I'm attempting to get a little healthier and a little more fit by attending a spin class at the gym.
I know what you're thinking — SPIN CLASS?!?!? Sounds kinda lame. But actually it's one heck of a workout.
I'm a member at the Young Men's Christian Association (I know it's just called the Y now, but I feel that it adds more prestige to the establishment if I say all the words) and they have a bunch of different classes, one of which is the spin class.
I'd heard of it before but for some reason I thought it was primarily a class for women.
I get in there the other day at 7:30 a.m. (which is already a big accomplishment for me) and the room was filled with what looked like regular stationary bikes. But apparently spin class (or indoor cycling class if you don't like the word "spin") is more intense than just riding a stationary bike.
The instructor's name was Ron...or Don and he was extremely helpful, explaining the concept to me and my buddy and getting us set up on our bikes. You had to strap in your feet to the pedal and you could adjust the height and distance away from the handle.
Also, these bikes come with a little turn-y thing so you can adjust the resistance level. The intensity of the workout varies throughout the class depending on your body position (standing vs. sitting), pedal speed and resistance.
The instructor tells you when to change the settings and when to slow down and speed up, when to rest and so on. Of course, you can take things at your own pace since you control the settings but he sort of guides you to get the most out of your workout.
I should add here that two cool things about the class are that there are big TV monitors so the entire class can see a video of a cycling course. It might be a city street or a long, winding road beside the beach or a road through the mountains. So, it sort of feels like you're outside ...a little. It definitely helps having that visual, at least it helps me.
The other cool thing is that there's music playing in the background while you're riding. And it's music that suits the ride. So there are songs that are a little more intense and keep you pumped up for that portion of the ride while other songs are a little more smooth and easy.
Ron..or Don did a great job playing a variety of songs during our ride. He also sang several of them. However, his playlist did include a couple questionable "artists" such as Kid Rock and Jimmy Buffett but I won't hold that against him.
What I liked a lot about the class was that the instructor is constantly talking to you and guiding you through the workout. He tells you when to change your settings so the ride feels like it would if you were outdoors — complete with hill climbs, sprints and coasting.
And the bikes have little monitors on them that show you your resistance and speed.
The class was about 55 minutes and at the end of it I felt like I had just done a full body workout. I was sweating profusely and it's low impact so my knees and ankles weren't sore like they'd be after I did a long run.
If you're looking for a great cardio workout and haven't tried spin (or indoor cycling) class, you should definitely look into a class. Like I said, I'm a member at the Young Men's Christian Association and I know they have several classes each week but you can see if your gym or fitness center offers them.
If you do try it, here are a couple suggestions.
Bring a towel. You'll sweat like city manager Sammy Rich does when I ask him what his job actually entails.
Bring water. I suggest a big bottle. You'll get the chance to drink water throughout the ride and believe me, you'll need it.
If you have some, wear bike shorts that have the padding in the butt. The bike seats are a little hard. I think there are some seat pads available but it's a good idea to have that extra padding on your....um, undercarriage. And if you have those special cycling shoes with the little clips in 'em, I've heard they make for a more efficient ride but I'm not fancy enough to have those.
Lastly — but most importantly — try to sit next to the fan. You are gonna get hot and sweaty and that little bit of breeze can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the class.
And if you don't think a spin class is for you, that's ok too. But the weather is getting really nice outside so try to get out with friends or your family and get active in this beautiful community of ours. We've got walking, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, golf courses, a skate park, playgrounds, rivers for kayaking and canoeing and a whole bunch of other activities you might be interested in.
I hope to see y'all out there.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune