Although indoor cycling is pretty popular these days, a lot of people I meet say that they are intimidated to try a class. I think people have the impression that you have someone yelling at you to do something that you may die during. And if you are one of those people who thinks that indoor cycling is the most boring thing ever, you should read my post on why I love indoor cycling and maybe it will at least make you consider trying a class!
To help make the first experience less scary, here is what I think is important for someone to know before they head to their first indoor cycling class.
Bring water and use a towel
Most studios have water fountains to refill a water bottle, but just in case, bring a full water bottle. Studios will usually have a towel at the bike for you, but if not, make sure you grab one (typically right outside the cycling room). You will be dripping in sweat and it is nice to have something to wipe the sweat off with. I also like to lay the towel on the handle bars so that I get that sweaty versus get the handle bars all sweaty.
Wear yoga capris or cycling shorts (don’t wear running shorts!)
I have attempted an indoor cycling class in running shorts and it’s not fun. I highly suggest wearing yoga capris or leggings, cycling shorts, or if you are a guy, regular workout shorts with spandex underneath to allow for the most comfort.
Ask for help setting up your bike
Don’t be afraid to ask for help setting up the bike. The bike setup is so important for your workout. If you don’t have it set up properly, you not only won’t get the most out of your workout but you could also injure yourself! Sometimes studios have employees walking around helping with setup, but if not, don’t be afraid to go up to the instructor or another employee and ask for help.
Use cycling shoes if they have them available
Cycling shoes can be scary because you are clipped into the bike, but they really make the workout so much more enjoyable and you can get more out of it. Ask the instructor for some help clipping in and getting off the bike with the shoes.
There are padded seat covers
Some studios provide padded seats cushions to put on the bike saddle. I suggest trying the first class without it, but if you find the seat really uncomfortable, try using this the next class. Keep in mind that it may take a couple of classes to get used to the saddle, but I promise that it does get better!
You are in control of the resistance
One common reason I hear people don’t want to try indoor cycling is that they think it’s too hard. It can be a really difficult workout, but you also have control over how difficult you make the workout. The resistance knob on the bicycle is under your control and no one else’s. There are days that I really increase that resistance and others that I hold back because my body needs a break but still wants to get in a good sweat. The instructor won’t yell at you, and if they encourage you to increase the resistance, it might be that you have too little on and too little resistance can actually be bad. You need some heavier resistance on the bike when you stand up in certain positions to make sure you don’t get hurt and also when you are seated so that your hips are not flying all over the place.
I feel like bit of a creeper, but I love watching how the instructor adjusts his or her form. I try to adjust mine to match. Even if you are able to go faster if you are not in proper form, you won’t be working the right muscles and could actually be doing harm to your body. Every so often, be sure to get a form check in. The good instructors often force you to think about this anyways!
Some cycling studios incorporate arm workouts. This could be in the form of push ups on the handle bars while cycling or with weighted bars or hand weights. The weights are usually on the bikes already and if they seem too light, I wouldn’t let it fool you! Try the lower weights for your first class and adjust for the next class.
Don’t be afraid to NOT do a move
Another move that is popular in the cycling studios are “tap backs” where you are standing and cycling then bring your hips back over the saddle to the beat. I often skip this move and just remain cycling in a standing position. For me, the tap backs are difficult and irritate my hips. I can only tap back with a certain leg leading, and with my hips sensitive to the unevenness of me not being able to alternate which leg I lead with, I’d rather just not do the move. However if we are doing a tap back with longer counts (2 or 4), I will do the move because it doesn’t bother my hips.
NOTE: Even though I say don’t be afraid not to do a move, don’t go completely rogue and sprint when everyone else is climbing a hill! Avoid doing moves if it doesn’t feel right for your body but don’t not do a move and make your own workout just because! It’s a bit rude to the instructor and studio!
I’m guilty of leaving class before the stretches sometimes so I can beat the rush to the showers, however I try to stretch when I get a chance after the class. It’s important after class to stretch your body so for your first class, make sure you stick around!
I always feel more comfortable going into a situation if I am a little more educated on the terminology and what I am doing. Just in case your instructor doesn’t go over some of this for you, here are some important ones to know:
- Position 1 – Hands on the center part of the handle bars.
- Position 2 – Hands on the inward curve of the handle bars.
- Position 3 – Hands hold the top end of the handle bars (for standing positions).
- Jumps – Alternating between seated and standing.
Questions for you
What tips would you give to an indoor cycling newbie?
If you haven’t been to an indoor cycling class before, what is holding you back?