Indoor cycling studios across the globe are constantly packed with people ready to sweat it out in a way that is both challenging and fun.
At its root, spin is simply cycling, but instructors ensure they throw a ton of creativity into each class to keep your mind churning along with your legs.
“It’s addictive– the vibe, the music, and the community that happens in our studio keep people coming back on a regular basis. Relationships develop, bodies are challenged and changed, and people have fun,” says Ricky Anderson, Instructor and General Manager at Revolutions 55 in New York City.
The benefits of indoor cycling include increasing lung capacity, torching calories, boosting adrenaline, avoiding major joint impact, and sculpting seven different leg muscles. On top of the physical, the intense and often packed classes give a sense of camaraderie among attendees.
Here are 6 tips to help prepare you for your first indoor cycling class:
1. Equip Yourself
Make yourself as comfortable as possible in class. Stay away from loose fitting clothes as these pieces can sometimes get in the way. Stick with short capris or sweat-wicking tights to help keep you dry. Wear a tank, as sleeves can chafe with repeated movement. Most studios offer you the option to either rent or borrow cycling shoes for class. True cycling shoes make your ride more efficient, as you’ll have to work less at keeping your feet glued to the pedals.
2. Get There Early
They say, if something can go wrong, it most likely will, right? So get to class 15 minutes early to set up your bike and make sure your shoe clips work. The last thing you want to do after class has started is nervously fumble with the bike, especially during your first experience. Get there early, and ask for help from the instructor with set-up.
3. Watch Your Form
Once you’re on the bike, it’s important to maintain good form, not only for optimal performance, but also to avoid injury.
While seated on the bike:
● Upper body relaxed with neutral spine
● Elbows bent
● Shoulders away from your ears
● Engaged core
● Tailbone tilted back towards the rear of your saddle
While standing on the bike:
● Upper body relaxed with neutral spine
● Flexed at the hips
● Elbows relaxed
● Body weight placed over pedals
● Shoulders shifted away from ears
● Increased bike resistance for joint support
4. Always Cool Down
Bodies are built to move upright and over three dimensions. However, while cycling, your body is hunched-over and moving across just one plane (which means you’re only “moving” forward when indoor cycling).
The goal of the cool-down is to counteract the stresses placed on your body during the ride, helping you to recover better, prevent stiffness, and bring your heart rate back down.
So what about the other planes? It’s fine to ride everyday as long as you accompany it with an activity that allows you to move through the different planes (to the sides, to the front/back, and rotational) like running and strength training.
5. Learn Your Bike
Before new technology, there wasn’t always a concrete way to measure your progress on a bike. Instructors would let you know how hard the work should feel throughout the ride (eg. describing difficulty using a scale of 1-10 or by calling out how fast your speed should feel related to outdoor terrain like hills, flat road, etc.).
Now, there is a strong chance your class is equipped with new technology that helps better track how hard you’re sweating it out. Consoles on the new bikes have power-wattage readings that help measure whether you’re getting fitter. You can also check your RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute) or your pedal speed, distance, and time.
6. Stay Hydrated
Indoor cycling classes hold in more heat and make us sweat more than outdoor workouts. You’ll need to hydrate to help reduce your body’s core temperature. It’s important to replenish the water your body is losing before, during, and after class. Remember, dehydration can kill your performance on the bike.
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes prior to class, sip throughout the workout itself, and drink up afterwards.
Combine these six tips with your desire to define your muscles and challenge your mind and body and you’ll be an indoor cycling pro in no time at all.
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