Indoor Cycling Tips For Beginners

Guys…I seriously am obsessed with my cycling classes. Before I start, apparently they aren’t actually called “spin” classes because that is trademarked. So from here on out, I’ll refer to it as cycling (or try to remember to refer to it as cycling).

But anyway, I have been loving taking cycling classes at Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ. I remember taking cycling classes before and counting down the minutes until it was over (mainly because it was so hard for me), but these classes fly by. The instructors are great and push you hard, the playlists pump you up, and before you know it, the workout is over.

I’ll admit, that first class I took (and it was only a 30 min. class) was hard. I was like, “how will I survive 45 minutes of this??” But, as with any exercise such as running or lifting weights for the first time, the first day will always be hard. Once you get over that hump, you’ll feel great and get stronger each class.

While I’m obviously no expert (this is only me second month of classes at Ride + Reflect), I wanted to write a few tips for those who might want to start cycling or tried it but didn’t love it at first. If you’re a runner, check out my previous post about how cycling can make you faster.

Here are 5 indoor cycling tips for beginners. Don't be afraid to take a class - it's a killer workout! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Dress Appropriately

You will be sweating a lot. I need 2 towels on the handlebars to wipe my sweat (but I also sweat more than the average person…or at least I think so). You definitely want to be wearing a sweat wicking shirt as opposed to cotton. Go for capris or longer shorts too. I wore shorter spandex shorts once and they were riding up the whole time and distracting. I love UnderArmour and Nike tops for any workout. My favorite is actually Coach Marc’s TrainWithMarc team shirts (by Nike). I swear I sweat buckets and that shirt stays dry(ish). He sells tanks too.

Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to tell the instructor it’s your first class. In fact, do it! The instructor will help you set up your bike specifically to your height and other factors. The great thing about Ride + Reflect is that they write down your specifications, so whenever you walk into the class, your bike is already set up for you. I know many places don’t do that, so write down your numbers or keep it in a note on your phone so that you remember. Having the right seat height is really important, especially to prevent knee strain. Same with handlebar placement and seat placement (forward or back). Also, by telling the instructor, they will give you tips on the class, fill you in on the link (position 2, position 3, etc.), and make you feel more comfortable.

Cycling Terminology

Let’s talk more about the terminology I used above…though if you don’t remember this, no worries, your instructor will fill you in. Here are a few different things you might hear:

  • Position 2: This means you’re out of the saddle (aka standing up) with your hands on the handlebars closest to you.
  • Position 3: Out of the saddle with your hands farthest away from you on the handlebars. Back is flat, hips are back.
  • RPMS: Rotations per minute. If your bike has a screen, it will flash RPMs. Usually instructors give you a range, like, “Ok you want to be around 90-100 RPMs.” Don’t worry if you can’t hit their numbers, I sometimes can’t either, but it gives you a goal to work towards.
  • Resistance: Cycling bikes come with a knob or lever to increase resistance, or how hard your legs have to work to turn the wheel. Instructors will tell you to increase resistance to go “up a hill” or increase resistance and keep the same RPMs. The higher the resistance, the harder your will be working, and the more your quads will be burning! If you can’t keep a resistance at a certain level, don’t be afraid to take a break, pedal easy for a minute or so, and then get back into it.

Here’s a handy little image I found showing hand positioning on the handlebars:

Photo source

Sit In The Front

Remember in college when professors or advisors would tell you to sit in the front of the class to get better grades? Cycling is similar. Don’t be afraid to sit in the front even if you’re a beginner! By sitting in the front you will see and hear the instructor better, which is very important if it’s your first class. If you’re not comfortable with that, sit in the second row and keep your eye on other spinners to check your form or get cues from them. I usually like to sit in the front row of one of the side seats, so I don’t make awkward eye contact with the instructor lol (I hate awkward eye contact).

Go At Your Own Pace

You might be competitive by nature, like I am, but you always want to make sure you’re going at your own pace. And the great thing about cycling classes is that no one has to know what that is! No one knows what resistance you’re at or your RPMs (unless they are peeking at your monitor I suppose). Everyone is focused on themselves and their own ride. I take classes regularly with this instructor who is an avid cyclist and obviously WAY more in shape than I am. He’s like, “ok let’s crank out 120 RPMs!” and I’m pedaling all out at 100. Go at your own pace, and work your way up. Each class I’m able to add RPMs and total mileage. Just like with running, start slow and you will improve. One day you can barely run 1 mile, then you’re able to run 6 miles no problem. Cycling is the same thing.

So hopefully these tips are helpful! If you haven’t yet tried a cycling class I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to exercise indoors when the weather isn’t the best, and also a good cross-training choice for athletes. The first few classes will be challenging, but once you get into the groove of things, you will feel fit and strong.

PS – I found this link today and it is TOO accurate: 19 Things That Happen In Every Spin Class

Do you take cycling classes? 

Has there been a class (any type of fitness class) that you’ve been intimidated to try out at first but then ended up loving it?

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Comments

  1. love, love love cycling!!! I think it’s pushing my run habit over a little. These are great tips. Of course, I never sat in the front (still don’t). I’m always worried about the mooning the person in back of me. LOL. And I use 2 towels as well because I sweat like a 2 pigs in heat. OMG it’s awful.
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…14 Days of Self {Care}My Profile

  2. These are great tips! I’ve only cycled a couple of times and it’s been a long time since I have. One of the reasons I don’t do it is because i’m intimidated and feel like there are no beginner classes. This is really helpful and empowering!

  3. I’ve been cycling this winter–I bought a Wahoo Blue SC monitor so I can track my cadence and speed. It’s been so much fun! There are a ton of cycling videos on YouTube and I’ve just riding along. What a blast.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Wellness through the years #WellnessThatFitsYouMy Profile

  4. Great points, Patty! I taught spin in college (I was certified by Spinning.com so I habitually refer to the trademark name) and loved it. Always a great workout and balances well with running.
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted…Running After a Metatarsal Stress Fracture (Injury Update)My Profile

  5. I have never taken an indoor cycling class. I’m pretty much intimidated by all classes – I always worry I’m going to make a complete idiot of myself and everyone is going to laugh at me. I was a mess the first time I went to yoga, but I do love it now that I”ve gained a little more confidence. I’m learning that pretty much everyone has to start somewhere and everyone was a beginner at some point.
    Jenn recently posted…winter comfort food: a publix gift card giveawayMy Profile

  6. My first class was slightly confusing. I was in the front row and still couldn’t really hear the instructor too well because there was loud music pumping!
    Carmy recently posted…Reasons to Start Running in 2016My Profile

  7. Great post, I have never taken a cycling class, I have only done it at home so I knew none of this. Now I will be prepared.
    Toni recently posted…It begins with 1 mileMy Profile

  8. This is so helpful, thanks for posting! I do road cycling, but haven’t tried an indoor cycling class yet and I’ve been curious about it.
    Michelle Rogers recently posted…VIDEO: Snow days and my first Periscope chatMy Profile

  9. I love cycling classes! It is such a great workout.
    Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner recently posted…What Wellness Means To MeMy Profile

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