Spinning, a fitness class that had taken the gym industry by storm, may just be on its death bed due to Covid-19 regulations. And thank God for that.
Why am I happy with the potential decline of Spinning classes in gyms?
Spinning, or more importantly cycling is not an adequate foundation of fitness due to a number of important and often unacknowledged reasons, yet many people are unaware of this. I aim to outline these reasons and perhaps persuade you not to waste another 45minutes being shouted at by a trainer who must be snorting cocaine to feign that level of enthusiasm for a fitness class.
The average participant in a gym class is a desk bound worker, who just clocked off from an 8 hour shift. Throughout the day, they have probably spent 7 hours on a chair in the office and up to an hour commuting in a car or bus. But now their chosen form of fitness is a seated on a bike. Go figure.
There is little doubt that the health of the hips of these participants is not being addressed sufficiently in a spin class, or cycling in general. When you analyse the detrimental affect of long term sitting on the health of your spine and hips, you might be inclined to give this issue some serious consideration. According to the HSE, “at least 4500 hip replacements are carried out each year in Ireland, usually on adults aged over 65. Additionally, women are more likely to need a hip replacement than men.” Straight from the horses mouth. Moreover, these hip replacements are often a result of osteoporosis, a bone degenerative disease that unfortunately targets women at a higher rate then men, and given the fact that it is commonly documented that weight training reduces the risk of osteoporosis by up to 83%, the scientific data is strikingly in favour of cancelling your spinning classes should they ever return, and begin weight lifting.
Despite what gyms may claim about spinning as a form of fitness, spinning does not build an adequate amount of muscle mass and only deals with two aspects of the body; cardiovascular health and the muscles of the quads. Do a quick google search of the purpose of spin bikes and you will find vague claims such as “spin bikes are designed to help you meet your weight-loss goals” or that spin bikes offer “a full-body workout while focusing on major muscles such as the thighs, calves, abs, hips, and shoulders”. I hope you noticed that hips aren’t muscles, and I won’t insult you by explaining why cycling doesn’t offer your shoulders a workout.
And to address those who would fear becoming ‘big and bulky”, (as if it happens overnight), I would highlight a very interesting study entitled “Skeletal Muscle Mass as a Mortality Predictor among Nonagenarians and Centenarians: A Prospective Cohort Study” by Hui Wang in Scientific Reports, which proved that “low muscle mass was associated with a higher risk of death” for both men and women in their later years. Developing and maintaining that muscle mass is therefore vital in terms of longevity and overall health.
Finally, the return on investment of spinning is simply so small. You have a finite amount of time each week to invest in your health, and spinning does not deserve your time. It will not increase the mobility of your hips, nor the strength of your back. It will not help your posture and it will not improve your athleticism. All that will happen is it will burn you calories and improve your ability to cycle.
However, let me remind you that squatting, and resistance training in general, would do the same and more. So much more. Many people don’t seem to notice that those who squat correctly and often can obviously cycle, however I know many avid cyclists who can’t squat.
Despite what many people believe, a 45 minute training session, 4 times a week, is actually enough time to develop some serious improvements in your overall health in a matter of 4-8 weeks. However, a class like spinning which focuses on such a small aspect of your body, is simply insufficient. So I sign off here with one request, ignore Dory the Fish and your cocaine fuelled gym instructor when they say “just keep spinning, just keep spinning, just keep spinning”.