In 1989 the fitness VHS reined supreme with health enthusiasts – commonly featuring Madonna or Cher tracks and a big haired instructor wearing luminous spandex. Still, one gym in Santa Monica was trying something new, something fun and something guaranteed to shed over 500 calories in just one hour – Spinning.
The now acclaimed ‘fitness phenomenon’ was birthed in the late 80s and fathered by Johnny Goldberg – a personal trainer specialising in endurance racing. His idea for indoor gym cycling was inspired by a near accident he had while training outside. Little did he know the idea would grow into one of the most popular exercises ever invented.
Once the ‘motionless’ bike was created and perfected to represent actual road conditions, Goldberg began hosting classes for locals. The profits soon carried him to LA and by 1994 he formed the official Spinning brand.
Since then, adaptations of the classes have formed all over the world, some focused on enjoyment, some focused on intensity but the majority focused on a combination of the two. It is a group exercise and the camaraderie involved can act as extra motivation while excessively burning calories.
What does Spinning involve exactly?
Each member of the group has their own stationary bike. By adjusting components like seats, handlebars and pedals for optimum comfort, everyone prepares for when the music starts. Using music to maintain pedalling rhythm is a well-practiced technique and is why you will sometimes see professional cyclists racing with headphones.
The classes are much more exciting than pedalling at a monotonous tempo. Instructors will begin to incorporate a variety of exercises such as handlebar press-ups, single calf isolation, seat hovering and many more challenging work outs – all while pedalling at various speeds designated by instructions or the beat of the music.
Each bike is fitted with an intensity dial which can be adjusted accordingly to the pattern of the class. For example, some instructors will vocally describe an imaginary outdoor race and encourage participants to tighten the dial when ‘climbing a hill’ and loosen it again once over the envisaged apex.
What fitness level is required for Spinning?
Anybody can join a Spinning class and enjoy exercising at their own pace. More advanced athletes can simply tighten their individual intensity dial, to a level which challenges their muscles. Equally, newcomers can take it easy and gradually build their fitness over a series of sessions.
What does the future hold for Spinning?
Johnny Goldberg himself has recently developed the Krankcycle, which takes main element of Spinning and incorporates the arms too. Appraised by specialist publications like Shape and Men’s Health, Kranking is set to become an equally popular cousin of Spinning, offering a workout of higher intensity.
Spinning itself still has plenty of life to grow into and with extreme classes sprouting up in gyms all over the world, such as Korean Jackie Spinning, the notion of blending cardio with strength training is guaranteed to be forever popular amongst the body conscious.
Jackie Spinning is not for the feint-hearted. The Korean show team Apollo, have imposed elements of dancing and gymnastics into their Spinning routine. Jackie Spinning classes are unlikely to become as popular with the average gym goer but they are extremely impressive to watch.
Looking back with hindsight and analysing how celebs now thrive on effective exercise with the public following suit, it is easy to understand how Spinning was destined for such popularity. Johnny G could never have anticipated that when he spun that first stationary bike in 1989, the cog would still be ferociously turning come 22 years later.
Article published on behalf of Fitness First.