7 Tips To Help You Get Started With Indoor Cycling
By Amy Schlinger
For years, indoor cycling has been and continues to be one of the most popular categories for group fitness classes. Why? Because it’s effective, it’s accessible to all fitness levels as classes can be scaled, and it’s fun! But in order to enjoy yourself during class, especially if it’s your first indoor cycling experience, there are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to reap the benefits. So instead of feeling embarrassed about being new and not familiar with the equipment or programming, and trying to blend into the back row, here are some things you should know if you’re just getting started with indoor cycling, according to instructors. Remember, everyone in that classroom had a first time, too!
What To Know If You’re Getting Started With Indoor Cycling, According to Instructors
1. Wear sweat-wicking athletic gear.
You’re going to work up a serious sweat—especially if you’ve never taken an indoor cycling class before! So it’s important to wear workout gear that is made from fabric designed to pull moisture away from the body—and if it dries quickly that’s a bonus, too! Besides that, the choice is really up to you! “The best solution would be to wear athletic wear that is comfortable to you, with no bagginess,” says Joey Foley, co-owner and head instructor of workout design at Punch Pedal House indoor cycling studio in Brooklyn, NY. “I wear 3/4 leggings with shorts and a t-shirt or tank top, and my wife [who is also an instructor at the studio] wears leggings and a tank top.” Form fitting, sweat wicking, and comfortable, and you’re good to go!
2. Show up early and meet the instructor.
While you might be intimidated to let an instructor know that it’s your first time, you’ll end up doing yourself a disservice if you don’t. Show up to the studio at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to class so you can get your bearings, put away your personal things, meet your instructor and let him or her know you’re new to class. “We as instructors pride ourselves on helping the newcomer,” says Foley. “If we don’t know you’re new, we won’t be able to suggest modifications and options for you, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or defeated during or after your first class.” So put your fear aside and let your teacher know that you’re a newbie and that you might need some extra guidance. “By letting an instructor know you’re new, you can get set up the right way and you’ll be able to avoid things like your seat placement being too high and uncomfortable, or not knowing how much resistance is needed to stand up and pedal,” explains Colleen Conlon, cycling pro at Equinox in New York City. “You’ll have a safer and better experience.”
3. Bring or rent cycling shoes.
Since this is your first class, chances are that you don’t already own a pair of cycling shoes—and you shouldn’t! Before you make the investment, you want to be sure that cycling is something you enjoy. But if you do happen to have a pair of cycling shoes, like the new Shimano IC5 or IC3 (which has a bit more of a lifestyle look, with receded cleats in the bottom of the shoe, so you can walk around in this pair easily) indoor cycling specific shoes, be sure to pack them for class. Chances are good that you’ll need to have SPD cleats on the shoes, as most indoor cycling studios may have a clipless (which really means clip in!) system that matches the cleats on the shoes they rent out, but the reverse side of the pedal can generally accommodate SPD cleats, because SPDs are the predominant pedals in the world (And if you aren’t sure about the pedals, cleats, and shoes, you can read more here)
If you don’t own shoes, most studios have rentals, and the ones that don’t have cages on the pedals that you can just slip your sneakers right into and ride on!
4. Ask for help setting up your bike.
Because it’s your first time, it’s expected that you shouldn’t know how to setup your bike. Yes, there are some parameters that people universally go by, like the seat being hip height tall, and the seat being the length of your wrist to your elbow away from your handlebars. But there is no “one size fits all,” when it comes to bike setup, so it’s important that you ask either the instructor or any studio or gym staff there to help you. “Bike setup is key for power production and for the rider to have an overall good experience,” says Rachel Vaziralli, senior manager of cycling at Equinox in New York City. “The more power produced by a rider, the more distance covered, and more calories burned, too!”
5. Ride at your own pace.
Yes, you’re in class to follow along with the instructor’s directions and ride the way you’re cued to, but if it’s your first time, don’t feel pressured to do everything or to try to keep up with the more experienced riders around you. It’s important not to let your ego take over, so you don’t end up trying to do way too much and get injured, nor do you want to feel defeated because you’re not able to ride as well as the person next to you. Realize that your fellow students may have upwards up 25 to 50 rides under their belts, so you shouldn’t compare yourself to them. “Don’t be intimidated by anyone,” says Foley. “Everyone in that room, even the instructor, looked ridiculous on the bike when they started. It takes time.” Instead, ride at your own pace that feels good and challenging to you, but not too over-the-top. You can still follow the instructor’s cues, but if you need to remain in the saddle or take it down a few RPMs, don’t be afraid to do it.
6. Pay attention to the explanation of cues.
Most likely, at the beginning of class, your instructor will run through certain parts of the bike like the display screen (if there is one) and what the metrics on it mean, the resistance knob, and different handle bar and body positions. If it’s your first time, pay close attention to this part of class so that you know what to do when the instructor calls it out.
7. Have fun!
The most important thing to do during your first indoor cycling class is to have fun! “Don’t take it too seriously,” says Foley. “Enjoy it and give yourself time to succeed, so that you may become a regular at a studio. The more you go, the better you will become.” Practice makes perfect, right?