I did it! I completed my first spinning class* and am here now to dish all the details to those who've never spun or are thinking of it.
After having received excellent tips from the ladies on the WeightWatchers.ca board, I arrived early and as prepared as I was ever going to be. I had my water, my towel, and I left my ego at home. I didn't go so far as to buy padded bike shorts or a gel seat because I wasn't sure if I would like spinning. And besides, I would've felt self-conscious bringing my own seat to the first class.
As a few others had also shown up early, the instructor started showing everyone how to set up their bikes. The seat adjusts up and down as well as front to back. That's a picture of the bike we were on by the way. It's a Lemond bike.
When everyone was set up and strapped into the bikes (the pedals have straps so your feet don't come out of them), the first thing the instructor said was, "I'm sure many of you noticed how uncomfortable the seat is." He then went on to suggest that if we found the seats too hard that we could buy gel seat covers for about $15 from Walmart that slip over the seat and cinch up. Oooooh. Gel seat covers. Not the whole seat. I really would have looked like an idiot if I had shown up with an entire seat!
Then the actual pedaling began. And it was really like aerobics except with bikes. The instructor was at the front of the room on his bike facing us, and we were in rows facing him. He'd have us pedal at a normal pace and then at intervals he'd tell us to either increase the pace, adjust the tension up, or stand up off our seats and pedal. We'd go like this for an interval then he'd return us to a regular pace before beginning again. He even got us to do some upper body work by doing a sort of push-up off the handlebars.
And that's basically how it works! He guides you through intervals of more intense pedaling and you just follow along with what he says. If you don't feel like you can stand up, you don't have to (or can do a modified version of standing). He also said you could "pretend" to dial up your tension if you wanted to impress your neighbour, haha!
After about half an hour of this, the instructor ended the class with stretching on our bikes (upper body) and then had us get off our bikes to stretch out our legs. I didn't feel wiped at all, but then again it wasn't a full class and he was being kind to us as newbies. The hardest part for me was the standing. My legs just aren't used to that sort of exercise! But I know it'll get better with practice. Fortunately, my bum didn't hurt much, but that's only because I'm used to sitting on my exercise bike for long periods of time.
Finally, a side-note about some of the participants in the class. There were three in particular who arrived late. Early twenties, skinny, and dressed in the latest fashionable workout wear. When I first saw them my thought was, "Oh great, just what I needed - a bunch of fitness junkies showing off right beside me!" But funny thing was - about halfway through the class I looked over and saw them struggling. One had given up completely and the others were half-heartedly trying to keep up. Meanwhile, all the other ladies in the class (same age as me or older and not very "fit" looking) were kicking serious ass. I know these girls were struggling but...okay...I have to admit that I felt just a little proud that I had no problems keeping up compared to them. It also felt good to know that just because you're skinny doesn't mean you're fit!
All in all, I had a blast and I can't wait to go back next week! For anyone interested in trying out spinning, I highly recommend finding a beginner's class. You'll get an orientation on the proper way to adjust your bike (and how you'll know if it isn't adjusted properly) as well as a relatively easy introduction to how spinning works. If you don't like it, at least you didn't pay for a full course!
* Hands up...who else thought spinning had to do with wool and princesses with clumsy fingers when they first heard of it? Okay, looks like I'm the only one who thought that. Fortunately, I found out before asking people what kind of yarn they made and why were they so sweaty?