by kiwi | 01.26.2010 | 9:04 am

    Hey Fatty,
    Yes Spin…It will not make you a better cyclist, you are right there…But it will keep your legs good over the winter(and if you live in Chicago like me there’s a good 6 to 8 weeks off the road,snow and ice and very cold temps)…And yes people dressed in full cycling kit
    that never will see a moving bike is sad…Most of the
    spin teachers never ride outside.

    This weekend went out on the bike, it was cold BUT its better than a spin class!


  70. Comment by fat unicyclist | 01.26.2010 | 9:15 am

    I am offended that you mention unicycling and spin-class in the same category!

  71. Comment by Jellyfuwah | 01.26.2010 | 9:34 am

    A good class (minus arm swings, 5 second jumps, etc.) will provide some pretty good interval training that any cyclist should know, will help you get faster. Of course, that is assuming that efforts and recoveries are sufficient.

    It is true that this is not fun, but it IS fun when you are faster than the people you are riding with as a result of hard work (intervals) in the offseason.

  72. Comment by Joe | 01.26.2010 | 9:36 am

    AMEN Fatty!

    I do most of my riding outdoors and only ride indoors (spin class, trainer, rollers) when the weather is bad. From my experience, most of the instructors don’t actually ride outdoors or even own a bike. Because of this, they don’t realize how weird some of the techniques they use are. One of my favorites (i.e. most retarded) is up and down intervals. This technique includes coming out of the saddle and sitting back down repeatedly in 3 to 5 second intervals. One, this in no way mimics actual riding, and two, I seriously doubt this technique has any benefit. The only impact is you look and feel stupid doing it.

    Spinning should mimic actual riding similar to how a treadmill mimics actual running. I also love it when throughout a spin class the instructor continually says to put on more gear and never says to take gear off. By the end of the class, people actually following the instructor can barely turn the pedals. You’re out of the saddle on an impaginary hill at a 9 out of 10 intensity, and at the “end” of the hill the instructor says to sit down, but “don’t touch the dial”. What…? I am putting on actual gear when the instructor is doing fake turns! Spin class can SMB’s!

  73. Comment by Jellyfuwah | 01.26.2010 | 9:47 am

    Chris Carmichael’s column from Bicycling Mag on this subject:


  74. Comment by Smustafa01 | 01.26.2010 | 9:56 am

    Were you wearing a heartrate monitor that measures calories? When I wear mine in a spin class, I burn 800+ calories in a one hour class. It’s an awesome workout!

  75. Comment by eric | 01.26.2010 | 10:11 am

    Thanks for writing about your 1st experiance spinning. Ill ride in any weather before I subject my self to something like that.
    p.s vote cast

  76. Comment by andy | 01.26.2010 | 10:51 am

    I participated in a 2 hour spin class this weekend. We did 10 min of one leg drills. Yeah definitely taught by a cyclist. I found it to be an excellent cycling specific workout.

  77. Comment by Neil | 01.26.2010 | 10:57 am

    There is something very motivating in having an incredibly fit 40 y.o. instructor yelling at you to pedal faster…but man, I feel like such a chic when I go to spinning. I start to wonder if Pearl Izumi shorts make my butt look big.


  78. Comment by Patrick | 01.26.2010 | 11:16 am

    i’ve only read this blog a couple times, so i don’t know if there is some sort of way you are trying to be funny by being self righteous. but man this blog entry makes me think you are not that great of a guy. trying to flex your muscle at spin class is not cool. people go to spin class to try to lose weight and get in shape not to be judged at how “bike” they are, being a snob when it comes to cycling is lame. i read the bicycling article about fat cyclist and found it inspirational. i find this blog to be too self congratulatory. talking about how you caught up to the runner, and acted cool about it is the icing on the cake. yeah i get it you are so modest, but actually you aren’t at all.

  79. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.26.2010 | 11:41 am

    ok i am convinced. i will continue to stay away from spin class while i not train for a tri.

    my not training has taken another hit this week as I have been riding – outdoors. but it is going well in the not running and not swimming departments.

