SoulCycle, FlyWheel, you name it. These classes are all the rage right now. It’s high intensity, its sweaty, and it makes you tired, but leaving feeling good. But is it all worth the hype?
Let’s look at some Pro’s and Con’s to sort it out.
Community – Unlike me, most people probably don’t like working out. They’ll look for any excuse to not go. If they DO go however, it’s nice to have a community that shares your pain. Spin classes are infamous for this. They do a great job at it too. It gets people showing up consistently and loyal to where some people refuse to go to any other location!
Burns a Lot of Calories – You can change the resistance to accommodate your skill level, you might even add some size on your legs. The fact that it’s one form of HIIT training allows you to burn more calories versus hopping on the hamster wheel for an hour a day, at a steady state pace. HIIT training provides EPOC (Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption) which means after you workout your metabolism is still burning calories trying to catch up to the amount of work you gave it from that day’s session. Jogging on the treadmill definitely won’t do that. Taking spin classes may also help improve your cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity.
Convenience – It doesn’t get much easier than this in terms of setup. All you need is the bike and a small enough space to put it in. You can do it when you’re busy traveling hotel to hotel, or if you’re too lazy to go to the gym and just want to do it from your home. Not many other forms of exercise allow for that. Also, it’s excellent if you are tight on time and need to get a workout in.
Addictive – I absolutely love that these small group training classes are getting more and more people out of their house and working on their physical fitness. The downside with these high intensity classes, is that it ends up attracting a certain type of personality that tends to overdo it already. You know who I’m talking about. Your crazy aunt that can’t live without some form of cardio 7 days a week, or your coworker who won’t shut up about how spin class is the answer to everything. You need BALANCE.
No Progression – Sure, you can adjust the resistance, but there is no real form of progression that over the LONG term allows your body to adjust and continue to make positive changes. Don’t get me wrong, in the short term, HIIT cardio is going to do wonders for losing weight or getting you in shape. But talk to me in 5 years when your body has stalled, and you’re continually wondering why you still have unwanted body fat on you. It’s overly added stress to the body along with a lack of recovery.
Bad Habits – You most likely already sit 8 hours a day at work, and another 2-3 at home watching TV. Now on TOP of that you want to add ANOTHER 45 minutes to an hour sitting on a bike? Hunched over? No bueno. You are just worsening movement patterns in the hips and shoulders that are already overly tight. Spin classes give no lessons on proper form the other 23 hours of the day, or activating weaker but very important musculature. As a result, you have an even bigger imbalance than you started with, and your body will continue to adapt to those.
Balance is key! As in most things in life, you need a variety to hit the goldilocks zone. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up spin classes, but you do need to add some form of resistance training (yes even if adding muscle isn’t the goal). As said before, your body has an imbalance and if your plan is to live long enough to keep up with your grandkids, than you need a body that can do so, and isn’t aching because you did too much spinning.
The other beauty of resistance training is unlike spinning, your body won’t adapt to it (assuming you progressively overload and have proper programming). No matter the form of cardio you do, at some point your body learns to catch up. It might even eat away at some of the muscle (and not fat, which I’m guessing is the opposite of what you want). Lifting weights allows you to continually grow and allow for more food to be enjoyed to maintain that newly gorgeous physique. Again, focus on progressive overload, and balancing out weakened body parts so that you can achieve a properly working body.