Spinning new craze in aerobics

Erin Walter

Legs pumping, you lean to the right as you round a curve. You’re glad your feet are held secure in toe clips as you rise off your seat to avoid a bump. Sweat drips down your brow onto your forearms as you grip the handlebars of your racing bike.

It almost feels like you’re on RAGBRAI. But unfortunately, it’s January and you have six months to wait.

Is this a perverse fantasy of an Iowa State student-cyclist? No, it is the newest craze in aerobics — spinning.

Spinning is a group aerobic workout in which an instructor leads participants through an intense simulated ride on a stationary racing-style bike.

“Basically we’re trying to conceptualize outdoor cycling and bring it indoors,” said Jim Clark. Clark and his wife Karen are co-owners of Ames Total Fitness.

“It’s the hardest aerobic work-out I’ve ever had in my life,” Clark said. The owners are currently the only trained spinning instructors at Ames Total Fitness.

A spinning bicycle is not like a traditional stationary bike. “The seat positioning and handle bars are more typical of a racing type of bike,” Clark said. Spinning bicycles also have toe clips to prevent slips during more rigorous movements.

The hour-long cycling regimen includes varied intensities and simulated obstacles like bumps and turns. Because spinning does not impact joints as running does, people with chronic knee and hip injuries can participate, Clark said.

Participants of any age or size can participate in spinning, Clark said. The classes are usually 50 percent men and 50 percent women, which is unusual for aerobics classes.

“A lot of couples do it together because there’s no embarrassment,” Clark said.

Spinning classes do not involve intricate choreography, so cyclists can vary the intensity of their aerobic workout while keeping up with the rest of the class.

While spinning is currently not available through ISU Recreation Services, the activity is being considered. “[Spinning] is something we are definitely going to look into,” said Steve VanderKamp, the assistant director of ISU recreation services.

“It’s always possible. Money would be the only thing to keep us from it,” he said.

Like most fitness trends, spinning first caught fire on the east and west coasts and has worked its way to Iowa.

Spinning, like other aerobic fads, has taken the cardiovascular work-out of aerobics and given participants something new to do.

“In one way, [the spinning bike] is just another prop, but it is a real-life activity,” Clark said. “It is an exercise of an action people are already out there doing.”

The current schedule for spinning classes at Ames Total Fitness is 5:45 a.m. Monday and Friday, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 4:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 5:30 p.m. on Friday. The club said it plans to add more classes and purchase more bikes in the future.