Walking Guide

6 Spin Essentials to Get You Through Your Next Class


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  72 comments   :  181,503 Views

I have had a strong and unwavering love of indoor cycling ever since I took my first class many years ago. If you're opposed to exercising outside or dread the treadmill, cycling class is a perfect way to get a dynamic cardio workout indoors.

I teach at a gym where a lot of serious cyclists train. They take the class when the weather is too bad to train outside, and they are easy to pick out of the crowd with their cycling shoes, padded bike shorts and jerseys, logoed water bottles, watches and bandanas. This can be an intimidating sight for any class newbie.

Technically speaking, though, you don't need anything special for an indoor cycling class. Standard workout clothes, a hard-soled pair of athletic shoes and a water bottle will do just fine. However, there are a few extras you could consider purchasing in order to make your ride more comfortable—and keep you coming back for more.  

My Must-Haves for Cycling Class 

Gel Seat Cover ($10)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

As often as I ride, it's important to stay comfortable. The saddle (seat) on an indoor cycling bike can be very uncomfortable for most people. One way to add comfort is to wear padded cycling shorts; though they are comfortable and can be worn both in indoor cycling class and when biking outdoors, they're also pricey. Instead, I invested in a gel seat cover. I keep it in my bag and tote it to and from class. Compared to that hard, uncomfortable bike seat, using a gel seat is like sitting on a cloud! This is the best investment I've ever made!

Cycling Shoes ($60)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Cycling shoes are a bigger investment, but great deals can be found with a little searching. I've seen people buy them for as little as $40 during end-of-season or online sales. If you go to indoor cycling regularly (or ride outdoors), clipping into your pedals makes a world of difference and the shoes last a really long time because they won't get worn down from impact like running shoes. They connect your foot directly to your pedal, and with that better connection, you're able to pull up more strongly, which means greater speed, smoother pedal strokes and better hamstring engagement. That adds up to one great workout. Most indoor cycling bikes are compatible with SPD or LOOK cleats (cleats are usually a separate purchase from the shoe itself). Be sure to check your facility first to see which types of pedals they have.

Heart Rate Monitor (starting at $70)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

I can't imagine working out without my heart rate monitor. Once you get one, you'll wonder how you went so long without it. It's always important for you to monitor your intensity level during exercise, and indoor cycling is no exception. Most indoor cycling classes put an emphasis on specific heart rate zones, and a monitor helps you keep track of how hard you're working so you can adjust when needed. You can find a great heart rate monitor without all the bells and whistles for less money. 

Compression Shorts ($13)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

These are my new favorite workout shorts. You can't beat the price—or the fit. They stay put with no bunching or chafing, and I can wear them for running, strength training and of course, indoor cycling! These are great for riding because they don't, well, ride up. While you can wear any kind of bottoms for an indoor cycling class, shorts or capri pants are best. Avoid long pants that could get caught in the pedals as you ride.

Gym Towel ($11)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Indoor cycling classes will definitely raise your heart rate, and with that comes the perspiration—sometimes more than you bargained for. To wipe the sweat from your brow (and upper lip, back of your neck and bike), consider bringing a microfiber gym towel to hang over your handlebars for easy access when needed. A fast-drying version will come in handy in case you work a little harder than usual and buying them in a multipack means you will always have one at the ready. 

Water Bottle ($12)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Having water nearby when you exercise is a must, especially for indoor cycling class, where having a high heart rate and increased perspiration means you'll need more water than you think. If you like to keep your water cold, consider an insulated version like this one. The drinking valve also makes it easier to take a quick, one-handed drink and then seal it right back up to ensure it won't leak, causing you to make a less-than-graceful exit off your bike at the end of class. 

Are you a fan of indoor cycling classes? Have you invested in any of these items? If so, did they make a difference for you?

