You may have recently heard of your local gym or community centre offering spinning classes. You may have even heard of a brand-new standalone business offering these same services. But what exactly are spinning classes? You might be relieved to find out that they don’t involve whirling dervishes or extended spells of dizziness caused by spinning in place like a child’s toy. Spinning classes are actually just a fancy name for riding high-end stationary bikes led by an instructor in a group situation. So what are spinning bikes best for? In this article, we’ll compare spinning bikes against outdoor cycling.
The convenience of a spinning class depends on how easy it is for you to get to the gym. Once you’re there it’s just a matter of hopping on the bike and following the instructions shouted out by the leader. They’ll take you through a routine that will rotate through a variety of pedalling intensities. And you won’t have to worry about rain, high winds or other vehicles on the road.
When it comes to road cycling there are always extenuating circumstances that will affect the convenience of your workout. It may be hard (or impossible!) to motivate yourself out the door when it’s raining cats and dogs or heavily snowing. You’ll have to adjust to traffic conditions and choose a route that will get you back to your starting point without too much hassle. And there’s always the possibility that your bike could break down and leave your stranded many miles from home.
Perception of Effort
Riding a stationary bike may seem like harder work because you aren’t actually moving anywhere. You won’t feel the wind through your hair (at least not without a fan!) the scenery will remain the same and it’ll be harder to mentally assess how far you’ve gone. However, the fact that you’re surrounded by a group of other people going through the same experience and you have an instructor motivating you with their encouragement and background music means this could all balance out.
Cycling outdoors is literally travelling. You’ll be affected by sights, sounds, smells and other perceptual stimulation. Speeding up, going down hills, taking tight corners and avoiding dangerous situations can get the adrenalin pumping and make the ride seem fun and easier than it actually is.
When riding a spinning bike, you’ll never have the opportunity to coast down a hill. You’re going to be working the entire time. By using heavier flywheels you’ll get even more of a workout and find yourself burning more calories. Depending on your instructor you may find yourself reaching close maximum heart rate much more than you would riding outdoors.
It’s hard to go full out at all times when riding outdoors. Unless you have a completely remote stretch of road you’ll be affected by traffic signals, other vehicles, and road conditions. That said, you’ll still give your lower body a great workout. As for burning calories, it’s been found that an average rider in an endurance contest such as the Tour De France can burn over 100,000 calories each day!
If you are considering using a spin bike for your workouts, download this month’s promotions to save.