June 30, 2017

Law School Externships

law school externships | brazenandbrunette.com

Hellooooo again! So if you read my post about the clinic that I'm going to be in this fall, then you probably already know that I also got accepted into an externship for my last semester! I'm so glad that I transferred and I've had all of these amazing opportunities available to me. 


What is an externship

Ok so according to my school's website, only 14 law schools do an "externship" like what I'm doing, so your school's externship may be a completely different experience than what mine will be. An internship and an externship both are where you're working in a law-related job. I've seen some job postings for summer internships that offer course credit because just so you know, the ABA has this [dumb] rule that you can't get paid for any work that you're doing for course credit. 

So for my externship, I'll be moving to Dallas and not taking any classes and instead working 490 hours for 12 hours of credit. I'm really pumped about this situation! This program is pass/fail so basically after my Fall finals, I will be done with finals foreverrrr. And I feel like this will be a great transition into the real world because I'll basically be doing a real job and then taking the bar and then hopefully going straight into my first big girl job. But obviously the biggest seller is that I'm getting a crazy amount of experience! Between my summer internships and my clinic and my externship, it's really helping me not stress out so much about trying to make myself sound good on my resumé and in interviews.

Dallas Magazine wrote a great article about this program if you want to read more about it here (heads up— if you're going to Tech or SMU I highly recommend you read this).

Application

Once again, my school required that we go to an information session at the beginning of the spring semester that they only mentioned through our school daily email so I'm glad that I'm always good about reading that. This was how we got our name on the list to be emailed the application packet. Because this is a much bigger program than the clinics, the application process definitely took a lot more time so heads up about that.

First off, they gave us this huge packet that had all of the different placement options. What I did was look at the cities that were offered and narrowed it down to my top three cities. Then after that, I went through and picked all of the placements from those cities that were in the field of law that I'm interested in. I took this information and made a little spreadsheet that included: company name, type of law, GPA requirement, experience requirement, and the position description. Then I narrowed this down to my top 5 (my school only let us apply to 5 placements) based on which I thought were the best fit for me/had my best chances of getting in.

My application itself was 9 pages! The questions were your basic ones of what's your GPA, what you're involved in, all of the "have you ever..." questions like when you applied to law school. Then I ranked my top 5 choices in order which tbh I didn't really have a method for putting them in the order that I did and just kinda went with what I felt like at the time.The next part asked for an explanation of my top 5. Since almost all of my choices were very similar, this was one of the hardest parts to have a good explanation without repeating myself. I'm glad that I took the time to personalize my reasoning, though, because I later found out that my placement received a full copy of my application so they saw what I put for them and everyone else. The last part was a conflict of interest form so I just listed what I'd worked on my past summer. If you have a job right now, it'd be a really good idea to keep a list of who you work with and what you work on because you will end up having to give that to pretty much any employer in your future.

Interview #1

About two weeks after I turned in my application, I received an email that I'd made it to the next round, which is campus interviews. This interview was about 10-15 minutes long. This was an interview at my school put on by the program director, the career services director, and a few other people who help them match you with your program. I wore my suit and showed up just like that but last minute my friend told me to take my padfolio in case I ended up wanting to take any notes during the interview. I'm glad I showed up with this (I stuffed my keys in one of the pockets so I didn't bring my purse) because literally every other interviewee that was there had the exact same thing!

The best part about showing up 30 minutes early (I was nervous) was that I got to talk to the other interviewees while we waited. This really calmed my nerves and they didn't feel like competition at all because most of them wanted to do criminal and I wanted to do civil. One girl was even nice enough to stay after her interview and give us a heads up about the types of questions she was asked. I was immensely grateful for this because I wasn't sure how to prepare for this interview at all. I didn't know if it'd be like a normal job interview where I'd be expected to have done a lot of research about the companies (I had, but was nervous that I'd get 5 companies mixed up in my head due to interview nerves).

The main question they asked me was to talk about my top 5 choices, so I was glad I had the foresight to at least study my explanations from my application. They also asked me where I planned to study for the bar after graduation (apparently they like for you to study for the bar in the city you went to school at). The hardest part for me was when they asked me my plans for the classes that I hadn't taken yet. 

