I’m here back with you today sharing another fitness class in the What To Expect In… series! Today we’re featuring cycle class! The craze of Group Cycling Classes really began to take off in fitness centers around the world back in 1993, and has only grown in popularity and fun since then! All around the globe people everyday are using cycle classes to help their body become stronger and healthier…do you want to be one of them?
Spinning, RPM, Group Cycle, Group Ride, Turbo Spin, whatever the name of the Indoor Group Cycling Class your gym offers, the idea, at its foundation, is the same: to give you killer sprints, thighs-on-fire hill climbs, and heart-pounding drills, while listening to energizing music, all in the name of fitness!
It can absolutely feel daunting walking into that cycle studio or group fitness room for the first time, or even just peeking in through the window at the tight-shorted sweaty riders, pedaling at turbo-speed paces to the pounding music! Despite how crazy those classes might appear, you CAN have a successful and enjoyable experience in cycle class, even on your first try!
Indoor Cycle classes are some of my very very favorite classes to both attend and teach. It offers SO MANY health benefits, both physically and psychologically. The most important benefit packed along with cycling is that, because of its cardiovascular base, it strengthens our body’s most important muscle—our heart. Other physical benefits include (but are not limited to) muscle development, increased cardiovascular strength and stamina, calorie burning, and increased metabolism. Cycling also triggers chemicals inside our brains that are responsible for making us feel more excited and alert, decreasing our stress levels and increasing our mental focus, as well as improving our mood and our memory, among so many other things! These are just some of the reasons why people just keep on coming back, week after week, to group cycle classes!
If it’s your first time trying out an indoor spin or cycle class at your fitness center, here are a few things you may need to make your experience more enjoyable:
What to Wear:
- You’ll want to wear athletic shorts, capris, or pants that you can move and stretch comfortably in, and that are more fitted around your legs. Baggy clothing around your legs can get caught in the pedals or wheels, and can limit your movement. T-shirts or tank tops are a great shirt choice…just choose a top that you feel comfortable sweating a lot in! Athletic fabrics that help to wick away sweat and moisture may help you feel a lot more comfortable, say, than a drenched cotton shirt might.
- Tennis shoes or cycle shoes. Most indoor cycle bikes give you the option of tightening the pedal’s cage around your tennis shoes on one side of the pedal, or of a clipping in with cycle shoes on the opposite side. See more about cycle shoes further down in the post!
What to Bring:
- A water bottle! (or 2!) Hydrating your working body is one of the very most important things to do before, during, and after cycle class. So, so important!
- A towel. You will be sweating. You’ll want one. I typically bring a towel, and still have a lake of sweat underneath my bike after class! It’s no fun to have sweat pouring into your eyes, and having nothing to wipe it off with!
- Optional: A heart rate monitor. This is definitely not an essential thing to have with you, especially as you’re starting out, but if you’ve been going to cycle classes and doing cardiovascular exercise for a while and are looking for ways to take your athletic performance to the next level, it’s a great tool to use to help with that.
What to do on your first time:
- Get to class a few minutes early. If the instructor is there, let him or her know that it’s your first time, and he/she can help you set up your bike, and let you know any special information you may need to know about the class.Bike setup is extremely important! A bike that is not adjusted correctly to your body can cause injury. Here’s a great video that goes over how to adjust your indoor cycle bike to fit your body:
- Pace yourself. Typical group cycle classes range from 30 minutes, to 60 minutes long, and you’ll be moving your legs that entire time. Just as if you were running a marathon, you wouldn’t want to sprint as hard and as fast as you can for the first 3 miles, right? You wouldn’t have energy for the rest of the race! Same idea here. Gauge your own intensity, and work at your own pace. Don’t feel intimidated by Mr. Padded Cycle Shorts in the front row who never seems to get tired, and keeps on cycling for another hour after everyone else leaves the fitness room. There’s always gonna be one of those. It’s about you getting stronger and healthier in your own way, and should in no way feel like a competition.
- Listen to your body. If you need to sit while the instructor is standing, or stand while everyone else is sitting, do it! If you need water before the instructor says to grab a drink, take a sip! If you need to ride for awhile at a slower pace, or have your resistance level lower than the instructor says, turn it down. It’s just a fitness class at the gym. It’s not military boot camp, or a test, and the instructor is not going to come scream at you! It’s YOUR workout. Just like anything else in life, it takes time and practice to improve.
A couple other things to get you started for success:
- Your group cycle classes may or may not have screens to monitor your intensity level and track the progress of the class. Here’s a cheat sheet to understanding the screen:
- The saddle hurts. Especially the first few times. This is normal—that’s why cyclists wear padded shorts. If you continue going for awhile, you’ll notice the seat less and less. Promise! If it is unbearable for you, wear padded shorts or purchase a padded bike seat to bring along to class with you.
- Cycle shoes really do make a difference, and they will change the experience of the class for you. They’ll force your body to use exactly the muscles you’re supposed to be using while riding, plus you’ll protect your feet from aches and pains that are possible to experience using tennis shoes. Regular tennis shoes are great if you’re starting out, but if you get pretty committed to cycle class, you may eventually want a pair of cycle shoes. The reason I initially bought a pair of cycle shoes was because I was experiencing really painful feet and ingrown toenails from the pedal’s shoe cages, and I’ll never look back! No more pain in the feet and toes!
- Have fun!! Enjoy the music, and use it help motivate you through the workout!
Have you tried cycle classes before, and have experiences or tips to share? Got any questions? I’d love to read your comments/experiences/questions, so we can help each other out on our workouts!!