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ALTHOUGH YOU MAY still be able to wear your Birks around campus, winter is (sadly) just around the corner. This means some of the outdoor activities you enjoy, such as cycling, become more difficult. That is, unless you’re one of the badasses in Sandy Hill who braves the icy streets in a blizzard when everyone else is wrapped in their Snuggies.

I love cycling and often take my bike out for a 40- or 50-kilometre ride on a nice summer day. The first day I had to switch my air conditioning off and throw on a sweater, I began to panic. How could I keep up my rides without losing limbs to frostbite? Luckily, a friend proposed an alternative: Spinning! Now I’m hooked.

It may sound like it involves a hamster wheel, but spinning is an incredible cardiovascular workout done indoors on a spin bike. The bikes are completely adjustable and come with a dial or lever that allows you to adjust the resistance. The instructor’s bike faces the class, and he or she will lead you through a workout (generally 45 minutes to an hour) set to music.

The type of workout can vary depending on the instructor and the type of class. Some classes focus on endurance, whereas others consist of short, intense intervals combined with slower rest periods. Although the instructors suggest how hard you should be working, you’re in charge of the resistance and, as such, you determine how good your workout will be. As my favourite instructor says: “If you don’t leave soaked in sweat, you’re staying for another hour! Don’t work hard or harder—work hardest!”

The University of Ottawa Sports Services offers indoor cycling classes at the Sports Complex. The cost for students ranges from $65 for seven regular classes or $105 for seven two-hour endurance classes. The first set of classes for this school year has already kicked off, but there is still time to register for the classes beginning in November.

If you prefer drop-in classes, I love the ones offered at the Taggart Family YMCA (180 Argyle Ave.) and the downtown YMCA (99 Bank St.) They’re both a good hike from campus, so use that U-Pass or hitch a ride with a friend. CycleFit classes are $6.50 with a student ID and are offered several times throughout the week.

I love the endorphin-pumping, sweat-dripping, heart-racing workout that spinning offers—so much so that I invited a friend to join me, along with the friend who introduced me to spinning in the first place. And so the cycle continues—pun intended.

—Sarah Horlick