Because I was a transfer, I only had taken 2 required classes at that point, was currently enrolled in 3 required classes, which left 4 required classes and 18 hours to complete before I left for this program so I could graduate on time. After talking to some students, I heard that some of these classes were offered in the summer so I told them that was the plan for those and I'd take the rest in the fall. Things got a lil awk when one of the interviewers was like oh yeah neither of those classes are being offered in the summer... So my advice to you would be to take the extra step and talk to the registrar and get a solid plan on what class you'll take when or else you'll be like be sitting there convincing them that you can get it all done. Honestly, this was the one thing that made me think well I'm not getting in as I walked out the door.

Interview #2

So yay happy day when I got an email that not only did I get in to the program, but I was matched with my second choice! But that wasn't the end of the application process, so in that email I was told that I would be getting an email from my placement because they get the final say in whether I'm their extern or not. Since the externship is 5 hours away from me, they set up a phone interview with me. I'm sooo glad that this wasn't a Skype interview because it took some pressure off me knowing that they couldn't see me. This interview was about 30 minutes long.

But that doesn't mean that I whiffed this interview. Oh no no no, I did major research. First I searched Lexis to see if I could impress them and be like "oh yeah in X case I liked Y theory that you argued," but I guess good for them there was only one opinion and it was granting summary judgment for them. So then I tried googling them. What was really hard was this is an in-house counsel for a corporation, not a big law firm, so when I googled them all I got was information about the corporation. 

Luckily, the site had a page about all of the major execs and I found one person whose description said he was head of their legal counsel. So I looked him up on LinkedIn and damn that website sounds pointless until you need to know about someone's work history. Through creeping through him, I was able to find like 3 other people who worked in the legal department. And then I did a totally normal thing and made a spreadsheet about these people. Their names, where they went to undergrad, where they went to law school, how long they've been there, and what their position is.

This turned out to be really helpful during the interview! When my interviewer started out the interview saying that another interviewer was in a meeting but would be conference calling in afterwards, I knew exactly who she was talking about. Another thing that helped from LinkedIn is that I had seen their profile photos so I could picture who I was talking to and that helped a lot. One thing though about all this creeping is that when one of my interviewers mentioned that she went to law school in Dallas, it was really hard for me to remember not to be like oh yeah I know! haha

Anyways, this interview itself was pretty typical. They started off asking me about what I knew about the company and I started off by connecting that some of their philanthropy work that was listed on their website is a program that I was involved with in high school. Then they transitioned into talking about what their legal team is like. My favorite part was when we were just chatting about our thoughts on law school and my interviewers were even joking around with me, which really made me feel more comfortable. 

At one point they asked me why I wanted to work with them and what I hoped to get out of it. I reiterated what I said in my explanation on my application and tried to echo what they had given as the job description that was in the placement packet that I had got from my school at the info session. One thing that I wish I would have done in hindsight was steal some of the job descriptions from the other places that I had included on my application because since the jobs were all so similar, it would have given me more to talk about. 

The next morning after my interview, I sent a follow-up thank you email to each of my interviewers. I know this isn't as formal/professional as a hand-written thank you, but I didn't feel like I had 3 days to wait for the letter to get mailed and didn't want to chance them thinking that I was rude. Always make sure that you try to take a piece from the interview and tie it back in to your letter and end by mentioning how the interview reaffirmed why you want to work for them.

My externship

What felt like forever later (time goes by when you're nervous) I finally got the email that I've been officially placed! It was such a huuuuge sigh of relief because I actually didn't even find out until after we registered for classes and since my school registers for fall, summer, and spring all at once it was a little stressful being like well idk what classes to register when because idk if I'll be here for one or two semesters.

I've still got some details that I need to figure out like what I'm going to do with my current apartment and where I'm going to stay for that semester, but I'm glad to at least have a solid plan scheduled. Probably the best part so far is that my mom is super proud of me and took me shopping for business professional clothes so that I have more than just two pairs of pants to wear for a semester (Related: Building a Lawyer Wardrobe). 

