The First Timer’s Guide to Pilates & Spin Featuring SimplyWorkout

How are we doing on those New Year's resolutions darlings?!

I cannot believe that is already mid April and the first part of 2018  will soon be over! 

I am still going strong with my work out routine and am STILL madly in love with Indoor Cycling (as long as they are rhythm based rides) and have fallen madly in love with Reformer Pilates! I have so many friends and followers who are stuck in a workout rut and wanting to switch things up so my inbox has been flooded with questions about spin and Pilates. So you all inspired today's blog post at Go French Yourself HQ. 

We understand that trying a new workout is so much fun, but it can also be super intimidating. I honestly was intimidated by Pilates that I didn't even take advantage of a complimentary member ship in December. Who does that??!

So you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and have additional anxiety and stress by worrying about what to wear and what skills you need and all the other million questions you might have floating around in that beautiful mind of yours!!! So to make your first spin class and Reformer Pilates class a little less stressful, I have decided  to put together a First Timer’s Guide to both workouts with the help of The Greatist and Pumps of Iron. 


What is spinning? 
Spinning describes a high-energy cycling class, in which you’ll perform “intervals, climbs and descents to deliver a full-body workout, targeting glutes, quads, hamstrings and, of course, the heart, giving the rider an intense cardio and fat burning workout,” says Flywheel co-founder Ruth Zukerman. Spinning is a trademarked name, and is what you might think of as the traditional bike class you’d take at the gym (more common a few years ago). It’s based off outdoor cycling, so if you wouldn’t do it riding a bike outdoors, you don’t do it on the stationary bike. The workouts are supposed to replicate situations you might find yourself in on the road or in a race, and are built around heart rate zones—there’s actually a huge emphasis on this and wearing a heart rate monitor is strongly encouraged. Classes are each focused on different training types as well. Monday might be a strength ride, while Tuesday is a recovery ride, Wednesday an endurance ride, and Thursday a race day (you simulate a road race on the stationary bikes, pushing your hardest at the highest gear you can). Like Tulsa Tough!

Spin is fun but indoor cycling is where it's at for me...

Indoor Cycling

 I prefer dancing around on the bike, using hand weights, doing push ups on the handle bars, and riding to the beat of the music!!! I feel like I am at a dance club with my friends!! That really moves me and keeps things interesting! Not a spinning class. That’s an indoor cycling class. Pretty much everything you do in a SoulCycle “indoor cycling” class is prohibited in a Spinning class for safety reasons, or because it’s simply just not something you’d do on an outdoor bike. Unlike Spinning, where one day might be a recovery ride or a class where the goal is to keep your heart rate below 75% of your max, the goal of indoor cycling classes is always to kick your butt and leave you feeling totally spent. 

To most people, it’s like…who cares. Spinning, indoor cycling—close enough. But the Spinning community is actually freaking out about studios like SoulCycle and FlyWheel being commonly referred to as spin or spinning studios. Some hardcore cyclists and triathletes are flat-out appalled at what people are doing on stationary bikes in today’s group fitness classes because it goes against everything you’d do riding outdoors or racing. 

Within a 45-minute class, you can expect to burn between 500-700 calories, depending on your body weight and strength. And oh boy-is it going to be sweaty!!!!!! And fun! 

So for both styles...spinning and indoor are the questions I keep getting on repeat and the answers apply to both.

Q: What the heck do I wear?
A: While many gyms and spin studios provide shoe rentals (not in Tulsa) or even special pedals that allow you to wear regular workout shoes while you spin, you will definitely enjoy a spin class more if you invest in your own pair of cycle shoes. They are the hugest game changer!  They lock into your bike pedals and let you sprint, climb and tap back without even thinking twice. I can't even do the class if I forget my cycle shoes. I absolutely hate wearing regular tennis shoes with my feet in the bicycle cages. 

Wear leggings or bike shorts, since running shorts or loose pants can get caught in the spokes or feel uncomfortable on the bike seat. Wear what makes you feel confident and sexy! That will only make you go more and that's a good attitude to bring to class. It will be hot and sweaty so avoid sweatshirts or long sleeve tops.

Simply Workout makes some of my favorite tops and bottoms. Their sports bras are fantastic too. They just have the cutest fashion workout apparel who girls who live the active athleisure life and carry all the best brands in one place which makes my on line shopping so much easier! I love dealing with one vendor!

And if you’re a first timer, you might want to buy (or borrow from the studio) a bicycle butt pad. This will help make your crotch and booty feel so much better because it will be sore the first few times! My friend Katie swears by the butt pad! LOL!

And pull back that long hair! I typically wear a baseball cap to keep the sweat from dripping in my eyes and wear my hair in a loose braid. 

PS: Keep a towel draped over the handlebars for easy access—you'll probably need it. And drink tons of water!

Q: Are any special skills or previous experience necessary?
A: If you can ride a bike, you can probably catch on to the rhythm of a spin class pretty quickly. Make sure to arrive early and ask your spin instructor to help you set up your bike and give you a quick tutorial on reading and understanding the bike's monitor if they use those. Soul Cycle does not. Correct form is everything in this class. Handlebars are all about comfort level, so if you have any kind of back issue or if you are a beginner, I suggest keeping the handlebars a little higher. To ensure you have the proper distance between the seat and handlebars, you should begin pedaling slowly. When you hit the bottom of your pedal stroke and there is approximately a 5-degree bend in your knee, the heel should drop right below your knee. It is important to have hands at the corners of the handlebars, long back, chest open and shoulders down. You will often have your instructor remind you to relax those shoulders.  When your bum is on the seat, that’s first position. During the ride, instructors will have you alternate to second position, where you’ll be directly above your saddle and ‘jog’ in a standing-up motion. (you want enough resistance here to protect your knees)  Third position is where you stretch your arms and grab the ends of the handlebars while, again, you come out of the saddle, and use your core to stay up. I really have learned to engage my core through the whole ride--that way you get the most from your work out. Keep your knees straight too like headlights of a car and pull your toes up when you are pounding those pedals. That will engage your hamstrings and booty and not just burn out the quads. 

