Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why I love my Spin Class

I love my spin class. And so do a lot of other people. Starting in January (new year folks) it has been full every week. I had to start going 45 minutes early just to get a bike. It got to be that we started the class early every week because we were full. Yesterday was the first time that it hasn't been completely full. But you better believe that I'll still be there early next week just in case. Part of the popularity is because of our awesome instructor!


She is a personal trainer and has been one of my best friends for 12 years or so. She's the only reason I've stayed at that gym. She has good music and knows how to motivate you to work your hardest. I've gone into the class thinking that I'd take it easy. Yeah, that never happens. You just can't help it!

Aren't those purple walls the best! You should see the lime green paint in the rest of the gym. Insert sarcasm here. I pretty much just sit and stare at her arms the whole time and wish I was good enough to eat like her so that I look like her.

You wouldn't think that spin class would relate to running much, but I have found that it has helped me in unsuspecting ways.
The first thing it's done for me is teach me that I don't have to stay with the beat of the music. I used to have a real issue with running to the beat. So I would try to start with a medium tempo progressing to a faster tempo towards the end of the playlist. But because of spinning and having to pick up my cadence during parts of a song and no longer follow the beat, I have translated that over to my running. When I find that I am running to the beat and maybe have slowed down, I tell myself to pick up the cadence and I can.
Spinning has also taught me to have a smooth motion in my feet. It's easy to pound down on the pedals to get yourself going but that makes for a jarring ride that's not good for the joints. It's better to have a smooth 3 to 9 position with the pedals constantly pushing through with the quads, pulling with the hamstrings and calves. Even while standing it's better to try and isolate and make it smooth than to pound it out bouncing up and down or even swaying back and forth. Feet are in a straight position, no pointing of the toes. So how does this translate to running? I try to picture my feet while I'm running as being clipped in to that bike. No heel striking or pointing of the toes. Just landing and lifting up and repeating. I think about my motion being smooth, soft and light and kind of looking like the roadrunner with that circular motion in the legs, all the while his upper body is standing still. Kind of makes you want to let out a "meep, meep" huh. Maybe I should try it. It might make me faster!
Spinning has taught me that engaging your abs helps keep everything aligned. Bending at the waist (like a Barbie), keeping a flat back, and engaging the core is the proper form while riding. Now obviously while running you're not going to be bending your waist, but engaging the core is something that helps support your lower back and consequently everything that is connected below that. This is something that I really need to work on.
Since I decided that I wasn't going to do speed work this time around, I am using my spin class as modified speed work. I really pound it out while I am there and those intervals really get me going. And I am dripping wet by the time I am done!

What is your favorite cross training activity?
Do you think it helps with your running?

16 comments:

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

I want your instructor's arms too! I like the Barbie analogy!! Keeping things in line.

I don't cross train right now and have wanted to try spinning. Any activity where I am dripping in sweat is great i my book!

Teamarcia said...

How awesome you have an instructor you love! I found a great spinning class but it's on Sunday so usually conflicts with my long run...I really have come to enjoy spinning, just need to do more of it.

Julie said...

I find spin class is ALL about the instructor. I always come away with a different experience depending on who teaches the class.

I ALWAYS go into spin class determined to not mash my pedals, but it is so hard NOT to ...and then I say "next time" ;-)

It's like that monday morning diet...
next week I promise not to mash...next week.

Julia said...

your friend looks so hard core!!

and i like the way that you describe spin...I am always too scared to try it for some reason...but I think its because of exactly what you said...I have never been fluid on a bike but I guess the way to get better at that is going and practicing!

I am not sure if I have a "favorite" cross training activity. I have never tried much but the elliptical. Once I get the okay to head back to the gym (and roads/trails!) I really want to be better about mixing up my workouts. We will see what I end up liking and not liking :) Have an awesome day!

trisha*n said...

I LOVE SPINNING! I'm certifying to be an instructor this month and can't wait to teach classes! I'm a personal trainer as well, so I think it will be fun to put the two together!

Missy said...

I really want to try spinning, I'm planning on joining a gym just for the group fitness and that is definitely something I'm interested in and I have seen that several runners use it as cross-training, so it's super motivating

Mallory said...

I really want to try spinning! I haven't made it a huge priority though. Perhaps after I move next week I will do it! I enjoy riding the bike at my gym or my bike outside for cross training. I'd like to do some wall climbing as well and kickboxing! I like your goals for the year. The marathon one made me laugh!

Sam {fitnessfoodandfaith.blogspot.com} said...

I'm totally in love with spinning! I started a few years ago when I was feeling a lot of knee pain running, and now I like it more than running! I started teaching classes last summer...if only I had arms like your instructor :)

Hannah said...

Ok, you wrote such a great spinning review, it makes me want to do it! I used to take spinning years ago, but haven't since they got rid of the class at the gym where I was working. I may be adding it back in one of these days! I can absolutely see how that smoothness can and should translate into your running. I love it!

So far all I'm doing for cross training is lifting. And I don't know that it "counts". But, I do believe it helps with the running because it doesn't only strengthen my muscles, but my bones...and also keeps my core and my joint stability, and keeps me from getting too loosey goosey.

You look adorable on your bike, and heck yes - your instructor has some seriously hot arms!

Tara said...

I miss spin SO SO much!! I left my gym when I moved to an apartment because it was too far away so I've just been running. The instructor makes the class though. It's totally worth wake up super early to get to a class with a great instructor!!

ashley & sundance said...

This is exactly how I feel about Janae's spin class! I love going to her class. Kicks my butt EVERY time. :)

MuncherCruncher said...

I LOVE spin too! I seriously get such a good workout, and I'm usually a TOTAL sweaty mess by the end. Ok, I always am. It's gross. I just love your blog...you're awesome Jen! xoxoxo

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

GIRL YOU ARE GORGEOUS!!! LOVE THE PICTURES and your teacher looks hardcore. Spin is my fave cross-training and I definitely think it helps big time with running!! SPEEDwork for sure:) Yay for engaging abs, I need to work on that!! Thank you for the reminder. I agree about the smooth motion in the feet. Basically AMEN to the whole post. LOVE YOU and hope you are having an amazing day!

Amanda@runninghood said...

Oh that paint! wow. :) This post reminds me that I'm not doing enough cross training. I originally had planned on spin every Thursday but then life got in the way and I have just be running but I agree that cross training is so important! I love spin but have only done it a handful of times.

Wendy said...

I would love to try that sometime!!

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

what a great instructor! I've been teaching for years and still to this day just love it!
:)