So what I'll be doing. I will be working at a company's in-house counsel. I'm really excited about this because their staff is much smaller than a law firm's (like 5 people) so there's a really good opportunity for me to get some get mentorship and hands-on experience. In case you didn't know, in-house counsel handles more day-to-day things since we're a company's own legal team instead of like being on a retainer so generally we won't be dealing with too many lawsuits. Instead, it's a bunch of real-estate contracts, employment contracts, trademark issues, human resources issues, and all that. 

Sorry this post was long but I felt like I had no clue what I was doing since I didn't really know anyone who had been a part of this and bless my classmate for going through this with me so that I felt totally normal that I didn't get the job officially like the next day haha. If you're a 1L or 2L, I hope you'll consider looking into an externship or whatever your school has. If you're a 0L, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to be looking at the schools you're applying to and seeing what kind of opportunities like this they have for you. Also, I know it's way off in the distance, but let this post serve as a warning that I might get too busy to blog this spring so sorry if that happens. 

June 26, 2017

16 Great Law School Finds from Etsy

16 Great Law School Finds from Etsy | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello again! I recently was on Etsy ordering my new Plum Paper planner (read all about my law school planner here) and after I got done I decided to do a little looking around. I've always loved Etsy because customized and monogrammed things are my shit. I also really love it because you can basically have someone create whatever you want. Case in point— my school doesn't sell any Tech Law spirit jerseys but I realllly wanted one this fall so I just found someone that made custom spirit jerseys and now I have exactly what I wanted! (this is the store I used).

Back to this post... While I was on there I found some really cute things that I thought I'd share with y'all! I found everything from Law School Probs to Legally Blonde items. Whether you're buying it for yourself to celebrate getting in to law school or surviving it so far, or if you need a present idea, I just thought all of these were too good not to share!

There wasn't a whole lot that I found that more for just law students instead of lawyers, so if you find anything else that's really cute please do send me the link! Like I said, my school doesn't have a whole lot of law school swag so I'm always on here trying to find something instead.


I Think I'll Go to Law School Today print | brazenandbrunette.com


Live Every Day Like Elle Woods print | brazenandbrunette.com


Scales of Justice Print | brazenandbrunette.com


The Law is Free From Passion print | brazenandbrunette.com


LSAT Prep/Recovery coffee mug and wine glass | brazenandbrunette.com


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June 23, 2017

Law School Clinic

law school clinic | brazenandbrunette.com

Hey hey hey! I've been itching to write this post for a while now because I have big news— I got into a clinic! In case you didn't know, a clinic is a class where you get to handle real cases on your own. It's great because you're getting real experience (great to mention on resumés or in interviews) but you still have a professor to help you out. 

Because I transferred I missed the deadlines to try to write on a journal so I was really excited to apply for a clinic since I feel like I'm not as involved as I should be.

Related: 6 Steps to Transferring Law Schools

At my school, you can be in a clinic your 2L or 3L year so I did miss the opportunity to do it my 2L year but I'm still really stoked to get in to a clinic. Btw if you're a 0L I highly suggest you look into the clinic opportunities when considering a school. 

Related: Choosing a Law School


Applying

At the beginning of the Spring semester, they announced that applications were open for the clinics in the daily school email (so if you're not reading those, maybe ya should be). My school has six clinics— advanced alternative dispute resolution, civil practice, criminal defense, family law/housing, innocence project, and tax. Since I want to do civil law, I applied to the ADR and civil practice clinics. The application had us rank our priorities and list relevant classes that we've taken/were currently in. I had to describe my past legal experience so I just put my internships from my 1L summer. It also asked to describe any pro bono experience and I can't stress to y'all enough that getting a lot of pro bono hours will always come in handy! 

