By Cori Parks, Certified Spinning® Instructor | Cambodia
With the hairpin twists and turns that “expertise” takes in the fitness industry, it is easy to get caught up in an enthusiastic wave of new thinking and completely shelve what you’ve always known to be true.
What people tend to forget is that, in a well-rounded fitness program, variety is key. Case in point, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is “in” while endurance training is “out.”
Over-zealous fans of HIIT style training tend to mock treadmill junkies and swimmers alike, claiming that endurance can be built from short, intense training, The misguided “take home” message is that endurance training is no longer the way to go. At all. Ever.
So, where does that leave Spinning®?
With a nod to the wonderful benefits of including HIIT style training into your weekly training program, it is time to revisit some fundamental elements of Spinning that not only keep it relevant in the ever-changing world of fitness, but also play a critical part in personal and preventative health care as well as community cohesion.
Here are five fabulous benefits of the Spinning program that you may not know:
1. Psychological Benefits
Exercise in general has long been held as a mood booster, and the research confirms the benefits go even deeper than simply a “feel good” outcome. Most people are familiar with the notion of brain chemicals being responsible for emotion, response, drive and the like.
Endorphins = euphoria and the brain’s pain-killer.
Dopamine = excitement and the brain’s reward button.
Seratonin = pleasure and the brain’s happy pill. But this is just the surface.
There are thousands of chemicals at play and when a body goes sedentary, the brain’s chemical network suffers. Exercise can restore balance, decreasing chemical-based reactions like depression, addictive type cravings and even insomnia.
Just as a foam roller can realign and reset the lineage of fascia, so too does exercise unknot the neurotransmitters which express themselves in self-efficacy, confidence, willingness and awareness. Of course, HIIT training provides the same benefits, but there is one profound distinction to be made. When a participant lives an already fast-paced, stressful life, high intensity training is not a counterbalance. Spinning for an hour (especially in the Endurance Energy Zone™) is sustained, rhythmic and reviving, which lends itself perfectly to the possibility of euphoria (think “runner’s high”)—the opposite of how most people live.
2. Health and Fitness Gains
When it comes to one of the world’s greatest challenges right now, sedentary living contributes to a whole host of medical issues. Diabetes, osteoporosis, a lack of coordination for functional movement, elevated blood pressure—the list goes on. Once people become bogged down by physical stagnation and the complications that accompany it, just getting active presents a huge challenge. For these situations, high intensity workouts should not be performed unless there is a base of fitness that includes correct movement and a foundation of aerobic exercise capacity.
Spinning, when coached appropriately for emerging exercisers, is the perfect solution (together with starter movement-based training such as gentle yoga) to establish sustained cardio-centered activity. Paired with appropriate nutrition, Spinning is a major contributor to keeping people healthy and out of the medical care system.
3. Positive Behavior Change
When a person seeks to make major behavioral changes in their life, they often goes through several attempts (often erroneously referred to as “failure”) to make the lasting change. Whether it is smoking, food addiction, or other self-destructive behaviors, several components of healthful living have to be put into place and practiced before the change becomes integrated into genuinely sustainable lifestyle habits. This often includes the removal of what triggers the negative behavior, professional, contractual commitment and accountability with another person as well as the replacement of new healthful behaviors that serve as self-care and a time out from the discipline of resisting the old habit.
Regular participation in a Spinning program can provide just that. A Spinning class promotes an atmosphere of non-judgmental participation and self-discovery – breeding grounds for true and lasting lifestyle changes.
4. Social Support
Human beings need others around them, historically for safety and progress, but now, more than ever to combat loneliness (a trigger for depression) and to fortify self-actualization. European coffee shops and pubs caught on to this long ago, but the advent of the internet has altered public meeting places so that people are in parallel presence with each other, but not interacting; kind of like a library, or a pre-school.
At first glance, it might seem a Spinning studio is set up for exactly this sort of existence—parallel, non-interacting participants—but there is an important distinction. In the team-like atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to just do their best, the over-riding question is not how much you can take from the instructor, but how much you can give…to the class. This puts participants in the position of contributing, not just consuming. The dynamics of this “give and take” is social when participants feel like their presence is important and meaningful. Perhaps it can go without saying, but for the 90 minutes that a person is preparing for, attending and leaving a Spinning class, they are likely without phones and computers—off the sticky web of social isolation.
So far, we’ve considered the non-fitness, personal benefits of taking an hour+ out of your day to attend a Spinning class. There is, however, another component of this endurance style of group fitness class. Because it is safe and does not require a lot of mastery of coordination, Spinning can be accessible to the general public. When facility managers harness the dynamic energy of highly motivated people, they are able to do great things like fund raisers for specific community causes, awareness campaigns and training programs for community events like triathlons. The possibilities are endless, from raising funds to raising hope.