  80. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.26.2010 | 11:44 am

    @Patrick – have you never heard of tongue in cheek? irony? really?

    if you ever met Fatty you would know that he in not that way.

  81. Comment by Linteater | 01.26.2010 | 11:51 am

    I found a great “spin” class where the instructor has us bring our own bikes to put on a trainer (bonus for me as few spinning bikes are made well for 5′ tall people). And we work on pedaling in circles…not convulsing on our bikes. But then again, this class is taught via our LBS, so selling us bikes and having us convulse on them into traffic come spring wouldn’t be a good way to make lifelong customers.

  82. Comment by Ruth Douglas | 01.26.2010 | 12:13 pm


    I met my husband there (who is a competitive cyclist) and I am OUT on the REAL bike all the time. That sounds like a disaster of a class!!!

    Mine is much safer and much CLEARER of an effort….

    Birmingham awaits you!

  83. Comment by VT_Rob | 01.26.2010 | 12:45 pm

    There are two types of spin classes: spinning for fitness and spinning for CYCLIST. Fitness classes generally include lots of stupid gimmicks and no recovery periods. You just add and add and add until your knees, heart and lungs explode. Spinning taught by someone who understand cycling is MUCH better. I did spinning 2x a week last winter and did gain fitness. Now I’ve found a cyclist instructor, and am much happier. And I hope my performance will be even better this summer. Now if those frickin’ cookies would stop calling to me…..

  84. Comment by Mark Buckaway | 01.26.2010 | 2:21 pm

    Thanks for the excellent post. I almost fell of my chair from laughing. I forwarded it to a few cycling buddies that believe spinning classes are useful.

    Spinning: I don’t know why anyone would bother. Anyone that knows cycling will brave the cold (which I’ve done – I live in Toronto, ON, CAN – riding a road bike at 10F is fun) or buy a bike trainer or rollers to ride indoors.

    There are plenty of bike shops that run indoor training sessions on real bikes (ie. bring your own bike and trainer). When it’s too cold out to ride, nothing beats riding on a trainer for 2-3 hours with a certified cycling coach calling out the intervals while the instructor critiques your pedaling style, etc.

  85. Comment by Kev | 01.26.2010 | 3:15 pm

    Great post fatty, most enjoyable!

  86. Comment by Frankenhip | 01.26.2010 | 4:38 pm

    There are spin classes at the gym I go to – they are in a back room. And while I am in the front area, on a boring stationary bike, with my headphones on, I can still hear the instructor yelling at everyone. It scared me.

  87. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 01.26.2010 | 7:18 pm

    Ah, so that’s what spin class is all about! Thanks for making it real for me – I may stay away :-)

  88. Comment by Jennifer | 01.26.2010 | 9:59 pm

    Don’t judge all spin classes on that one..sounds awful! There are some really great rides out there in Spin classes…but sadly there are a lot of awful teachers.

    Hope you give it another try!

  89. Comment by Matt | 01.27.2010 | 12:31 am

    The instructor here is on the regional Trek and Fisher racing team. I have been meaning to check that out. I would think he would be a lot better than “Miss Run-while-you’re-cycling.”

  90. Comment by Bush Babe | 01.27.2010 | 5:37 am

    You are SUCH a boy… go the Runner!!

  91. Comment by Susie | 01.27.2010 | 6:08 am

    Fatty – If you ever come to Germany, PLEASE drop in to my class!

    I was very sad to read your description of a class that should NOT have happened (but still does at loads of gyms every day). It is instructors like this that make the picture of Spinning so bad. Unfortunately, your instructor is one of many idiots out there. I would even go as far as to say that she probably is an aerobics teacher.. Problem is that quite a few instructors out there make a living of teaching, so they usually need loads of classes to survive, which means they teach almost any class they can get – from Pilates to Step to Dance and (unfortunately) Spinning. These people do not ride outdoors, which is a shame because otherwise they wouldn´t be doing any of that crap you are describing. A proper Spinning instructor knows about cadence (60-110 rpm), profiling, bike setup etc. Of course, outdoor cycling cannot be translated directly into Spinning, a few amendments have to be made – running on a treadmill doesn´t feel like running outside, either.. – but the aim of Spinning is to make it an as-near-as-possible-experience. The question should always be: “Would you do THIS on your bike outside? No? Then why are you doing it on the stationary bike??”

