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Spinning Your Wheels

Walking out of your favorite cycling studio with an empty water bottle, soaking wet towel and a smile on your face are signs that you just spent the last hour kicking butt in your favorite spin class---or was that a cycling class? Did you even know there is a difference?

Based on my experience, people often use the term ‘spinning’ to describe an indoor cycling class. What they don’t realize is that, although both classes involve riding a stationary bike in a studio, that’s where the similarities end.

According to the website spinning.com, “Spinning” is a trademarked brand and certification program developed by Mad Dogg Athletics in 1994. The “Spinning” philosophy is a program that strictly utilizes movements and techniques that you would experience riding outdoors, while focusing on your output of energy and your heart rate. In order for someone to use the terms “Spinning,” “Spin,” and “Spinner,” both the studio AND the instructors must be certified through Mad Dogg Athletics. If you are a part of cycling studio that is NOT “Spinning” certified, then your studio and classes are described as indoor cycling.

Many of the popular boutique cycling studios (SoulCycle, FlyWheel and JoyRide) are NOT “Spinning” certified. Each one has its own brand, techniques and philosophy. These studios often incorporate movements that you might not experience in a “Spinning” studio. For example, if your instructor leads you through a series of tap-backs, or uses hand weights while on the bike, you are not spinning, you’re in a cycling class. The music is also a differentiator. In a “Spinning” class, it serves primarily as a background element, while in cycling classes the music is an integral part of the workout, with the beats setting the tone for each drill.

As a “Spinning” certified instructor who works for an indoor cycling studio, I can see the pros and cons to both formats, so it really comes down to a matter of personal preference for you as the rider. But despite the differences, there is one thing that both formats have in common: they both strive to create an effective, challenging workout in a positive, safe environment.