Spinning Classes: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Love Them

Amelia Phillips

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My bum gets sore… I feel claustrophobic…it’s too hard…my legs will get big! These are some comments often heard after a first attempt at a spin or RPM class. But I urge you to persevere. It takes at least three attempts to get into the swing of a cycling class.

What is a cycling/spin/RPM class?
Is a cardiovascular class done on stationary bikes to music. As stated on the Les Mills fitness site, It will increase your fitness levels, burn fat, and tone and shape your legs, hips and butt. You will gain leg strength and muscular endurance without building bulk.

Why you should learn to love them:

1. It’s an awesome fat burner and fitness booster. You will burn more calories in this class than any other Les Mills program and I dare say any other class on your timetable. The interval training style takes your heart rate up, then gives you a (short) rest, so you can do it all again. This is scientifically proven to be one of the most efficient ways to increase your fitness. Increased fitness equals more energy, faster metabolism, stronger joints and did I mention hot legs and ass!

2. It’s low impact so safer on your joints. If you are a little on the heavy side, running might make you feel like your joints get the hardest workout, not your muscles. Cycling with your feet secured on the pedal is called a closed kinetic chain activity. This keeps you hips knees and ankles in alignment, reducing/preventing injury and allowing your muscles to be loaded in the right places. Although I believe running to be the best form of weight loss, I rate cycling classes as a close second and much gentler on your joints.

3. You can’t help but work harder. Look around the room. Look at your instructor. These people are working hard. Yes you can rest, slow your pedal speed, reduce your resistance, but you’ll get going again. Pumped up music, encouraging words from you instructor, and the comfort of knowing that everyone else is sharing your pain, makes you feel like trying that little bit harder. You will feel so proud of your accomplishment and feel confident to try even harder next time.

4. No coordination required. Boys, finally a class where you don’t need a dance certificate to participate! You’re locked in, the bike won’t fall over, and all you need to do is twist the resistance dial and sometimes stand up in the saddle. In fact if you know of someone who has fallen off, they deserve a medal (I’d love to hear about it!).

5. Every level of fitness can participate in the same class. Don’t be daunted if Lance Armstrong straps in next to you. The resistance knob can be adjusted to your level and if you can’t keep up with the instructors pedal revolutions, it’s no big deal, just slow down. Other classes may need you to be fitter, stronger, coordinated, or flexible. Cycle classes grow with your fitness. The fitter you get, the faster you pedal and the higher you dial up your resistance.

I challenge you to go and book in for 3 cycle classes. I personally prefer RPM as I know what to expect, it has been scientifically designed, and instructors are trained to a certain standard. Give it a go and I’d love you to give me 5 more reasons why you love ‘ or hate cycle classes.

***Read about a high intensity, interval training treadmill workout I have recommended!

***Read a personal account of someone who has fallen in love with spinning classes.

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45 responses to “Spinning Classes: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Love Them”

  1. FoxTwo says:

    Hahah man I totally hate cardio. In fact I haven’t done any cardio since like November or so, and all my workouts so far has always been just muscle building types, ie “work to failure in 8 reps or less” kind.. I’m too lazy to do an activity for 30 mins, gets too boring. Might as well build muscles and let ’em burn the fat heh!

    • Diana Neubacher says:

      I am an 83 year old spinner and have been doing classes for five years now and do three to four a week. Even though I can never reach 90 to 120 RPM’s the benefits are amazing and I have never felt better. I ride on a Watt bike and notice that some days I do better than others it’s hard work but worth the effort. Tests on people from 18 to 80 doing various high intensity interval training found spin classes benefited the over 50’s and helped to defeat ageing. I also do three body pump classes a week too. Eat lots of veggies, fruit, some meat, fish and eggs. Put back on the shelf anything with vegetable oil, palm oil and lots of code numbers written on the back and carefully read the list of ingredients.

  2. Amelia Burton says:

    I share your pain, sometimes cardio is such a drag! You must have a really good diet to be able to keep your bodyfat down without doing cardio. May I suggest you try something dynamic like spin or boxing and the time will fly. You wont lose any muscle mass doing it and you end up with definition like the Calvin Klein models!

  3. Jay says:

    I hate spinning class…would much rather be on my real bike 🙂 But then I have to fight with crazy motorists…

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll! I added you as well…you have some great stuff here!


