Imagine taking your trusty old three-speed onto the open road or your hearty mountain bike on your local path for an exhilarating 40-minute ride. It’s a beautiful sunny day, there’s a gentle breeze, and before you know it, you’re back home, tired but refreshed from a workout that seemed more like fun than work.
The simple pleasure of riding a bicycle is so appealing that this traditional pastime has been adapted to indoor bikes where weather, traffic, and terrain are less likely to foil your good intentions.
Indoor cycling classes (also known as revving or spinning classes) are offered at various fitness centres and clubs. If you haven’t witnessed the real thing, no doubt you’ve heard about the experience. Let’s set the picture, a group of exercisers huddled over stationary bikes, looking determined and even a little euphoric as they listen intently to an instructor and pedal their hearts out. Have you ever wondered about joining them?
Taking your first indoor ride
Feel a little intimidated at the thought of trying a class? You are not alone. The most common misconception is that indoor cycling is an intense, overwhelming experience that only the very fit can handle. However, all ages, sizes, and fitness abilities are welcome. Riders are in charge of their own ride by manipulating the tension (resistance placed on the fly-wheel) and pedal cadence (leg speed or revolutions per minute). Individuals set their own pace and they do it privately.
The instructor acts as a facilitator with the rider making the decision on how hard or easy they need to make the ride. The goal of the workout is to find what works best for you and to challenge yourself within your personal limits.
Indoor cycling is an excellent cardiovascular workout, providing the same health and weight management benefits as other aerobic activities. It is particularly versatile because it’s a nonimpact activity, ideal for post rehab patients, pre/postnatal women and people with overuse injuries, back pain or arthritis.
What to expect from indoor cycling
Indoor cycling classes often last 40 to 45 minutes, but some beginner sessions are only 30 minutes. A combination of continuous coaching, music and visualization transports you to some imaginary terrain, such as a mountain or race track. Your instructor may speak to you through a speaker system or through headphones you wear during class. Various types of indoor cycling programs and bikes are available.
Indoor cycling tips for getting started
To help you ease into the indoor cycling experience, remember the following tips:
Take control of the ride. Don’t come out of the gate too fast. This is the most common mistake beginners make. Pace yourself!
Come prepared. Wear comfortable clothes, including padded bike shorts and low-top shoes with stiff midsoles (cross trainers or cycling shoes). Bring plenty of water and a towel.
Talk to your indoor cycling instructor. Describe your fitness history, goals and injuries. Ask about proper posture and learn how to adjust tension and cadence. Make sure your seat height and angle are correct.
Make a commitment. Don’t let initial discomforts scare you off. Try this activity for several weeks, rather than giving up too soon. Indoor cycling may provide just the boost your fitness program needs.
This blog post was written by special guest author Lisa Workman, Certified Exercise Physiologist and fitness expert. Find our more about Lisa and her amazing work on her website.