Why Spin Class Is Worth The Sweat

Embrace the burn: spinning is one of the most effective cardio workouts.

The furious whoosh of churning pedals, the motivational holler of an encouraging instructor, the perfectly calibrated beats of a Beyoncé tune — you’d be hard pressed to find a gym in this country missing the telltale sounds of a spin class.

There’s good reason for that: Spinning is a terrifically effective cardio workout, harnessing some of the biggest muscles in the body to ensure you expend a boatload of energy. “Those quads and glutes are going to be working the whole time,” says Ashley MacKendrick, a fitness programmer and personal trainer at Halifax’s Canada Games Centre. “In a hill, especially if you stand, you add your hamstrings and calf muscles, and your core is going to be working even harder. Sprints involve a lot of anaerobic work; we get the heart rate up as high as we can, as quickly as we can, so we don’t have to do as much work in the long run.”

The Best, Sweatiest, Most Fun And Weirdest Fitness Classes To Try Out This Seaso
The Best, Sweatiest, Most Fun And Weirdest Fitness Classes To Try Out This Season

In fact, a 2016 study from Penn State found that after six weeks of twice-weekly, 30-minute spin classes, cyclists significantly improved their lung capacity and leg strength, while dropping their blood pressure and cholesterol. And that’s without demanding much in return from your joints: Even jacking up your pedalling rate doesn’t change the load on your knees, hips or ankles, MacKendrick says, which makes it a solid fitness choice for anyone struggling with pain in their knees or Achilles tendons.

Drop a stationary bike into the shallow end of a pool and you’ve got aqua cycling — which is an actual thing in some gyms across the country, including the Canada Games Centre. You might think it’d be easy (so buoyant and refreshing!), but you’d be wrong. “Spinning creates movement in the water, almost like a hurricane, and the turbulence throws you one way and then another,” MacKendrick says. “That will constantly challenge your core stability. Plus, the faster you go, the more you have to push through water, so the greater the intensity.” At least it’s a lot less obvious how sweaty you’ve become.


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