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  • 72
    Thanks. - 2/16/2018   12:50:53 AM
  • 71
    Good list - 2/9/2018   9:58:31 AM
  • 70
    I've never been to a spinning class. - 2/5/2018   9:19:48 PM
  • 69
    Thank you. - 2/5/2018   2:28:59 PM
  • 68
    Good Information - 2/4/2018   12:14:46 AM
  • 67
    Love the bike riding - 2/1/2018   1:43:22 PM
    Good info - 1/31/2018   7:31:59 PM
  • 65
    thanks - 1/31/2018   5:05:24 PM
  • 64
    Great information - 1/31/2018   2:42:11 PM
  • 63
    Thanks for the information - 1/30/2018   10:55:03 PM
  • 62
    Cool must haves but I'll stick to what I have until that wears out then try something new. - 1/30/2018   3:18:46 PM
  • 61
    I love my bluetooth heart monitor - 1/30/2018   1:03:38 PM
    nice - 1/28/2018   11:59:13 PM
  • 59
    Thanks for the info - 1/28/2018   11:24:13 PM
  • 58
    Thanks for the info - 1/28/2018   10:03:31 PM
  • 57
    Thanks for the info - 1/28/2018   10:03:30 PM
  • 56
    THanks - 1/28/2018   1:46:18 PM
  • 55
    Thanks for the helpful info :) - 1/28/2018   2:03:41 AM
  • ZRIE014
    helpful - 1/28/2018   12:10:53 AM
  • 53
    I would like to try a spin class some time! - 1/27/2018   10:01:11 PM
  • 52
    great ideas - 1/27/2018   8:59:14 PM
  • 51
    Great info. - 1/27/2018   5:07:35 PM
  • 50
    Thanks for the info! - 1/27/2018   10:33:03 AM
    Spinning is the best exercise! - 1/27/2018   8:40:48 AM
  • 48
    Thank you for sharing!!! - 1/27/2018   4:23:10 AM
  • ZRIE014
    great information - 1/27/2018   12:13:32 AM
  • 46
    good to know - 10/29/2017   1:08:36 AM
    Best shorts i've ever had, trimbo workout shorts for women, crazy heat and sweat, thighs on fire during spin class, i lost weight initially through sweat (water loss) but weeks later genuine weight loss, only problem is they get soaked in sweat so 2 pairs really needed if u r a gym goer. - 2/19/2017   12:19:24 PM
    I've tried everything and gel bike seat covers do NOT work! They are too soft and do not push back on your weight. Padded cycling shorts are a good option, but they are expensive and you need a few pair since you have to wash them after each use. I did find a new product that uses the same high density cushion used in padded cycling shorts. The product is called Komfy and I swear by it. www.sokomfy.com - 12/20/2016   11:02:01 AM
  • APRIL1003

    I went to my first spin class last week, needless to say it was hard. I noticed that a girl on the next bike was wearing some workout shorts with the name Trimbo. I spoke to her after the spin class and she told me that they harness her body heat and make her sweat around her hips waist and bottom, resulting in inch loss and weight loss over several weeks, plus she said it helped reduce cellulite.

    I was going to buy a pair but they’re quite expensive, Has anyone else used these shorts, and were they any good? Thanks April.
    - 11/27/2015   8:13:04 AM
    There's a typo in the last paragraph: "shorts of Capri pants" should be "shorts or Capri pants." - 2/3/2015   6:17:43 PM
  • 41
    I have a gel seat cover and it makes a huge difference. I don't think I could make it through a 45 minute class without it. I'm now weighing the idea of buying special shoes but I haven't decided yet. - 6/19/2013   10:54:46 AM
  • 40
    I know this is old, but I'm trying my first class this week. Can't wait! - 9/2/2012   10:13:39 PM
  • 39
    Love spinning it really has helped me with my cycling and my endourance.. level
    great work out even for beginners - 4/2/2012   6:21:38 PM
  • 38
    I've been going since late January. At first I had to force myself - and my motto was "what fails to kill me only makes me stronger". It's took several weeks but I finally got the hang of pacing myself better, and now this has actually become fun - sort of! I've got a Garmin watch/heartrate monitor and find it helpful.
    My classmates are mostly college students - I'm twice as old as they are - but I don't care.
    Today was the best I've done so far - pretty much kept up with the standing/sprinting/etc. AND felt fairly perky at work afterwards. If I push too hard then I'm exhausted for the rest of the day.
    I've been biking outside a bit this spring and have noticed I'm stronger going up hills now. - 4/2/2012   6:12:14 PM
  • 37
    I have been to spin class 1 - 3 times per week since January... I love it... I still can't do all the standing, and hovering that the instructors ask, but I can do a lot more than in my first couple of weeks. I have a memory foam seat cover, and I wear shorts and t-shirt and my regular workout shoes. I would like to get the cycling shoes, but that will have to wait. Water is always a must. :)

