Experts explain the pros & cons of spin class

Indoor spinning classes have become increasingly popular, with spin studios popping up all across the country.

(Did you know cycling class is the second most popular group workout in the world behind yoga?)

The heart-pumping workouts filled with a lot of energy create a fun environment for anyone looking to get in shape. 

These indoor cycling classes will help you shed fat, improve your cardiovascular health, and increase muscular endurance.

However, there are also some disadvantages to spin classesdepending on your fitness goals. 

Overall, spin class is an awesome fit for anyone looking to burn a ton of calories, build endurance and cardio conditioning, and have a lot of fun.

The classes are high-energy, addicting, and extremely effective.

However, spinning won’t do much at all for your upper body — and there’s a temptation to push too hard, too fast for some people, which can lead to injuries.

Spin class can also get really expensive compared to other workouts.

I asked some experts to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of spin class and other stationary bike workouts for beginners looking to get in shape.

Pros of Spin Class

Let’s start with the pros!

Spin class and exercise bike workouts are popular for a reason, and there’s a lot to like:

Great Cardiovascular Workout 

One of the first things that came up when discussing indoor spinning with several fitness instructors was the exercise’s cardiovascular benefits.

Like riding a standard bike, a stationary bike will get your blood pumping and be a great tool for building your conditioning and endurance.

Benjamin Rose of added to the numerous benefits of these workouts, mentioning: 

“It’s also an excellent cardiovascular workout, which improves your blood flow, boosts your mood, increases your stamina, and prevents chronic issues such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

As a result of these indoor spinning workouts giving you an intense cardiovascular workout, you will also burn a ton of calories during your average 45-minute class.

Rose added:

“Because of this intense cardio workout, you’ll burn a ton of calories, too. The average is about 400 to 600 calories per class.”

After burning that many calories per class, you can expect to see some significant results towards your weight loss or fitness goals.

You will quickly develop your cardiovascular endurance and shed some of those excess pounds.

(Of course, you’ll have to clean up your diet or keep it in check — burning lots of calories is great but means nothing for weight loss if you eat them all back!)

Motivating & Positive Environment 

Attending a spin class should be an enjoyable experience that keeps your motivation high to reach your goals.

Usually, this is the case! Studio spin classes are famous for being fun and addictive.

When talking to certified fitness instructor and nutrition coach Andy Brown about the spin class environment, he stressed that these classes should have: 

“Plenty of motivation to either ride against yourself, maybe others in the class, and you are in a more safe environment.

With regard to the newbies, I’ll always make sure they are fitted properly on the bike and make them aware you can always modify your workout. I want them to feel like they belong.”

When you get past the initial intimidation of being a first-time student at a spin studio, the class environment elevates the experience.

The music will be high-energy, and you will feel the camaraderie and motivation from your fellow members.

While an in-person cycling class will have the most upbeat atmosphere, some online classes also do a great job replicating the class style. 

Stationary bikes like the Peloton will give you similar experiences of an in-person studio — see how Peloton compares to spin class here.

The instructors are motivational and will push you that much harder towards your fitness goals. 

Can be Done at Any Skill Level 

Because indoor spinning classes use stationary bikes, you can push yourself to get a good workout at any stage of your fitness journey, whether you’re:

  • A beginner
  • An advancer rider
  • Out of shape
  • Overweight
  • Skinny
  • Or wherever you are on your journey!

In other group fitness classes like Pilates or yoga, you can quickly feel out of place if you aren’t experienced. 

However, when you are in a spin class, you can always push as hard as you’re comfortable with — and you can dial it back or take a song or two off whenever you need.

Whether you are a beginner looking to break into indoor cycling or an experienced spin studio member, you can always find a way to have a challenging workout. 

Dr. Jordan Duncan of Silverdale Sports and Spine emphasized this point when talking about the pros of spin classes, saying: 

“It is easier to ride with people of different skill levels in a spin class because everyone can ride at their own pace.”

Along with being able to do this at any fitness level, spin classes are also an excellent option for people of any age.

At your local spin studio, you can find people of all ageseach looking to push themselves. 

Cycling instructor Marisella Villano shared her experiences working with different ages, mentioning:

“It really can be done at any age. My youngest client has been 13 years old, and my oldest is 85 years old.

Low-Impact Exercise 

Cardio exercises like running or HIIT exercises can wreak havoc on your joints, leading to painful inflammation and joint pain.

During these high-impact exercises, your joints take the bulk of the impact from the ground’s hard surface. 

When I asked ACE personal trainer Tami Smith about what benefits indoor cycling has compared to other forms of exercise, she said: 

“It’s relatively low-impact and easy on the joints, so there’s a lower risk of injury.”

Joint pain becomes more common as you age but is preventable by focusing on low-impact exercise.

Indoor cycling is often recommended for those who suffer from chronic pain and other disorders because of its low impact on your body.

Riding an exercise or stationary bike offers a smooth, fluid range of motion with almost zero impact.

(Just try to avoid too much time “out of the saddle”, or standing on the bike, if you’re worried about impact.)

You will lower your chances of getting insured when riding on a stationary bike, reducing your recovery time until your next workout. 

