I have been spinning quite a lot recently so I wanted to do a quick write up on what I think the pros and cons are of spinning vs. proper outdoor cycling.
Did you know that Spinning is actually a brand name, part of Mad Dogg Athletics Inc? I didn’t until I did some research for this post! The company started up in 1994 after already manufacturing special indoor bikes as early as 1991. Since then, the company has created a massive international following with formal education programs for instructors and bikes found all over the world.
Pros of Spinning
Generally, I’ve found indoor cycling to be quite safe and convenient. Some of the pros of Spinning vs outdoor cycling I would say are as follows:
- Safe from motorists
There’s no chance of you being cut off or hit by a car, bus or even motorcycle when you’re indoors so this is a hug plus!
- Weather independent
Come rain, shine, snow or hail you can go Spinning without it affecting you very much at all – that’s assuming you can make it to the gym or studio where the class is held!
I’ve found that it is quite easy to quickly get changed and head to my cycling class without much hassle or need to store my bike and helmet etc.
This goes along the lines of convenience. The class is always at the same time and place so it is easy and convenient to stay quite consistent in your training without lots of excuses to hold you back.
Obviously, whether or not the class is fun depends a lot on whether you enjoy being inside, what the instructor is like and if they play music that you like. Don’t be discouraged by an obnoxious instructor though, you can easily shift your schedule to join a different class with a different instructor who suits you.
Cons of Spinning
Obviously, there are some downsides to cycling indoors, especially on rock solid bikes. Here’s what I think are the biggest cons.
- Annoying at times
This is the opposite of the last Pro. Sometimes, if you’re still getting to know the instructors, you might get a really annoying one who has a high-pitched “screamy” voice, whether they’re telling you to speed up or slow down. This can be annoying but is easily avoided by finding another class
Some might find an indoor class monotonous as it is much like being stuck in a hamster wheel – similarly to running on a treadmill. If you learn to get lost in the music or focus on your technique or working through the burn you can try to work through the boredom.
- Not as physically challenging
I found a lot of purist cyclists discouraging people from spinning online. I do agree that, with the stability being handled by a solid bike frame underneath you, there is not much benefit on your core. But because of the convenience and safety of Spinning, it allows a lot of athletes the chance to be a lot more consistent in their training – which means more in the long run than missing out on some core strength in the winter.
- No bike handling skills
Again the purist cyclists were discouraging eager athletes from spinning but I fully agree with this point. Spinning has a major drawback that is very difficult to simulate. Because the bike is completely stabilized you are missing out on time spent feeling your bike and learning how to handle it in various situations. Pro cyclists don’t go flying down hills because they’re insane or fearless (ok, maybe a little), but because they are very much one with their bike and know the limits of it very well.
Overall, I’ve found Spinning to be great for my off-season training. I’ve stayed consistent, had some excellent workouts with awesome music – yes, I’m lucky to have some great instructors. I would be interested to hear what others’ experiences are with it!
What do you think of Spinning? Have you ever tried it? Do you prefer to cycle outdoors?