“Spinning won’t make you fit”. Or will it?

This week I came across an article on one of the forums for indoor cycling instructors: http://www.stack.com/2015/09/16/spinning-probably-wont-make-you-fit-heres-why.

It has caused quite a stir so I decided to respond to it. I will just take out the main points it makes to allegedly prove why indoor cycling will not make you fit as opposed to having a personal trainer and lifting weights. It is based on an interview with a personal trainer Brian Nguyen. He’s not just a PT. He’s “trainer to Mark Wahlberg” which clearly makes him much more of a fitness authority. Let’s dive right into it.

“Spinning is tough. After an hour of pedaling at high speed, you’ve probably left a puddle of sweat on the floor under your bike. (…)The classes are fun, and the routines can easily lead to the assumption that participants get a great workout”.

Anyone who has taken a properly well structured indoor cycling class with a qualified instructor will ask: are we talking about the boutique style “dance-on-the-bike-doing-crazy-stuff” type of class or are we talking about a proper indoor cycling class? Because the latter involves much more and the speed used in these classes is way more controlled.

If however you refer to the classes advertised as a full body workout involving using tiny weights, resistance bands and full of what we call “fluff” then I wholeheartedly agree. But please do not put us all in the same bag.

“Spinning produces similar effects in the body as jogging. (…) Once you finish a spin class, your body no longer burns calories”

Here is where I got really kind of pissed off (my blog, I can say that 🙂 ). He didn’t even say “running”. He said “jogging”. I used to jog. I lost a bit of weight, gained some muscle but I agree, the results were not WOW. Question to FF CJS members who have ever taken Jitka’s, Cheryl’s, Serena’s or my class: would you compare it to 45min of “jogging”?! What classes has this dude taken in his life to make such a statement? The answer is: really bad ones…

If I were to give an “expert opinion” the way he has I would say even a workout with a personal trainer using weights and what not has the same effects. How? If you have a bad trainer who tells you to use weights that aren’t enough to cause an overload. One that makes you follow a programme that’s not tailored to your needs. What kind of PT would do that?! A bad one. Have I ever seen these? Yes, I have.

Now as far as the second part of the statement goes – that the effects of the class finish as soon as you get off that bike? I really question fitness qualifications of that guy. Whatever exercise you choose: rowing, cycling, running etc you can do them at different intensities, with different goals in mind: speed or strength endurance, HIIT, threshold work etc. If every spin class involved pedalling at the same tempo for 60min who on earth would keep doing it?

And I have news for you Brian. You better sit down though and brace yourself: YOU CAN DO TABATA ON A BIKE!

shocked-face[1]

I am convinced this guy either took ONE class and it wasn’t a good one or is basing his opinions on hearsay. He doesn’t seem to think you can do intervals in a spin class.

Here comes the big one folks:

“Spinning doesn’t build muscle.(…) Cycling never makes your body gain lean body mass, and that’s the thing that burns fat. At the end of the day, metabolism isn’t improved on a bike.”

First reference to spinning is already incorrect but Mr Nguyen goes far beyond that and refers to “cycling” in general. I would ask him to check out a few names and relevant pictures of their legs: Marcel Kittel, Chris Hoy, oh hell: Tom Scotto! And I would invite him to watch this (extreme) little clip:

“Spinning doesn’t give individual progression”

It definitely used to be true however you could always test yourself periodically and compare the results. But these days we have bikes with computer consoles and data. We have coaching by colour brought by MatrixIC7 bikes. Please Mr Nguyen, do your research first.

Finally we get to the last one:

“Spinning reinforces common injuries”

Yes, cycling involves sitting, we agree on that. But it is also the best low impact activity next to swimming that actually helps with many health problems and is used in physiotherapy. There is such a thing as bike fitting Brian, and any good instructor will ensure your set up prevents any back or other discomfort. As per the core not being engaged: you need a strong core to be a strong and efficient cyclists even indoors. You may not feel it as much indoors as outdoors but no, cycling is not a “complete full body workout” nor is it claiming to be. If you refer to those “fluff” classes that make that claim – please make the distinction between those and SPINNING or proper INDOOR CYCLING.

To sum up, Brian seems to know his stuff when it comes to what type of exercise gives what effects but clearly knows nothing about spinning/indoor cycling when he says:

“When combined with strength training, spinning may give you that extra calorie burn you need to accelerate fat loss. When done on its own, your results from spinning will likely fall short of your expectations.”

Spinning is all exercise I do. In 2.5 years dropped 3 dress sizes and kept it off. My recent fitness tests show that my cycling performance levels are that of a trained athlete.

So Mr Nguyen, I respectfully disagree.

2 thoughts on ““Spinning won’t make you fit”. Or will it?

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