Why I Love Spin Class — An Instructor’s Tale

Sarah Sung
by Sarah Sung
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Why I Love Spin Class — An Instructor’s Tale

To say I love spin class is an understatement.

This month marks my 20th anniversary teaching spin. It’s really unbelievable — and I hate to be cliche in saying this — but, seriously, where does the time go? It feels like I just started teaching yesterday. Right now, I teach six classes a week, on top of my day job. As they say: When you follow your passion, it’s not work.

When I started, my playlists were on cassette tape — remember those? Yup, that was the technology way back in 1997. As time went on, I moved to CDs, then to an iPod with iTunes and now to my iPad and Spotify. In our studio back in the day, each student had their own headphones and would connect into the sound system and the instructor (me) would spend the first 10 minutes adjusting everyone’s volume. So the room during class would be silent aside from some seriously heavy breathing. This was how Spinning started.


“When you follow your passion, it’s not work.”


Now, the studio experience is way less solitary, dare I say rave-like, as loud music blares through big speakers and dark, funky lighting is the norm. It’s not unexpected if a disco ball is also spinning. The bikes, too, have come a long way: Power meters are standard and cueing for functional threshold watt is becoming common lingo. Who knows what it’ll all be like 20 years from now…

I owe so much to Spinning beyond rock-solid thighs. Thanks to teaching, I bought a road bike and discovered the exquisite joy of riding outside. For years, I was on the road like clockwork every Saturday — Paradise Loop, Three Bears, Nicasio, Alpine Dam, the Seven Sisters, Point Reyes, any and all popular northern California rides were all on the roster. I got so hooked that I traveled all over the Bay Area from Sonoma to Monterey to ride organized metric and full centuries. That led me to compete in triathlons, including Escape From Alcatraz, the half-Vineman and the half-Ironman in Kona. I’ve had a bike since childhood, so it’s hard to say whether I’d have these experiences regardless of Spinning, or whether I got into Spinning because I loved cycling, but either way, it’s definitely a major force in my life.

Thanks to teaching, I’ve made some lifelong friends. I’ve attended weddings and baby showers. I reconnected with someone who took my classes and seemed familiar, and one day we realized we went to elementary school together. I’ve become a regular at students’ Christmas parties. I’ve even traveled as far as Thailand with a student-turned-good friend. And to think, this all started because of a stationary bike…

There are so many things to love about spin class — even if you have zero interest in ever leaving the gym. The electricity of a group environment. Being able to get lost in that mental meditation. Feeling the music and driving the rhythm. Not to mention it’s an incredible low-impact workout that burns crazy calories — if you’re willing to work hard.


READ MORE > SENSORY OVERLOAD OR THE BEST SPIN CLASS EVER?


The great thing about the workout is it’s practical. Sure, it can lead to riding outdoors like it did for me, or if you ride outside already, it can augment that. In fact, Spinning started in the ‘90s because the founder, Johnny G., got hit by a car while training for a cross-country race.

To me, the very best thing about spin class is how democratic it is. Sometimes you’ll have professional athletes riding alongside a first-timer, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because we share our energy, our enthusiasm and we all find our own, individual edge. Plus, they’re stationary bikes after all. These bikes don’t move. So nobody’s a winner.

Or everybody’s a winner …


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT SPIN CLASS

> Women’s Spinning Tops
> Women’s Spinning Bottoms
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> All Women’s Studio Gear


About the Author

Sarah Sung
Sarah Sung

An avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, yogi and all-around gym rat, Sarah Sung has written lifestyle, health and fitness content for publications including AFAR, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonima and UrbanDaddy. In her spare time she teaches indoor cycling in San Francisco and has raced in triathlons in California and Hawaii. Traveling and checking out the latest dining scene are always high on her to-do list.

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