Spinning 101 With Master Instructor and Pro Cyclist Josh Taylor
Group cycling classes can be a bit intimidating. There’s that hard bike to sit on, the lingo, what to wear, and—gosh—is my bike set up at the right height and stuff? And even if you’re used to going to Spinning classes, are you really getting the most of them? Or are you just pedaling it in (like phoning it in, cycling-style)? To find the answers to those questions and so much more, we had a little chat with Spinning International Master Instructor and former professional cyclist Josh Taylor. And, boy-oh-boy was it enlightening! It made our heads—wait for it—spin! Har! Har!
Q&A With Spinning Master Instructor and Pro Cyclist Josh Taylor
What are a few of the benefits of a Spinning workout? First and foremost, Spinning is one of the best cardio workouts you can do. As with any cardio workout, it gets the heart going and the blood pumping. Not only do you get the cardio benefit, you also get the benefit of great strength training. You get the cardio and strength all in one shebang. That’s the best of both worlds. That’s what makes Spinning great.
Any tips for getting the best results in a Spinning class? You want to make sure that you’re fit correctly for your bike. When you come into the room, just make sure the instructor or the front desk knows you’re new, and have the instructor spend some time with you going over proper bike fit, set-up and then, of course, some of the movements and safety precautions.
I also think it’s important to use proper cycling shoes, especially for someone who wants to take it to another level. You don’t need to buy the most expensive shoes in the store, but buy a half decent pair of cycling shoes—mountain bike shoes are preferable. More than likely, you’ll need to have a pair of cleats put on the bottom of the shoes so that you can get that full connection to the bike. Just make sure that when you purchase your cycling shoes to have someone at the bike shop, who knows the proper set-up for this, install them for you. It’s important because that connection can really enhance what you do on the Spinner bike. You get more integration of muscles in the legs, more comfort and more power output, which all equates to burning more calories, and an overall better workout. There’s also a safety aspect to it; with proper cycling shoes, your feet are connected to the pedals much more securely.
What pointers do you have for someone who’s never taken a Spinning class before? The biggest thing for someone who has never taken a Spinning class is understanding that it’s okay to go at your own pace. Don’t get caught up with the intensity of the ride. Know that you can back off at any time, take a breath, slow down and recover. Bring a towel, have some water, be prepared for a little bit of intensity. You may be a little bit uncomfortable in the saddle, but no big deal; your body will adapt to that. Just give it time; just like any new exercise, take your time, just feel it out, don’t push too hard. Get your feel for things.
What’s the No. 1 mistake you see people make in Spinning classes? I think a common mistake that people make is they go too hard too soon and that leaves a bad impression in their mind and they don’t go back. It’s important to know that it’s okay to go at your own pace. Spinning classes can be intense, and you should try your best to stay with the instructor and the rest of the class, but you can back off at any time, take a breath and recover. Like any new exercise, take your time, don’t push too hard and get a feel for it.
What are a few of the latest trends in cycling fitness that you’re seeing? What’s new and coming up? The hottest trends going on right now are having the smaller studios that are more specifically focused on individual fitness programs. Just make sure when you go into these studios that you confirm it’s an Official Spinning Facility, that way you know it’ll have certified instructors, and they’re going to be up to date on the latest and greatest exercise programs, technology, and cycling safety and biomechanics.
Another big trend I’m seeing right now is the ability to track your workout. The new Spinner Blade ION leads this new trend by providing an accurate calculation of the energy that you’re putting out, the calories you’re burning, and the quality of workout you’re getting. You’ll be able to see your progression from ride to ride—are you getting stronger in each class, are you tired in some classes? The bike will let you know if you’re not producing enough power or if you’re pushing too hard. The days of “I think I’m working hard” will be replaced with “I know I’m working hard.” We also have the Spinning App, which is an overall fitness tracker. You can not only track your Spinning workouts but also outdoor cycling, running, hiking, etc. It’s really cool to have all your workouts, time spent, calories burned, etc. in one place that you can take with you—plus it’s free!
One other trend I’ve noticed in classes is the use of videos or visuals that inspire people to train harder. For example, the use of a projector screen and video combined with music to create an energetic environment—now you’re not only a Spinning instructor, you’re a DJ and a producer. It’s kind of cool. I’ve been doing this for years, and it gives students the chance to really get into the Spinning journey!
Tell us more about this new bike—the Spinner Blade ION. What else is new and different about it? The Blade ION is the latest and greatest bike from the creators of SPINNING. It takes the iconic Spinner design to the next level. It’s based on the Spinner Blade platform, and we’ve added strain gauge technology that allows riders to get a wattage-based readout, and with that strain gauge technology comes accuracy. And with accuracy, the tracking of training becomes a valuable tool in the progression of fitness. The best cyclists in the world have been using this technology for many years with great success, and now we are bringing it to the Spinning community!
Along with the new wattage computer that’ll give you a power output reading, the Blade ION also reads time, cadence, calorie burn and heart rate, so it’ll be like you actually have a coach right there with you on your ride telling you exactly what you’re doing. We’ve taken our time bringing this technology to the market because we want to do it right, and we’re excited to finally introduce it. The education that we’re going to be bringing with the Blade ION bike, our Spinpower, is hands down the best the industry’s ever seen. It’s going to change everything. People who take Spinning classes on the new Blade ION will have a true understanding of how to use this wonderful bike and its technology because of our education. You can get even more info on the new Blade ION and Spinning online at www.spinning.com.
Any other tips or advice for our Fit Bottomed readers? We’re seeing a big resurgence of indoor cycling, especially at the small studios, and I’m thrilled to see people embracing cycling fitness. However, I’m a bit concerned as a fitness professional and as a former professional bike racer that classes are starting to add in things that are detracting from the class, and in some cases dangerous. For example, conducting upper-body weight lifting exercises may cause serious injury. The bike is not a weight bench. Plus, participants are getting on the bike to get the best cardio benefits possible and the time spent using weights takes away from that. It’s a bike, and it should be ridden as such.
The Spinning program has been a leader in indoor cycling for more than 20 years. We’ve been there, done it, and seen it, so it’s important that whoever is in front of the room has the proper certification to be leading a room. At Spinning, we pride ourselves on giving instructors the right education that allows them to give the individuals in their classes the most effective and the safest workouts possible.
If you can’t make a Spinning class, what’s a really great workout you can do on the bike on your own? My personal favorite would have to be 300s—300 seconds or 5 minutes of hard work followed by 300 seconds of recovery. After a nice steady warm-up of about 15 minutes, start the first of four sets of intervals. During the “work” sections, make them progressively harder and use the resistance more in each interval “work” section. ROCK the 300 seconds and don’t give up for a second during the intervals. After the work time is up, recover down to a nice easy pace between the work sections, and go for the next one trying to do a little better than the last. Follow this up with a 10-minute cool down and get off the bike and stretch. That 60-minute workout will challenge anyone if they do it with honesty and proper form. I love it—it kicks your butt!