Mistakes you're making in your spin class, according to a pro

Rosie Fitzmaurice

Sick of the humiliation of not being able to clip in on time for your spin class? I know I am. Having to be assisted with your cleats is not the slickest way to start a class.

And now that London is undergoing what you could call its second wave of spinmania, it's high time you (and I) figured out how to do it on your own.

You see, with the arrival of SoulCycle and the continued expansion of beloved studios like Psycle and 1Rebel, our love of the stationary two wheels is showing no sign of slowing down.

And for good reason, spinning is an excellent form of cardio that's low impact on joints and gives an endorphin rush that spin-addicts would argue is impossible to beat.

So we enlisted the help of SoulCycle instructor Mantas Zvinas, who shared the most common mistakes people make in class, and what to do instead.

Mistake one: rushing into your spin class

The consequences of this common error are two-fold, Zvinas explains, particularly if you're a newbie.

First, if (like me) you struggle with getting clipped in, always rushing into class last minute will leave you no chance of learning to do so by yourself.

Instead, arrive with several minutes to spare to do the following (preferably before you enter the darkened room).

"Take a look at the cleats so you know what they look and feel like to better visualise what you’re doing while trying to clip in", Zvinas says. "There is a bit of feeling out where to hook with the front part of the cleat, but once you feel hooked all you have to do is push down with the back part of the shoe to clip in," he adds. Once you hear a click, you're safely locked in and good to go.

Second, the height and position of your seat is of paramount of importance if you're to enjoy the ride and not leave with back niggles, so leave yourself enough time to get this right too.

"When setting yourself up don’t be afraid to play with the seat a few times searching for something that will make you feel most comfortable, this might even take a few rides. Generally, your position on your bike should have a slight bend of the knees when the foot is on the bottom of the stroke and enough space between the seat and the handle bars to allow your elbows some room for play.

"For SoulCycle specific bikes, we measure how far the handlebars should be from you by the length of your forearm and hand plus two fingers, with your elbow touching the front of the seat. The seat then needs to be hip-bone height, and handlebars slightly higher than the seat," he continues.

Mistake two: fearing the resistance knob

The resistance knob can seem scary, but Zvinas explains that it's actually the one thing that will keep you steady during your ride.

"People fear the resistance knob like it’s got teeth," he says. "It’s the way you find stability, a foundation, and transfers impact from your joints to your muscles when you turn it up – so turn up that knob!"

It can be confusing to know by exactly how much you should turn up the knob when the instructor tells you to do so, too, and Zvinas says this is a personal thing.

"It's all about how it feels to you, and the more you familiarise yourself with the resistance wheel, the more you'll get a feeling for how much to turn.

"It's different for everyone, and depends on how you are feeling on each different ride. The best way is to find your inner child and play with the resistance to find out what you're capable of and the fastest way is to just try it."

Mistake three: not syncing your breath with 'tap backs'

You're either the type of spinner that dreads the so-called "tap backs" or one that looks forward to them. Either way they require coordination, and the trick to mastering them is to sync your breath with the movement, according to Zvinas.

"It’s all about small tight movements that are guided by the breath – every time you tap back have a small breath that moves with it, to keep that body and breath connection."

Mistake four: confusing the handle bars

In the middle of a workout in the dark, with pumping tunes, and especially if you don't have a great view of the front, it can be tricky to navigate the different handlebar positions that you're required to quickly move between during the routine.

But it's actually pretty simple, Zvinas says: "The back bar is the bar nearest to you, the middle bar is in the middle, and third position is the handle bars all the way out front."

Mistake five: taking it too seriously

Don't overthink it. It's only a spin class afterall.

"Relax and try to enjoy it. Find something fun in the ride, and the benefits of the workout will be a side effect," he says. "It’s easier to build a habit doing something fun rather something that makes you feel rubbish afterwards. If you treat it like an army bootcamp it’s hard to build a habit of putting yourself through torture."

"Give out a high five, crack a smile and say hello to someone – those things have just as a positive effect on you as your workout."