If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you know that I am completely and totally addicted to SoulCycle. Like madly in love with it. But trendy spin classes can put a real dent in your wallet. SoulCycle averages about $30 per ride depending on location, and its competitor Flywheel can charge you anywhere from $30 to $35. So you’d be wise to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to get your money’s worth out of your workout. Unluckily (or luckily for my wallet) there aren’t any dedicated spinning studios in the Syracuse area. What I was excited to find out, however, is that SU actually offers a spin class for one credit! I’m getting graded for work out, woohoo! I interviewed my awesome spin instructor and health and fitness specialist, Maggie Thomson for her top five tips for getting the most out of your spin session.
1. Nourish first: A car wouldn’t run without gas, so why should you? “If you exercise on an empty stomach, you will be lightheaded and not get the most out of your workout,” says Thomson. Snack on something healthy and full of protein before class, like oatmeal with banana or an English muffin with almond butter.
2. Listen to your body: Thomson constantly reminds students to listen to their bodies in order to avoid injury. “You always want to listen to your body when you are doing any type of exercise, especially cycling. It can be very challenging and if you are having a tired day, you need to take it lighter. If you have a lot of energy you can push yourself more,” she says. It’s easy to be distracted by the seasoned expert in the bike next to you, but focus on your own goals and challenge yourself accordingly.
3. Watch your posture: “Proper set up of your bike is crucial to protecting your knees and your lower back,” says Thomson. “You never want to have your toes pointed when you cycle. Your toes should be pulled back, pulling and pushing with your hamstrings on a flat foot.” A pointed toe takes the workout away from your leg muscles, but a flat foot engages the glutes and hips while reducing pressure on quads and knees.
4. Take note: Thomson instructs all beginner riders to make a note of their bike set up on their phones once they have perfected their settings. Take the time in your first few classes to learn how to adjust the bike settings to suit your body type. A seat too low or too high can strain your muscles and leave you sore. As a general rule, the saddle and handlebars should align to your hip height. Slide your seat forward or backward so that you are a forearm’s distance away from the center of the handlebars. Finally, be sure that when your leg is extended while sitting in the saddle, your knee should only have a slight bend and never be fully straightened.
5. Engage: Keep your core tight throughout your ride by sucking in your tummy. An engaged core will feel the same as abdominal muscles tensing up while laughing or coughing. “Keeping your core tight is crucial for your balance and for improving your strength,” says Thomson. Remember to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed so that you can direct your energy to your lower body muscles.