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What Is a Spin Bike?

By Evan Kubitschek

Spinning is a popular type of group exercise that brings a long ,high-energy bike ride indoors. Classes cover a wide range of experience levels as well as fitness levels, but they all use the same technology --a spinning bike. These specially designed pieces of equipment simulate riding a road bike and have very similar health benefits.


The equipment used for spinning is a stationary bike, and instructors call out instructions while motivating music is played in the background. According to spinning.com participants set individual goals based on their heart rates, which means every person gets an individual workout at their own comfort level even in a group class.


Spinning was developed during the 1980s by the athlete Jonathan Goldberg. He created the trademarked Spinning program used in my many gyms today through a company he helped found called Madd Dogg Athletics. According to spinning.com, the program is now used in over 35,000 fitness facilities, and they have trained over 175,000 instructors.


Spinner bikes are specially designed stationary bikes with a variety of features. The bikes can be adjusted to fit any participant by changing the saddle height and handlebar position, generally have built-in heart rate monitors in the handlebars and weighted flywheels that can simulate the effect of climbing on a bike by decreasing the inertia of each pedal stroke. Users can control the difficulty of their workout with an onboard computer that controls the flywheel, or they can have the computer adjust automatically to a chosen heart rate level of activity.


A 40 minute spinning class can burn 400-600 calories, and works a wide variety of muscle groups. According to Edmund Burke, Ph.D. and former U.S. Olympic Cycling Coach, the muscle groups worked include: the latissimus dorsi, the spinal erectors, the gluteus maximus, the hamstrings, the gastrocnemius/soleus, the quadriceps, the triceps, the biceps and the spectoralis major/minor. Spinning offers a true full-body workout.

Expert Insight

Dr. Edmund Burke has this to say about Spinning programs: "The Spinning program is an excellent adjunct to my road cycling because it accurately replicates the feel of my bike--from the fit, the resistance type of pedaling, and movement in and out of the saddle. I have recommended it to the elite-level cyclists that I work with on the U.S. National Team as an addition to their off-season riding; it offers them a total mind and body training program."

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