Hey tribe –
I know a lot of you, like me, really enjoy a good, sweaty spin class. Many of my clients and friends owned a spin bike long before quarantine. I didn’t take classes as much as I’d like pre-Covid, but I went enough to be a comfy front-row rider (if you spin, you know). There are lots of things about indoor cycling that can be great for your body. For me, the best part is the endorphin rush! I LOVE moving to the music and being soaked in sweat when I leave. Despite the amazing scented candles, I never went to SoulCycle because of their branding. I didn’t care about the colors, the cult-like following, or the merch by the lockers, but I LOVED vibing out and getting super sweaty in a dark room, while trying to keep the cadence of all of those around you. I liked the pressure of the front-row….DON’T GET OFF BEAT! But I also had days where I went to the back and just completely did my own thing, and had an amazing release cry in the dark during the 2nd to last song (again, if you know, you know).
A spin bike seemed like a great investment for me, because our building gym never re-opened and probably won’t for a very long time. I don’t love running outside during the winter, but I’m a sweaty, cardio junky. As much as I LOVE strength training, the balance of both keeps me sane. After riding my own bike this last week, paired with the fact that I have a lot of prenatal clients who spin on days we aren’t doing a session, was what inspired me to write this. Indoor cycling can be great exercise, but here are some things that are super important to note when riding during pregnancy or postpartum:
- Adjust your bike – You want to be comfortable in a position where you can sit back more, instead of the extended, lean forward type position. Your ribcage/core should be engaged to avoid splaying, thus putting even more pressure on your belly/linea alba. Riding in traditional position during pregnancy could naturally shift you further out of alignment and cause more low back pain from that outward pressure in your core. Maybe it means you raise the handlebars and bring them closer to you, or very slightly lower the seat (while still keeping proper hip-ish height). You want to ensure you can maintain a proper alignment and stay lifted in your posture throughout class.
- Stay in the saddle/seat – This isn’t the time for 2nd or 3rd position. It’s really challenging to maintain optimal neutral alignment in these positions and with your already shifting spine, you don’t want to compromise that positioning any further. Also, the bouncing/jostling around in those positions isn’t great for your pelvic floor, as it can actually be fairly impactful if not done correctly.
- Dial down your intensity/modify your output – Turn off the leaderboard! Riding during pregnancy isn’t about matching what you used to do and/or reaching peak leaderboard status. If you’re trying to get some insane output, you’re probably doing more than you should. It’s not that we can’t train hard during pregnancy (you know I preach the opposite of that), but we should be smart and safe.
- Check in with your “talk test” every so often – Instructors love to ask you questions they won’t ever hear the verbal answer to during at-home spin classes, BUT, every so often, answer out loud! If you can’t answer them without being breathless and feeling like you can’t finish a sentence, you need to dial back. It’s not necessarily about obsessively paying attention to your heart rate, but you should be able to answer questions in a full sentence without being completely winded.
- Take shorter classes – Your low back and pelvic floor don’t need more than 20-30 minute classes at a time. It’s not a matter of endurance and strength, but merely a matter of giving your body just enough without doing too much. Any longer than that and you’re bound to start slipping on your form and causing more discomfort than good. Your pelvic floor often clenches during a repetitive movement pattern like spinning when you’re engaging your glutes and sitting on a bike seat. During pregnancy, we need to know how to release and relax these muscles, so consider that your PF toning for the day and then spend time releasing those muscles after. (I have a post on IG that shows some PF release stretches that are great to do after a spin class).
- Stay hydrated – We probably all love spinning because we enjoy a sweaty class, but the more you sweat, the more hydration you lose. Drink a little more than you already are (which should be a LOT), before, during, and after class. You could even get those electrolyte packets to put in your water after class. Another reason a 20-30 minute class is good – you’ll have to pee frequently!
- Listen to your body – That’s usually my first fitness tip, but today, I’m putting it at the end so it’s fresh in your mind. If anything feels uncomfortable or painful, hop off the bike. That might be a day to try something else. If it just feels yucky after a few minutes, stretch and do some core work. If you’re feeling nauseous, hold off for another day. There is something to be said for workouts giving you energy and helping aches and pains, but if you start out feeling pretty crappy, continuing that way probably isn’t the way to go. It might be hard to hang up those spin shoes at first, but you’ll get back in the saddle when it’s time. You’re not pregnant forever, (even if it feels like it!)
I hope you find this helpful! When I became a pelvic floor and diastasis geek, I immediately ruled spinning out for all of my clients. I would speak against it, but now I think it’s another one of those things I’d like to just form more education on how to do it as well as possible. I know that it’s an outlet for many people that is great for your mental health and will ultimately keep you moving, so let’s move smart and safely. Happy spinning!