6 Spin Essentials to Get You Through Your Next Class

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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CATNAP6291 1/1/2021
thanks Report
MOINSDEMOI 11/22/2020
Our gym shut down for a few months due to Covid-19 so I ended up buying a spinning bike for home. When I finally got it, I had not been on a bike for 8 months and I could not get used to the seat, even though I had ridden the same brand of bike. I opted to buy cycling shorts. Cycling shoes make all the difference in the ride because they allow you to pull and push on the pedals. Water and a towel are musts at any spin class and it can be additive. Report
CECELW 10/4/2020
i'm not fond of that style of a seat, but I do enjoying riding Report
Now, I am really afraid to open my mouth!!!! Report
Great products and prices! Thanks! Report
It took a little while for me to get on board but I love spin class. LOVE it. It’s such a great workout. Report
Great ideas! Thanks! Report
My SPIN teacher advised us to not use the gel covers, they could be slippery and dangerous. Your butt will hurt on the regular seat for about 2 weeks (4 classes) but then that goes away.
I've been doing SPIN for 2.5 years now, loving it! Report
Great ideas! Report
Thank you, Coach Nicole! Great info! Report
Great info on things that are needed thanks! Report
There were a few things on this list that I had never thought of before Report
Thank you, great info! Report
Great Report
Thanks. Report
Good list Report
I've never been to a spinning class. Report
Thank you. Report
Good Information Report
Love the bike riding Report
Good info Report
Great information Report
Thanks for the information Report
Cool must haves but I'll stick to what I have until that wears out then try something new. Report
I love my bluetooth heart monitor Report
nice Report
Thanks for the info Report
Thanks for the info Report
Thanks for the info Report
THanks Report
Thanks for the helpful info :) Report
helpful Report
I would like to try a spin class some time! Report
great ideas Report
Great info. Report
Thanks for the info! Report
Spinning is the best exercise! Report
Thank you for sharing!!! Report
great information Report
good to know Report
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. Report
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 Report

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.
There's a typo in the last paragraph: "shorts of Capri pants" should be "shorts or Capri pants." Report
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. Report
I know this is old, but I'm trying my first class this week. Can't wait! Report
Love spinning it really has helped me with my cycling and my endourance.. level
great work out even for beginners Report
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. Report