I am by no means an expert on spinning or cycling and I am certainly not a fitness expert. But, as with most blogs, this is something in my life that I enjoy and I hope to share with you what I love about it. The difference between a spin and a cycle class is just in the name. A spin class is a specific brand of class using stationary bikes but a cycle class (which many big name gyms have as a part of their membership) use a lot of the same techniques, drills, etc. The key to finding whether spin or cycle is better for you is really about finding an instructor you like because styles can vary so much, even within the brands out there. While SoulCycle seems to create converts and followers, that may not be what you are looking for in your workout and that's ok. It's not about finding the most trendy or popular or expensive class. It is about finding a class that works for you because trust me, when you do, you will work harder than you thought you could.
I have tried almost every class my gym offers - aerobics, Zumba, bootcamp, and the rest. Nothing comes close to the feeling I get on the stationary bike. And for me it helps me with my technique and stamina for when I hit the road on my own bike. I leave having worked out harder than anything I would push myself to do, the atmosphere tends to be exciting and supportive and while there are some instructors who get in your face - again, that's just a matter of style from the instructor - not all classes are like that.
I never understood the concept of "hitting the wall" and trying to work past it until I took a spin class. It works your core, is an incredible aerobic exercise, and has the benefit of helping you if you enjoy riding a bike in general. You also need very little to get started, I recommend wearing capri yoga pants that are on the thicker side, a loose fitting moisture wicking shirt, and your gym shoes. You can purchase clip in shoes and they will make a huge different on the bike but don't do that until you know it is something you really want to commit to. I wear my fabletics and as long as you remember water and a towel (because if it's an instructor you like you will sweat) you have everything you need to get started. When you get there, get there a little early and ask the instructor for help "setting up" your bike, you will be able to adjust the bike to your height and comfort and that will truly make all the difference in the world. And don't be afraid to say it's your first class, instructors tend to be understanding that it can be an extremely rigorous workout for those who have never done it before and they will give you tips on how to make it a great first workout for you.
The main reason I think I enjoy it so much is that it is still a low impact workout on my joints. For me this is really important, I have issues with my ankles that make it difficult to stay with a lot of exercises but on the bike, it is never an issue. Like I said earlier this month, for me it's not necessarily about looking a certain way - for me it is about feeling a certain way. It is about the stress release and the feeling of accomplishment. I like a workout out the is physically and mentally stimulating and while it may seem like sitting on a stationary bike doesn't require a lot of thought, it is challenging enough and engaging enough that I never get bored and that helps me commit more.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness expert and do not claim to be one. Everything stated above is my opinion, not advice, and you should always consult your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.