Well, it’s the middle of winter and you’re in a bit of a slump. Too much holiday cheer, you mournfully acknowledge to no one but yourself. A friend suggests joining him in a spin class. A lot of people are doing it, he says. They have it right upstairs in the Deane Center for the Performing Arts on Wellsboro’s Main Street. Spin? Does it have anything to do with wool? You don’t have any sheep, you wouldn’t know how to shear them even if you did, and you don’t have anything that remotely resembles a spinning wheel.
Not that kind of spinning, silly. The kind of spinning we’re talking about here is the kind you do on a bicycle, the kind that gets your heart pumping and your lungs expanding. It’s the kind, says instructor Sue Webster, as she gives a thumbs-up to the last student leaving one of her morning classes at Mountain Life Cycling Studio (www.mtnlifecycling.com;  446-4452), that is about “finding that mind-body connection.” It’s also the kind that is great fun.
“It is completely my passion,” Sue says.
“I love it.”
She wants you to love it, too.
The story of spinning has its beginnings in Santa Monica, California, when, in 1991, a South African endurance cyclist named Johnny Goldberg joined forces with another ultra-distance cyclist and entrepreneur, John Baudhuin. Together they started making and marketing the Spinner brand of stationary bikes and the Spinner brand of workout programs. In 1994, Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc., registered and trademarked the Spinner name and developed the Spinning Instructor Certification Program (Sue has been a Certified Spinning Instructor for seventeen years, by the way).
What followed then for Spinning was a nod from Rolling Stone in one of their famous annual “What’s Hot” editions, a Spinning conference or two, a few international Spinning events, videos, an infomercial, and official Spinner bikes for the home market. A recent pairing with Precor, a provider of personalized fitness solutions, has resulted in new technology and new equipment. Today, twenty-five or so years later, official Spinning programs are available in eighty countries, and there are 140 Spinning Master Instructors worldwide.
Here at Mountain Life Cycling Studio in Wellsboro, Sue explains what makes Spinning so satisfying.
“The program was derived from outdoor cycling, and it is the leader in indoor cycling programs. It builds confidence, courage, and self-esteem. It is for men and women of all fitness levels.”
And, with a laugh from someone who looks amazingly fit and coordinated, “No coordination is necessary.”
Sue’s own Spinning story began in the mid 1990s—she had injured herself in a step aerobics class and needed a different kind of exercise routine. Spinning presented itself.
“I took to it right away,” she says of the non-impact cardio workout. She’s had the opportunities over the years to work with several Spinning Master Instructors, including International Spinning Master Instructor and former professional cyclist Josh Taylor. She spent ten years directing Spinning programs in Bucks County, and moved to Tioga County three years ago.
One of the things that makes Spinning a little more than just pedaling on a stationary bike is that the bikes themselves have the “geometry” of a road bike, along with a weighted flywheel that helps with stability. Riders don’t have to worry about falling off or keeping up with anybody else in the class. Instead, Sue says, “you can close your eyes and go inside.” A Spinning session, which typically takes place in a room with quiet lighting rather than the glare of a gym setting, is “not just coming in and sweating and leaving.” It is, however, “extremely addicting”—in the best possible way, of course, and is a huge stress reliever.
Ultimately the best way to find out what Spinning is all about is to give it a try.
“Taking an Intro to Spinning class is the best way to start,” Sue says. “We teach the core movements. We go over the basic set-up and safety, and a short ride, and then you’re prepared for a regular class.” The intro classes are offered on Mondays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.
Regular classes are scheduled for a variety of times throughout the week and are typically either forty-five minutes or an hour long. No special equipment is needed, although Oswald’s Bike Shop in Mansfield and CS Sports in Wellsboro (formerly Country Ski and Sports) carry products that might be useful to Spinners and are offering Spinning-related discounts. Sue says water and a small towel (you will sweat) are really all you need.
So—no excuses. A Spinning session of forty minutes burns 400-600 calories. That’s what we need to hear in mid-January.