Spin classes are a great way for folks to dip their toes into the world of group exercise classes. There’s no tricky choreography to memorize and you can easily tweak your intensity or make adjustments without calling attention to yourself. Many of my participants tell me they love spin classes because they push themselves harder than they would if they worked out alone. However, if you’re new to spin, there are a few phrases to know, so that you can be fully prepared when you’re sitting on the bike. While the instructor may explain these terms, it will help if you come to your first class somewhat familiar with what these words mean. With these phrases in your toolkit, you’ll be well on your way to mastering your first spin class. Here’s a look at seven popular spin class phrases and what they mean.
- “Find your resistance knob”
For your first spin class, you should try to arrive early, so the instructor can help you set up your bike. Your instructor will help you adjust the seat and handlebars so that they’re in the right position for your body. Once the bike is set-up you won’t touch anything for the rest of the class, except the resistance knob.
The resistance knob is located right under the handlebars and controls the resistance against your wheel. For most bikes, if you turn the knob to the right, you add resistance. Turning left decreases the resistance. There are also bikes that use a lever instead and you move the lever up and down to change resistance. The resistance is critical, since that will change the style of riding for each song.
- “Get on your flat road”
The “flat road” is the foundation for the entire spin class. It’s the point on your resistance knob that gives you some resistance on your wheel to support your ride without pushing too hard. You shouldn’t ride on a bike that has no resistance, so your flat road is a step above that. You’ll likely add and remove resistance throughout class, but you won’t want to go below this baseline.
- “What’s your monitor say?”
Most new indoor spinning bikes have monitors on them. These are small screens on your handlebars that show the distance, time and other data about your ride. The data heads in the class will love the monitors, because it lets them keep tabs on their workouts. I’ve also seen others throw a towel over the monitor, because they’d rather focus on other parts of the exercise.
The monitors take some getting used to and if you’re having trouble getting the monitor started, ask your instructor or a neighbor for help.
- “Gear up”
“Gear up,” is another way of saying, “increase resistance”. If you do have a monitor, you’re able to know exactly how many “gears” you’re increasing, because it will show which gear you’re on. Otherwise, instructors will typically say give the knob a quarter or half turn.
- “Let’s stand”
What may come as a surprise is that you can “stand” in spin class without getting off your bike. To stand, you shift your weight forward so that your booty is out of the seat and your weight is over your pedals. Standing can be challenging when you first start spinning, so feel free to sit down whenever you need a break. Also, when you do stand, having extra resistance on your wheel will make it easier to ride.
- “Have a smooth pedal stroke”
Your pedal stroke is the act of turning your pedals in a circle. Throughout the entire class, your goal is to keep your pedal stroke one smooth motion. If you feel like your pedals almost stop at the top and bottom because there’s too much resistance, take some of the resistance off, so you’re able to pedal evenly the whole time.
- “Now, we’ll do intervals”
Intervals are parts of the ride that are segmented out by time. For example, the group fitness class might do 20-second intervals with a 10-second rest in between. Typically, intervals are a maximum effort, like a sprint, so instructors expect you to work as hard as you can with breaks in between. If you’re just starting out, you may need to work up to being able to do an exercise full out for 20-seconds. You know your body best, so be sure to push yourself in a way that feels right to you.
Now that you’re familiar with a few common spin phrases, you can join your first spin class feeling confident that you’ll be able to follow along. And remember, every person in that room had a “Day 1” just like you.
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