The last thing we had to do was write a 1-2 page paper about why we want to be the clinic for each clinic we applied for. This was why I ended up not applying to more clinics haha because I procrastinated (don't do this). For my ADR paper, I wrote about what I had learned in the negotiations class I took my 2L fall semester and explained why I thought they should pick me. For my civil practice paper, I again wrote about my relevant classes and then talked about why I want to be a part of the clinic. Yeah they were basically the same ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I ranked the ADR clinic first and the CP clinic second. This was because the ADR clinic was only one semester long and the CP clinic was a year long. While the year-long clinic would obviously give me more experience and I think I'd even get to get my student bar card for participating in it, the shorter clinic was actually perfect for me because I was really hoping to get into another program in the Spring and wanted the chance to be a part of both. And I'm very happy to say that I got in to my first choice!


ADR

So there's litigation, negotiation, arbitration, and mediation. Lots of shuns haha. Litigation is where you go to trial and argue a case in front of a jury or a judge (called a bench trial). Litigation is the most commonly known type of lawyering but it's actually not the most popular. This is because the court system is set up to have parties work it out on their own and only go to trial kinda as a last resort. If you're interested in this, see if your school participates in mock trial competitions and try to get involved.

Negotiation is where the two lawyers (and maybe their clients) meet up and work things out on their own. I took a negotiations class because I was behind on my "legal practice" hours after transferring but it has so far been the most useful class I've taken and I really encourage everyone to look in to it! If you're interested in this, see if your school participates in negotiation competitions and try to get involved.

Arbitration is kinda a step down from litigation. There's two sides who argue in front of a third party, so I think of it like basketball with two teams and a ref. The rules aren't exactly the same as trial but the process is pretty similar, and if it's "binding arbitration" then what the ref decides is just like if a judge decided it (usually arbitrators are retired judges). If you're interested in this, see if your school participates in arbitration competitions and try to get involved.

Mediation is kinda halfway between negotiation and arbitration. There's a third party just like arbitration, but they're not the judge. Instead, they just kinda help the two parties negotiate. For example, mediators usually start by talking to each side separately to help them decide what they actually want to happen and help them keep realistic goals. Mediators also usually will suggest ideas that will help both parties. 



One thing that I'm excited about mediation is that it's real heavy on conflict-resolution and since I'm looking at doing in-house counsel, I see that as being something really useful to be good at and come in with experience. 

Another reason why I'm excited is that after this class, I'll be mediator certified. One of my friends took this class Fall her 2L year and then started doing mediations on the side Spring her 2L year and if I remember right she was getting paid like $25 an hour! And I'm pretty sure it's like $50-100 an hour once you have your JD or something like that (I know it increases, but idk what the requirements are) and so this would be a great side-gig to do if I ever want to cut down on my workload to have kids or when I retire.  

And small world- the place I'll be doing my mediation through is actually where I'm working right now! Before I was hired, I had to talk to my boss and my professor to make sure that they were both okay with it. To prevent conflicts of interest, I'll just be working on city issues for my job and then I'll only be dealing with county issues for my class. My boss is also making sure that he doesn't assign me to anything that would give me a head start from my classmates and has reassured my professor that he won't play favorites with me just because he knows me. 

June 17, 2017

2L Summer

2L summer | brazenandbrunette.com

Ok so now back to law related stuff! This post is coming a little late because I've actually been very busy this summer but I wanted to do a post about my summer schedule. As you may recall, last summer I didn't take summer classes and instead balanced two jobs (you can read about that here). This summer, I'm taking summer 1 and summer 2 classes plus working part time (but getting paid😁). 

Summer Classes

I really truly regret not taking summer classes last year. If I could give any rising 2L advice, I'd say take at least 6 hours during the summer! Taking 15 hours this past semester was really draining and I wish that I could've dropped a class without falling behind on my degree plan. Not only that, but you never know what programs you'll get into as a 3L— for my spring semester I'll be in a program where I can only take 12 hours so if I wasn't in summer classes now I'd be taking 18 hours in the fall just so I can graduate on time!

