Spinning is a group exercise class. If you've never been before, this is roughly what you should expect on your first outing (inning?).
A median class length is about 45 minutes, with a slower warm-up track to start with and probably some stretching at the end of class.
You pick a spot in class (expect future posts on this), mount your bike (expect future posts on this), clip in, drop your water bottle into the slot, and get comfortable with your spinning motion (expect future posts on this).
Right in front of you on the cross bar is a resistance dial of some sort. Take off all the resistance (counter-clockwise) and feel how there’s pretty much no road under you; you’re coasting down a hill made of spongy rubber or firmer pillows.
Start to increase that resistance and feel the tire grip the road. Keep turning, increasing the resistance until you pretty much can’t pedal anymore, just to get a feeling for how sensitive each turn on the dial really is (these vary a lot by bike / age of bike).
The instructor mounts his bike (or her bike, but until we’re talking about instructors by name we’ll just stick with ‘his’, okay?) and introduces himself and gives you a brief description of his style of instructing (many more posts to come on this). He takes his N-1st generation iPod out of his pocket, plugs it into the sound system (which you just noticed for the first time: speakers are everywhere) and gets you started on a familiar song with a medium-fast pace. The music is louder than you are normally comfortable with.
Perhaps he walks you through some stretches now, perhaps he doesn’t.
Then class begins and you’re pushing through 9 or 10 songs. These songs are not chosen idly. Each one represents an enormous hill, a flat road for all-out sprinting, a fast-paced pop song intended for ‘jumping’ around the different positions of the bike, etc. The instructor will call out various positions (you guessed it: more posts soon) and the approximate resistance for which you should aim. If you’re in the front and there are mirrors in the room, you watch yourself and the reflections of the 15 others for the entire time. You get a sense for the group commitment. Your pedal stroke matches the beat of the music which matches the pedal strokes of your fellow spinners.
By the end of class you are a sweaty mess, you are thankful for the oscillating fan in the room, and you are out of water. With your towel you wipe off your brow, your elbows (sweat pools here a lot), and the back of your neck and stretch out some more. You wipe off your bike because srsly it’s quite gross by now, you thank the instructor, and you go check the calendar taped to the wall to see when the next classes are.