Spinning Your Way to Better Fitness


Spin ClassIn past articles I’ve written about how I lost 50lbs over 3 months. Some of my friends joke with me about how although I was successful with it, there was one big problem with my program that would prevent most people from doing it…

I actually had to exercise and diet!

Since losing my initial 50lbs, I have changed my routine and taken on many more challenges (long distance road cycling, triathlon, marathons, etc) and as a result I’ve kept my weight off and my fitness level high.

One great workout experience I discovered last year was Spinning. Spinning has probably been one of the most significant breakthroughs I’ve had in my fitness level in the last 3 years because it is much more than just a cardio workout. When done properly and lead by a great coach/instructor Spinning will increasing your muscle mass, lower your body fat, increase your metabolism, and be the most fun you can have in a 1 hour indoor workout!

Three years ago, after I lost my initial 50lbs I felt pretty good about myself. I felt like I had accomplished my goal. I didn’t see the need to limit my caloric intake and go to the gym every day. But I knew I didn’t want to gain the weight back… I liked the new me, and I wanted to keep it.

I stopped going to the gym religiously, but I kept the weight off by becoming more physical in general. I took up scuba diving. I made a point of taking my kids to play at the park more frequently. I kept going to the gym, but I cut my visits to a couple times a week. Eventually I bought a bike, and started road cycling. Then I decided to take up running, and I set a goal of running my first marathon.

Long story short, after about a month of training for a marathon, I was struck by my first major injury: a stress fracture in my heel. The worse part of this injury was that although my doctor said I could use my indoor cycle trainer, he didn’t want me riding my bike out on the road until I was fully healed. I was disappointed because I didn’t feel like I was getting much of a workout when I used my indoor cycle trainer.

About that same time a couple of friends of mine from work had enrolled in a spin class at the gym near my office. (Yes, I was a member of two gyms at this point… I know, I know, that’s probably a sign of something.) I figured I would join in, since if I had to cycle indoors I thought it would be more fun if I did it with friends.

Wow! What an experience it was! Now, I really should give credit to my first Spin coach, Mike. He was awesome. He a naturally charismatic guy, full of life and energy, and he really cares about his students. I have had some other spin coaches by now, and some are good, some are o.k., but none of them have ever compared to Mike.

Why was the experience so much better than my indoor cycle trainer? Well, of course there was Mike, and my friends, and the other students… that sense of community, a sense of accountability… they are all watching me, I need to work hard. But there is also the very important physiologic aspect of resistance training built in to Spinning.

Don’t get me wrong, Jumping on a stationary bike or a treadmill is a good way to get a workout. But you probably aren’t really working your muscles (other than your heart) when you focus on these types of workouts. With a spin bike, you have a weighted wheel with adjustable resistance. And with a good spin coach, they will have you adjusting that resistance, and turning your cardio workout into a strength training workout.

Losing Inches Off Your Waist“But I just want to burn fat. I don’t want big muscles, I want to be slimmer, smaller, and weigh less.” — admit it, you might be thinking that. I’ve always wanted to be that skinny guy. Hopefully, you’ve already heard that building muscle is a good thing to do if you want to get slim. I know I doubted it, but I experienced it first hand. Building muscle mass will lower your body fat, increase your metabolism, and make you leaner… which equals slimmer.

After spinning for a couple months, I had lost another 10lbs (now down to 140lbs from 200lbs a year earlier) and 4 more inches off my waist (now down to a 28″ waist from a size 38″ waist originally). 

There are several good reasons for this. The main reason for this change is because by adding a resistance (strength) element to my leg workout, I increased the muscle mass of my legs. The legs are the biggest muscles in your body to begin with, and so if you make them stronger and more lean, your are increasing a larger overall percentage of your lean body mass. More lean body mass means higher metabolism, which means you are burning more calories in your sleep (quite literally).

Another benefit of Spin class for me, was that it allowed me to increase the intensity of my cycling workout to a level that is hard to create or find on the open road. By increasing the resistance more and more, I can simulate a steeper and steeper hill, and I can ride up that hill as long as I want to. My Spin coach Mike made this easier. He did a great job of adding variety to our classes. We did endurance days (flat moderate pace), we did interval days, we did hill days, we did simulated races. Mike made it a lot of fun!

One other thing I should point out. Yes, I am an Ironman (now), and you’d probably say I am a serious amateur athlete (my sister still laughs when I say that). But our spin class was incredibly diverse. There were grandmothers, business men on their lunch hour, students, new mothers, and others like me; all in the same class.  Mike did a great job of making every person in that class have a good time, and get a good work out for their own level. Since you are in control of your own resistance, you can tailor the workout to your own fitness level. The coach is there to make sure you don’t get hurt, that you’re using the right form, to bring some purpose and rhythm to the class, but most of all, to inspire you to have a good workout and a good time.

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8 Responses to “Spinning Your Way to Better Fitness”

  1. halfawake Says:

    I stopped going to the gym religiously, but I kept the weight off by becoming more physical in general. I took up scuba diving. I made a point of taking my kids to play at the park more frequently. I kept going to the gym, but I cut my visits to a couple times a week.

    I definetely used to focus on running exclusively, but now that I’ve tried to branch out into some other sports I feel like I’m in better shape then when I was at the peak of my running. Running is still my favorite, but I suffer from being a “fair weather runner.” After reading your description of spinning I think I might try it out this winter. Thanks!

  2. ZappoMan - Fitness Blog : Thoughts on Fitness, Health, Diet, Marathons, Triathlons, and Ironman by Brad Hefta-Gaub » 5,000 Miles? Not this year. Says:

    […] Spin class, my total only comes to 4,564. I guess I won’t morn those 600 or so miles, because I really did love my spin class. And I wouldn’t trade those workouts if give the chance. But I would probably have reworked […]

  3. Antoinette M Says:

    I also do Spinning to lose fat but not regularly. I think I have to focus on this on a daily basis.

  4. forcefactor Says:

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  5. sarco bindra Says:

    Hey everybody, I had been curious about if any of you ever had experience with shedding butt fat…

  6. florida01 Says:

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  8. Christine Says:

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d like to find out more details.

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