Spinning – The Latest Weight Loss Craze

Spinning is obviously a rage among the A-listers. But, is it just a Mercedes of workouts or does it really have something for you and me? Read on to find out the benefits and risks of spinning….


SpinningWhat is Spinning?

Spinning is a high intensity cardiovascular workout done on a special stationary bike to high energy music usually in a large group. The setting is like a disco – a dimly lit room with dancing colorful lights and lots of mirrors. Music is loud and fast paced. There is an instructor talking over a mic like a DJ motivating the group to push harder than they ever thought possible. The instructor plays a crucial role in the effectiveness and the fun-part of a spinning session.


How enjoyable is it?

You get the euphoria of having done an amazing workout at the end of a spinning session. Music plays as critical a role as the instructor. I know I push myself harder when I like the song and it’s fast paced. I have had my best spinning sessions with Shakira’s “Waka Waka”. A good instructor is cheerful, knows how to maintain the tempo of the class and has tons of energy which is truly motivating! The class setting also helps – you can compete with your friends or at least feel good about the fact that you are not sweating alone!


How effective  is it?

Spinning can help you burn anywhere between 600- 1200 calories in one 45 min session. Unlike a stationary bike which only works your lower body, spinning is a total body workout. Most of the time you are not sitting on the seat which provides a tremendous workout to your upper body including your abs. Also, you could use it for interval training which is an extremely effective way to lose weight and build lean muscles. For instance, I used to reduce resistance and spin really fast standing and then increase resistance and spin as hard as I could sitting. You could also do the other way round – reduce resistance and spin really fast sitting and then increase resistance and spin as hard as possible standing. The high speed part burns calories and the high resistance part builds muscles.


Risks and Caveats

I had a spinning accident that didn’t look too bad to begin with but it took over 3 months for the wound to fully heal. Here are some precautions that will help you avoid injuries.


Adjust the seat height

At the highest point on the pedal, your knee should be at the same level as your hip i.e., when you sit straight, you should form right angles at the hip joint and knee joint. At the lowest point on the pedal, your legs should comfortably stretch but not fully extend due to the risk of locking your knees.


Adjust the handle height

You should be able to hold the handles while pedaling without bending too much. You would bend but you should be able to keep your spine straight and elbows slightly bent so you don’t lock your elbows.


Wear comfortable shoes

You should wear covered shoes, preferably sneakers, with good non-skid soles. Since you will be resting the balls of your feet on the pedal, it becomes especially important when you are standing while spinning to have a firm grip on the pedal. There will be straps to secure your feet but it’s good to have sturdy shoes.


Strap your feet to the pedals properly

Make sure your feet are secured firmly to the pedals. Try pedaling standing and sitting before the session and adjust the straps if something doesn’t feel right. The straps should be tight but not overly constricting coz even that may cause accidents.


Water and Towel

You should always keep a bottle or water and a towel with you. You are going to need them both several times during this intensive workout. Keep sipping water at regular intervals or you might get dehydrated.


Be aware of the emergency stop

Every spinning bike has an emergency stop button since the hydraulic wheels spin on account of momentum and need to be explicitly stopped. This comes in very handy when you lose balance or are suddenly feeling unwell or have been injured. My foot slipped from the pedal and I took time to press the emergency stop. By then the edge of the pedal had sliced my ankle and gone over the same spot thrice leading to a very deep wound that took more than 3 months to heal. I still have a big scar on my ankle that I don’t think will ever go away.

Having said that, I immensely enjoy spinning as a workout – both the workout itself and its competitive yet fun environment!


  1. I have recently started taking spinning classes and I just LOVE it! I look forward to it whenever I am not in the class. I don’t love working out but this doesn’t feel like a workout. Weight loss from this is just a bonus for me because I have so much fun doing it. Thanks for pointing out the risks – very helpful

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