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A Real Epidemic: Let’s Talk About Posture In Spin Class

The Skinny Confidential talks spin class posture.

Hi guys,


I seriousy need your help.

I’ve observed something that’s sort of, maybe a weird observation…but…eer, ehh…I gotta share.

Pretty much I’m dying to know if I’m the only one who’s seen ‘the Quasimodo spin epidemic?’ AKA horrible posture while spinning.

Call me crazy but…

I swear 90% of people in spin class are severely hunched over 100% of the time they’re spinning.

& honestly? I want to pull my hair out every time I’m in class. I want to scream “please, please, please sit up straight!! Your poor back!” BTW: I say this out of concern for people’s neck/back/posture, not to be a bitch.

Not mention: how is their core engaged if they’re hunched over the whole class?

Seriously though. It’s my version of nails on a chalkboard. I so want to help during class, but I also don’t want to sound like a know-it all.

Personally, its just not necessary to spin so hard, that you’re banging your head to the pedal stroke/the beat.

Like, please, please don’t throw your neck out.

So, here’s why it ulimately bugs: we’re constantly hunched over driving, working on the computer, bending over, cooking, eating, painting our nails, cleaning, etc. so why make it worse with exercise?

Ultimately, exercise should improve posture…not make it worse.

I mean, it’s baffling…yoga & Pilates are meant to open the chest up, correct posture, & engage the core to create stronger posture. I sincerely believe if done right, every other exercise can do the same. For years, I taught Pure Barre & Pilates and I was constantly reminding the students to open their chest, keep that ‘ballerina posture’, &/or stick ‘the girls’ out more, so I don’t understand why the spin teachers don’t let their students know to ‘keep their head up.’

It’s super important not to be dangling your head down like a limp…carrot.

Anyway after years of observing fellow spinners, I’ve decided to do some research of my own.

Here’s what I found: while spinning it’s very important to keep your core engaged. Don’t let you neck jolt forward. You want to keep it up. So even though the girl next to you thinks you’re looking egotistically at yourself in the mirror, ignore her—- posture first!

According to Spinning Mixes Online make sure to “keep your head up, looking about 10-20 yards on the “road” ahead. Spinning is a leg and lung workout—if you feel sore in the forearms or are tight in the triceps, you are probably leaning too far forward over the handlebars and using your upper-body to support your weight. The handlebar is there simply to help with balance—it is not a stress ball that you should be squeezing. I like to tap my fingers and move my hands in different positions every few songs to make sure I’m not white-knuckling throughout class. Try to keep your abs tight: suck in your belly, pulling your navel to your back. This will strengthen your core and keeps your hips in the proper position over the pedals.”

Ok, so does anyone else see the bad posture in spin or am I bat-shit crazy?

P.S. if you ever see a blonde sitting up overly straight in spin class, come say hi because it’s probably me ; ).

x L

  1. I’ll say “hi” as I’m hunched over on my bike! I swear it won’t be intentional, more from pure exhaustion and lack of sleep!

  2. I teach group fitness classes, and although I don’t teach spin I know exactly what you are talking about. A good coaching cue from an instructor in spin class would be to tell participants to “tip from the hip,” which makes people lead with their chest and keep a flat back as they reach for the handlebars. Such a shame. Glad you are out there on hunchback patrol. Maybe you should leave anonymous notes on people’s lockers so they know for next time. 🙂

    1. “Tip from the hip” is an amazing cue and I’ve never heard it in a spin class, ever! I notice people hunched over all the time and it drives me crazy. The other thing I cannot get over is people who come to class and completely do their own thing. Whyyyyy did you come to class, you crazy free spirit you?

  3. At home in England almost everyone hunches over I swear and puts all of their weight into the arms which is kind of the way you are taught which I guess defeats the object of working in to your bum and thighs! But it is only since moving to Melbourne that the spin instructors here really focus on your posture and releasing your shoulders and I feel like I am definitely super aware of those who hunch or don’t relax into a more natural alignment! Feel like such a spin geek!! xo

  4. I did my first spin class this and had experienced the quasimodo issue! I wrote about it on my blog (

    Since then I’ve become a bit of a spin addict and it really does come down to adjusting the seat before class. Spin is such a brutal endurance workout, I can only imagine what it’s like to do it regularly in an improper posture. I overheard some women talking after class, and one of them said something like “OMG I couldn’t even sit! I was bruised ALL WEEK from spin!” and it’s like ok, that’s because you’re hunching over LIKE A BADGER; it’s not supposed to bruise! Instructors, step it up! Yoga instructors would never let their students work out without proper alignment!