    I have students who hate riding outdoors as well as triathletes. They all keep coming back. But as an earlier commenter already stated – there are not many colleagues I would happily join for an (indoor) ride..

    I still wear my “Fat Cyclist” jerseys with pride – even though I am a Spinning geek.. ;O)

  92. Comment by Alice | 01.27.2010 | 6:11 am

    @kingsbridgedr – We found the perfect answer to cold feet a few years ago and now ride for hours outside when it’s even as cold as 15 degrees.
    Look for the hotronic foot warmers (http://www.hotronic.com/products/fw/index_m3.html).

    I know they sell them at REI and probably other outdoor stores. Before we purchased these our lower limit was a couple of hours at 35 degrees or so, now we can ride as long as the roads aren’t actively icy.

  93. Comment by Alice | 01.27.2010 | 6:13 am

    p.s. – why’d it do that funky formatting on my last comment? And – I am not in ANY way affiliated with this company except that we own about 6 pairs of their footwarmers.

  94. Comment by Keith Gilmore | 01.27.2010 | 1:46 pm

    Hey Fatty your description of spin class was great. I thought I’d share my first experience with a spin class in the gym I belong to. About a month ago was my first class and this is my story. I put it to words because it just cracked me up and sent it to my family members in an email the next day after it happened. Hope you enjoy.

    Well tonight I did something that up until tonight I would’ve thought was totally impossible but since I’m baring the nasty wounds to show for it I made it possible. I will explain, with all of the nasty and cold weather we’ve been having here my bike training has suffered immensely. So I decide to start going to the spin class at my local gym. Each class is 50mins long and will either kill you or get you into shape really fast. So tonight was my first class this year. The stationary bikes are unlike your normal road bike or mountain bike which I am accustomed to riding. Once you get going and if you need to stop, the pedals and motion keep on rolling at your current rate of speed thus making it very tricky getting off the pedals after an exercise routine.

    So we’re about 30mins into the class and I’m really in a grove with the ride, I had become one with the bike or so I thought. So we’re at a 9min hard climb riding out of the saddle, for those non bikers I was standing up and pedaling the bike like heck. I had the tension set pretty stout and was giving it my all trying to keep my pedaling to the rhythm of the music. Everything was going great, the sweat was pouring and I could feel the calories just leaving my body with every pedal stroke. I thought man I can’t wait until the next class on Thursday because this is great. Then reality set in and slapped me in the face. At 5mins into the climb sequence the stupid handle bars decide they wanted to leave my bike. I guess when I raised them to fit my height I failed to make sure that they were securely fastened before starting my ride, bad mistake. Naturally I was using them for balance and with them gone there was nothing to brace my body with as I was going forward. Did I mention that the pedals keep going forward even after you have decided to stop thus making getting off the pedals a little tricky? Any way I lose my balance because at that moment the handle bars left my bike as I mentioned and with the maximum velocity that I had on those tricky pedals it launched me into the air like a catapult. I mean I was in the air. It shot me into the lady’s bike just down from me. I landed with my left hip and left arm full force on her bike pedal and then continued onto the ground from that point with a thud. Talk about crickets chirping in a room, you could’ve heard a pin drop at that very moment until everyone realized just what had happened. I really wasn’t quite sure what had just happened either. I was doing all the internal body system checks and didn’t even see the blood coming out of my left arm and also to my surprise from all over my left hip. Everyone was pretty freaked out since no one including my self had ever seen this trick performed.

