“It works me really hard and I burn loads of calories.”

So you’ve had a long day sat at the desk, the boss has been on your back, you’ve had deadlines to meet and your STRESSED!! So what could be better than to get to the gym jump on your spin bike strap in and take out some frustrations on those pedals whilst listening to your favourite instructor pushing you along with some super cool tunes?

Sounds fun right? And to some people it’s the perfect answer. You leave the studio feeling “smashed” a walking puddle of sweat, you may have burnt (if you worked super hard) all the calories from that costa coffee and muffin you ordered in at work because you were so busy you didn’t have time to get away from your desk (here comes the but!) BUT just because it’s relieving those mental stresses and you “Feel great and your instructor was amazing” you’ll probably discover it’s causing a myriad of physical, hormonal and postural issues.
When you look on google you’ll find countless pages telling you the amazing benefits spin brings and let’s be honest if getting super-hot super sweaty and have a fun time when you get a super enthusiastic instructor is what you’re looking for then BOOM go for it.

The issue comes, when you put all of the above together into one hard paced, one dimensional package, that’s sold to those that know no better, as “An amazing all over workout that’s fantastic for you!!! See we all know sitting at a desk is never a good thing, certain areas in your spine take up to 40% more load than when standing. So imagine what your spines going through for 8 hours a day 5 / 6 days a week!Then there’s the upper back issues, forward head posture causing huge stresses on the vertebrae in the neck. Then there’s the rounded shoulders tight chest muscles and tight upper abs, all of which become worsened when hunched over a bike.

Don’t get me wrong there are some great instructors out there that will help you set your bike up well, but the fact is the more time spent over the handle bars the worse the spine becomes. And as you’ll read below setting up your bike well still won’t save your back.

So you’ve spent all day behind that desk (except hopefully for a toilet stop or two!) 5 o’clock arrives and you make your way to the gym looking forward to that stress busting spin class with your favourite instructor. You jump on and BOOM you’ve got the next 45 minutes to pedal as hard as you can, hanging on every word your instructor say’s “Faster, more resistance, forward, back, hover, up, down” Your moving lots right, that’s good yeah, moving’s good for me? Movement is good, the problem here is the moves around the bike are all being done by your upper body, Shoulders, Arms, maybe your back (Here comes another but!!) BUT the continuous pedalling is HAMMERING your hip flexors, those muscles you’ve been tightening all day sat at your desk. Tight hip flexors are HUGE ISSUE WITH BACK PAINS, creating what’s known as a Lordosis. The pelvis is tipped forward at the front and upward at the rear causing short tight and long weak muscles, causing imbalances above and below and pain everywhere!

But I stretch at the end!

What if I told you you’re probably stretching all wrong!! But a stretch is a stretch right? Wrong. See as much as hammering one muscle group is wrong for a functional body, stretching single muscle groups does not work either. We are connected from head to toe, systems called anatomy trains or sling systems, help create stability, flexibility and overall movement. Why stretch one muscle in the whole chain?? It’s like when you have a rusty bike chain, you wouldn’t just oil one link and expect the chain to run smoothly again, so why stretch one muscle that’s part of a whole chain of them?

So should I stop doing Spin?

Look, the above is just the opinion of a trainer that’s been helping people create better movement for the last 14 years, and if honest is not the biggest spin fan. After teaching it for two-three years myself I got very bored, it has very limited movements, It’s very one dimensional and super repetitive. But that’s my opinion and the above is just to give people a little knowledge (I could add plenty more!) to help them see a bigger picture than what the fitness industry, and spin teachers that want their classes full, will show you.

Will it get you fitter? Yes. Will it increase your cardio levels? Yes. Will it increase functional strength? If your names Chris Froome! But at the end of the day people will do what they wish and if they enjoy it that’s cool. If the above can help educate a few people and help them realise there’s more out there, then the above did its job.

James Tilley,
Mind Body Personal Training, Creating Amazing

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