“If you are singing you are not pedaling hard enough!” says Julie Hafner, owner and instructor of Studio Spin

an indoor cycling studio in the Chicago North Shore. While her legs move at lightning speed, she smiles reassuringly and asks her class to give it 100% effort, “add some gear or pedal faster, find a way of getting there”.


At first glance indoor cycling, commonly referred to as spinning, might seem like a tough workout but according to Hafner spinning is the perfect workout for all body types and fitness levels.


“You can do spinning at your own pace” she says, “you are completely in control of your workout. As your instructor/coach I guide the class through a workout that challenges everyone, while having fun of course! But ultimately you decide how much or little resistance you want to put on the flywheel. You also determine how fast or slow you'd like to go”


The flywheel on the stationary exercise bike, simulates the effects of inertia and momentum when riding a real bicycle. During the class Julie takes her students on action packed rides that include rolling hills, jumps, speed intervals and endurance. The benefits of spinning are countless and include:


-Large cardio calorie burn 700-800 per hour, roughly

-Increased metabolism (over time you'll be able to digest food more quickly and efficiently)

-Stronger heart and lungs

-Physical and mental strength

-Decreased rate of heart disease

-High energy and intensity makes the workout go by quickly!

-Muscular endurance and strength quads, hamstrings, glutes

-The release of endorphins


Spinning doesn’t require any fancy equipment, only a bottle of water, a towel and your willingness to try something new. Cycling shoes are important if you plan on cycling regularly as they offer less stress on your tendons and also allow you to create more power through your pedal strokes.


When searching for a spinning class, Julie suggests looking for an instructor that is fun, has high energy, and knows how to motivate the class. “Look for someone who likes to have fun while keeping the intensity of the workout. Someone who knows how to tweak workouts to cater your needs during the ride and is able to accommodate all fitness levels during the same ride” she says.


“We are almost home!” She says as her class is about to end. “Don’t stop now, give it your all, this is your time for you. Be selfish. Give your body what it needs”. As she looks around her studio her face lights up and her passion and happiness are evident.


Julie, who opened Studio Spin seven weeks after having her third child, teaches three or more back to back classes each day. She says that cross training is essential when exercising, so she offers her clients combination classes such as Spin/Yoga and North Shore Angels, a circuit class where students ride, do boxing and suspension training in the course of one hour and a half.   When asked how she does it all, Julie says, “It's all I know. It doesn't phase me because it's my passion. I'm one of the lucky ones, who loves what I do everyday. I don't consider going to the gym work, I consider it my happy place. A place where everyone is smiling and energized. Also, my husband is extremely supportive and without his support, I couldn't have lived this dream.”


If you are thinking about doing spinning or joining a fitness class Julie suggests to start by finding something that excites you and give it a try. “We all started somewhere. My first spin class I fell off the bike. The instructor encouraged me and gave me the confidence to come back! Now look, I can't get enough!”