    The girl teaching the class went and got the manger of the gym. He came up to the room with some ice. By that time I had managed to actually stand up. For a brief moment I looked at what had just happened and looked at the peoples faces in that room and I just laughed even though it hurt like hell. So at that point they packed ice on my wounds and I did the walk of shame out of that exercise room and out to my car. So I get home and since I had been pouring sweat I knew that I had to get into the shower. Bad Idea!!! Hot water, soap and that just isn’t a fun combo with open wounds but I finally managed to get the shower taken care of and put some salve on the wounds and curled up on the couched hurting and suffering from the agony of defeat and from a dang stationary bike for gosh sake. Any way I just thought I would share my crazy experience and give everyone a laugh because believe me other than the pain which I might add hurts like hell, this was freakin funny. I just wish that someone would’ve been filming that class because I could make a killing sending that bad boy in.

    All I can say is I can’t wait until Thursday’s class to see what new adventures await me. I just hope that I can stay on the dang bike though. Note to self, check all parts of bike and make dang sure that all systems are locked securely in place before proceeding.

  95. Comment by gswiszcza | 01.27.2010 | 3:39 pm

    As we warmed up, I noticed one other guy, in full Pearl Izumi PRO kit, doing the same. I looked at his legs. Hairy. I waited until he made eye contact, then flexed my freshly-shaved quads. He looked down and away, deferentially. We both knew who was the alpha male in the room.

    Well, that or he just thought you made a pass at him.

  96. Comment by little1 | 01.28.2010 | 9:22 am

    as a cyclist and an instructor thanks fatty for reminding me… Don’t be a fool you never know who’s watching! ;-)

  97. Comment by Clancy | 01.28.2010 | 10:45 am

    In defense of spin…

    There are generally two types of spin instructors, and they are as follows: “Spin Instructors” & “cyclists.” The later are much better than the former. Your teacher, buy the description of her legs alone, was definitely a spin instructor. I will GUARANTEE you that she is also an Aerobic / Step / Pilates / Blah, blah, blah instructor too. She also probably does not own a bike (and if she does, it’s a hybrid).

    I prefer true cyclists as instructors. They focus on form, they’ll even suggest OLD to work on your spin, and they NEVER tell you to ‘run.’ Try it again, but with a real cyclist leading the class. And use your HRM. Without one, my legs/lungs lie to me too about how much effort I’m putting out…

  98. Comment by Alex | 01.28.2010 | 11:38 am

    4%…..Thats nothing….most shelves I hang on the wall end up with a 4% incline….or is that a decline….

  99. Comment by David | 01.28.2010 | 12:00 pm

    I race, both road and mtb. This winter I am back where there is snow and ice. I was introduced to spin classes and have had a mix of reactions to them. Here is what I learned:

    It is MY ride! It is what “I” make of it! While our instructors do ride outside, only one is serious about outdoor riding. But ALL of the instructors agree that it is YOUR ride.

    I use the jumps to train my legs for mtb time. Alternate between leading foot for going over obstacles. Or I’ll ‘climb’ much longer than the instructor has the class going.

    I can tell I’ve improved over the winter. When I started, one spin session was enough to wipe me out.

    now I will do back-to-back sessions every time. And in the past couple of weeks, have been adding time before class.

    I still ride my rollers when I don’t want to hit the gym. And can tell I have improved based on that riding as well.

    Most of the junk you described never happens at my classes. Ok, hands behind the back does. But only periodically and more as a joke about a member.

    Again, it is your ride. you get out of it what you want.

  100. Comment by Dan | 01.29.2010 | 12:31 am

    I recently had the privilege of taking a spin class from a collegiate level cyclist who taught not only technique but actually used the class for his interval training! We worked on VO2 power, steady state, over unders, climbing intervals, you name it. Even though I work on these things regularly on my own, to have somebody really pushing me made all the difference and did improve my cycling. So, the key really is the instructor. A true cyclist will most likely not appreciate a spin class if it’s being taught by an aerobics teacher rather than a serious cyclist. Too bad this is the case most of the time.

  101. Comment by Kala | 01.30.2010 | 1:24 pm


    I am EMBARRASSED by the spin class you attended. Everything that should NOT have been done, was in fact done. I am horrified at your experience.

