"It's kind of been on the east coast and the west coast, and now we have it here in Sikeston," said Amy Gordin, director of rehabilitation services at Missouri Delta Medical Center's ReStart.
For those who know about Spinning, rest assured: this is the real thing. "These are Johnny G bikes," said Gordin, "and we are Johnny G certified instructors." Instructors Gordin and Nicole Cozean, an occupational therapist at ReStart, received their certification February 7.
For those who have never heard of Spinning, it isn't exactly what it sounds like. Spinning is a trademarked exercise program in which an instructor leads a group of stationary bike riders through a workout.
According to the official Website, www.spinning.com, it was created by personal trainer and "ultra-endurance athlete" Johnny G and introduced in 1987.
The program is being made available here through a partnership between Missouri Delta Medical Center and the Regal Health Club, 508 N. West Street.
Gordin said she presented the idea to hospital officials as another way of promoting preventative wellness measures in patients: "Spinning was one of the only things that helped lower my cholesterol."
The hospital didn't have the room to dedicate to Spinning, so MDMC worked out a deal with Regal. "The hospital bought eight new Spinning bikes, and they had space for us to lease," said Gordin. "We now have our own Spinning studio there."
Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for MDMC, said the studio will also be used by the hospital to present other wellness programs focusing on prevention such as blood pressure screenings.
Additionally, the course itself includes both "pre- and post-testing," Urhahn said.
During orientation, a blood test is used to check cholesterol levels and target heart rates are determined. To determine the percentage of body fat, participants hold a "bio-impedance" device. "It just takes a couple seconds," said Gordin.
Participants also learn the settings on the bikes so they can come in and instantly set the seat and handlebar height at their level. The distance from the handlebar and seat is also adjustable.
Blood pressure is also checked to make sure exercise is safe for the would-be participant.
Spinners are fitted for a heart rate monitor that is worn around the chest and instructed on its use in conjunction with a wrist watch that displays the current heart rate.
"Most people strap it to their bike so they can see it the whole time," said Gordin.
While heart rate monitors are usually an option at Spinning classes, they are mandatory for the MDMC-Regal classes. "You wear them or you don't Spin," said Gordin.
Most trainers try to make sure the exerciser is working hard enough, but Gordin said she doesn't have that problem: "They push themselves too hard."
Past a certain point, she explained, "there is very little benefit but a lot more risk."
While Spinning can be an intensely difficult program, the difficulty is actually variable depending on the individual's ability and settings, thanks to the tension control being within easy reach on Spinning bikes.
"That's the whole class - changing the tension," said Urhahn, who is taking the class herself.
"A beginner can back down on the tension while an elite athlete can be cranking down," said Gordin.
The workouts are 40 minutes long, starting with a warm-up, ending with a cool-down. During the ride, the instructor leads participants up "hills" where everybody increases their tension, along "flats" where it is relaxed, and "jumps" where the tension is increased and the riders stand up and keep their weight over the peddles. "Music plays during the entire session," said Gordin.
The instructor calls out numbers for settings based on a scale of 1-10 with flat land being a 4 or 5, "and 10 is stuck in the mud - we don't do that," said Gordin. The highest number she calls is an 8, "and 8 is plenty."
Each individual's scale is determined by their target heart rates. "That's why anybody can take this and benefit," said Gordin.
With eight bikes, there is only room for an instructor and seven students per session.
"If it stays as popular as it has, we have room to add a few bikes," said Gordin.
Urhahn, however, has no doubt it will catch on: "It's huge - everybody's talking about it."
The program is offered in 8-week courses, with the next 8-week program's orientation scheduled for 7-8:30 a.m. June 2. "They really need that orientation," Gordin said.
"It's just really hard to start mid-session," said Urhahn.
"The classes will start again on June 7," said Gordin. "We're going to add some times."
The next group of classes will be split into beginner and intermediate groups.
Classes will be held at 5:20 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as the alternate Tuesday-Thursday schedule at that time.
Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes will also be scheduled for 6:15 a.m. and at 8:30 a.m. for a "moms class."
"That's when Regal has daycare," said Gordin.
The next session will also have an evening class at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and the lunch workout at 12:10 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The cost for the 8-week course is $65 for a three-day schedule or $50 for a two-day schedule. Classes are first come-first served.
For more information call Gordin at ReStart, 472-7375.