Put a New Spin on Your Workout

Bored with your spin classes? Then it's time for a cycling class, made over.

Health Monitor Staff
Reviewed by
Philip Levy, MD
More Sharing +

Move over, same old spin classes! Brooke Shields, Chelsea Clinton, Kyra Sedgwick, Kelly Ripa and other celebrities are going wild for the newest take offered at New York City’s SoulCycle.

What if you don’t live in New York? No worries! Check out gyms near you for a cycling class with something extra. Just ask, “Do you offer a spin class that works the upper body, too?” The question could change your life!

Rethinking workout routines can benefit your entire body
As a person with diabetes, odds are you’re often reminded that exercise can help you shed a few pounds, lower your blood sugar level and allow insulin to work better. But the truth is that even the most dedicated gym rat can get tired of standard workout routines. That’s where fresh ideas like the ones from SoulCycle can benefit almost anyone.

What makes this newer version of spinning more than just a fad is that it is a full-body sculpting program. “It’s not just working legs and doing cardio,” says SoulCycle spokeswoman Gabby Etrog Cohen. Cyclists do a series of exercises with their upper bodies while on the bike, including push-ups, light weight lifting and using resistance bands.

Candles cut competition and boost performance
At SoulCycle, bright lights are considered intrusive. The darkness lets fitness enthusiasts shed the stress of the outside world and focus on their own riding. Although you’re in the dark, you’re riding close together and feeding off one another’s energy, says Cohen. “You are not competing against anyone else; you are riding for yourself. And our instructors are more like coaches who encourage you rather than telling you to ride harder. Their goal is to help people find their own personal strength and joy through exercise,” says Cohen.

SoulCycle works for cyclists of all abilities, such as people who have chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes. “If you’re not feeling well that day, you can take it at your own pace and the instructors can help you make changes to your workout,” says Cohen. The ultimate benefit is that the class stays with you beyond the four walls of the studio, she adds. “Riders take this feeling of positivity and can-do attitude out of the studio.”

Get a fresh start in a cycling class near you
A gym near you may offer a similar type of spinning, says personal trainer Bryan Berndt, owner of FIT Nashville, TN. Berndt’s studio offers a class for cyclists looking for a complete workout. “We use weights and resistance on the bike,” says Berndt. Riders also do exercises targeting the midsection. “After 45 minutes, we have pretty much worked every muscle group and your heart rate remains elevated,” he says. “It’s hard to sit on a bike doing nothing but spinning. Why not get an upper body workout at the same time?”

Doctors also give a thumbs-up to spinning, pointing to its benefits for those who have diabetes. “There is plenty of research to support that exercise cycling classes can improve insulin sensitivity for someone with diabetes,” says John Martinez, MD, a primary care doctor with the USA Triathlon National Team in San Diego, CA. “You can also expect to see a decrease in blood pressure with regular participation in an indoor cycling class.”

December 2012