Reduced pain from activity
If you dislike most aerobic classes because it makes your knees, hips or ankles hurt, spinning can be a great low-impact alternative. You will burn lots of calories, about 600 to 800 per hour, depending on intensity, and as you lose weight, you will decrease the pressure and alleviate pain to your joints.
You're in complete control
The beauty of a spinning class is that you dictate the amount of resistance and your speed throughout the entire class. There is a resistance knob within easy reach, and you turn it to dial the intensity (how hard it is to pedal) up or down. No one in the class can tell the level you set, allowing you to go at your own pace. This also means you are free to adjust the intensity from day to day -- if you're feeling really strong one day, you can dial up the resistance; if you're not feeling it, you can dial it down.
No experience necessary
Because there are no complicated moves to learn, you really need no experience. In fact, you don't even have to know how to ride a bike. Instructors (also referred to as coaches) go over the fundamentals of spinning to beginners and explain how to set your seat and handlebar height. Regardless of your fitness level, this can be the perfect place to get your heart, lungs and legs in shape.
A positive spin
Spin class puts people elbow to elbow in a class situation and gives you the opportunity to feed off of the energy of other riders when you fatigue and feel as if you want to quit. Together with others, the upbeat music and motivational coaching will help you climb hills, race like crazy or ease up for a leisurely recovery.
While it won't kill you, it will make you sweat and push you farther than you thought possible. Give it a try. I guarantee it doesn't have to be torturous, and you'll come out of it stronger and more confident.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.