    Especially this comment: “The thing about spin classes is that riding technique isn’t rewarded, or even encouraged. You can thrash around and pedal squares and ride with your hands behind your back, and that’s just fine.”

    In MY spin classes riding technique is REQUIRED. I am not afraid to call someone out who is riding incorrectly. I make sure all riders are set up on their bikes correctly and at NO point in time are either 1 hand or both hands to be off of the handlebars.

    I encourage you, like someone else said, to find a class taught by a cyclist. I think you’d be much more impressed.

  102. Comment by Jennifer Sage | 02.1.2010 | 5:01 pm

    Sigh….I’ve spent 12 years of my life as a Master Instructor for Spinning, now a Master Instructor for ICI (www.indoorcycleinstructor.com) trying to teach instructors how to “Keep it Real” and teach safe and effective indoor cycling classes, and stay away from aerobics-on-a-bike movments that not only can potentially injure someone, but also reduce your output and effectiveness. But crappy instructors are still rampant…

    The excuse they often give is, “but I’m not a cyclist, and neither are my students!” Really? I mean, even non-cyclists want to be effective and lose more weight, right? Well then if there’s a way to do it more effectively wouldn’t you choose that route? I mean, if it’s good for a cyclist, it’s probably good for a non-cyclist. And if squats, hovers, isolations, arm swinging, arms-behind-the-back, backwards pedaling, pushups and tons more are either dangerous or very ineffective for a cyclist, then wouldn’t you think that squats, hovers, isolations, etc etc etc are either bad or ineffective for a non-cyclist too? Why would a cyclist have more of a right to riding safely and effectively but not the fitness participant?

    My name was mentioned a few times above, and yes, I’ve literally written the book on contraindications in Spinning (I wrote the CED workshops “Contraindications in Spinning” and “Cadence, Resistance and Heart Rate” for the Spinning program). I also wrote an ebook called Keep it Real (in your indoor cycling classes). It’s based on the most effective and safe “realistic” ways to use an indoor cycling bike to prepare for outdoor riding.

    Because WHEN it’s done right, IF it’s done right, yes, you can use indoor cycling to really prepare for cycling. I live near Vail, CO and am a total wimp riding in the winter. But I roll out of winter into spring very prepared for riding, even the big climbs we have around here. Both mtn and road.

    I left the Spinning program (did you know Spinning is a brand?) and started my own instructor training program with the goal to teach instructors how to do it right, based on science and proper training principles. We are currently teaching instructors how to do LT field tests and how to use HR zones correctly – not the silly max HR zones you see in fitness centers. If you would like to see you instructor become a top notch educated instructor, refer him or her to this site: http://www.indoorcycleinstructor.com

    Yes, I did write an ebook targeted at cyclists (or any person who ever takes an indoor cycling class) who want to know what to avoid, what works, what doesn’t work, and learn how to increase performance using an indoor cycling class. It’s not very expensive, but before I give out the link if anyone’s interested, I sent an email to Fatty to see if he will promote it and I will give 40% of every book sold to fight cancer.

    [BTW, some things in the book might really surprise you. Like the guy doing one-legged drills on an IC bike? You aren't getting the neurological benefits you think you are getting. When there's a weighted flywheel, it's doing most of the work for you. Notice how easy it is on a Spin bike, and how hard one-legged pedaling is on a trainer? There's a reason for that. In Keep it Real I teach you how to manage that flywheel and get the maximum benefits. But keep both feet attached - if you want single leg drill benefits, ya gotta do them on your trainer.]

    Ride on!