Anyways, so I'm totally new to law school summer classes and still fairly new to student loans so here's a lesson I learned the hard way. I knew I'd need to take out another loan to pay for my summer classes and for my rent. So I applied for a new FASFA so I could get more money since the government loan's interest is wayyy better than the private loan. But then I never got any money so I emailed my financial aid advisor and he was like oh yeah FASFA goes August-August so you won't get that money until the fall semester starts and I had an oh shit moment. Then I quickly applied for another sallie mae loan and that went through all fine and dandy but for some dumb reason (idk if it's my school or the loan company) that money doesn't get dispersed for 11 business days so hopefully that will go through this upcoming week. 

What that means is that I still haven't paid my summer 1 tuition and I'm not sure how I haven't even been dropped from that class so I'll have to go figure that out. I had just enough leftover money to pay my rent but then after that I had $28 combined from my savings and checking account for a week until payday. I'm so glad that this summer I found a paid job or else I wouldn't have money for groceries or gas!

As for the class itself, I'm taking one in-person class during summer 1 and I'm really liking the schedule because we meet for one hour every day and that's it! For summer 2, I'm taking two online classes which I'm nervous about because law classes seem like the kind of classes that I need to be in-person to be learning anything. I thought the reading would be hard because I assumed it would be double what it is during the regular semester but it's actually not bad at all. 

The class I'm in doesn't even have a book so my professor just sends us about 2 cases a day to read. The good part of this is that I'm saving a couple hundred bucks not paying for a book. The bad part of this is that we have to read the whole cases and sometimes one case will take me an hour to read because it's so long. And it sucks because these cases aren't even on Quimbee. One thing that I've learned is that if you read the case summary and outcome and the headnotes you can basically build your IRAC from that. Yes, I've had to go back to IRACs and I thought 3Ls aren't supposed to be doing IRACs anymore yet here I am ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Clerking

How I ended up at my job is that it literally fell in my lap when my friend decided to take a more relevant internship during summer 1 and her boss asked her to replace herself while she's gone she asked me! 

I'm so grateful that she did because this job is so meant for me it's crazy. I'm helping my boss do research and reviewing case law and statutes for the same topic that I did last summer so I'm already coming in with a lot of relevant experience. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can read my Summer Internships post from my 1L year here. Another bonus, my boss has me working on a side project that is basically having me incorporate what I do for my pro bono hours and help his office do something like it, so once again I just so happened to have relevant experience. You can also read about what I do for pro bono here

Speaking of pro bono, I'm still doing two hours a week. In Texas, the bar has this thing called the pro bono college which really is just a certificate. You have to do 50 hours a year and I'm trying really hard to make sure that I have enough to qualify for that because I feel like that will look good on my resumé.

I know this doesn't sound like a lot, but it's kept my days pretty busy. Here's my schedule for summer 1:


8-9:15
wake up, finish readings from night before, get ready

9:30-10:30
Ag law

11-12
on Mondays and Wednesdays I do pro bono

12-1
lunch, get ready for work, pack gym bag

1-5
work
but on Fridays I go 12-4 so I can get off earlier :)

5:30-7
spin class and sauna afterwards

7-9
shower, dinner, relax

9-11
read as much as I can for the next day's class

11
bedtime

June 9, 2017

Spin Class for Beginners

before your first spin class, check out this guide to learn all of the spin terms you'll need to know and get tips and tricks on how not to look like a first timer | brazenandbrunette.com

This past semester I upped my basic-ness and started going to spin 5 days a week and I loved it (Related: 11 other things I've tried and loved last semester). I feel like all of my friends are starting to get into spin class too so I thought I'd share some of my tips for first timers so that you can rock your first class a little better than I did. My school's rec center has a spin class that they offer for free to students, so keep in mind that your class might be slightly different if it's at a professional gym or a Soul Cycle. 


Get there early

I'm talking like 15-30 minutes early. I was very surprised when I got turned away from the 6:30 AM class on a college campus because it was already full by the time I showed up at 6:27. If it's that packed with a bunch of college kids, imagine how early a class full of adult gym goes gets full.

Also, you're going to want to be one of the first people in the room because it will take you longer to get set up your first time. If you're super extra like me, this means overthinking where you want to sit— in the front close to the instructor so you can see what she's doing or hiding in the back because you're a lil embarrassed? sit underneath the speakers so you can literally feel the music and ride to the beat or be far away because loud music doesn't help when you feel like you're dying? where's the area that gets the most air from the fan? 

