Some kind of fitness trend or a bit of real cycling after all?
Get off your Wahoo-Kickr or your Zwift roller, today we're taking a look at the other side of indoor cycling. So get out of your pain cave in your living room or bedroom and into big, dark studios where you can sweat, dance and cycle to techno music and strobe lights. That's where one of the most important and enduring fitness trends of the 21st century is at home: spinning. What exactly it is, how it differs from classic indoor cycling, what might be in it for you as a "real" cyclists and why there is no such thing as "real" cyclist is the topic of today's blog post.
1. What is spinning?
Spinning is first-class cardio, a full-body workout and calorie burning of the most effective kind. And a wild party to boot. You pedal and dance to loud, energetic music for 45-60 minutes on special stationary bike trainers in the studio. To train the upper body as well, barbell exercises for the arms and dance moves for the waist and upper body are added to the classic cycling movement. There is always an instructor with the group that gives instructions, encourages, motivates, pushes, sings, shouts and everyone joins in.
2. What is the difference to classic indoor cycling?
Well, first of all, location, setup and accompaniment. Those that train at home on the roller ride alone, ride within their own four walls and on their own bike and roller trainer, not on a specially designed stationary spinningbike. Some of the smart roller trainers can also be connected to apps such as Zwift, Wahoo or TrainerRoad and you can cycle in virtual worlds, access colorful maps and different types of training and can also ride together with others - virtually, of course. However, the actual riding experience is relatively realistic: after all, it's your bike and you pedal on it in exactly the same way as you would outside. Unhindered by the special resistance of the heavy spinningbike wheels or by the many potential distractions of a loud, energetic spinning class.
In addition, with classic indoor cycling you can adjust and track your training more precisely and your bike is also tailored precisely to you and your riding style - from saddle height to the adjustment of your handlebars. This promises an ideal training situation, especially for those among you who want to train in a precise, concentrated and calm manner and also want to get the most out of their session. But you're also alone - which can be perfect for the type of rider we just described and most closely resembles the outdoor situation where it's just you, the bike and the voice in your head. But this also means training without a motivating and encouraging coach, without a group to push you and with whom you can push through and go beyond your limits together. Without the social component which, for some other cyclists, is the whole point of this sport and the real charm of spinning parties.
3. Where does spinning come from?
What may sound like a new-fangled underground sport at first is not as new as some might think. Almost exactly 20 years ago, the professional cyclist Jonathan Goldberg was faced with the following dilemma: the famous Race Across America was imminent and he wanted to prepare himself properly, but at the same time did not want to leave his heavily pregnant wife at home alone. The solution? A device that would allow him to put his racing bike on the treadmill at home and train there. The idea of the at-home bike trainer quickly found favor among Jonathan and his friends, who from then on often met in his kitchen and took turns on the special training device. As a result, Jonathan decided to exploit the potential of this special form of training, rented a small studio so that he could offer spinning classes to more people and four years after these first indoor sessions, he launched the first commercial spinningbike and registered the term "spinning" as a trademark.
4. And since when is spinning cool?
Fast forward a few years and from 2006 on, spinning is THE trend sport among cosmopolitan fitness elites. Madonna, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, all of the popcultural elite are spinning in the hip SoulCycle fitness centers on New York's Upper West Side. The twist to Jonathan's kind of spinning? That the "simple" cycling at different intensities, inclines and speeds is turned into the fitness party that we understand the sport to be today.
It wasn't until Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler's SoulCycle Studios that techno and electro music came into play, and it wasn't until 2006 that spinning became a full-body workout and party at the same time - disco balls and black light included. Cycling became a dance, an otherworldly experience and an hour away from reality, a hip workout and status symbol, a world of disco and neon lights. It's clear that this no longer has much to do with actual cycling and nothing to do with the original idea of Jonathan's indoor training.
But it is also clear that it is a new cardio workout of a special kind. And that the energy in the studio is unmatched. So it's no wonder that spinning has since taken the world by storm.
5. spinning as a women's sport?
Perhaps also because spinning offers many of the fitness benefits of regular cycling, but has a completely different connotation to it. Both types of cycling strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular system, lower your blood pressure and have been proven to lift your mood. But while classic cycling sports and cycling in general are still male-dominated worlds, spinning studios are mainly populated by women. The gender cycling gap in outdoor cycling has many reasons - ranging from expensive bikes and less income, the lack of safety for women in public spaces to less (free-)time due to care work. Perhaps this is precisely why this parallel cycling universe in the form of the spinning studios of SoulCycle, Flybike and the like is finally the safe space for women that is still a little way off in 'real' cycling.
Where you don't need an expensive bike to start cycling, just a towel, sportswear and a water bottle. Where you don't have to drive 40 minutes just to get out of the city and back in again for a tour, but where you can get the whole package in 45 minutes and really exhaust and empower yourself in the short time you have available. Where you don't have to work up the courage for a first group ride with your more experienced cycling friends, but have trained instructors who push and assists you. A space that, above all, lives and breathes community and in which it's less about competing and more about pedaling and dancing together.
Perhaps a somewhat couragerous hythesis to explain the gender differences in the two sports and the great popularity of spinning among women, but definitely one worth thinking about.
6. is this something for "real" cyclists?
But fact, not thesis, is that spinning continues to have a rather feminine connotation to it, with instagrammable boutique studios and predominantly fit, white, young women dominating the media coverage of the sport. And that this in turn deters many a cyclist from giving the classes a chance.
Spinning began as an indoor training program for road cyclists. A sport that mainly takes place outdoors. So if you're an experienced road cyclist who regularly races down hairpin bends and chases towards the horizon on tarmac highways, you might see the fancy spinning as an idiotic, watered-down and alienated version of your own sport.
But let's be honest: Which kinds of pedals you hit, where and with whom should really be irrelevant. You'll always be doing something for your own fitness and you'll clear your head too. May that be outside, alone at home on the roller trainer or in a spinning studio. "Real" cyclists are all those who get on the saddle and cycle aways, no matter on what bike or level, with what power or speed, no matter how often or how long, how, with whom or where. So yes. Dancing and cycling at the same time in a completely different atmosphere is also something for real cyclists. For everyone namely.
We at buycycle may not offer spinning classes now. (Not yet? Question to Business Development Team?) But we offer each and every one of you the perfect pre-owned bike. Among the more than 17,000 road, gravel and mountain bikes on our website, you are sure to find the one that suits you and your needs perfectly. If you have any questions, the buycycle team is always there for you and you can find more information about bikes on the blog - it's worth staying and browsing! As always, we wish you happy browsing, happy cycling and happy spinning too!