The Firecracker Ford Spin Workout: Virtual Version!
Woohoo! It’s Workout Wednesday here at IgniteGirls and I can’t believe that I have never done a post about SPINNING! Spinning is an indoor cycling class that emulates mountain biking.
Have you been dying to take a spin class? It actually wasn’t something that I had been “dying” to try, but I took my first class at Crunch Fitness over 8 years ago when I lived in New York City, because… why not? I had heard it was an intense workout, that you burned a ton of calories and some of the people coming out of the spin room were in serious shape.
So I signed up for an evening class and hopped on a bike. I had regular gym sneakers on and absolutely no idea how to adjust the bike. The instructor recognized I was new, so she helped me in setting up the bike. Annnd off we went! During the first 5 minutes of class I got yelled at for chewing gum. And in the first 15 minutes, I drank my entire bottle of water because I was gasping for air. I was sort of relieved it was over, I wasn’t sure I could last another minute on that damn bike! The class was just oookay. But I thought, “let me try this again, but with a different instructor.”
After the soreness from the bike seat subsided (people leave that part out, but your booty will stop getting sore after a few times of riding!), I signed up for my second spin class, this time on a Saturday morning with an instructor named Danielle. This time I knew how to set my bike up and I climbed into the saddle (aka the seat of the bike) with a little more confidence. I was still huffing and puffing during the entire class, but seriously, what a difference just by trying out another instructor! Danielle was a tough love instructor and she had some incredible mixes, sprinkled with crazy sprints, killer climbs and the like. It was official: I loved spin. Danielle and I went on to become friends, and over a cup of coffee, she once told me that she taught 18 spin classes per week (and that she rides in all of them)! She also told me she teaches because she loves pancakes 🙂 Fair enough!
So a little after a year of taking Danielle’s class at Crunch Fitness I invested in a pair of spin shoes (the kind that clip into the pedals) and started researching certifications, which I earned before I moved to LA in 2008. Then I started teaching at a private, celebrity gym in the heart of Hollywood, thanks to a hook up from my good friend, Ashley Conrad. I continued to teach when we made our transition back east and moved to Atlanta at the end of 2012, and even up until 24 weeks into my pregnancy! So although I can’t hop into the saddle with you right now, you can definitely try out a little spin class of your own with a Firecracker Ford twist.
If this is your first time trying spin, you will need to set up your bike appropriately. I also encourage you to take an actual group class in your area – there is nothing like the energy! And if you hate it, try it two more times with a different instructor. It could make all the difference!
Download the Firecracker Ford Spin Workout HERE!!
Riding with Proper Form In and Out of the Saddle:
- Keep your upper body, specifically your shoulders relaxed, away from the ears. Elbows should be soft, and not flexed.
- Your hands should not be supporting your upper body weight by leaning forward onto the handlebars. If you are white knuckling the handlebars, release your grip a bit. The bar is there for balance. And stay off those elbows!!!
- Point your knees straight ahead. If it is difficult for you to keep them in, you may need to incorporate some additional stretching into your routine. If you bring your knees too far inward, you might hit the water bottle holder or middle bike support, which leaves a nice bruise on your knee (Yes, I have also done this).
- Focus on pushing downward through the pedals using your heels, and pulling upward using your knees. Your feet will naturally flex and point with this motion, but there is no need to overdo it.
- When you are riding out of the saddle for a trot (slower, steady speed), sprint, climb, etc. keep your core engaged always. Your belly button should be pulled in towards the ceiling and your weight should be pushed backward over the seat, almost as if you are sitting back into a squat by hinging at the hips. Again, this adjustment will ensure you aren’t leaning too much of your body weight forward onto the handlebars. And if you need to build additional strength in your core, lower back or glutes this may be pretty challenging in the beginning. It will come with time and practice, but you can also work on strengthening that inner girdle by doing a 1-2 minute plank daily, either on your elbows or your wrists. If your form completely sucks, or you are struggling with any back pain, have a seat and work up to this position.
- There are a few different preferred hand positions, but do what feels comfortable. I find that when I am in the saddle, my hands feel most natural centered directly in front of me on the handlebars, slightly touching.
- When I am out of the saddle, and need additional balance, the best hand placement is one hand on each side of the handlebar, reaching outward (but not so much that you are straining to reach! Remember: soft elbows!).
Gym Sneakers vs. Spin Shoes:
- If you are wearing gym sneakers, make sure to slide your entire sneaker into the toe cage and then tighten, tighten, tighten! The last thing you want is for your foot to come flying out of the toe cage while you are doing a sprint, leaving your calf vulnerable to a nice whack in the back of the leg by a propelling pedal (I’ve totally done this).
- If you are wearing spin shoes (aka cleats), or want to invest in a pair, make sure you check out the pedal to see what kind of clips will be required. There are a few different kinds. If you aren’t sure, just ask an instructor or your gym facility.
- Once you are comfortable, and decide if you like spinning, cleats are a great investment. They ensure you are safely and firmly clipped into pedals which allows you to push harder during resistance climbs, and faster during sprints with confidence. I also realized I was curling and clenching my poor little toes the entire time I was riding prior to wearing cleats. It’s a whole different ride and it shifts your body weight over the ball of the foot, which ensures better overall form. Cleats also have a tighter fit, which can prevent blisters from loosely fitting sneakers rubbing.
- No gum chewing 🙂
- Wear longer shorts, capris or pants to avoid thigh chaffing against the sides of the saddle (aka seat).
- Try spinning at least three times before you decide if you hate it or love it!
- Bring water!
- Eat something before the workout, preferably some carbohydrates and protein.
- If you are familiar with tracking your heart rate (or calories burned) to measure your exercise intensity, wearing a heart rate monitor is a fun! I sport the Polar USA F4, but I don’t always wear it. I can usually tell by my breathing how hard I am working.
- Stretch after your ride to help with form, such as bowing knees, back tightness or limited range of motion in the IT bands, hip flexors or hamstrings.
- Turn up the MUSIC!
Download the Firecracker Ford Spin Workout HERE!!