I once went to a spin class where the music was so loud that it was impossible to hear anything the instructor was saying. This would have been fine except for the fact that he kept shouting inaudible instructions at me. Forty-five minutes of: "mmmskdkjdfnd, Jen!!!", "slfhsdjdkhsf, Jen!!" and "skjdhfjdhfdid, Jen!!!" I had no idea what he wanted from me or why he was shouting my name over and over again. Whether he was saying "Excellent form, Jen!!!" or "We should buy a summer home in Tuscany together, Jen!!!" or "Look out something very heavy is about to fall on you, Jen!!!", I just kept giving him the same closed mouth half grimace/smile in the hopes that it would be an acceptable response to whatever it was that he was trying to communicate.
It was then that I decided that the art of spinning has everything to do with the teacher. One teacher can make you feel like Lance Armstrong, while another can lead you on the long techno-hell-ride to nowhere. So imagine my delight when I found out that my childhood friend Nina had become a spin instructor! When I took her class last week I quickly found out that, as a spin instructor, Nina is the perfect balance of animal, beast of a teacher who is going to make you sweat your balls off (Sorry, John…he hates that phrase…) and a kind, nurturing, well informed guide who truly makes you feel as if you can become the best version of yourself. And she picks some kick ass music! Here are a few things that I learned in Nina's class:
- Pack your workout bag the night before. In the morning you will be running late because you like to drink coffee until the very last minute and you will forget your socks. (Technically I learned this moments before Nina's class…)If possible pack your stuff in this adorable bag by LuLulemon that Nina was sporting. It has a "wet pouch" to put your sweat soaked clothes in. Oh..and don't get it twisted...your clothes will be sweat soaked.
- "Set an intention for the class. Is it something really, really big?? Or something small like a cup of coffee??" While I would never underestimate the motivating power of trying to get back into skinny jeans, I tend to find the bigger the intention the bigger the payoff. When you step back from the everyday minutia and perform your work for something bigger than yourself, you begin to see how truly lucky you are to possess this gift of a machine that is your strong, healthy body. Or just do it for coffee. I pretty much do everything for coffee.
- The proper way to set up your bike is as follows: Stand next to your bike. Adjust the height of the seat so that the seat is in line with your hip. Next place your elbow in line with the front of the seat. Your arm extended with straight fingers is the distance that your seat should be from the handle bars. The handle bar height is up to your discretion, but the lower you go the better the workout for your abs.
- "If you find yourself getting distracted, turn it up." Oooh, this is a Nina-ism that I really liked. So often when challenges arise we instinctively back off. What if rather than backing off we refocus, dig in deeper and challenge ourselves even more??? And speaking of turning it up…
- Turning up the resistance while spinning is not just for the purpose of making your ride "harder." Nina says, "Increasing tension on the bike will anchor and steady your movement. You have to keep your core/upper body steady when hovering over the saddle and keep the movement in the legs." This adds the important element of weight bearing exercise to your cardio workout. In other words, flailing your legs around may make you sweat but, if you want to get lean and mean, slow and steady wins the race.
Thanks for the fantastic, grueling workout Nina!!! If you are in the LA area and want Nina to kick your behind into gear, check out her class schedule at Natural Pilates and Bodywork HERE.
-♥ J :)