*This post was written by a Start Healthy contributor.
When you hear someone proclaim their love for spinning, it usually induces a few eye rolls and heavy sighs. It’s become that fitness trend—the one that people love to hate, whether due to the cult-like, celebrity nature of places like SoulCycle, or just because of the general stereotypes that surround “elite” workout classes. Spin classes are expensive, but when you mix in the camaraderie, the motivational speaking, and the nightclub vibe, it makes the financial sacrifice worth it.
Spinning has quickly become the only workout I partake in. If I walked into a gym right now, I’d not only have little to no motivation, I would simply have no direction for what to do. Having someone yell into a microphone on a podium in front of me while doing 90 RPM on a stationary bike, as you mirror the same movements, has become not only my workout of choice, but also a form of therapy for me. I’m the first to proudly admit my love and appreciation for spin with zero shame, and here’s why.
A priceless community
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I switch up between SoulCycle and CycleBar, two nationwide spin studios that differ in style, but offer the community aspect all the same. Whenever I walk into either studio, I’m met with smiles and immediate assistance to whatever I need—water, shoes, or simply the excitement exuding from the people at the front desk that I needed to get me in the workout mindset. Once I change into proper shoes and lock up my belongings, it’s time to head into the dark vortex that is a spin studio, which is already blasting hits and primed for matching set-clad spin enthusiasts.
There’s more to these classes than tapping it back and candle-lit motivational talks. It’s the feeling of community between like-minded people who also enjoy being drenched in sweat after 45 minutes of sprinting, climbing, and bicep curling on a bike. One of the most common pieces of advice for getting into fitness is doing it with a buddy; well, try 40 or so buddies, who push you to reach your fullest potential within the time allotted. Although you’re reminded by the instructor to not pay attention to what your neighbor is doing, I think to an extent, it’s beneficial (and also impossible otherwise) to be aware of those around you. One of the main differences between Soul Cycle and Cycle Bar is that Cycle Bar keeps track of your stats throughout class. There are TVs on the wall in front of the studio that, during certain sections, will display where you stand amongst the rest of the people in class. Of course, you can choose to opt out and not have your stats displayed, but I do think it adds a level of competition that encourages you to work harder and sprint faster. Soul Cycle on the other hand, is more about the mind-body experience—how you feel, not necessarily how you measure up.
Maybe it’s the packed class of people riding it out (and sometimes singing along) to a beat, combined with the high-fives with your neighbor at the end, and the before and after class socializing, that makes the price tag of a spin class worth it.
Riding it out
There have been days that I’ve been so worn out—mentally and physically drained—that even changing into workout clothes and getting in the car to head to spin sounds exhausting. Usually the strict cancellation policies are enough incentive to suck it up and go anyway, and I’m always glad that I do. There’s always at least one pep talk of sorts that the instructor gives during class. This revolves around getting over a bad day, adjusting a sour attitude, or changing your outlook on life. It’s a mini TedTalk—cycle edition.
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These short talks in a darkened, candle-lit room (more often than not to a slower song) are one of the reasons that these fitness classes, at least in my opinion, are so popular. Sometimes you don’t realize that it’s exactly what you needed to hear. It’s become my favorite aspect of cycling, because, aside from the obvious “sweat it out” aspect to working out, the added bonus of a motivational pick-me-up can truly flip your mindset right side up. A good sweat combined with an encouraging talking to? There’s nothing better.
A workout that stays with you
Before I started going to spin classes regularly, which was only a little over a year and a half ago, I really didn’t do much of anything. Being still in school, I utilized the campus gym when the spirit moved me, but mostly I claimed that walking to and from class was enough. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I’ve always been a pretty active person, but after graduating college, I felt out of shape and knew I needed to find a fitness regimen that I loved. I took to walking every day and slowly started incorporating spin into my life as well. It wasn’t love at first tap back, but it was something that I felt was worth sticking to.
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A spin class may be 45 minutes, but it’s a workout that sticks with you long after you leave the studio. The instructors parting words matched with a playlist—sometimes a themed one filled with songs by your favorite artist—keeps your adrenaline pumping and good spirits soaring.
I started doing spin as a way to get fit, but I kept at it for the total mind and body transformation that this workout has given me. Cycling is a low-impact calorie-burning, mood boosting, playlist bumping fitness routine that has strengthened me in all areas of my life. To the naysayers I say, clip in and see for yourself.
Be sure to consult with a physician before trying any new workout. For more info visit soul-cycle.com or cyclebar.com.