One of the trendiest workouts around these days is spinning, a form of intense workout that shares some aspects with cycling but remains a distinct entity. For one, cycling usually takes place outside, while spinning utilizes a specific style of stationary bike called a "spin bike," which is designed to better mimic the conditions of a road bike.

Unlike a traditional stationary bike, a spin bike allows its riders to sit and stand while pedaling, and to adjust their handlebars and seat vertically and horizontally. It's also powered by a flywheel rather than a motor, making it easier for riders to adjust their resistance.

Cycling classes usually last 30-90 minutes, and they can do wonders to enhance your heart and lung function and build strength in your lower body. They also tend to be pretty intense.

This starts with the atmosphere, which may feature colored lights, blacklights, or even a DJ to enhance your cycling experience. Some cycling classes incorporate HIIT-like intervals of sprinting interspersed with less intense peddling, or continually instruct their participants to change their resistance level to create the effect of a "hilly" ride.

Cycling classes also often incorporate jumps, in which riders are instructed to quickly stand up on their bike and then sit down again, usually several times in quick succession, push or sit-ups while riding, or resistance bands or weights.

The charged and festive atmosphere of a spin class is a good fit for adrenaline junkies, or for people who tend to get bored of traditional workouts. Some people also find the group dynamic of spin class motivating, or find themselves motivated by the charisma of their instructor.

Spinning could be a good exercise for beginners since you don't need any specialized training to start and your remain in control of your workout at all times, meaning that you can always lower the intensity if things start getting too difficult. Depending on how hard you push yourself, you could burn between 400 and 600 calories per class!

Some gyms offer spinning classes as part of their line-up, or you could visit a specialized cycling studio like Soulcycle. There are even online video classes you could check out if you have your own spin machine!

Another benefit of spinning is that it puts less pressure on the joints than running but offers a similarly high calorie burn and cardiovascular impact. Spinning also gives your body more support in the form of handlebars and a seat, thus lowering your risk of injury. Plus, since spin classes take place indoors, you're also not at the mercy of the weather or of freak accidents like you would be in traditional outdoor cycling.

As with any exercise, you should avoid overdoing spinning. If you do, you may experience back pain from continually hunching over a bike, especially if you already spend a lot of time sitting or if you have poor form. To avoid this, make sure that you've adjusted your bike properly and enlist the help of your instructor in perfecting your posture.

Too much spinning could also lead to muscle imbalances or even muscle atrophy unless you also incorporate strength training and other types of exercise into your fitness routine; even a spin class that incorporates some arm movement is unlikely to have all the benefits of a full upper body workout.

To avoid this conundrum, you could look for a class called Spin Sculpt, which combines spinning and more traditional resistance training into one jam-packed hour-long workout. Also new on the scene is kranking, which involves a bike-like machine that has "pedals" you can move with your hands, designed to tone your upper body the same way cycling tones your lower.

You shouldn't need anything for a cycling class except a water bottle, a towel, and padded shorts if you're wary of sitting on a non-cushioned bike seat.

To combat the dangerous sedentary lifestyle common in the Western world, it's imperative that you find a form of exercise that works for you. If that's spinning, great, and if not, try something else!
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