  4. Sprocketboy says:

    I have been enjoying reading this blog and there are a lot of good tips.

    I am a recreational cyclist and do some time trial racing (check my blog: http://www.tindonkey.com!) and because I live in Canada my opportunity for outdoor training is limited. For the last five months I have been doing high-intensity workouts twice a week on my fluid trainer at home (watching race DVDs) and on the weekends I go to my local gym and do spinning classes on Saturdays and Sundays, generally for an hour or 90 minutes each time. The spinning workouts are good but there is a definite difference in what you get out of them and this really depends on the instructor. My cycling coach has told me to beware of sequences that call for high resistance and high rpms as these are not so good for you. Some instructors also call for jumping up and sitting down in rapid succession, which is nothing like being on the real bike. On the plus side, I have managed to keep my weight down all winter and the motivation of being in a group–even if the music is pretty dreadful at times!–is very helpful.

  5. Amelia Burton says:

    Hi Jay,
    Yes trying to ride on the road here in Sydney is Kamikaze! I do suggest giving Spin another go, but make sure you have a really good instructor. That is why I prefer the Les Mills program RPM, you know that what you are getting and it is scientifically designed to increase your fitness fastest.

  6. Amelia Burton says:

    Hi Sprocketboy,

    Thanks for the insightful comments. The fact that you like to do some time trial racing highlights my point that spin/cycle/rpm suits many levels, from beginners to racers such as yourself. Thanks for making that clear.

    I cannot stress how important a good instructor is and being an owner of a gym that runs these classes every day, I can assure you that the instructor makes the class. Be sure to tell your gym manager if you found an instructor to be below par.

    I have opted to put RPM, (a les mills run program) in my club as it systemises everything including the song choice! Even then, an uninspiring instructor can play havoc.

    I do not endorse rapid jumping up and sitting down and luckily the RPM classes don’t do this.

    Some of my members do time trials, like you, and use these classes as an integral part of their training.

    Keep up the good work and I’d love to hear about your progress.

  7. spinchick says:

    Yes, crazy motorists are the reason I primarily Spin now instead of ride.

    Sometimes I do “jumps” in class but they are slow and they are designed to help a cyclist exit the saddle smoothly, stay with his/her pace to break away from the pack, and then slide back into the saddle, again smoothly, without breaking rhythm. The quick “pop corn” jumps don’t serve much purpose except to accelerate the heart rate, and I don’t do those.

    Don’t give up on indoor cycling. It’s a higher-intensity workout and is great training for cyclists, provided the instructor is good.

  8. […] of the most popular articles on this site has been Spinning Classes- 5 reasons why you need to learn to love them. I always get lots of questions about Spin and RPM like “will it make my butt look […]

  9. Zoe says:

    Hi Emilia,

    I”m a bit of a spin/RPM addict, and either spin or ride my bike to and from work every day. I also do an hours boxing class on Tuesday nights. I am beginning to feel that after a good 10 years of spinning, my body isn’t responding to the hard core calorie burn as well any more and wondered what i could do to mix up my workouts a little. I love classes but not the running machine!!


  10. Hi Zoe,

    The body needs change, so I would sugegst cardio boxing, or kick boxing classes. They fire up the lungs whilst giving your muscles that ‘pumped’ feeling. Make sure you pick a hard class because I bet you are really fit! If you don’t mind a bit of aerobics, try body attack as well.
    I hate to say it but running is one of the fastest ways to burn calories, so I suggest searching on my website for the ‘best treadmill workout ever’ (I promise you wont get bored), or try an outdoor run once a week. It’s worth it in the long run!

    Let me know how you go…

  11. Stephanie says:


    I need your help please… Is there a difference between a normal exercise bike and a spinning bike? If so what?

    I’m asking because I’m looking in investing in a bike where I can practice spinning bikes at home and I don’t want to invest in the wrong bike.

    I’m looking forward to your feedback.
    Love you site btw!


  12. Natasha says:

    Hi there, great site!

    I do spinning and RPM 3 – 4 times per week and my aim is to burn as many calories and as much fat as I can as I am on a weight loss diet (I have 1 more stone to go before I reach my target weight).

    I have heard that Spinning and RPM can burn from 300 to 900 calories per class, and was wondering what the best way to burn up as many calories and as much fat as possible is. Would it be to sit down and pedal as hard as you can on low resistance or set the resistance higher?

