The media has given quite a bit of attention lately to claims made by celebrity trainer Tracey Anderson that “spinning” makes you gain weight and/or bulks your thighs. We’d like to set the record straight on two important issues. Firstly, Spinning® is a brand and the program that we developed over 20 years ago when we created the indoor cycling category. It was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as the “hot” exercise of 1993. As the worldwide leader in indoor cycling bikes and fitness education, we are committed to providing exceptional, high quality products and unparalleled programs and accessories under the Spinning® brand.
“Spinning is one of the trendiest exercise routines,” according to Margot Peppers of Mail Online who recently wrote the article “‘Spinning bulks your thighs’ Tracy Anderson on how the trendy workout could actually make you GAIN weight.” Tracy Anderson in Redbook magazine, states that “Spinning may burn calories in the short term, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’ll bulk your thighs…[and can actually make you gain weight].”
As SELF Magazine’s Fitness Editor, Marissa Stephenson, pointed out in her response to Anderson’s statement, the simple fact is that there is no evidence to support her assertion. Numerous experts agree, including exercise physiologist Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of Exercise Science at Auburn University Montgomery (quoted in Stephenson’s response), citing recent studies that have shown women actually lose fat from their guts and lower bodies when they cycle often, even though their thighs may look temporarily pumped after a workout.
The scientific research to support Spinning® and indoor cycling as a meaningful and effective way to lose weight and maintain fitness is also very well documented. Most notably, the Bianco, et al. (2010) study found that indoor cycling training was an efficient method for weight loss in women, and Valle et al. (2010) observed significant reductions in body mass and fat percentage in body mass index in subjects who participated in an indoor cycling program for 12 weeks.
In addition to collecting and conducting research, we’ve been working with cyclists of all levels for over 20 years, and have deep practical experience understanding how cycling affects people’s bodies. Consider the body “archetype” of professional road cyclists. They are all on the leaner side of the athletic body type spectrum, not the bulkier one. And while their leg muscles may be chiseled, they are not “bulky”—any ‘bulkiness’ would be attributable to their body type (i.e., endomorph), not to cycling.
To get scientific for just a moment, hardcore cycling requires a large proportion of fast-oxidative glycolytic (FOG) muscle fibers. These are the fibers that allow a rider to go long, go fast and explode at the right times without fatiguing too quickly. Thicker fibers only develop as a result of heavy loads, time under tension and, of course, genetics. Spinning®, which was created as a sports-specific indoor training program for cyclists, is a program tailored for 30-90 minute classes—the thicker fibers can’t sustain this type or duration of activity, and therefore do not develop in response to Spinning® or other indoor cycling programs.
So, when it comes to Anderson’s statement about Spinning® bulking up the thighs, we respectfully but strongly disagree and we have facts and experience to back it up. This is not to say that all of Anderson’s statements or methods are wrong. In fact I personally referred back to her routines numerous times during my personal training career.
We at Spinning® would like to offer Tracy Anderson the opportunity to come to this year’s World Spinning® and Sports Conditioning Conference in Miami, FL May 30-June 1, 2014 to see and learn more about what Spinning® REALLY is: the authentic, exhilarating experience, the fitness and empowerment, and the camaraderie of our global community – not the size of anyone’s thighs.
In 1991, in a Santa Monica California garage, entrepreneur/cyclist John Baudhuin and South African ultra-distance cyclist Johnny Goldberg, known as Johnny G, created Spinning® and introduced the world to indoor cycling. Spinning brought together innovative, authentic indoor Spinner® bikes, deep cycling experience, a challenging and exhilarating workout, and knowledgeable, engaging instructors – elements that are still at the core of Spinning® today. Our purpose is to empower you, whether you’re a new or experienced indoor rider, an instructor, or a facility operator. We live to provide the best indoor cycling experience on the planet.
We offer a huge array of workout rides and journeys, from a dance party in Ibiza to a climb through the Alps in the Tour de France. In a Spinning® class, you’ll find hard core athletes brimming with the latest technology riding next to grandmothers brimming with soul, all getting what they want to get out of the ride. Whether that’s getting into shape or getting ready to race, tuning in or zoning out, or just enjoying the inspiration, fun and camaraderie of a group ride.
And Spinning is much more than a class. We design and build the world’s best performing indoor bikes and accessories. We develop and evolve the world’s most respected indoor cycling certification and continuing education programs. And we’re a global community of 25 languages, 80 countries, 150+ Master Instructors, 30,000 licensed facilities, over 200,000 thousands active Instructors in our SPIN Network, countless regional events and group rides every year, and millions of riders around the globe.
Our instructors take riders into their hearts, not just their classes. And we’re honored and inspired to be part of your stories.
We want to help Instructors, facilities and riders do and be more than they thought they could. Even if all that means is being inspired enough to get to a class, or get on a home bike when the couch is much more inviting.
From our humble beginnings in a Santa Monica garage, to a vibrant, deeply passionate global community… We are Spinning®.
Shannan Lynch, PhD
Bianco A, Bellafiore M, Battaglia G, Paoli A, Caramazza G, Farina F, Palma A. The effects of indoor cycling training in sedentary overweight women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Jun; 50(2):159-65.
Valle VS, Mello DB, Fortes Mde S, Dantas EH, Mattos MA. Effect of diet and indoor cycling on body composition and serum lipid. Arq Bras Cardiol. 2010 Aug; 95(2):173-8.
Spin®, Spinning® and Spinner® are registered trademarks, owned by Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.