Group cycling classes are a low-impact option for older adults

Fun all around, these spinning classes are also calorie-burning

Group cycling, known to many as spinning, provides a communal exercise experience many older adults like due to its built-in low-impact appeal. And participants enjoy the ability to customize their experiences on stationary bikes through speed and incline changes.

Camaraderie and burning calories

Cheryl Medlock, 74, took spin classes at least three times a week at Vibe Ride in Midtown until COVID-19 forced her to pause.

“It’s a hoot, so I did it straight seven years up until COVID,” she told the AJC.

Medlock has participated extensively in spin classes at Vibe Ride in Midtown.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

She began the classes because she was at the fitness studio anyway helping out her daughter, Courtney Anderson, co-founder and co-owner.

“I’m a cleaning freak as my friends say, so she asked me to come to Atlanta to help her with her business, so that’s how I got started cycling,” Medlock explained. “I had to be there every morning at 5 a.m. for the 6 o’clock class because I checked people in.”

She decided to try the classes herself.

“’I don’t need to just stand here,’ she recalled thinking. “So, that’s how I got started. It wasn’t something that was on my bucket list.”

Although she didn’t necessarily set out to become attached to the activity, the welcome and acceptance she received from the other participants pulled her in.

“The kids there … like, everybody calls me Mama Cheryl,” she said. “There’s a camaraderie there. They just encourage you. I don’t care what your body shape is. They all encourage each other.”

Medlock said she found spinning to be a great calorie-burning workout and that she observed others using it to achieve weight loss goals. She said she knows several people who have lost over 100 pounds while taking spin classes.

“We just ooh and ahh after every five pounds is gone, so the camaraderie there, and the motivation and the kindness is what I’ve missed,” she said. “They have screens, and it lets you know how many calories you’re burning. So, you can motivate yourself by going faster or moving, and they do different dances, so you can decide how fast you want to go.”

Medlock was already active when she began spinning — she walks and works with weights. And although she said she doesn’t have issues with her joints, she noticed it’s a good option for those who do.

“It’s phenomenal for cardio because it’s easy on your knees,” she said. “People who have problems with their hips and their knees find it much easier.”

And the benefits didn’t stop there. Medlock said she noticed spinning increased her body strength and balance. She’s been able to catch herself if she trips on the stairs, and she attributes that ability to walking and spinning. Although COVID-19 changed her involvement in spinning, she said she hopes to get back to the activity soon.

‘On top of my game’

Like Medlock, Marilea Taglia of Sandy Springs also sees the low-impact benefits of a group cycle. She was a regular runner until she needed to transition to an activity that would be easier on her joints. She’d been participating in group cycle classes during bad weather days already, so moving into a regular schedule with them was a natural choice. She works out regularly at a YMCA of Metro Atlanta location in Buckhead in an early morning class.

Marilea Taglia regularly participates in group cycle classes at a YMCA of Metro Atlanta location.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Her instructor, she said, keeps things entertaining for the usual 20 or so participants.

“She makes it fun, and she makes us want to come at 5:30 a.m., which is a feat,” Taglia said.

Classes often include components that ensure attendees are focused and involved. The fun has included a crack-of-dawn birthday party, themed playlists, a guest DJ spot for a classmate, and a class designed around a “The Price is Right” theme.

Taglia feels the benefits of a regular group cycle have affected her entire physical and mental well-being.

“I’m never sick,” she said. “When I did get COVID, it was very mild. I just feel like I’ve got so much more energy, even though my alarm goes off at 4:50 in the morning, I get a lot done, and mentally, as well. I really believe that as long as you’re active, even if it’s just an hour a day, it keeps your blood flowing through all your vital organs, especially your brain, and that’s very important.”

Taglia said she feels this increase in well-being has allowed her to excel mentally in her job as an insurance agent.

“I just feel like I’m on top of my game,” she said.

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