    Be really grateful for some tips and hope you can help. Thanks in advance!


  13. Amelia says:

    Hi Steph,

    Yes there is a difference. Spin bikes use a different kind of resistance to the normal electrical bikes. My favorite is Le Monde (you can get a new one for $1000 or a second hand for less than half that). Schwinn and Star track are other good brands.

    Good luck


  14. Amelia says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Great question! I find faster, lighter resistance is better than harder, slower pedals. However there is an optimal speed/resistance which is basically keeping your pedals in time with the instructor. If you feel your upper body bouncing, then it’s too light, if you cant keep up, then there’s too much resistance.
    Some tips to burn more calories;
    Train before breakfast
    Wear a heart rate monitor and don’t let it drop below 70% of your max (search ‘heart rate’ in my blog for more info).
    Spin faster
    Drink water, never sugar drinks
    reduce your recovery after each track

    Good luck and congrats on your results thus far!


  15. rhona says:

    I have to jump in here and educate everyone on Spinning®. Spinning was invented by long distance cyclist Johnny Goldberg in the mid 1990’s, He was one the co-founders of our company, Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. Johnny used to teach Spinning from his garage in Santa Monica, California on bikes he and his business partner, John Baudhuin built by hand. Our company, Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. are the trademark owners of Spinning, as it is our brand of indoor cycling. Although many believe Spinning is a generic name for indoor cycling, it is not. Unless you are using a Spinner bike (manufactured by Star Trac, previously manufactured by Schwinn), you aren’t Spinning. When you are in an indoor cycling class, unless the instructor is a certified Mad Dogg Spinning instructor, they are merely an indoor cycling instructor and not a Spinning instructor. There are over 135,000 Mad Dogg certified Spinning instructors worldwide and our classes are offered in over 65,000 certified facilities worldwide. Feel free to visit our website and become familiar with Spinning. We offer many Spinning and SpinFitness products including a great line of clothing. http://www.spinning.com Regards, Rhona

  16. Thanks Rhona for the fascinating insight into spinning. Tell me, do you do Karaoke spinning? Thats the latest craze as you can watch on my latest post.
    I guess who knows what they are doing, so long as they are sweating and smiling, it’s gotta be good!!

  17. anna says:

    I just thought I would tell you that I did fall off a spinning bike. The handle bars weren’t on tight and I fell over the front! It is funny now, but at the time my knees swelled up and It was so embarrassing! 🙂

  18. Oh Anna,
    That has got to be a first! You poor thing, but hey at least we can laugh about it now and you have one of those D’oh stories to tell at dinner parties!!!

  19. Nicola Donald says:

    I have just joined our local gym, i am going to try my 1st spin class ever on Monday night . i am really nervous as I have not been to a gym in a very long time . Do you think a spin class is the right choice for a 1st timer . thanks nicola

  20. Amiee says:

    spin/rpm is awesome! i love it!
    yes when i started my a$$ was sore but doing it a min of 2 times a week builds up the endurance and fitness, and as fitness has grown, i pedal my a$$ off (literally) now! LOL
    its great because attack is known as the number 1 calorie burner class and spin is second in line… i encorporate both now (thanks to you 😉 ) and its great!
    can go into each class with my HRM and work hard till i burn the min calories of 400 – 500 in spin and aim for 500 plus in attack… sometimes i do them back to back, and thats a killer, but feels great…
    and ive learnt when doing all my doubles do attack as the second class LOL cause attack takes it outta you too! LOL

  21. roya says:

    I have bad knees so I can’t run, is spinning okay for me? how can I prevent the impact if needed?
    I am 50 and in okay shape but have never done something like this, how do you suggest I should start?
    sorry if the question has been asked before…

  22. […] of the most popular articles on this site has been Spinning Classes- 5 reasons why you need to learn to love them. I always get lots of questions about Spin and RPM like “will it make my butt look […]

  23. helen says:

    is it possible for to burn 1000 calories in one spin class? an instructor said to my friend that they are burning min 700. I thought it’s according to size?

  24. Fabiola says:

    Iam 59 yrs. old, I have been in spinning classes at the local gym for almost 3 months, I love it and do well, but I haven’t lost any weight even though I sweat a lot…I do 5 hrs. a week, I’ve tried morning and night for a week, that’s 10 hrs., I feel great and my body feels stronger, but no weight lose…Thank you.

