Spin classes in Ottawa: What to know and where to go

Spinning workouts havebecome so popular over the last few years and trendy spin studios seem to be popping up in every neighbourhood. I have been going to spin classes for about two years and seriously think it has helped my fitness, overall mood and made me a better student. Of course, that goes for any exercise, but spin is what works for me. But, I remember being really intimidated by gyms at first and not knowing how or where to start, all I knew was I liked biking and that spin classes looked like a fun way to stay in shape.

So, if you’ve always wanted to try a spin class but didn’t know where to go, what class to sign up for or what to bring, this guide is for you! 

Tips for your first class:

  • Hydrate the entire day before your class. This will make the class a lot easier to get through.

  • Don’t eat a big meal, but make sure you have something in your stomach. I like to have coffee and a fruit about 30 minutes before a class starts.

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early and ask for a tour. Seriously, don’t be shy to tell whoever is at the front desk that you’ve never been there before, they’ll give you important information and show you around. 

  • Ask your instructor to help you set up your bike. Having your seat and handle bars at the right height makes a world of difference. Even if you’ve been spinning for years, if you’re not properly set up, you’ll get tired quickly and be more than you need to be.

  • If the studio you choose uses clip-in shoes, ask your instructor to help you clip-in. If at the end of the class you can’t figure out how to un-clip, just take your shoes off your feet and ask for help, this happens to everyone!

  • Grab a towel, fill your water bottle and choose your weights if the class you signed up for uses them—start light if you don’t usually lift weights.

  • Listen to your body—challenge yourself but don’t force yourself.

  • Wear something comfortable. From my experience, most people wear legging or shorts with a tank top or sports bra—what’s important is that you’re comfortable and you won’t overheat (be ready to sweat a LOT).

What to expect:

Every studio puts their own spin (I had to) on their classes. Some are tailored to long-distance cyclists and endurance, others are more meditative with candles, dark lighting and soft music, and some are full-on parties with lights, loud music and “choreography” mixed in.

  • Your instructor will most likely be calling out gears and RPM rates you should be matching, but don’t force yourself too much! For the first month, my only goal was to stay moving for the full class, not to match the instructor’s speed. 

  • You will be sore…the first 1-3 classes suck for your lady bits, but don’t worry, it definitely goes away. 

  • It will probably seem like the entire class knows exactly what to do when the instructor yells out random words like “pump” or “jump” or “race position”—guess what, nobody will notice if you are a bit behind. Just follow as much as you can, or don’t! (Instructors have explained the basics at the beginning of every single class I’ve been to)

Get acquainted with your bike:

  • The dial will adjust the resistance (how hard it is to pedal)

  • Press down on the dial to stop your bike completely

  • The RPM on your screen (if you bike has one) is your speed

  • The gear on your screen is your resistance/weight

  • Many bikes have a place for your weights behind the seat so you can grab them without getting off the bike

Ottawa Spin Studios:

1. Barres and Wheels

Currently, I go to Barres and Wheels on Elgin Street. They offer spin classes, barre classes and yoga classes, all unlimited for $99 a month with their student deal (cannot be purchased online). The studio is brand new and gorgeous and they have a great smoothie bar. Most importantly, all the instructors there are adamant that you listen to your body. They explain the basics at the beginning of every class in case there are any newcomers, and the music is really fun and makes  45-minute classes feel like 10 minutes. (There’s also a Bridgehead right next door so I like to study there before or after a class). The only downside of Barres and Wheels for beginners is that they don’t have a specific “beginners” class, but there are newcomers. Lastly, I love the personalized accounts their website offers. I can sign up for classes online, my shoes are there waiting for me when I arrive since I entered my size online (shoes are free to use), and after each class you get a report so it’s easy to track your progress. They also have a location in Westboro.

2. Inner Soul Yoga and Cycle

This studio is where I fell in love with spin. They have a great variety of courses. I started off with the beginners’ class there, which is a bit shorter than the regular classes and I later tried a variety of classes. Some were more geared towards serious cyclists training for long distances, some were focuses on weights and full-body workouts and others were more relaxing and meditative. You can use your regular running shoes in their bikes, which is nice and your first class is only $5! Afterwards, their monthly fee for unlimited spin and yoga classes is $89 and students get 10% off that price. The only downside for me was the location—but, they do offer puppy yoga quite often so maybe it’s worth the trek. In all honesty, this was a good place for me to start because I never ran into people I knew and it was a bit of an older crowd in the classes, so it wasn’t as intimidating.

3. Spinco

Spinco is located on Slater Street, so it would definitely be a good location if you live downtown. Their classes are similar to the ones Barres and Wheels offers, with a focus on full-body workouts and spinning to the beat of the music. They have a $50 deal for your first two weeks of classes, then their unlimited monthly membership is $170, which includes the price of shoes, or you can pay for multiple months at once and save. They welcome people of all fitness levels and really offer you everything you might need, down to the hair elastic. If you’re looking for a studio that’s whole focus is spin, this is probably the one!

4. Wheelhouse Cycle

I’ve personally never been to Wheelhouse Cycle but they’re one of the studios in Ottawa I’ve heard about the most. They have two locations, one in Centretown and the other in Hintonburg. Their classes are advertised as high-energy spin parties in dark rooms with loud music. I wanted to include them in my list because they seem very welcoming. They have a whole section on their website for beginners, their Wellington location had a gender-inclusive washrooms and their change room policy is printed in huge letters on their wall, affirming your right to use the change room that best fits your gender identity or expression and that their staff is trained to uphold this. On the down side, they are a bit pricier. They have newcomers special for $50, which includes two weeks of unlimited rides, but after that first month their monthly membership is $180 and their website doesn’t say anything about a student discount. You do have the option though to prepay for three months at a time and save some money. Their bikes require clip-in shoes but rentals are free for your first month and $2 per class afterwards.

5. Where I Thrive (previously The Dailey Method)

I seriously considered trying out Where I Thrive before I tried a class at Barres and Wheels and fell in love. The only reason that I didn’t was that it was slightly further from my apartment. It’s in the Glebe and they just moved to a brand new location. They have a good range of classes if you’re interested in trying different things than just spin. They offer spin, barre, yoga, weights and meditative classes. Their beginner package is also $50 for 2 weeks but it gets pricier after that…their unlimited monthly membership is $299. So, I personally wouldn’t go for this since I only do spin classes, but if you’re interested in barre and yoga it might be worth it for you! Their website does say that they have a student discount available in-store, but I’m not sure what it is exactly.

6. Carleton Athletics

Last but not least, good old Carleton U Athletics offers spin classes! This was where I tried my first spin class and it’s probably the cheapest and most convenient option out there if you’re on campus a lot. The Carleton U Fit Pass is $26/month for students and you get access to all of different courses Carleton has to offer, from spin to Zumba to boxing. You can also use regular running shoes with their bikes. The only thing I found was that they didn’t offer spin classes as often as I would like. I personally like the option of going any day of the week with a variety of time slots so if I miss a class I don’t have to wait two days for the next one, I can just drop in an hour or two later or the next day. But, this is understandable for a university gym, which offers a ton of courses and isn’t exclusively offering spin classes. In all, this is a great way to try a spin class for cheap and maybe meet some other Carleton students!

At the end of the day, it’s always worth it to try something new. So, whether you try a class and decide spin is not for you, or you make it part of your regular routine, be glad that you tried! Good luck!