Cycling a.k.a Spinning is a fast-paced and intense workout that’s taken the fitness world by storm because of its ability to relieve stress and burn up to 500 calories per session.

So you understand the benefits of a spinning workout, but if you’ve never stepped foot in a spin studio, you probably have some questions. What do I need to know? What should I bring? Do I need special shoes?

Not to worry – I’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s what you need to know for your first spin class.

Indoor Cycling: What To Expect

Spin is fun: Spinning is the most fun I’ve ever had working out. It’s also the first time I’ve actually smiled during a fitness class. I love the entire vibe – the music is high, adrenaline is pumping, and the instructor is right there riding alongside you. You might be alone on that bike, but a good spin class is a team effort.

“Indoor cycling is a total body workout,” says Ayana Wiles-Bey, a New York City-based instructor for SoulCycle. “Not only are you conditioning your heart, but you are strengthening your muscles and leaning out your body. At SoulCycle, we also do an arm series with weights to tone and firm your upper body.”

We probably have SoulCycle to thank for that. No doubt a revolutionary in the fitness game, SoulCycle’s classes vary a good deal from a spin class you might take at a regular gym. For starters, the lights are dimmed, and the room is lit mainly by candles (and the occasional neon light).

SoulCycle instructors also focus heavily on their playlists to elicit a certain “feeling” and drive for their riders. Ayana explains:

“There are cardio party moments when we are dancing on the bike; there are soulful moments when we are focusing on our personal lives and there are triumphant moments when you feel yourself gaining strength, both physically and emotionally.”

If it helps paint a picture, Ayana started the class I attended with “Holy Grail” by Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. See, I told you spinning was fun!

Spinning is a workout for the mind: We know spinning is good for us physically, but it’s also good for our spirits.

“At SoulCycle, you are being inspired by the instructor and the music,” says Ayana. “When you finish class, you feel empowered and have more mental clarity and exhilaration. We ride as a pack, and friendships are often made in our classes.”

And while SoulCycle places special emphasis on the motivational aspects of fitness, any spin class you take will exercise your mind. When you’re on that bike, you’re letting go of negative thoughts and building self-esteem and determination. Put in the effort, and you will leave feeling like you can take on any challenge.

Know before you go: Depending on the spin studio or gym you’re attending, you may need to book a bike in advance, so call ahead to be sure. Also, there are studios, like SoulCycle, that require special biking shoes that clip into the pedals. Some spots even rent shoes out to riders. If your studio doesn’t require cycling shoes, a good pair of tennis/fitness shoes will work.

If it’s your first class, speak up. Staff or instructors can help you set up your bike, get you clipped in, and answer any questions that you might have. They also will show you how to adjust the tension on your bike, so you’ll be able to keep up during class. It’s especially important that your bike seat and handles are set at the right lengths, to help prevent knee injuries.

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About the author:
Katarina Kovacevic is a freelance writer specializing in travel, spa, and beauty and wellness. She’s the author of The Food Lovers’ Guide To Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder/editor of Style Jaunt, a blog about fashionable travel. Her work has appeared in publications like American Spa, The Knot, The New York Post, SheKnows.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Little_K.

Katarina is a freelance writer specializing in travel, spa, and beauty and wellness. She’s the author of The Food Lovers’ Guide To Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder/editor of Style Jaunt, a blog about interesting destinations and fashionable travel. Her work has appeared in publications like American Spa, The New York Post, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Travel + Leisure online and more.