Once you find your perfect spot, or just pick any spot if you're not picky, you need to go and introduce yourself to the instructor and tell her it's your first time so she can help you set your bike up. The proper bike seat height will either make or break your workout so you're going to want to get help. Test out the height and make sure that it's comfortable and doesn't put all of your weight on your knees. Also adjust the seat distance from the handlebars to make sure that your legs aren't squished up in you or that you're overreaching to pedal down. Adjust the handlebar height and distance to you to make sure that you can reach it without straining but also aren't hunched over the bars. Oh, and ask her for a seat pad. Your butt will thank you.

Know the terminology 

RPM - At least on our bikes, there's this screen that has all of your stats and the one that RPM is referring to is your rotations per minute which is your speed. Throughout the class, your instructor will be yelling out numbers in reference to your RPM that should be your goal. In general, the less resistance, the higher the number and the more resistance, the lower the number

Resistance - Our bikes have a knob right below the handlebar that looks just like a doorknob sticking up. You'll be using this in a scale of probably 1-10. For me, 0-2 is almost like going downhill where the pedals are pushing my feet up rather than my feet pushing them down. A 3-4 is how a normal bike ride down a road feels. And as you add more, it will start to be harder to push the pedals down, almost like you're riding through mud.

Add - Turn your knob to the right to add more resistance. When I first started out, I turned it 1/4 of a circle and now I'm strong enough to turn it a 1/2 circle every time. 

Take off - Turn your knob to the left to reduce the resistance. In general, you will use the same level of turn that you did to add (so either a 1/4 or a 1/2 turn each time). Be careful not to take off all of the weight at the time or that can be bad for your muscles. 

Rest/Recover - You take off a little resistance and slow down for a bit. This could be a couple of seconds if you're doing a tabata or in between jumps or it could be almost a minute after a sprint or during a ladder (I'm about to explain all of this below). But this is not a cool down so your RPMs should generally be like 60-85. Sometimes it feels good to stand up for a couple of seconds and stretch your legs during rest times so you might try that.

Position 1 - These are hand positions. Imagine the handle bars are like a clock. This is one hand on each side of 6. Most commonly used for climbs and sprints. But figure out what's most comfortable and easy for you and put your hands there.

Position 2 - About 3 and 9 on the clock. Most commonly used for jumps or tap backs.

Postion 3 - About 2 and 11 on the clock or at the top of the handle bars. Most commonly used while standing. At all times and no matter what position, make sure that you're not death gripping the handlebars. Your hands should be open enough that you could be holding a pen in your hand while holding on the the handlebar at the same time.

Sprint - What it sounds like. Pedal as hard as you can for the time that your instructor has told you to. If you're going over like 110 RPM, keep using that same level of effort but add a little resistance to keep your muscles and the bike safe. Instead of imagining yourself running, the easiest way to go really fast is to imagine that you're doing mountain climbers or high-knees and imagine trying to knee your chest.

Tabata - Basically this is fast-slow-fast. Usually at the beginning of a new song my instructor will tell us that it's a tabata and that will mean that we're sprinting for 20 seconds, then slowing down a little for 10 seconds, and then speeding back up for another 20 seconds and the cycle repeats until the song is over.

Jump - This is one of the hardest things to get when you're first starting. Basically what you do is stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, all while pedaling. The slower version that we do is 4 seconds and the faster version is 2 seconds where you feel like as soon as you sit down you're supposed to stand up again. The trick to these is to get your pedaling synchronized so that you're pushing yourself up at the same time that your leg is pedaling down so that it's more natural. Another trick is to pedal a little faster while you're standing to keep your momentum going which will help you balance. If you feel like you're wobbling around when standing, add a little resistance and it'll help keep you balanced.

Tap back/Dip - These are basically squats while standing and pedaling. They're pretty hard because they require balance to be able to move your body while moving on a bike and coordination because you have to only bend at the bottom half of your body to make your butt go out and down into a squat while resisting the urge to just be bowing.

