By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 04, 2002 at 5:25 AM

For many, the name "spinning" suggests a craft similar to weaving, or the act of twirling around like a whirling dervish, but the curious will appreciate what many health clubbers already know: Spinning (registered trademark of Schwinn) is also a popular indoor biking class that's notorious for its strenuous workouts and drill sergeant-ish instructors.

Although invented in 1987 by world-class cyclist Johnny Goldberg (aka Johnny G), Spinning came to Milwaukee's In Motion Fitness Studio in the mid '90s, and later to other gyms including the YMCA and Le Club.

From the beginning, some predicted the indoor cycling class was destined to follow the Ab Roller to wherever fitness fads go to die, but other devotees believed Spinning was undeniably here to stay.

So, more than a half-decade later, is Spinning still popular?

According to Sarah Addeo, owner of In Motion, the answer is both yes and no. Spinning is still the staple program for In Motion, however overall she feels the sport had waned in popularity. "Some people got burned out," she says. "They went too hard core and that isn't what the spinning program is about. Instead, the concept is to work smarter, not harder."

Heather DuCloux, Fitness Director at the Downtown YMCA, says the Spinning program continues to thrive in her facility as well. "Spinning is a familiar form of exercise; a lot of participants already know how to ride a bike," she says. "Plus, participants choose their own intensity. For this reason, it appeals to everyone from the tri-athlete to the novice exerciser."

Addeo also believes some instructors, although certified by the official Spinning program, were not teaching students to spin properly and therefore, increased their chances of injury. Although almost all students report feeling sore the day after their first few spin classes, long-term pain is not normal.

"You would hear people say 'It was so amazing, I couldn't walk the next day' but this isn't right. You shouldn't do something over time that hurts," she says.

Spinning is a group fitness program combining five basic movements and heart rate training. It incorporates biking, music, camaraderie and visualization, and when practiced properly, burns fat, builds strength and increases cardiovascular health. Despite it's hard-core reputation, Spinning is actually a program for people of all ages and fitness levels that allows students to "tailor" the workout to fit personal fitness goals.

Participants ride anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour-and-a-half on specially designed "Spinners" or stationary bikes. The bikes are sleeker and smoother than the "average" stationary bike (like the one in your parents' basement) and they also feature a resistance knob that can increase the amount of friction, hence making the ride more difficult.

Certified Spinning instructors select the music -- which ranges from rock to reggae to even classical -- and create the routines. Some also use visualization to further the mind/body connection and to make the ride more fun. Bruce Keyes, an avid outdoor cyclist and Spinning instructor at the Downtown Y, uses visualization in his Thursday night class.

"I specifically narrate through particular rides that I have experienced. It allows for more tangible goals interspersed in the ride and is a good format for playing games on the bike -- such as chasing down a rider ahead, or cresting a hill," says Keyes. "My hope is that it gives students a mental distraction and a reason to challenge themselves that little bit harder."


Although Spinning may have lost momentum in some cities, Milwaukeeans are still enjoying the program's benefits. The group setting increases motivation and those with ankle, knee or back problems particularly appreciate the low-impact aspect of indoor cycling. Spinning is also a high-calorie burner and an excellent way to cross train between runs or other forms of exercise.

"Spinning is (a combination of) good music, good company and great instructors," says DuCloux.

For more information about Spinning, call In Motion Fitness Studio at (414) 352-6979 or the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee at (414) 224-9622. Both facilities sell individual class passes as well as entire sessions. Might as well get a jump on your New Year's resolution, eh?

Molly Snyder Edler is a certified Spinning instructor. So, she knows.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.