Surviving an Indoor Cycling Class

For many, the idea of taking an indoor cycling or Spinning(r) class is very intimidating.  Some where along the way these classes got the stigma of being extreme work-outs for the super-elite athlete.

I am here to dispel that myth.  I’ve been an indoor cycling instructor for nearly five years and a student for five years before that.  And I won’t lie to you, it is a hard work out, but like anything else in the gym – or in life for that matter – it is what you make of it.

For me indoor cycling is easier – and much more fun – than running on the treadmill.  That being said, every one is stronger in some areas than others so if cycling is not your natural ability still do not shy away.

Years back, cycling classes were segregated by beginner classes and advanced classes.  Today every one is put into the same class regardless of ability or experience.  I’ve taught everybody from the finely-tuned triathlete, to a 75-year-old woman, to middle-aged semi-chubby men – and they all do great.

When starting out taking indoor cycling classes, here are a few things to get you through:

  • Listen. Listening may be the most important aspect of class.  Listen to your body. Listen to the music. Listen to the instructor. Experienced instructors will align drills to the tempo or beat of the music.  That beat is often a guide for your pace and the intensity of the drill.  Along with the music, the instructor will give verbal cues to help you connect in your mind what your body should be doing.  Above all listen to your body … if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it or ask for help.
  • Finish.  Make it your goal to finish the entire class.  It is important to know what you are working toward.  If you leave half way through you miss out on different drills and do not have proper expectations of what a full class entails.
  • Pace. No one said that finishing an entire class meant you had to go 125 percent the entire time.  If you feel yourself starting to get winded, slow down or take some tension off.  Keep your legs moving, but at a slower pace.  When you catch your breath or a second wind, then bring your exertion levels back up.

    Photo source: BeSpun.com

  • Set-Up. Don’t be afraid to ask an instructor to help set your bike up the first few times.  Improper bike set-up can make for an uncomfortable class – or even worse, lead to injury.
  • Strength. Unless you regularly cycle outdoors or are a finely tuned athlete, your first few classes are going to be hard.  The same would apply for running or weight lifting.  Stick with it and you will see that your endurance will begin to increase and your muscles will strengthen.
  • Soreness. Many of my students are worried that they will be incredibly sore after their first few classes.  What amazes them most is that their “sit bones,” or the area where you sit on the bike seat, is what hurts the most after the class.  There are two ways to combat this: 1. purchase a gel seat and take it with you to class; 2. tough it out and after 3-4 classes your butt will get used to the seat.
  • Frequency. Just because you’ve decided to start indoor cycling doesn’t mean that you have to go five-days-a-week to get in shape.  Pace yourself. Start out once or twice a week and build up.  If you find you really love it then starting taking more classes a week.  It is important to cross-train, so even if you become an indoor cycling enthusiast, don’t forget to get out and do other things as well.
  • Fun. Remember above all to have fun.  Indoor cycling allows you to surround yourself with dynamic, endorphin-fueled people.  It is one of the few times you can ride with a group, make friends and listen to great music  at the same time.  Hooting and hollering is welcomed and encouraged … cut loose and let the experience take hold.

As always, it is important to consult a medical professional before starting on a new exercise or diet regimen.  And remember, the phrase “no pain, no gain” only applies to the “good pain” that comes from hard work.  If you feel “bad pain” or injury pain, be sure to stop and consult a medical professional.

Come cycling with me some time soon.  E-mail me for class schedules.  Good luck and enjoy the ride.

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2 Comments

Filed under Activities, Fitness, Health, Sports

2 responses to “Surviving an Indoor Cycling Class

  1. Angie, right on target with all this advice! I remember my first spin class. It was 1995 and I was literally dragged over to a bike off a treadmill against my better judgment. I hated it. But my own Type A nature made me try it again, just to conquer the beast. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    This is a workout that you can completely customize to your body type, ability, and even your day to day fitness. There are days I spin just to ease the kinks from a weight training session the day before, and I don’t go full tilt. Other times I need to hit it hard to raise the old metabolism. It’s super for runners and other athletes who want the cardio or cross training but can’t take every day pounding on the joints. Or for people like me who HATE running. There, I said it.

    A few more pieces of advice. If you are going to spin even a few times a month, invest in a pair of bike shorts. I can ride without them after all this time, but I’d rather not. Much better than a gel seat in my opinion and no fussing around with the bike. Next, invest in a pair of cycling shoes. You will enjoy the experience so much more and you’ll be a more efficient rider.

    I look forward to riding with you sometime!

    Gayle, San Diego

    • Fantastic feedback, Gayle. The gear definitely makes a difference. Can’t wait to have you in class sometime. Just say the word and I’ll get you on the list. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

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