Ladder - The most typical ladder is 10 second sprint, 10 second rest, 20 second sprint, 20 second rest, 30 second sprint, 30 second rest, 20 second sprint, 20 second rest, 10 second sprint, 10 second rest. 

Flat road - This is about a 3-5 on the level of resistance. This is usually used during the warm up and sprints.

Climb - This is where you slowly add more and more resistance to get to like an 8-10 level of resistance. Once it starts getting really hard, try swaying your hips (but not your whole body) just a little to put all of your bodyweight into the leg that's pushing down. Don't be afraid to add resistance! Trust me you could workout every day with the resistance maxed out and you still won't get watermelon-crushing thighs. Adding resistance will get you a better workout much more than just going fast.

Saddle - The bike seat. So when your instructor is telling you to get off the saddle she's meaning either stand or you're doing some jumps. The most comfortable position that I've found is to scooch back until the curve of the seat catches your thighs and your butt is hanging off the back a little.

Spin butt - The bike seats are not comfortable. Everything that the seat touches (inner thighs and where your thigh meets your butt/legs) are going to be very sore after your first ride. Eventually by like your 15th ride, your butt gets used to it so it's no longer uncomfortable. This is why a lot of beginners will used padded seat cushions at the beginning.

Quads - The muscles on the front of your thighs. These are mostly worked when you push down your legs. You will feel these because they're going to be very sore after your first day.

Hamstrings/Hammies - The muscles on the back of your thighs. These are mostly worked when you pull up your legs.

Glutes- Your butt muscles. Usually what part of my butt hurts is the outer edge.

Breathe your workout

There are two kinds of workouts- anaerobic (like what Michael Phelps does when he swims a lap without coming up for air) and aerobic. Cycling is an aerobic workout so you should be breathing the whole time. When you're sprinting really fast or the resistance is way up there, your natural reaction is to hold your breath and then eventually let in out in one big exhale like what you do when you come up for air after diving into water. This will make it harder for your muscles to work right and you'll feel like you're gasping for air for a full hour. Even worse, if you do start gulping air in quick breaths, that's an easy way to make you start feeling the need to burp or even worse throw up since you're hot and moving up and down a lot.

If you notice that you're doing this, try inhaling through your nose for a few seconds like you're smelling flower and then exhaling out your mouth for a few seconds like you're blowing out a candle. And try to be exhaling on the harder parts, so like exhale as you stand up in a jump. This actually really helps. Even while you're sprinting try to keep your breathing in rhythm instead of gasping for air. Don't worry your heart rate will still be up there but now you just won't feel like you're dying. Another thing to try during rests is to put your hands on your head like if you were being arrested. Sounds silly, I know, but it actually is opening up your airway so you can take really deep breaths and eventually catch your breath.

Pay attention to your posture

Another biggie. Remember that although this is generally a cardio workout so you're burning overall body fat, thanks to the resistance knob it is also a thigh, butt, and ab workout. When you get tired, it can be really easy to hunch your shoulders over or squeeze them real tight by your ears. Don't do this! You're putting your weight into your shoulders instead of your legs and it will make you sore in the wrong places. Look at the seam of where the wall directly in front of you meets the ceiling. Keep your eyes on this seam during sprints or other hard parts. It will keep you from hunching your shoulders and will keep your chest open so you can breathe fully. Or if you feel your shoulders tightening up, simply roll them back a few times and get them to loosen up. You can also stretch your arms out wide and then cross them in front of your chest to stretch (you've probably seen Michael Phelps do this flapping motion as he warms up to swim).

Another big posture thing is make sure that you've got your body aligned. This is why your seat position is super important. Take it from the girl who spent a whole session having all of the weight on her knees instead of in her quads. I couldn't go as hard and was limping for the rest of the day. When you're standing, you don't want your leg all the way straight but instead a little bend. And make sure that you stick your butt out a little so that your hips, knees, and feet are aligned and your butt is gently touching the seat with each spin. This will put all of your weight into your legs. Oh and make sure when you're pedaling that you're toes are never pointed down. Try to keep your feet flat in the pedals and if you catch yourself pointing your toes, imagine pulling your pedals up with your foot (your feet should be strapped or clipped in) and pushing down with your heels.

