July 14, 2008

Sweat Assessment: Spinning

By Mellisa Davlin, The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

Jul. 14--I've heard a lot of horror stories about spinning.

Stories about drill instructor-like teachers who drive their students into the ground. Rumors about participants being exhausted for the rest of the day because the class was so intense.

I worked myself up so much about spinning that by the time I walked through the doors at Canyon Rim YMCA for my first session, I was convinced that the class would kill me. "Here lies Melissa,"my epitaph would read, "conquered not by heroics, but by a stupid stationary bike."

That's not quite what happened. And although my gluteus maximus isn't too happy with me right now, the rest of my body is in good shape and ready for more.

How it went down

On a tip from Lesley Martin, fitness director for Twin Falls YMCA, I arrived early to get the lowdown on spinning.Lisa Malone, the instructor for the evening, greeted me with a familiar "Hi!How are you?" and showed me the basics of spinning.

Contrary to what I thought, spinning isn't just pedaling mindlessly for an hour. There are three hand positions and different tensions. Any combination of these can vary the workout's intensity. Go slow for your first time, Malone urged me, and don't be afraid to take a break.

Oh no, I thought. Even the instructor expected me to keel over.

Malone switched on some awesomely bad '80s music and got started. We stretched our arms while pedaling lightly, then turned up the intensity and switched hand positions.

The first thing I noticed was how much the dumb seat hurt my derriere. Goodness, that thing was hard. I began to look forward to when we would "climb," or stand up while pedaling hard, so I could give my butt a break from the seat.

Malone filled the 50-minute class with climbing and switching between intensities. The hardest was climbing with a high intensity, but I remembered what Malone said and took it easy. No need to try to keep up with the veterans.

It was encouraging to see so many fitness levels in the class. Between 15 or so classmates, there were young, athletic men pumping furiously at the pedals and middle-aged women who, like me, moved slow and steady -- and still got a great workout.

Before I knew it, we were done, and I had survived. Who woulda thunk?

What hurt after the class

My butt hurt from the climbing (and the seat). Malone acknowledged the uncomfortable sitting situation and recommended I buy a pad if I wanted to come back. Not a bad idea.

Surprisingly, my abs felt a little sore. Spinning engages the core muscles as the rider balances on the bike, Martin said. What a fantastic exercise. I didn't even realize those muscles were working.

Malone also warned me my legs would hurt the next day. I'm ready. If I end up with awesome legs like hers, it will be worth it.

Who should stay away

Both Malone and Martin said spinning is adaptable to most folks' fitness levels. It's low impact for joints while still providing intense cardio.

The exception, Martin said, is people who are extremely out of shape. If that's the case, start with a treadmill or a stationary bike and work up to spinning.

Melissa Davlin may be reached at 208-735-3234 or [email protected]

Spin out

What: Spinning

Where: Canyon Rim YMCA, 1881 Pole Line Road, Twin Falls

When: 6:30-7:20 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 5:15-6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday; 9-9:45 a.m. Saturday

Who: Men and women over 16 years old. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 or older.

Cost: Free for YMCA members, $5 for guests (price includes day pass to YMCA facilities)

Information: 734-7447


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