I started taking indoor cycling classes back in 2005 and still remember that very first class. I was a bit intimidated; everyone looked like they were working so hard and there was a great intensity in the air. I left that first class feeling sweaty, exhausted and full of life. I was hooked!
A few years later I took my love of indoor cycling to the next level and became a certified spinning instructor (and have been teaching classes ever since!). I get such a thrill from leading a group of people through a crazy, fun, intense workout and seeing (almost) everyone leave the class with a smile on their face.
I've found that some people turn their noses up at the idea of taking an indoor cycling class. There can be a stigma associated with group exercise classes -- that they're more "fun" than work or are for women only.
That couldn't be further from the truth! I generally have a mix of men and women in my classes and we definitely work hard (while still having fun).
The bikes used for indoor cycling classes are designed to be similar to what you would ride out on the road rather than your typical stationary bike. Bikes also have a smaller, narrow saddle and a padded seat cover, or padded shorts can help make your ride a little more comfortable. And don't worry; you get used to the saddle after just a few classes!
If you're attending class for the first time, be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early so that the instructor can help you set up your bike and give you any helpful tips to help guide your ride.
I could easily write a long list of reasons why you should try an indoor cycling class, but have managed to narrow it down to five.
1. Indoor cycling is for everyone.
Indoor cycling is one of the few exercise programs that is literally for everybody. No matter your age, gender, size or fitness level, you can easily tailor a workout to fit your needs. Throughout your ride, your instructor will give recommendations for your level of resistance and the speed at which you move the pedals.
Don't feel intimidated! If you're a beginner or are just in need of a lighter workout, you can always dial your resistance down or pedal at a slower cadence. As you improve your cardiovascular endurance and strength, you'll be able to work harder. Cycling is low-impact and can be a great option for people with knee or hip injuries to get and stay strong.
2. Your legs will get stronger (and look amazing!)
Want strong, lean legs? Start cycling! Indoor cycling is a great way to strengthen your legs, and you'll definitely feel it after every class. The act of pushing the pedal down (in the downstroke) relies on the muscles in your thighs (the quadriceps) to do the work.
While your quads do most of the work, the hamstrings and calves are being utilized as well. If you wear cycling shoes and clip into the pedals (most bikes use SPD pedals), you'll be able to utilize the upstroke more and feel the work in your hamstrings. After class, it's a good idea to do some additional stretching; your legs worked hard!
3. No motivation required; you'll find it in class!
One of the best things about attending a group cycling class is that once you've shown up, the hardest part is over! Your job for the duration of the class will be to take the instructor's suggestions and work hard -- which is easier than you may think! The energy in an indoor cycling class is infectious and extremely motivating. And, we instructors love when you don't hold back; whoop, grunt, laugh, yell and let out any noise that you feel needs to be released!
4. You'll work up a sweat in no time and get a killer cardio workout in about 45 minutes.
It doesn't sound pretty, but indoor cycling studios are usually hot and sweaty. Often the mirrors and windows will fog up! Classes generally start with a warm-up and are followed by 45 minutes (the time can vary) of intense work and end with a cool-down and stretching. You'll feel like you just worked out for hours, but you've squeezed all of that intensity into a much shorter amount of time.
5. You'll find your zen.
One advantage that you have riding inside is that you can easily just get lost in your ride (and close your eyes). I always end my classes with five minutes of zen riding before the cool down, where I don't give any instruction. I choose songs that I really love and get lost in and encourage everyone to close their eyes and just go with the music.
Even though everyone is still working hard, they zone out and let go. It's a really beautiful thing. Even when the instructor is giving directions, it's still easy to let yourself get to another level and lose yourself in the energy of the class. And, you'll leave feeling totally euphoric and stress-free, thanks to those crazy endorphins being released.
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