  5. I do spin classes several times a week and I def know what you mean. Sometimes it’s beyond bad posture, there’s a few ppl in the class who throw their ENTIRE bodies into each pedal stroke, head swingin’ shoulders swingin’ the whole shabang. It seriously makes me giggle, I’m thinking “chill, you look like you’re having a convulsion!”. Sometimes it is just easier to zone out but that doesn’t mean you have to slump over. Please take the time to adjust your bikes guys! Not everyone is the same height, spend the time to adjust your bike! Adjust the saddle height, the handle bar height, and the distance between the handle bars and saddle. A perfect fit will make for a much more productive ride 🙂 if you don’t know how it should look or feel for you, ask someone. Don’t do something incorrectly just because you’re afraid to ask. Have fun with your spin classes everyone!

  6. I am a Spinning instructor. You are absolutely right! People should not be hunched over the bike or have a death grip on the handle bars. I like the tip from the hip comment the previous commenter made. I also wanted to point out that while many instructors say to keep your core engaged, spinning (taught by the instructors’ manual) should be most diaphragm breathing, which makes it hard to keep the core fully engaged! Great post!

  7. Ugh that would drive me mad too, my spin teacher in LA was crazy about posture she would go around throughout the class and straighten us all out which was amazing and personally changed my posture for the better. Thank you for sharing, I hope many gals get the message and start thinking more about the way they stand/spin! xo C

  8. Between Pure Barre and spin, people have to think I am conceited. In both exercises it’s SO important to look at yourself in the mirror. So in spin I strategically place myself next to the mirror so I can make sure I am in the right position and pulling my abs in to support my lower back.

    Love this post. People need to know how important your position is in exercise because you may be doing more harm than good.

  9. You are totally right – every person in spin is ALWAYS hunched over! I took a class once where the instructor actually told everyone it’s better to hunch over because it helps your breathing. So bad!

  10. haha the title made me laugh. You’re so right, we hunch way too much and spin class is a great example. I’m guilty of doing this at my desk and needed the reminder!

  11. I just recently started taking Krank classes in Nashville. It was my first time taking any kind of spinning and its very hard to put all the work into the core and keep your back straight! After a few classes I was able to keep the posture and get the most out of my spin.. I knew once I started doing it right because my abs were miserably sore the next day! Ah! But I agree… get the posture right ladies! You’ll be glad you did once you have nice tight flat abs! 🙂

  12. Thank you!! As a Spinning instructor this is the one thing that I continuously tell my riders during class: “head up, shoulders down”! Not only does rounding the shoulders and looking down bad for your back, but it restricts your breathing. You need all the breath support you can get during an intense class!

  13. I have absolutely noticed this in spin. I have to remind myself even to hinge from the hips instead of the waist and make sure the handle bars are high enough so that my spine feels elongated.

    This frustration is akin to what I feel as a yoga instructor when people round their back and dangle their arms in the halfway lift of a sun salutation. Despite my cues of “flat back, send your tailbone behind you and stretch the crown of your head forward…”. People often need a physical adjustment in a halfway lift to correct it. I wonder if any of the teachers in the spin classes you go to would be receptive to you providing adjustments to people on their bikes? Worth a shot!

  14. You most definitely are not the only one who notices this! I don’t know how people can stay hunched like that, I find it uncomfortable! But I guess if the instructor doesn’t point it out people don’t know! knowledge = power…and fab abs! 😉 XO, D

  15. Posture is so important to me while I’m teaching a class…I’m like a natzi istructor but I’m glad I’m that way! I don’t want people leaving my class in pain. You are correct about posture, wiggling your fingers and looking ahead…keeping it all in a straight line while the abs are engaged!

  16. drives me BATSH*T CRAZY. i have to resist “fixing” half of the class! i teach pilates, TRX and Xtend barre…and i absolutely can’t take the “turtles” in spin class! i can’t stand turtle runners either…i always want to fix them too! i always say in my classes, “don’t hang your head in pilates or in life!”

  17. Dead on. I have to check in with myself a lot, making sure I’m not white knuckling the handlebars, riding around like I have a back deformity, or looking at the screen so hard that I don’t catch what’s going on around me. Great article! And I hope the instructors reading are remembering their alignment cues!!!

