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6 things your spin instructor wants you to know before you clip into the bike for the first time

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerApril 21, 2019

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Photo: Getty Images/gradyreese

Of all the workout classes out there, spinning tends to be the one that brings on the most intense “gymtimdation” for beginners. With the strobe lights, loud music, and rapid-fire choreography, walking in for the first time can be nothing short of overwhelming. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone had told me that they’d never tried spinning because they were too scared, I’d practically be able to afford a year’s worth of SoulCycle classes.

And unless you have the luxury of doing a digital class in the privacy of your home where you won’t be surrounded by professional-level cyclists who look like they could do tap-back crunch push-ups in their sleep (which in most tiny NYC apartments, is nothing short of a pipe dream), finding a beginner spin class workout can admittedly be challenging. But even so, that shouldn’t deter you from at least trying it out for yourself. To help, I asked spin instructors to share the advice that everyone should have before their first spin class.

Read on for what they had to say, then get ready to clip in and tap it back like it ain’t no thang.

1. Listen to your body: Spinning can be unexpectedly intense, which may come as a surprise during your first time at the rodeo. “Cycling is an epic cardio event that can catch you off guard—don’t push at the level your body pushed at five years ago, or how you want it to push six months from now,” says Peloton bike instructor Hannah Marie Corbin. Listen to that beautiful body of yours in the moment.” Which leads us to the next piece of wisdom…

2. You always have control of your ride: Just like with any sort of exercise, stepping into a spin class isn’t supposed to be a punishment—it’s meant to be an enjoyable (and—stay with me now—potentially even fun!) experience. “The most important thing to remember is [that] you control how hard the class really is,” says Sherica Holmon, a Flywheel instructor. “When you need to catch a breath, slow it down and jump back in when you’re ready. Just try your best and have fun.” It’s okay if you need to take a second for yourself to navigate what’s going on—do what you need to do for you, because that’s really the only person who matters. That said, Corbin suggests doing your best not to stop entirely or sit up every minute because, “It’s a sure-fire way to get more attention than you might want.”

3. Be kind to yourself: Take a piece of advice from yoga guru Jessamyn Stanley, and remember that everyone in that spin room was once a beginner. Yes, it can be frustrating when you feel like you can’t keep up, but don’t expect yourself to be perfect the very first time you try it—cut yourself a break, okay? “Remember to be kind to yourself, your first spin class will be challenging,” says Holmon. “Just know that you will get stronger if you stay consistent with it.”

4. Let someone know you’re new: Listen. I know how awkward it is to be the only one raising your hand when an instructor asks if it’s anyone’s first time in a class, but with spinning especially it’s important to own your rookie-ship. To avoid this all-eyes-on-you moment, check in with your instructor before class so they can show you the ropes, and please ask them to set up your bike for you to to help avoid injury.

5. Remember, spin shoes suck for everyone: “Clipping and unclipping is dreadful for everyone the first time—after a friend or someone from the studio helps you clip in, ask them to help you practice getting out,” says Corbin. “It can be a bit jarring to watch an entire room full of people easily hop off the bike and begin stretching as you just can’t figure it out. Just like the class, it gets easier!” I’ve personally been spinning for the better part of a decade, and I still can’t manage to perfectly clip those dumb shoes in and out, especially in a dark room. When it’s time to go, do yourself a favor and slip your feet out of the shoes, then grab ’em with your hands. It’s much easier, and won’t leave you flailing.

6. Stop overthinking it:  Instead of getting in your own head and psyching yourself out ahead of time, just get to class and give it a try. “Worry less about the ‘right’ outfit, water bottle, etc.,” says Corbin. “Get on the bike, clip in, and celebrate yourself in sweat. Stop getting ready to get ready.” In other words: Go for it.

Here are the best high-cut sports bras for spinning, plus what to do if you get extra-gassy smack in the middle of a class (… I swear it’s not just me that it happens to). 

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