Can Attend Classes in Any Condition 

Riding your bike or running on a nature trail can be a great way to exercise, but what happens when it’s raining or you live in a city?

No matter the conditions, you can always get a cycling workout in at a spin studio. 

Dr. Duncan shared some insights into the benefits of attending an indoor cycling class compared to cycling in public.

One of his most notable insights is the chance that you could crash while riding a bike, representing a significant injury risk:

“You don’t crash when spinning. A joke among the cycling community is, “There are two types of cyclists: those who have crashed and those who are going to crash.”

At an indoor cycling studio, the instructors can essentially control the environment and conditions of the workout.

Safety aside, rain or shine, the spin class environment is predictable and perfectly engineered for a great workout.

The studio will be the perfect temperature, with dim lights and blasting music for maximum fun and performance.

Even if you choose to ride at the gym or get a Peloton for home, you’ll never have to worry about your workouts getting rained out.

Cons of Spin Class

Even with all of those benefits, regular cycling class won’t be the right fit for everyone.

You may want to consider a different workout plan if the below are dealbreakers for you:

Not a Well-Rounded Workout 

When attending indoor cycling classes, you shouldn’t make it your only form of exercise.

While it is excellent for your cardiovascular health, you miss out on other key components of a well-rounded fitness regime. 

Personal trainer Tami Smith had this to say:

“Spin class on its own isn’t a well-rounded workout. You will need to incorporate some strength training too.” 

Including strength training and some flexibility training can help balance your routine, giving you a well-rounded workout regime.

Without including strength training into your routine, your upper body will be lagging behind in progress compared to your lower body.

Even spin classes that include work with weighted bars or hand weights won’t be enough to offset this imbalance.

Improper Form Can Lead to Injury 

Your exercise form is everything when you are working out.

From cycling to lifting weights, your form should always be on point to avoid injury.

Cycling instructor Villano offered this warning for beginners: 

“Improper form can also cause muscle imbalances which may lead to injury. Often this happens when people have not been correctly introduced to riding and push too hard. 

Improper form can even eventually cause a muscle strain or worse.

Learning the cycling form as a beginner should be one of your main focuses when you attend a spin class.

Villano recommended that: 

“I recommend starting low and slow. Learn all the steps to be able to perform all movements like running, riding out of the saddle, sprinting, and riding with resistance.”

If you’re a complete beginner, you could start with a few extremely light sessions on the exercise bike at the gym just to help your muscles learn the movement.

If you take an in-person spin class, show up early so your instructor can help you get set up properly and give you some pointers.

Studios Can Be Expensive 

Specialized spin studios can be expensive for someone new to the practice.

Depending on your location, most spin classes will cost between $15-$25 per class.

When you put that together with multiple classes each week, it can quickly add up. 

Fortunately, there are ways to attend a spin class for cheaper than at a spin studio.

One of the most popular is going to your local big-box gym and attending the classes they offer at the location.

While these classes won’t be as comprehensive or specialized, they will teach you the fundamentals of indoor cycling.

In most cases, these classes will also be included with your standard gym membership. 

To learn more about the differences between a spin studio and a big-box gym class, check out: Should you take a cycling class at the gym or a spin studio?

Intimidating for Beginners 

Attending a spin class for the first time at a studio can be a very intimidating experience for many people.

You aren’t quite sure what to expect, and you wonder if you will embarrass yourself in front of the class. 

Experienced fitness instructor Andy Brown knows this feeling among beginners is quite common and notes that:

“Any first-time spinner can be intimidated because they feel self-conscious, apprehensive, and not confident.

They fear not keeping up with their peers or the instructor, or not having the knowledge to acclimate themselves on a bike.”

One of the best ways to remove that intimidation factor is to know what to expect when you attend a class for the first time.

To learn more about what it’s like to take a spin class for the first time, read 15 Tips to Have a Successful First Cycling Class

Can Push Your Body Too Much 

The high-energy and competitive atmosphere of a spin studio can be addicting for beginners just starting for the first time.

However, this motivation can also be harmful if you’re not careful, as personal trainer Tami Smith attests to: 

“It’s easy to do too much too fast, i.e., attend too many classes and burn yourself out.”

Learning to pace yourself during class and allowing your body to recover in-between classes is critical to your cycling success.

Don’t get too caught up in the leaderboard or competitive aspect of spin class when you’re just starting out.

However, that’s easier said than done! And it’s one drawback of attending cycling class vs just working out at your own pace.

Wrapping Up

Indoor cycling is a fantastic workout that is great for shedding fat, increasing your muscular endurance, and improving your cardiovascular health.

The high-energy atmosphere of a spin studio also makes working out really fun, with people getting addicted to the high-energy atmosphere of studio class. 

However, if you’re looking for a more well-rounded, full body workout, spin class isn’t the best choice. Try weight lifting or the rowing machine — or better yet, pair them all together on different days of the week.

You’ll also need to watch out for injuries from bad form or pushing too hard. Try not to get too caught up in the competition as a total beginner.

Overall, spin class or cycling workouts are a great addition to any workout plan — just go in with realistic expectations and an understanding of some of the potential drawbacks.

For more, try:

Hope this helps!