  25. Tim says:

    @Roya, Cycling is generally less “hard on the knees” than running, but there can be all sorts of reasons for “bad knees” and I would suggest seeing a physio to identify what’s wrong with yours, and to advise if cycling is going to be a good idea in your particular case.

    @Helen, It’s not *impossible* to burn 1000 calories in a cycling class, but depends on many things (eg: a person’s size, how hard they work, length of the class etc.) but 1000 cals is not the sort of result you’d expect for the average participant in the average 50 minute cycle class.

    The average female who attends regularly is likely to do in the vicinity of 400-500 calories, and for men generally a bit higher, say 500-600, but many above and below those numbers.

    The fitter you get, the more you can burn because you can maintain a higher intensity for longer.

    @Fabiola 10 hours/wk of exercise that “makes you sweat a lot” is enough to get results, so since you’re not losing weight, I would look at three other things in this order
    1) have you really got any weight to lose? Your BMI is a reasonable indicator. If it is in the underweight range then perhaps weight loss is not such a good goal.
    2) how is your diet – are you eating for weight loss in terms of quality of food and quantity of food?
    3) is their a medical reason?

    A good Personal Trainer will help you answer 1 & 2, a GP will help you with 3.

  26. Fabiola says:

    Thank you for your valuable answer…I do need to lose weight, I’m 5`4 and 155 lbs., I’d like to be 140lbs. and maybe what’s wrong is that I don’t diet perse, I eat good food though, fruits and veggies, but am not following a diet plan…I’ve diet before without excersising and Ive lost all the weight I wanted, but I really thought I could lead a non-diet life although sensible eating and lose excersising like some friends have. I’m good at spinning. Tks.

  27. Zena says:

    I am a female and just wanted to ask if riding would make my legs bigger. i just bought a spin bike and i am concerned i am going to get bigger legs, my aim is to thin down my legs!

  28. Fabiola says:

    Yeah…I don’t diet, I eat evrything, of course, healthy, but I don’t follow a 1200 cal. kind of diet, I thought it’ll be enough with the spinning, I guess not, BUT…nothing?! I guess I have no choice but to go on a diet and probably I will lose, but not because of the excercising I do…I guess I go back to my old self, before I dieted but not excersised and always lost the weight I wanted. I’m 5’3 and weight 158 lbs…..need to lose. Thanks.

  29. Tracey says:

    Hi there, ive been doing spin classes 3 times a week and pump classes 3 times a week, doing a 1200-1400 calorie a day diet, and my bmi is around 32. Ive calculated my BMR to be 1715 calories a day and + AMR its 2125 when doing these classes.

    Ive been doing this for 3 weeks and nothing has moved on the scales. I dont really care too much for the scale because im feeling good, but my whole life the scales doesnt move…

    any ideas…


  30. Tim says:

    @Zena – doing three spin classes a week generally will not make your legs a lot bigger, although some say it will. Certainly if you did regular classes of heavy hill climbing only, then it might, but pick a well rounded format like RPM and I think you’ll be fine.

    @Tracey a few things to keep in mind;

    1. 3 weeks is a relatively short time. for anything much to change in the weight department.
    2. yoru numbers are approximations (because the forumals are too), and actual calorie deficit might be a lot different.
    3. it’s possible that your fitness is not yet at the level where you can actually burn 415 calories per class (2125-1715). as you get fitter this becomes more and more realistic because you can maintain the high intensity that’s needed to burn 415 cals in a class.
    4. Your calculation works out to about 1/2kg fat loss per week (which is a modest, realistic and good target over the long term). That won’t come off in nice even “weekly packets” but will fluctuate. It might be offset by other things like fluid in your body, some small muscle gains from pump, etc.

    So I’d suggest :

    1. don’t use the scale as your ultimate measurement. Measure your fitness instead (eg: how is your squat weight improving over time? Measure tightness of your jeans. Measure your sense of well-being and your mood. These are all things that are more easily measured and will keep you motivated in the early stages.

    2. give yourself 5-6 weeks or so between assessments of yoru weight loss, and if you are not getting results you want, then try to increase the calorie deficit either through higher intensity in your exercise, less food or both. (however, you are already pretty low on the food side, so i’d suggest a dietician before reducing any further).