  103. Comment by Jennifer Sage | 02.1.2010 | 6:02 pm

    Oh and @Patrick…please go back a few months, no, 6 months, no, a year, and read more of Fatty’s work. You will see that you are 100% off-base in your comments. So much so that you should be ashamed for what you wrote. You will see that Fatty is one of the kindest-hearted, most caring human beings, who gave 1,000% of himself as his wife was dying of cancer, while sharing the experience with the cycling world (to our benefit – we are better human beings for what he has taught us through his pain, sorrow and his humor, and now, his rise back to the real world following Susan’s death). He also is very self-deprecating at times, very sarcastic and yes, tongue-in-cheek, as well as one of the funniest guys around. Not to mention the fact that he has done more than almost anyone on this planet (save for a few like Lance) to raise money for cancer research. So, if all you see is what you wrote, then you are very narrow minded…. AND you have no sense of humor.

    [....sorry, had to get that off my back. It's been bugging me for hours since I read his comment!]

  104. Comment by richard cranium | 02.3.2010 | 7:35 pm

    Does it really matter what exercise you’re doing(indoor our outdoor) if you’re giving it 110% ? No, spinning inside is nowhere near as fun as riding outside…but just like running on the treadmill…it’s the fitness you gain while indoors that matters. Can you really ride as hard outside when it’s 35 degrees and windy? Concentrate on your form (pedalling, climbing, etc…) and get the most out of the “off season” by putting the hammer down.

  105. Comment by Gary | 02.4.2010 | 7:18 pm

    I have around 10 years experiences on bicycle, and even it is totally different with riding on spin bike, I still like to ride on spin bike while I’m watching Australia Idol which is funny.

  106. Comment by spinqueen | 02.14.2010 | 6:45 pm

    i LOVE spinning and mountain biking. i can honestly say spinning has made me a MUCH better cyclist. # i learned how and when to stand up #2 endurance endurance endurance

  107. Pingback by Spin Class: You Get In What You Put Out « WV Cycling | 02.22.2010 | 11:19 pm

    [...] 02/23/2010 by lalahsghost I’ve seen a lot about spin classes at local gyms in the area where I live; I’m almost tempted to got to one, just to see what it is like. This cold weather has been tearing at me, and trainer/roller motivation only lasts so long. Then I read up on cyclists experiences at  their local spin classes… Almost all of them ended up sounding like Fat Cyclist’s experience. [...]

  108. Comment by Biker Hiker Gal | 03.8.2010 | 4:46 pm

    So, you’re gonna dis on one of my favorite spin instructors huh? And think she might not read it? Or that she might be ok with it? tsk tsk tsk A little fame go to your head perhaps? Since it was your first spin experience, let me enlighten you. With 15 years of biking under my belt, let me just say that spin class is spin class…outdoor cycling is outdoor cycling. You can’t compare the two…it’s like comparing apples and, well, quite frankly, bratwurst. And yes, it does get mundane…and since you ARE on a spin bike, you CAN pretend you’re on different terrain, with different bikes, trying different things, and it’s GREAT!! And does make me a better outdoor cyclist! I’m not retarded enough to think I could actually RUN on my mtn bike like that, or put one hand behind my back while climbing Suncrest on my road bike. But doing it in spin class gives variety and works other muscles.

    Oh, and you happen to know me…from long long ago…and you were very funny then also…writing for WP Mag…with an office next to mine…remember those days? It has been a long time. Maybe we’ll meet on the road one day…and maybe I’ll have one hand behind my back…and just maybe I’ll be at a level 7.29…cuz that’s just the kind of gal I am. :)

  109. Comment by James | 03.22.2010 | 1:12 pm

    Great post!

    Competition is absolutely the best part of spinning.

  110. Comment by Treadmills | 11.15.2010 | 3:43 pm

    @Rabbie: That’s a great comment, great work and I agree.

  111. Comment by Spin Freak | 01.10.2011 | 12:51 pm

    Great read!

    Hey- have you seen these- http://www.b-bands.com

    Handlebar covers for indoor cycling & Spinning.

    Pretty sweet.