  18. I love soul-cycle but am SO Terrified of it bulking my thighs! What are your thoughts on this? I’m short to begin with so it makes me nervous? Do you think posture is key to ensuring you lengthen legs vs. making them short and muscular?

  19. haha! Totally! My favorite are the tri peeps who act like a spin bike is a “tri bike” and lean over on the handle bars. There are no aero bars on spin bikes. Use your core and sit up 🙂 P.S I’m a triathlete…maybe that’s why it irks me.

  20. Thanks. Totally agree with you. Posture is so important to me while I’m teaching a class. This is the one thing that I continuously tell my riders: “head up, shoulders down”.

  21. Remember the early days of the Stairmaster, when it was all the rage? Health clubs had row after row of Stairmasters, and there’d often be a wait-list for each machine.

    Those first machines had sturdy handrails on either side, running the full top-to-bottom length. People held on with death grips, transferred about 50-60% of their body weight into the machine’s structure, and hovered about the pedals. It felt GREAT, pumping one’s feet for an hour and barely being challenged! It took a while until everyone noticed that they were wasting time and getting little-to-no results.

    I think that “Quasimodo Spinning” is the modern version of the same tendency. Hunch your body way over and lean your entire upper body on the handlebars; suddenly, those pedals become much easier to move.

    Raise those handlebars and move them closer. Position yourself so that you can either ride upright or tilt-the-hips. Your legs will scream, but you health and fitness will thank you.

  22. Hi….I get what you are saying regarding posture. The people you see hunched over are probably the unknowing victims of poor bike fit. And shame on their instructor who doesn’t notice their position and/or who never took the time (at least 10 minutes plus ) to properly fit them on the bike and then tweak and fine tune their bike set-up after watching them in class. Odds are great that after being properly fit, they’ll look a lot better and feel a lot better too because they’ll be working properly. Re core engagement: If you were to look at an elite cyclist from the side, this very fit , typically very slender person would have a noticeably non-engaged belly….sometimes referred to as a Buddha belly! That’s not to say that the torso would be flopping about willy-nilly….but they would not be contracting their abs, which is most folks’ definition of “engaged core.” On the contrary, these folks do not consciously engage the core because to do so inhibits full expansion of the diaphragm…..and because it’s is oxygen that fuels our aerobic engine, anything that inhibits acquisition of O2 is not beneficial in the least. How does this translate to indoor cycling? Again, proper fit on the bike, and an instructor who teaches riders how to hinge forward from the hips and not the waist; teaches a neutral chin, shoulders down, and as much of a straight line from back of neck to lumbar spine as possible. And to let breathing come as the body dictates. Any spin or indoor cycling instructor who asks riders to engage their core muscles doesn’t understand the physiology of cycling, the most studied and analyzed of all sports. BTW, I’m a former professional ballet dancer turned cycling coach with a degree in kinesiology. I train beginners to competitors. Ride on.

  23. There is a difference between head down and looking down. A straight back is a must and your head should line up as well which will have you looking down a lot. Don’t mistake the two and condemn people for good body alignment.

  24. At home in England almost everyone hunches over I swear and puts all of their weight into the arms which is kind of the way you are taught which I guess defeats the object of working in to your bum and thighs! But it is only since moving to Melbourne that the spin instructors here really focus on your posture and releasing your shoulders and I feel like I am definitely super aware of those who hunch or don’t relax into a more natural alignment! Feel like such a spin geek!

  25. Hi Lauryn! Thanks for your recommendations. At the end of the day, I feel neck pain and I see that I have head forward posture. Do you think these exercises can help me to fix the tech neck? And what is your opinion on neck wall segmentation exercises mentioned here

  26. I am more than impressed! When I took a spin class (my one and only time) I snuck onto the back cycle in case I needed to crawl out of class. Then a girl I knew, who has a loud mouth, announced to the class that she knew me. Mortified, I then lasted about 10 minutes when I did narrowly escape. It was too, too, TOO difficult for me. So now you know why I am so impressed with you!

    Great job.

  27. Yesterday evening a lanky young girl join the spin class. Her seat was so low it looked like she was on a bmx. She hunched it all the way through the class, tossing her locks all over the place as things got tough. Poor posture will put beginners off 🙁

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