My twitter feed was blowing up this morning. The hot topic: Tracy Anderson telling Redbook magazine, “Spin may burn calories in the short term, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’ll bulk up your thighs.”
This did not sit well with the SoulCycle loving masses.
— Tamara Abraham (@TamaraAbraham) January 14, 2014
Anderson quickly changed her story via ABC news, saying: “I’ve never said that spinning makes you gain weight. What I’ve said is that spinning creates an imbalance in the muscular system. It bulks the thigh and butt muscles. You develop mass by working these same muscles over and over.”
This didn’t sit well with my fitness friends. Via twitter, many questioned her credibility and in the past I’ve done the same.
But as the controversy unfolded all I could think was, “Hold on. Maybe she’s right. And what’s wrong with that?”
Hear me out. I love indoor cycling. I go at least two times a week and I am absolutely obsessed. I discovered the class when knee troubles forced me to quit running and it’s been a life-saver for me in terms of burning calorie and managing stress. It’s my go-to solution for cardiovascular training and when I’m on a bike I feel fierce.
I love what indoor cycling has done to my body, helping me shed fat and build strength and endurance. My legs have grown stronger, thanks to pushing that 40-pound flywheel on the bike, and I have very clear quad and hamstring definition. I love climbing hills and when I’m out of the saddle my butt and thighs truly burn, in a good way. But despite the hundreds of miles I’ve ridden I don’t necessarily have skinny thighs. I have strong and shapely legs which I’m pretty happy with, but I suspect that their circumference, if not their shape, is about the same as in my pre-cycling days. My waist is certainly thinner and my legs have less fat on them; they feel more muscular than before, although not necessarily “bulky”.
And that’s just fine.
For me, thigh gap isn’t the goal: Increased muscular endurance means I have fewer knee problems and an easier time making it up hills and holding hard positions in barre class. As a side-benefit, I also get an extra boost of endorphins and am able to eat a couple of pieces of chocolate after dinner without giving it much thought.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Tracy Anderson is right—I’ll let the experts weigh in on that one. But if the shape of my thighs really is the result of spin class, what’s so bad about that?