    Stick with your 3/3 classes a week and your sensible eating, work on your intensity of exercise, and I am sure you’ll see results on the scale. best of luck!

  31. Tracey says:

    Hi Tim, thanks so much for that, always good to get some reassurance youre on the right track. I dont really use the scales, hate them to tell you the truth because they never move, but my curiosity got the better of me. I am wearing a heart rate monitor with each class and recording the details each time, ive also upped my weights in pump and am getting a hell of a lot of burn. Im burning about 350-400 in pump and last night hit 612 in spin class… usually around 500-550 in there. Im also keeping track of my avg heart rate and max heart rate.. i spend more time in ‘the 70-80% zone’ with pump than i do with spin, but all in all im pretty strong and pretty fit, just about 25kgs over weight.. (im 5ft 8 and 95kgs). Im keeping going because im feeling good, and challenging myself… will check back at the 6 week mark and let you know how its all improved.

    Thanks again… Tracey

  32. […] the mind into the actions of the body to improve coordination and function. Other classes, such as spinning class or kickboxing, are routinely available at various gym locations throughout Boston.  Gyms also offer […]

  33. Val says:

    Today was my 4th spin class. I vowed never to do it again after the 1st class, but reading more about it gave me the determination to try another one – I can’t get enough of it. It’s challenging, fun and you feel great afterwards, you can also feel the results straight away!

  34. Andrea says:

    Hi, I ride my spin bike 3-5 times a week for 60 to 80 minutes on a hill climb for the whole time with a cadence of 64rpm I also wear a heart rate monitor and I burn between 600 and 900 calories depend ing on how tired I am as some days I can do more than others also with my heart rate monitor my heart rate is at 75% to 88% again depending how tired I am will this bulk my legs up

  35. Tim says:

    hi Andrea, you must be using a relativley high resistance if you burn 600-900 calories at 64 rpm. Can’t say this *will* bulk your legs up, but it is more likely to than if you use variety in your cadence.

    If you attend an RPM class, you’ll find cadence of about 70 rpm for two songs, 90-100 rpm for one sogn and 120+ for 3 songs.

    The key is to adjust your load down as your cadence goes up, and vice versa. This keeps you heart rate high.

    This way you are burning simialr calories, but not pushing the heavy load continuously which is what contributes to “bulky” legs.

    You dont’ have to do rpm class. You can mix your climbs with some intervals at a higher cadence.

    Hope that helps.

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  37. Missy says:

    Hi! I have just completed my second RPM class. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I LOVE THIS CLASS! The pain in my ass will get better but it boy does it hurt right now. I was a little slower today but I still kept up for the most part and didn’t stop early! This is huge for me. Are you able to answer how many calories I burn? I can give you my height and weight…I just like knowing a little about what I approximately burnt.

  38. Aubrey says:

    Hi, so i went to my first spinning class this evening 10 minutes in i started feeling light headed and nausious to my stomach. left class disappointed, is this normal?

  39. Tim says:

    hi Aubrey

    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience of spinning.

    Every spin class *should* be easy to moderate intensity for the first ten minutes (it’s called a warmup!)

    If that was what the instructor coached you to do, and you felt sick, then I would suggest a checkup with the doc and explain what happened, cos feelign sick like that in a warmup is not normal.

    If on the other hand, you gave a high intensity effort in the first ten minutes, then it’s quite normal that you would feel sick and dizzy because you pushed yourself too hard too early.

    if the instructor asked you to do that then never go back to their class! If you just accidentally over did it, then go back but take it a little easier.

    When you first start with spinning, you will rapdily get out of breath, that’s normal, and ok in short bursts, but pull back and get your breath back. Remember no matter what the instructor says, you are in control of the resistance and therefore the intensity.

    Feel free to back it off a bit initially until your fitness improves and then you can really start to go for it and get all the benefits it has to offer.

    Small steps is the way to go, gradually build it up.

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  41. christine says:

    Hi aubrey
    when i attended my first spin class i tried to keep up with the instructors orders and also felt very sick and light headed, i tried another instructor (after a long time avoiding spin) and i now do 2 classes a week just remember its your work out at your pace 🙂 hope you try it again and enjoy it better x

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