Q: What do I do if I am out of shape and just cannot keep up?
A: The great thing about an indoor cycling class is that the room is usually dark, the music is usually loud, and, unless you’re in the front row, very few people are watching you. Everyone is so in their zone, ya know? That means that if you’re a beginner or just having an off day, you can go at the pace that’s comfortable for you. Don’t want to turn the resistance up another notch? Then don’t. You control your resistance and your ride. Their are days I just "beach cruise" and do my own thing. There are classes where I am climbing Mount Everest because that's what I need at that time. For beginners, start slow and build your strength up!

REFormer Pilates

What are Reformer Pilates?

Pilates utilizing the reformer...

The Reformer is the most popular Pilates apparatus designed by Joseph Pilates. It consists of a carriage that moves back and forth along tracks within a frame. The resistance is provided by the exerciser's body weight and by the Pilates secret sauce—a set of springs attached to both the carriage and the platform. Despite the somewhat medieval name, the Pilates reformer is actually an amazingly elegant apparatus. A historical note, Mr. Pilates preferred the term "apparatus" to the machine. The Reformer apparatus functions primarily as a resistance device forcing the user to work precisely within its grid. This promotes the development of good alignment, core strength, and flexibility. The areas that have always been hardest to target for me like my butt and inner thighs are noticeably more toned. I credit the fact that the reformer keeps your body perfectly aligned and doesn’t really allow you to cheat. It ensures that you’re doing the exercises correctly and really working your muscles the way you should be. You will develop a super strong powerhouse!

Mat Pilates are great too-just not for me. They did not keep my interest!

Q: What the heck do I wear?

A: You must wear no-slip socks and tight fitting clothing similar to what you would wear to yoga. Wear something that’s comfortable and will allow you to move freely. You will also want your hair up or in a loose braid if it is long otherwise it will get trapped in the reformer.

Simply Workout makes my favorite no-slip socks and since I am doing Pilates 5 to 6 days a week, switching up my socks makes it so fun! They carry the best brands all in one place as I mentioned before. And seriously have the biggest collection of grip socks!!!

They sent me four different socks to try and I want to tell you all about them!

  • The Shashi Classic Grip Sock  in white (so they go with everything) and my favorite of the four they sent! I can totally channel my inner ballerina and I love the mesh detailing for breathability and a little peek-a-boo style. They are so easy to put on and make such a 'Sporty Spice" statement. I get so many compliments on these!  SHASHI was born out of a love of Pilates and Barre. Their accessories can be spotted in fitness classes, on the street or even on the London catwalks. 
  • The Sticky Be Grip Socks --Be Strong are so fun! They always help me find my inner strength and continue to challenge me! You'll embrace that strength in these inspirational Be Strong Sticky Be Socks. I love the color-block pattern in navy blue, gray and pink which are some of my favorite colors.
  • And the Sticky Be Thigh High Stirrup Leg Warmers in black have been awesome for the frigid mornings we have been having! These stirrup style leg warmers have even been amazing around the house. They have natural fine cotton yarn for sweat absorption and breathability and are just so cozy and of course they have the non-slip grips.
  • And last but not least the Shashi Sweet Grip Sock in burgundy have been on repeat. I can also channel my  inner ballerina and up my style game with these adorable mary-jane socks by Shashi. And the sparkles are just so glam! 

They have free shipping over $75 too!! There are so many socks that I want! Like when is too many TOO many?

Okay back to the Q and A!

Q: Are any special skills or previous experience necessary?

First and foremost you should know that you’re going to absolutely love it. However, you should also make sure you give yourself a bit of extra time for your very first class. If you have not used Pilates equipment before, please arrive a few minutes early, so that the instructor can familiarize you with the equipment before the class begins.  This is essential for your own safety so if you don’t leave enough time before the class starts, you may not be able to train. Club Pilates has an amazing free demo class that's 30 minutes long and teaches you everything you need to know. 

All group classes require a certain level of fitness, but with the different levels available there really is something for everyone.The one thing I do have have to say is that you shouldn’t take part in a reformer class if you have a significant injury or are pregnant. If you’ve any doubts at all about an injury (old or new), disability or other medical condition then let the instructors know so they can help you use Pilates in the most appropriate way.

Q: What do I do if I am out of shape and just cannot keep up?
A: Do your best to push through, since before you know it you’ll be on to the next set of repetitions. But if you find yourself feeling exhausted it’s definitely OK to pause for a minute and take a water break or just do you boo! 

There you go!

We hope this post inspires you to try something new!

And you must check out Simply Workout for your new apparel! They just some rad new arrivals in and I seriously cannot breathe! I want one of everything. Just look!!! 


Thank you so much for the socks Simply Workout! You are keeping me so stylish and so inspired!!!

Oh and enjoy the rad playlist I have on repeat while I work it out from New York Pilates.

Samantha RubleComment