The Things You Wish You Knew in Your First Indoor Cycling Class

We know cycling is a great workout, but very few are willing to brave down pours or gusting winds when the weather isn”™t cooperating. Pedaling to great music encouraged by a motivating coach seems rather appealing.

While indoor cycling group fitness classes have been around almost 30 years now, the popularity is still increasing dramatically. Cycling specific studios are opening up all over the globe. All levels of fitness enjoy the heart pumping caloric burn workout from pushing the pedals around and around. This workout is also incredibly popular with those limited to doing low impact workout for their back, hip and knee joints.

Here are a few pointers instructors and facilities could make their potential participants aware of in order to get them in the door and then successfully through their first indoor cycling class.

  1. Help, I”™m not fit enough!

It”™s amazing how fit and intimidating everyone looks in an indoor cycling class. Potential newbies will likely believe that they are not fit enough to even join the class let alone actually live through the hour to tell the tale. Many facilities offer orientations for beginners including what classes are most suitable on the schedule. Instructors are real people and the best instructors are approachable and will make everyone feel welcome.

  1. Will the instructor or anyone notice me if I sneak in late?

It”™s really not a good idea to arrive to class late. Arriving a few extra minutes early can set up for success even if it”™s just to give you some confidence. This also means you can pick your spot and perform a bike setup with time. The best place is always in the front row, perhaps not necessarily in the centre though on your first ride!

  1. What about clothing? Do I need a cycling team kit?

The most important thing to remember about clothing is that it needs to be comfortable. You don”™t have to wear cycling shorts and jerseys to reap the benefits of an indoor cycling class. Padded bike shorts, however, are a lot more comfortable underneath and cycling jerseys are really effective at wicking away the perspiration and keeping you cool. Never wear running shorts or thong underwear if you want to keep from being embarrassed or getting chaffed down under. Cycling shoes are not mandatory but did you know that you can get injured from wearing a running shoe? Running shoes have a very flexible sole and this can lead to some participants getting plantar fasciitis over time.

  1. Simple bike set-up

Great instructors will always include tips in their intro on how to set up your bike. Basic bike set up will have your saddle height the same as your hip height so that your knees have a 10-20 degree bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If you are new to indoor cycling and you suffer from low back, neck or shoulder pain then raise the handlebars but not so high that you look like you are riding a Harley Davidson motor bike! If you are not clipped in then please don”™t put your toes all the way to the end of the cage as this could cause cramping. Try to figure out in your bike set-up if your seat is too high or too lowToo low, and you won't be able to fully extend your legs, which detracts from the power of each pedal stroke. Too high, and your hips will rock back and forth to reach the bottom of each pedal stroke, which slows you down and can end up bruising your groin. To get the perfect seat height, stand next to the bike, hold your palm parallel to the ground, and place it at the top of your hipbone. The seat is the right height when your hand is in line with the seat and you can pedal comfortably.

  1. What do all these terms mean?

It”™s highly likely that you will hear words like resistance, RPM, cadence, functional threshold and power to name just a few of the common terms in an indoor cycling class. Experienced instructors will teach you what these terms but it is helpful to have a better understanding. Resistance refers to the amount of pressure on the flywheel or chain or what gear the bike is in. RPM stands for the number of pedal strokes or revolutions made per minute. This is also sometimes referred to as cadence. Functional threshold is maximal effort that one can undertake for 20 minutes without stopping. Power is also called watts and can be defined as a force multiplied by velocity.

  1. There”™s no wrong way to pedal, right?

"Most beginners focus way too much on pushing down. However, the upstroke is really what provides all the power concentrating on pulling up with each pedal stroke will increase momentum and make it easier to increase RPMs. And here's a bonus for clip-in shoes: When you”™re actually clipped into the bike, you can focus less on keeping your feet in place and more on your stroke, improving pedaling form, cadence and ultimately power output.

And don't forget about your core: Just because your abs don't touch the pedals doesn't mean they're not involved in every stroke. The core plays a major role in indoor cycling – which means actively engaging it could help you benefit from your workout even more. To do so, lengthen your spine, roll your shoulders back, and envision lifting your ribs off your hips. Proper form, as it happens, forces you to activate your core. Breathing correctly also helps, if you breathe from your chest instead of your belly it will be impossible to engage your core muscles. While seated or hovering over the saddle, use your abs as much as possible to help support your lower back. Try to keep your back straight (it's OK if there's a slight curve when you're out of the saddle).

8. Don't skip the stretch

There's not too much science yet to prove that stretching reduces injury, helps muscles recover, or improves physical performance, according to L. Bruce Gladden, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at Auburn University in Alabama. But stretching out your hips, calves, and quads still feels really good – and you deserve to treat yourself after putting your body through the grinder. I encourage you to think of the post-class stretch as part of your 45-minute class. Even two minutes of stretching is immensely better than not stretching at all. Sealing your ride with a moment of calm is priceless.

Originally posted 2016-08-11 20:50:30.

Paulo Stroud-Baranda

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