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  • Writer's pictureSteph Waite

Stationary bike vs spin class vs trainer

Wanna know a secret? Cyclists have more fun.

Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular workout that will burn calories and improve your endurance, and it’s great for a wide range of body types and fitness levels. It’s also easier on your joints than running (if your bike fits you properly), and while cycling may not build huge muscles like targeted strength training, you’re likely to notice your calves and quads take on a nice shapely tone.

Whether you ride outdoors on the regular, or you want to dip your toes into the sport, you don’t have to wait until spring to get your spin on.

Stationary Bike

You know the bike I’m talking about. That pricey one you can get on the internet with the commercial with the freaked-out-looking wife. These bikes have a vocal, enthusiastic following… of people who have paid a ton of money for them. Listen, if you’re the kind of person who has exercise equipment in your house that you actually use regularly, this might be fine for you if you have the dough.

If you call your treadmill a “dreadmill” or own a set of free weights you swear you’re going to use again, a stationary bike isn’t the answer. You might not be the kind of person who enjoys a workout in your house, as convenient as it may be. Also, between the bike and the monthly subscription for the streaming workouts, you’re going to shell out nearly $3,000 in the first year. Whether or not that’s worth it is between you and your wallet.

Spin Class

Some people need or prefer the structure of a class to hold them accountable. If that’s you, you might try a class. You can do it through a gym or, if you know this is what you want, there are spin-specific fitness chains. Your typical spin class is upbeat and high-energy. If you decide to check it out, ask upfront about the membership cancellation policy because some gyms don’t make it easy.

Real Bike + Trainer

A trainer is a mount that turns your real bike into a stationary one, and it’s the best of all worlds when it comes to indoor cycling. High quality trainers start at around $150, with smart-equipped trainers that interface with virtual riding environments starting at $250. A subscription to the most popular virtual riding platform, Zwift, is $14.99/month (compared to $39.99/month for the one that goes with the stationary bike). If getting a great workout in your house is a priority, this option has you covered for less.

Because a trainer is relatively small, you can also take it places. Bike shops (ahem, Johnny Velo Bikes) typically offer free group trainer classes in the fall and winter months. We have a spin instructor who brings all the energy and music of a stationary spin class right to our shop. It’ll scratch your group fitness class itch without the hassle of a membership fee.

But what if you don’t have a bike? After the cost of the trainer and the entirely optional Zwift subscription, you can still get yourself a darn nice road bike for less than you’d spend on a fancy stationary bike. For someone who loves being outdoors in nice weather, this is a no-brainer. In the spring and summer, move the trainer to the basement and head outside with your REAL bike! Even if riding on the road seems intimidating at first, you can ride for miles upon miles in central Ohio on paths.

Trainer options can be overwhelming (and so can bikes if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for). Johnny Velo Bikes carries Saris trainers for a wide range of budgets and needs, and we have a staff of enthusiastic and friendly cyclists who are happy to walk you through your choices. You can also check out Saris’ Bike Trainers 101 and comparison guide. And we can help you find the right bike to go with it!

If you decide a stationary bike or a spin class is right for you, let us help you find the right cycling shoe. We’ll even mount your cleats in the optimum position for knee health. We’re here to help you Enjoy Your Ride™, no matter how you choose to bike.

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Jan 27, 2022

Nice post! Having dabbled in all three options, I enjoyed reading your take on the under-appreciated-by-the-masses bike trainer and ways to make riding one more engaging.

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