Focus on Fitness: Spin class offers great winter workout

Nick Esares/Steamboat Pilot & Today

While skiing and snowboarding may be on the minds of most in Steamboat Springs, those who take cycling or mountain biking seriously know that putting in the effort during the winter months is an important part of having a successful and enjoyable season once the weather turns warmer.

For Bruce Alston, an avid cyclist and longtime fitness instructor at Old Town Hot Springs, spin classes provide an exciting and motivating solution, tapping into the encouraging, social aspect of a summer group ride, throughout the harsh Steamboat winter.

“It can be 24 below outside, and you’re comfortable,” Alston said. “The music is great, and there’s a camaraderie you don’t get at home on a trainer. It’s really a great winter workout.”

A typical spin class consists of individuals on stationary bikes led by an instructor. The bikes’ resistance are easily adjusted as the class ramps up intensity or goes through interval training. Participants are also instructed to stand up, out of the saddle at times to simulate climbing.

“In an hour class, depending on how hard you’re willing to work, you can burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories,” Alston said.

Alston can’t overstate the dividend this off-season effort pays avid cyclists come spring.

“When you take the winter off, even if you’re a skier, it doesn’t translate,” Alston said. “You have to be on the bike consistently. If you cross country ski but aren’t spinning, you’ll really be behind the eight ball going into May and June, and you might not be in cycling shape until July.”

Alston is quick to point out, however, that not all spinners are there to prepare for an upcoming season.

“Within any individual class, you have all fitness levels. You have people who are elite, and you have people who want to lose a little bit of weight and don’t even view themselves as athletes,” Alston said. “That’s the great thing about spin. It’s your own individual bike. You can dial the resistance up or down and go as hard or easy as you want.”

Another often-seen category of spinners are those recovering from injuries. Similar to swimming, cycling is low impact. Alston routinely sees class participants with hip, back, spine or knee injuries benefitting from his workouts.

“We have people with injuries who come in and just spin slowly. Some people may have hip injuries and just want to loosen up those muscles,” Alston said. “I used to be a runner, but running can be hard on your body. Spin is a fluid motion and very easy on the joints.”

Spin classes at Old Town Hot Springs will resume Dec. 3 in a brand new spin room. Registration is now open a week in advance of each class.

Nick Esares is marketing director at Old Town Hot Springs.

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