  112. Comment by lisa | 01.11.2011 | 10:33 pm

    I am a spin instructor and a long distance cyclist. Spinning is a great way to improve outdoor performance. The problem with outdoor cyclists is they don’t understand how the spin bike and routines work. The spin bike is not a road bike, nor is it a mountain bike. As such, it is not going to perform the same. The intense intervals that you do within the hour don’t and can’t mimic the outdoor ride. They do utilize the same factors outdoor riding uses in a different way. You rarely climb out of the saddle on a road or mountain bike, particularly for longer than a few minutes, but the upright positioning of the standing climb builds your core – which helps on the road quite a bit but is hard to target on road. That improves your cycling. For a 60 minute class, a time most cyclists would consider an easy ride, recovery for any length of time is counter-intuitve as the indoor bike is different from the outdoor bike, and the change ups, both in resistance and speed, emulate the same system of cardio and muscle building that outdoor interval training does. One handed, jumps, etc, that is garbage, I’ll give you that. I encourage any cyclist to talk to the instructors and challenge them to explain how the indoor cycling improves outdoor performance before deciding you know best how it effects your training. Most instructors can tell you how the training not only benefits your outdoor performance, but also why the same workout equally benefits non-cyclists because of the core aerobic and interval training the class provides for both overall fitness and enhanced cycling performance. I HATE know-it-all roadies in my class who don’t understand how the workout works, doubt my experience and then flippantly complain and leave all smug, or worse, do their “own” workouts. Not as much as they hate me in the spring when I breeze by their dumb asses with my foundation built for cycling without the 3 or 4 week adjustment time. I am always smiley in September when there now humbled padded bottoms are eagerly awaiting instruction to be followed to the letter. Talk to your instructor or find another one who knows about cycling and can explain how the bike works to your benefit. Also, even if he’s in head to tow exte ondo and screws his own looks on before class, any guy spinning in an aerodynamic position has no blankin’ clue what he’s doing. Just some advice (nor does the shaved leg guy, obviously) good luck!

  113. Comment by jo | 02.27.2011 | 8:52 pm

    I am also a spin instructor, and I don’t play around like that in my spin class. I teach people skills to take out on the road and I coach. Obviously it is not the same, but for a lot of people it is a nice intermediary step. A lot of people I see are beginners. They develop some confidence and some cardio ability, and turn into real bike enthusiasts. If you are expecting it to be exactly the same as outdoor riding, you will be disappointed. I echo lisa– the know-it-all triathletes and cyclists are the worst. While it is not nearly as great as outdoor riding, my workout is probably the most effective 60 minutes you can spend in the gym.

  114. Comment by lisa | 10.10.2011 | 1:30 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching info on spinning classes…gotta love Google!

    There are plenty of instructors out there like the one you described…and there are also plenty of real cyclists/athletes who want to recreate an outdoor training ride inside. I hope you have tried it again and maybe found of them! I look forward to reading more of your blog, your summary on your first class was great!

  115. Pingback by Songs For Spinning Class | Learn Spinning Classes Blog | 10.30.2011 | 5:32 pm

    [...] am a spin instructor and a long distance cyclist. Spinning is a great way to improve outdoor performance. The problem with outdoor cyclists is they [...]

  116. Comment by coolstar | 12.4.2011 | 3:31 pm

    Found this blog after doing my very first spin class today; it’s hilarious, thanks!
    I’m not a good outdoor cyclist, just started again a month ago and an hour ride is a long one for me. I did the spin class for the usual reason a guy does; a woman I’m friends with swears by them (and she is in great shape, though she’s not very athletic). I found it just as boring as I expected. The music means nothing to me as I ignored it and just concentrated on keeping a good cadence for 60 minutes while changing the resistance to add some variety. I found all the time spent out of the saddle to be, well ridiculous. I’ve watched enough good cyclists to know that on a real bike that’s extremely inefficient and done very rarely. At least my instructor was low key (a guy, and probably not even gay) and not a complete asshat. I ignored him since I wouldn’t have been able to complete 60 minutes spending 20 out of the saddle. He did forget to turn the fans on though, which I found just astounding.

  117. Comment by jdb | 12.18.2011 | 12:49 pm

    not sure that was proper spinning.. the programme is 2 arms on the bar throughout none of this swining arms and hands behind back


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.