While I do love my Spin, not every class is as good as the last. There are certain elements that contribute to a great class, and that includes the instructor, the music, and also the energy of the other participants. Of course, the music is a function of the instructor, and both contribute to the energy of the class.
What do I think makes for a good instructor, or for that matter, a good class? Everybody has their own preferences, and I can tell that some people actually like some of the things I hate.
In my opinion, there are two kinds of “rides.” There is the class that is conducted like an 80s style Jane Fonda aerobics class, or else there is the “ride” that is conducted like an actual indoor cycling class.
No instructor switches between. They are either the cycling type or the aerobics type, and let me tell you, I have a huge problem taking an aerobics type spin class.
In the aerobics type spin class, the instructor is constantly providing instructions. You are never in the same position on the bike for more than a count of two. This type of class usually requires that the instructor have an exaggeratedly high level of energy, which, in theory, is a good thing. However, when it essentially translates into an aerobics class, hopping and dancing around on a bike, it is an awful, awful thing. These are the classes where the instructors make you to shimmy or do the cabbage patch or switch your hand positions on the handlebars repeatedly. For me, being in a class with an instructor telling us to do these weird things is strange enough, but seeing that the rest of the class is actually following the instructions is an even weirder thing.
If you tell me we are going up a hill and to get out to third, do not then make me switch back to 2nd then 1st in counts of two while still on this hill. Actually, I feel bad, slightly, because it is in these classes that I pretty much do my own thing, or else just leave.
An aerobics class, to me, should be more like this.
My ideal type of spin class is one where we may do interval training or an endurance type ride, where the instructor tries to make you think you are on an actual outdoor ride. True, even the best will throw in jumps, but that is to keep the class interesting and engaged. It is more of a pace changer than the basis of the class. I would any day prefer to be on a 7 minute hill than 7 minutes of constantly switching positions.
The best spin classes are basically indoor cycling classes, where your core is engaged the entire time and your hams, quads, and glutes are all working. Sprints are mixed in with inclines and declines and flat roads.
When I think of what a spin class should look like, it would be something like this.
There are spin instructors who I avoid at all costs, because I have taken their classes and even given them second chances, but I just can’t get down with the bike aerobics nonsense. Does that mean they are bad? Absolutely not. In fact, there are definitely a lot of people who enjoy that style; I’m just not one of them.