Just because the weather is getting colder, doesn’t mean you can't keep cycling. Whether you’re facing the cold or in a room on a stationary bike, cycling is an effective cardiovascular workout for any time of year.
If you’re not into facing the cold and don’t just want to ride the stationary bike, most gyms and fitness centers offer cycling, or spinning class.
"A lot of people mention how intimidating it looks, but there's a big difference between doing it, seeing it, and coming in and first breaking your way into a good workout," says local spin instructor Hubie Krawczyk.
Spin classes focus on endurance, strength building, interval training, and high intensity and recovery periods, according to Krawczyk. He notes that while every instructor will compose their class format differently, any person can modify the intensity to best suit their own needs and goals.
"Anybody can take the class and you shouldn't feel in any fear about coming in to try it and work at your own level," says Krawczyk.
He says a spin class lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, can burn from 400-600 calories and add up to 18 miles to your log depending on your cadence (how fast you pedal) and how much resistance a participant adds to the bike.
"All the fly wheels on the spin bikes are constant, so that's just a friendly reminder that it's not like a bike where you can stop pedaling," he says. "A fly wheel continues to crank, so you have to keep up or slow down. But you can get a much more efficient workout in a shorter amount of time."
Krawczyk also says that an additional bonus of spin classes is the stationary aspect, allowing participants a low-impact workout that is friendly on your joints and for anyone recuperating from an injury.
While spinning is great for your cardiovascular heath and legs, Krawczyk recommends that it is incorporated into a diverse workout schedule. While the core and upper body are engaged when you cycle, other classes such as strength training and yoga are good complimentary tools to achieve a balanced body.
An avid cyclist and athlete himself, Krawczyk rides outdoors as much as he can on local roads and trails. However, he says that when you need to get in a focused efficient ride, spinning allows participants to work as hard as they want without having to adjust for elements such as distracted drivers, traffic or the changing physical environment when you ride outside. Plus, the group class atmosphere and support system offer you something you can't get on the road either, Krawczyk notes.
The spinning format has also evolved into much more than interval rides. Recent additions include rhythm rides (workouts tailored to songs) and SoulCycle (a spin class modified with hand weights, choreography and core work).
"A lot of people don't even necessarily own bikes, they just love the workout, and they love to get in and get out and have something new. People like variety, and it's been successful," notes Krawczyk.
No matter where you try a spin class and no matter the format, Krawczyk says it's important to go to class ahead of time and meet with the instructor if it's your first time to get assistance setting up the bike and learning the basics.
"It's a lot easier if you make a connection with somebody and say, 'Hey, let me help you. I can show you and we'll have fun doing it.' Because that's what fitness is, it's supposed to be fun," he says. "That's the philosophy I have, so people should come in and give it a try. It's tough, but I'm always there for folks that way and it works out really well for me."