How to Start Spinning: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Spin Class

If you’ve ever hung out around a spin class, there’s no doubt it has piqued your interest at least a little. Usually, what catches your attention is the group of people leaving the building with an obvious endorphin high, and one of the most intense post-workout glows possible. 

If you’ve never been to a spin class, you’re probably wondering what happened in that room that brought about this level of exercise bliss.

Cycling class for beginners

We’ve got news for you: the fantastic workout is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a reason spin-thusiasts are rampant nowadays – a great spin class can be a workout, a social event, a dance party, a therapy session and a TedTalk all in one 45-minute class.

If you’re ready to dive (or cycle) into the world of spin, here’s everything you need to know as a newbie!

What is spin class? 

First things first – what is spin class? While the nuances of the class can vary from studio to studio, they all include some crucial similarities. Most of the workout (if not all) will happen on a stationary bike. 

You may be thinking: “Cycling on a stationary bike for 45 minutes sounds a little boring.” But we promise – it’s anything but. An instructor will guide you through sections of heavy pedaling, fast cycles, standing up, targeting arms… the options are endless. On top of that, these instructors are pros in inspiring their class and pushing limits – the enthusiasm is infectious. You may find yourself doing battle cries and whooping throughout the class!

With the pounding music and upbeat instructor, the 45 minutes will fly by, and you will have one of the best workouts of your life. 

Spin class tips for beginners 

Just booked your first class? Here are some tips to help you prepare! Here’s what to do before your first spin class:

  • Head to class a little early
  • Plan on renting shoes
  • Make sure to dress properly for class
  • Get help setting up your bike

Head to class extra early

If you’re a newbie to spin class, we recommend getting to your class early for a brief orientation and enough time to rent shoes and set up your bike. Instructors are much more likely to have time to walk you through a simple intro 10-15 minutes before a class than 2 minutes before the start. So the earlier you arrive, the more time you’ll have to get acclimated to the workout! 

Plan on renting shoes

Most spin classes require special cycling shoes to safely and efficiently use the bike – so prepare for that extra cost! Most spin-thusiasts will decide to buy personal spin shoes after a time, so they don’t need to deal with rentals. 

If you are already a cyclist with cycling shoes, those will most likely fit the stationary bike. But, you can call your spin studio before the class to confirm!

Make sure you come with the keys to success

Spoiler alert: the keys to success are comfortable clothes, a towel and lots of water.

When it comes to clothing, you can show up in your favorite workout clothes, but with a couple of caveats: 

  • Leave the loose pants at home. It’s not worth getting your cuffs caught in the gears. Opt for tight leggings or shorts instead. 
  • Skip anything with zippers, buttons, or metal bits. We promise you will not want to feel any of that when sitting in the saddle. 
  • It can get pretty steamy in the spin room, so dress for heat.

Per that last note, that’s where a towel comes in handy! Many studios will provide a small towel, but we recommend bringing your own, just in case. You will have sweat dripping off your nose at some point during class!

And of course, water water water. This is a high-intensity cardio workout; you will want to squeeze in some hydration between circuits. 

Bonus tip: If you have sensitive ears, you may want to bring headphones. These classes can be pretty loud!

Get help setting up your bike

Nobody knows how to best set up their bike in their first, second or third spin class – so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Since you got to class early (gold star for you), your instructor or an aide will have time to get you all sized and sorted out, so the class is as comfortable as possible. 

If you want to be able to set up the bike on your own during the next class, take a pic or write down your settings after they finish so that you can take care of it by yourself next time. No matter the number of classes you’ve taken, the spin team is happy to help – all you need to do is ask! 

What to know before your first spin class

Not every spin studio is the same – know what you’re getting into!

Some studios have classes with big windows and sunshine. Others are in dark rooms with colorful lights that pulse to the music. Many studios keep the music and instructor microphone pretty loud to add to the upbeat environment. 

If you’re someone who doesn’t like surprises, check with your studio to know what you’re getting into. All styles of spin classes have their unique pull, but you may have specific preferences. Shopping for studios in your area is the best bet for finding the best studio for you!

Expect some soreness post-workout

Yes, every new exercise class will come with some fun muscle soreness the next couple of days after the class, but spin class will up the ante with pelvic soreness from the saddle. If you feel soreness around your pelvic area and backside after class, that’s perfectly normal. 

There is a well-known rule called “the rule of three” among spin-thusiasts: If you go consistently, you’ll stop feeling this saddle-soreness by ride number three! 

It’s ok to not “keep up”

Let’s keep it real – these classes are heavy breathing, sweat-through-your-clothes hard. There is also probably a group of the class that seems to cycle like it’s their full-time job. It can be tough not to compare yourself to the instructor or the spin pros – but everyone needs to start somewhere! Give yourself some grace. 

If you aren’t ready to hit the workout 100%, there’s no shame in modification. You could keep the bike in a lower setting, go for slower cycles, or take a break whenever needed. Everyone starts somewhere! 

Spin class doesn’t have to be intimidating!

At the right studio, it only takes a single spin class to know what the buzz is all about. From dramatic lighting to high-octane circuits to fist-pumping songs, you’ll leave the spin class with an endorphin high and sweaty post-workout glow that lasts all day.

Need help finding excellent spin studios in your area? Check out all of the classes at your fingertips with ClassPass.

Amanda Rouse is a freelance writer and content strategist living in San Clemente, California. When she’s not actively dodging writer’s block, she’s probably trail running, doing a crossword puzzle, or falling off of waves (She soon hopes to call this “surfing.”). Follow her and send her funny reels on Instagram.
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