Spinning 101

Would you love to try a spinning class but are a little unsure about what to expect? We provide some spinning 101 tips to help get you into the saddle at your first spinning class.


Go early

Arrive at least 15minutes before the scheduled start time of the class. You want to have enough time to ask for assistance with your bike set-up and guidance on the use of the equipment without feeling rushed.

Correct saddle height is vital

Your instructor should have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the guidance you need to set your bike up correctly. However, in the event you need to do a set-up unassisted at some point, here’s a useful guide.

Basically, if you find yourself rocking from side to side in your saddle, it’s too high and you will injure yourself. Likewise, if your knee is still bent at the bottom of your pedal stroke then it’s too low and your knees will take strain. Get off and adjust the height until you can ride comfortably with your sitting bones glued to the saddle. When you turn the pedals, there should be no stretching or reaching, pointing your toe or rocking of hips. Useful tip: Once your set-up has been done, write down the settings. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget!

Take a towel

You WILL sweat and need to towel off during the class.

Take a water bottle

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Don’t stomp down on the pedals

Efficient pedal stroke is vital to riding. You need to engage all your leg muscles (quads, hamstrings and calves) as well as your butt, as opposed to just relying on your quads to push down on the pedals. Focusing on a smooth, complete peddle stroke action involves both pushing and pulling actions simultaneously.

Don’t bounce in the saddle

If you’re bouncing it means you’re doing a couple of things wrong. You’re not engaging your core to keep your ass glued to the saddle. Your resistance is also probably too low and your legs are just wildly spinning about, forcing your body to bounce uncontrollably.

Don’t hold the handle bars in a death grip

The point is to not rely on upper body strength but on your CORE to support you on the bike. You’ll just stress your upper body and shoulders so relax your hands and focus on engaging your core.

Relax your shoulders

Don’t hunch over the bike. Your posture should be relaxed with a light grip and slight bend in your elbows.

There might be “jumping”

Purely a feature of Spinning studios, the instructor might include a series of “jumps” into your workout. This requires you to intermittently stand (or jump) out of the saddle for anything from 1-8 seconds.

Some buzzwords you might hear in a class

Spinning 101

Cadence: Basically, the speed at which your legs are turning the pedals measured in RPM or Revolutions Per Minute.

Resistance: The amount of effort that you need to exert to turn the pedals. Adjusted manually with a resistance knob on the bike that you control.

Power: The amount of force you put out when turning the pedals measured in Watts. Power is a function of cadence and resistance. If you’re pedaling at a steady cadence of say 90 RPM, you can increase your power output by increasing your (effort and thus) resistance. Resist spinning your legs uncontrollably at a high cadence with no resistance. There’s little point, and you’re likely to injure yourself.

Hand position 1,2 or 3. During the class you’ll hear the instructor calling out hand positions. Here’s an infographic to help you understand what they’re going on about.




If you’re a first-timer curious about spinning, and want to give a class a try, wear your normal gym gear but heed our advice below.

Wear a good sports bra

You might think that you’re sitting down and there’s no need for a sports bra, but you do still need “boob support”.

Wear a light, breathable sports tank

It can get really hot, stuffy and sweaty in a Spinning studio, regardless of fans and air-conditioners, so the lighter and more breathable the clothing, the better.

Cycling shorts or knickers make for a far more comfortable session

Spinning 101

Because you’re not used to grinding away on a bicycle saddle, you’re likely to suffer a little tenderness. This lessens the more you ride and is also mitigated by the use of properly padded cycling shorts. Even though I’ve been a cyclist for many years, I wear cycling knickers (3/4 cycling shorts) for spinning classes. Cycling shorts can get pretty pricey but there are entry level options available like these from Sportsmans Warehouse.

Left: First Ascent Women’s 8 Panel Domestique Pro Cycling Short, R649. BUY

Right: Capestorm Women’s Stormrider 3/4 Tights, R700. BUY

You should also check the online cycling specific stores included at the end of this post for specials.

Wear a fitness tracker with heart rate monitor

Firstly, it’s ALWAYS advisable to keep an eye on your heart rate when training. Secondly, good instructors will structure a session according to effort levels and heart rate zones. We recently did a post to help you find the perfect fitness tracker for your needs. Check the post out here.

On your feet

You don’t have to invest in a pair of cycling shoes but if you do decide that spinning is your thing, then it is definitely advisable. Check out Sportsmans Warehouse or some of the online stores recommended below for inexpensive options. (FYI, you’re looking for mountain bike shoes with Look cleats. Be sure to seek out professional advice before purchasing anything though.)



We’ve ordered loads of stuff from these reliable online stores. They’re also constantly having great specials and sales so keep a look out.

Buy Cycle https://www.buycycle.co.za/

Chris Willlemse Cycles https://www.cwcycles.co.za/


Hopefully we’ve encouraged you to try a spinning class. Be prepared to feel the energy, sweat and have some fun!


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