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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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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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! Report
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! Report
I take Spinning once or twice a week. I did invest on the gel pad. Yes, Yes Yes, IT DOES WORK!!!! woohoo. Report
Love the shoes! Love my heart rate monitor...I am padded enough for the seat...never heard of the shorts or padded ones at that...I ride heavy and hard. The heart rate monitor changed the way I work out- what I perceived was different from what I achieved. Report
My DD is 20 & she joined a gym last year & went to a SPIN class as it was offered there. She did the full hour along with 7 other women. After they were finished, they all came up to her and the instructor was amazed. She was the first NEW person who'd ever done the full hour class on the first day since the Instructor began teaching the class 8 years ago. My DD just laughed. Report
I started a spinning class at the beginning of January (2011) and I love it! As an obese, middle-age woman, I was highly nervous about going. I didn't think I would be able to keep up. The truth is the class is run in such a way that you can workout to your own abilitiy and no one is the wiser. When the instructor calls out to make an increase in resistance or pick up your cadence (how fast you pedal) you just do the best you can. I think it is a phenominal form of exercise. I just completed 5 weeks and I am hooked! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a good workout. Yes, it will be hard work, but isn't that why you workout in the first place? Spinning gets results! Report
I have never participated in a spin class, but love riding my bike in spring and autumn.
The local YMCA has spin classes, so I reckon I will try out a class- with water bottle for sure! Report
I ride a bike outdoors. Have never participated in spinning. Report
I LOVE SPINNING! It is completely addicting. Unfortunately my gym I moved to about a year ago has a really poor program and the instructors call it "cycling" so they don't scare anyone away from the intensity that spinning is known for. I'm looking into getting my certification and trying to start teaching. It also inspired me to save up money for a road bike. I can't wait to buy it and get outside for some rides. Report
Spinning is what I do on my alternate days from running. I love it so much, I finally broke down and bought a spin bike for home last weekend (Pro--Form SPX on sale for $299 regular $799!). We've had snow and ice here for two days so I couldn't run or got to the club, but lo and behold, I got in 60 minutes this morning and 90 minutes yesterday. Size 8 here I come!! Report
I started spinning when I joined Spark People and found out that I was not able to walk on the treadmill. I have had both hips replaced now but enjoy the spinning so much and have just continued. I read a good book while spinning so have some real me time while getting some cardio! I spin every morning and could hardly manage 5 minutes at a time when I first started but have progressed to 30 minutes and 6 miles a day. Report
I have a love/hate relationship with spinning. I know it's good for me and that's why I do it but it is such a challenging workout and sometimes I push myself to far. Report
I love spin! I dont have shoes, a seat cover, or shorts. But remember the water bottle for sure. Our gym has recently introducted the RPM spin classes and they are great Report
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE SPINNING!!!!! It is my most favorite activity and a class that I will move mountains to take. I bought the clip in shoes 1 month after my first class, I knew Ilikeit that much. 5 years later, things haven't changed. I won 1st prize in the Spinning section (w SPUN for 3 hrs) when my gym raised money for a local charity and got the gel pants. I would never buy them but they are nice to have.

Sue Report
I loved spinning so much, I became an instructor !! As for what do I have, I have the HRM and the cleats. I don't use the gel seat or padded shorts. When I asked my instructor what to do about a sore tushie after class, she said,"your butt muscles will toughen up with time" and she was right.

Also, I didn't buy the cleats just to ride inside. I use them when I ride outside too. In general, a person doesn't need cleats to get a good spinning workout.

I love spin class. I will start back soon! Report
I have been spinning twice a week for the past 8 months. I love it...when I do have to miss a class, which is rare, I'm not myself. I definitely recommend the shoes if you're planning to stick to it, I wouldn't invest in them if you're trying it for the first or second time. I don't use a seat cover, and after the first week it didn't bother me, but I'm participating in a 6 hour spin-a-thon so I may purchase one before that. Report
I also teach spinning and having a pair of shoes really helps. I got a pair for my wife and another pair I gave to someone in my class that I bought on ebay for about $25 per pair. There is certainly a risk of buying something online without trying them on, but if they don't fit right, just resell them back on ebay and try another. Report
My Dad has been challenging me to do this. I think that will be my challenge for myself in February. Get myself fit enough to do a spinning class. :) Report
I spin regularly and will miss my class today with the weather. I own spin shoes, a heart rate monitor and at first needed the bike shorts, but now dont need them.

I am a spin junkie!
Thanks for the blog! It seems that I will be making some purchases in the near future. Report
I have been spinning regularly - couple to several times a week - for several years. It is my first choice for a great workout that leaves me feeling invigorated, strong and challenged. I've been able to spin through back issues - and spinning was the first exericse I came back to after the initial 3-month recovery period following multi-level spinal fusion surgery and intense physical therapy. A real perk is the calorie burn. Spinning is a great way to help keep weight under control. I use a gel seat pad and clip shoes regularly. I've bought the bike shorts but use them mostly for outside rides. Inside it's usually close-fitting capris and a sleeveless shirt. Water bottle - I take two 20oz. bottles for my 60 minute rides! Report
I started a spinning class a few months ago and love it! It really kicked in when I started going at least two times a week. I have never been an endurance person and running hurts my knees and back. With spinning I am able to stick with it and I am increasing my endurance. The gym I spin at has bikes that lean so that we can work out the whole body. I have a gel seat and agree it is a must. I am thinking of getting the shoes that click in and appreciate your critique. Report
This is right on time... I am going to my first spin class and I see two purchases I will be making before I go... the shoes and seat cover: -) Report
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