    I sometimes do a cardio dance class after the spin class.... makes for a great cool down. :) Other times, I do a strength and toning class before spin class. - 4/2/2012   12:08:33 PM
  • 36
    I want to give spinning a try and this blog has lots of nice tips. I think a gel seat for $15 would be a worthwhile investment. - 4/2/2012   11:08:32 AM
  • 35
    I love spin! I am currently looking for a strapless heart rate monitor that won't break my bank but is accurate. I 've had the $30 range versions and they just weren't reliable, but the heart rate with strap version just isn't comfortable for me and becomes a distraction. If anyone can recommend a good one then I would love to add it to my spin arsenal. - 4/2/2012   8:19:23 AM
    I have been attending "group cycling" classes (the name Spin is copywritten I believe) at several local YMCA's for over a year. It is a terrific workout and you can dial your resisitance up or down according to your own ability when you begin. The heart rate monitor is great, and dont underestimate your need for water. I always freeze about 2 inches of my 20 ounce water bottles, so I bring 2 bottles to class, since I drink it faster than it thaws. You can expect "bike butt" the first coupel times you ride, but keep at it and it will get to where you don't notice at all, even without padded shorts or a gell seat. The classes gave me confidence to buy a bike and now I ride at the YMCa during the bad weather, but outside when I can. I even asked for bike racks at my work. - 3/23/2011   12:54:01 PM
    I started spinning regularly Jan 2011 and since I took measurements 1/28/11 I am down 2 inches on every major body area for a TOTAL OF 10.5 INCHES. I am not new to exercise, but I am new at actually seeing results from my efforts. I'm so in love with spinning (and the results I see) I have decided to get certifed next weekend -- just for fun. - 3/19/2011   10:53:54 PM
  • 32
    Just took my 1st spin class & was happy that I was able to do the entire thing. The only problem is that the gym no longer allows the instructors to use their own music so they don't know what song is coming up next which is definitely bad for the class. I've gone in and used the spin bikes a few times during my workouts when there isn't a class and it is a great workout; gets my heart rate up & really burns those calories! - 2/27/2011   9:39:28 AM
  • 31
    I recently tried this class, and loved it, but when I got off that seat, I couldn't believe how bad my tush hurt. lol. I will get the gel seat and give it another try. - 2/20/2011   10:55:16 AM
  • 30
    I've only done "spinning" once. It was actually called Group Cycling b/c neither of our Y's instructors are true Spinning certified. It was love/hate for me too. For one thing I was not comfortable even though the 4 very young and buff guys (yes males) that I worked out with were very nice and didn't ridicule me I still felt out of place with me huffing and puffing and sweating like a horse! Also, it wasn't only my rear end that hurt really, really bad after class, but my private area too! I haven't been back yet, but plan to try a class with more women in it. I just need to figure out the schedule. The things I loved: 1) sweating like a horse 2) my HR staying in a max zone and the intervals within the class 3) being able to follow the class without seeing.... As you know, I'm blind and cycling is a great group cardio class for a person who can't see, or can't see well. The instructor showed me how to adjust my tension and while I may not had it on exactly 7 or 5, I knew my ranges and could adjust. The next time I do go I may buy one of those seat covers and it may be a better experience for me! LOL! - 2/4/2011   6:04:05 PM
  • 29
    I just started spinning. First class had me signing up for 5 more. 2nd class wasn't sure if I wanted to go back. 3rd class ... LOVING IT!!! Everyone should give it a chance. - 2/4/2011   11:41:17 AM
  • 28
    Back when I was a kid (a LONG, LONG time ago), I would ride for miles and miles all over town. I'll have to see when spinning class is held at my local Ys (one by work and one by home). - 2/3/2011   2:48:10 PM
  • 27
    I came to LOVE spinning. Taking the lesson from SparkPeople, I prudently started off slowly and increased speed and resistance as I felt able, absolutely ignoring what the other riders might think of me. (It is not about me, they were concentrating on their own performances.) I built up to three times a week.

    After proving to myself that I would stick with it, I bought a heart rate monitor. Following the HRM numbers, seeing them improve and competing against myself really added energy to my workout.

    My next purchase will probably be cycling shoes and compression capris. - 2/3/2011   1:23:24 PM
    I love spinning class. My kids and I participate in a family spin class at our local Y. Thanks for sharing the info on the padded seat because that is always my challenge. - 2/3/2011   1:06:52 PM
  • 25
    I've not been to a spinning class, I don't think my knees could handle it, but I know I would love it, if I could go. - 2/3/2011   12:12:28 PM
  • 24
    I spin four to six days a week depending on my schedule. Recently, I bought a heart rate monitor and it's makes a big difference in my workout. I've been spinning regularly for about a year. I started five years ago and stopped, I wish I would have continued. I plan on getting my spinning certificate by next year. It's my favorite workout! - 2/3/2011   1:04:43 AM
  • 23
    I have been wanting to try Spinning for some time now, but have yet to do it. There are a few Spinning classes at my school gym and I really need to buck and go! - 2/3/2011   12:55:40 AM

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