Have the right gear

I still have all of my oversized sorority tanks that I like to work out in, but I've found they're not ideal for spin class. As you see by now, there's a lot of quick switches from standing to sitting in spin and trust me that an oversized shirt will get stuck under your butt when you sit down and then it will pull from the back and choke you. Long story short, wear workout clothes that are actually your size. Even better, wear a workout tank that hash mesh in the back for when your back gets super sweaty. You'll be glad you did.

Don't think that just because you're on a stationary bike, you can just wear a flimsy sports bra. There's a lot of moments where it's a lot of action going on at once and without proper support this will cause your boobs to do a straight down fall which first of all hurts and second of all can lead to sagging. My all time favorite is Under Armour's high impact sports bras because they are very secure (even if you're a DD) but also are comfortable.

I always see people wearing leggings so I tried it once and y'all I died. Not only were my legs extra hot, but the pants were trapping the sweat along my legs and it made me very itchy. So now what I usually wear are capris. I'm a big fan of Under Armour heat gear capris because they're slick instead of being made with cotton so they're super breathable and it's made to get sweat off you fast to keep you from being hot and itchy. And if capris aren't your thing then workout shorts are great for spin, too. Again just try to be cool and comfortable.

Bring water! The biggest mistake I see people make is that they either wrongly assume that they can make it until after class to go to a fountain or they'll wrongly assume that a little plastic water bottle that they brought from their fridge will be enough. That's why every time I bring a 25 ounce water bottle and without a doubt I always go through it. One tip though on your first few classes if you're just getting back into working out is try to ration your water throughout the class. I make it a goal to not go through the halfway mark on my bottle before the halfway mark through class. This is just because it's not uncommon for an instructor to have the last workout be the hardest and you don't want to have already chugged all your water. I also really recommend a Camelbak water bottle over something like a Swell bottle just because there's no lid so you can easily drink it with one hand while using the other to hold on so you don't fall off your bike.

I have an Apple Watch and I love to use the Indoor Cycle Workout App. My watch stays in the app the whole workout so I can see how long I've been working out, how many calories I've burned, and what my heart rate is. If you just want a heart rate and calorie counter, then you could just get a FitBit, but I prefer my Apple Watch because for $100 more you get something that you can use all day every day and not just doing workouts (Related: How I use my Apple Watch for school). Monitoring my heart rate during spin class is really nice because if I see that if its only at 130 beats per minute then I know that I need to be pushing my self a little harder to reach my goal of 180 BPM.


5 tips for spin class for beginners | brazenandbrunette.com

drink a pre workout about 30 minutes before class. My personal favorite is C4 fruit punch because it tastes just like red Gatorade which is my favorite. I'm still on half a scoop because any more than that and my face gets itchy. I've really noticed that it's helped with how long I can go hard in a workout before my muscles get sore. I always keep a blender bottle in my gym bag so that I can mix my pre workout. I love this stackable blender bottle that comes with a container that screws on the bottom where I can store the protein powder that I mix up for after the workout (my friends joke that I've turned into a guido with all these pre and post workout shakes). What I use right now is Pure Protein in vanilla because it's super cheap and although it's definitely not as sweet as a real vanilla shake, it isn't nasty so that's good enough for me. 

The last thing that I have invested in for spin class is this small duffle bag from Adidas. The colors are perfect and the bag is just the right size to keep a change of clothes for if I go right after class. And since it's so petite, it's still fine even if I don't have clothes and is just right for everything else that I bring. I keep deodorant in there for obvious reasons. I also keep a pair of earbuds because I go into the sauna for 10 minutes after a workout so my muscles don't get cramped. I also keep face wipes to wipe down the sweat off my body. I highly advise that you try to wipe off at least your face and chest and back even if you're going to shower because you don't want bacne ruining your hot new bod. I also have the fitness minimergency kit in my bag because it has everything from a spare hair tie to a headband and even socks.


Here's some cute workout clothes to get you inspired :) 

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