With many people still tackling their New Years Resolution of getting fit (or taking it on for Lent) a lot of my friends have been trying spinning classes at their local gym. Inevitably when they get home they send me an email informing me they don’t know how I can love it so much- their bums are sore and while they got a great workout, they are not sure if they can sit through the agony again.
Luckily for them (and you, if you are so inclined) with a few pieces of gear you too can fall in love with spinning- I often burn upwards of 600 calories a class, so it is one of the most effective cardio workouts I’ve tried, and I love that it is in a group setting, which always makes me push a little further.
First, you need the basics: a towel and a bottle of water. Don’t even consider going to spinning class without them. Ladies will also want some supportive undergarments, so don’t skimp out- you’ll hate yourself on the first set of “jumps” if you don’t wear a good sports bra. If you have one, a heart rate monitor is incredibly helpful so you know when you can keep pushing and when you should dial it back a notch. If you have long hair you’ll want it pulled back – I find a headband is a must for spinning.
I like this one from Lululemon, because it keeps sweat from dripping in my eyes and has gripper material to keep it from sliding off mid class. Win!
Now, onto your bottom half, which lets face it, is the half that takes a beating on the horrible cheap seat. If you want to take spinning seriously you want to wear chamois bottoms with padding, but no gym cycler wants to wear the ABSURD looking gear road cyclists wear. You have two options: mountain biking shorts (I recommend these) or cycling capris. I like cycling capris at the gym since they look the most like running tights or “typical” gym gear. Because cyclists like to be special, we call them cycling knickers.
This is my favorite pair of cycling knickers, and the best part is you don’t have to break the bank for them:
These will save your bum from the horrible post-spin-class-bruised-feeling. Promise. Gentlemen, I recommend you also go the mountain biking shorts route:
Cycling shorts and knickers have a special set of rules regarding how you wear them. First up: no undies. Yup, you go commando. Second, you always want to put them on when you are clean so you don’t get any funky bacteria in the chamois. A super quick rinse in the shower does the trick nicely. Before you slide the shorts/pants on, you want to put a thin thin coat of chamois cream on the chamois pad and on your bum cheeks and upper thighs. Just…trust me. This is what prevents chaffing, blisters and a variety of sore skin spots. A lot of chamois creams also contain natural antibacterial agents to keep you from getting gross and funky down there. Toss a tube of this into your gym bag:
Cycling shorts/knickers should be washed within 24 hours of wearing them and hung dry to ensure the life of the chamois and to keep it bacteria free.
Once you get into spinning you might decide to invest in a pair of clip in shoes. Using clip in shoes makes you work more effectively in class, burning more calories and utilizing your leg on both the downward push and the upward pull, which is more energy efficient and comfortable. You don’t need (or want) to invest in pricey carbon road shoes, with the clip sticking out and making walking hard. Leave that to the road dorks. You want to have an SPD clip installed (ask the bike store when you buy them) and don’t spend more than $100- I’d recommend something like this pair.
Another popular pair of shoes for men and women are these slightly pricer Keen shoes. If you buy your cycling shoes online make sure the SPD clip is already installed, and if it is not (i.e. there is just a hole in the bottom of the shoe with spots to screw the clip into) take them to a local bike shop and purchase and install the clips, typically less than $10. As for cycling socks, sure they are nice, but definitely not necessary. Just don’t wear pure cotton socks (they don’t breathe!) and make sure they fit nicely so you don’t get any blisters. If you find, after a class or two, that one leg is perpetually sore in a particular spot, flip your shoes over and make sure the clips are installed in exactly the same spot on both shoes- if one seems uneven, take them to a bike store for a quick adjustment. It should help with the sore spot on your leg. If you don’t want to wear clip in shoes, pick a pair of gym shoes with the stiffest sole you can- no dance shoes or flimsy Pumas in spinning class!
Finally, unless you are very modern or what not, you’ll probably want a top to wear to spinning. You don’t need to spend the money on a fancy cycling shirt with pockets (since you are not carrying protein bars or flat tire kits) so just make sure the shirt you wear is both wicking and long enough – shirts tend to ride up during class and it is so annoying to keep reaching back to yank it back down. An old cotton t-shirt from college isn’t a great choice either since you’ll end up sopping wet in heavy cotton- yuck. One of these GAPFit shirts would do the trick nicely.
The final piece of the puzzle is knowing how to set up your spin bike so you get a great workout without hurting yourself or over exerting yourself. This short video shows you exacty how to set your seat and handlebars up:
And there you have it- the components to an awesome spin class. Cycle on! I know you can believe in yourself!
(No affiliate links or sponsored brands in this post- none of these companies know who I am!)