Indoor Cycling: Welcome to the world. Or at least peak into the world if you haven’t already experienced it.
I am an indoor cycling instructor, certified through C.O.R.E which I highly recommend because it’s a Canadian owned company and they are amazing! The Certification was extremely thorough and they don’t just steal your money and certify you even if you don’t know your stuff like a lot of other certifications will. Check out their website if you’re interested in Their Certification.
If you’ve ever been in a gym and past by this room that’s been pretty dark but you head the loud music pumping and someone screaming over the microphone, it’s most likely an indoor cycling class going on. It’s pretty much a cult (if you see how crazy some people get with the gear which is kinda unnecessary) but it is such a great workout and I’ll go over the basics to make you feel a little more comfortable with it and get you to attend a class!
There are really good instructors out there, instructors who cycle as part of their life, they are hardcore, and will instruct you if you’re a beginner to the class, and there will be some AWFUL instructors who don’t know what they are doing in a class and will just make up stuff. I want to show you the differences and be wary of which classes you do attend if you see some unusual awful stuff going on that doesn’t even look like cycling.
Know the Bike
You’ll be most intimated in a class by not knowing how to work the bike. Overall they are very simple to use, 90% of people don’t have proper posture on a bike which drives me insane but it’s all about education! Bike set up is THE most important aspect of indoor cycling AND outdoor cycling. When you pick a bike:
- stand beside it and check to see where the seat is, the seat should be around your hip height. You can adjust the seats usually through a knob at the back which you unscrew and pull out, some of them you just pull out. It’s pretty simple.
- Take a seat on the bike and extend one leg down (Imagine that the pedal cycling is like a clock, so put your foot at 6 o’clock) there should be mirrors in the cycling room, look to the mirror on the side and your knee should be at a 25 degree bend, this is a VERY slight bend, if your knee is too bent, your seat isn’t high enough. If you are locking your knee out to get to 6 o’clock then you need to lower your seat a notch. Don’t ever memorize your notch on the bike seat height because every seat is different.
- Put your foot fully inside the pedal, if you have shoes this is different, now put one leg at 3/9 (depending on your right or left leg) o’clock and when you look down, your knee should be DIRECTLY over the end of the strap on your shoe that is over your arch. If your knee is past the strap you’re going to get knee pain while you bike. This means that your bike seat is too far FORWARD, your seat can move forward and backwards. There is a knob right underneath the bike seat, you can adjust this. When you get your knee right on top of that strap (right over your arch) then you need to go back to step 2, and measure your seat height again. this seems complicated but once you do it a few times it comes pretty easily.
- Put your hands on the handlebar, depending on your torso height you might have to raise the handlebar height or lower it, some people prefer it really high. Because I have long legs and a short torso, the handlebars on the bike never go high enough which is really frustrating, but I usually survive. There should be a slight bend in your elbows when you are riding on the bike.
- Your arms should always stay light with the power coming out of the lower body. Try to keep your eyes facing forward and not down, this is a common mistake.
If it’s your first time in a spin class be very wary of the intensity. The intensity is adjusted by a round knob that sits below the handle bars, Clockwise increase resistance (going up a hill) and counter clock wise decreases the resistance. Keep it low if you’re new to this! It’s very easy to burn out since your legs aren’t used to it.
Once you become accustomed to how the bike feels and how the resistance changes in the class you will become better and learn to challenge yourself. There is no doubt that any spin class you will get an awesome cardio workout in! While you’re in a class, never, ever take all the intensity off the bike, that’s a no no!
Prohibited moves (if you see an instructor do these, don’t go to their class again)
- Using weights on a bike. Never do something on an indoor bike you won’t do on an outdoor bike. Weights are for the weight room.
- Cycling SO FAST that you can’t control your pedal stroke. Also not cool, if you’re going so fast you’re using momentum to propel your stroke instead of your hamstrings, glutes and quads.
- Cycling fast that your butt moves up and down on the seat. Focus on one stroke at a time and engaging one leg at a time to keep your butt on your seat, and this should stop. IF you can’t go faster without your butt moving up and down on the seat, don’t cycle any faster until you master control of your legs.
- Jumping up to a stand position and back to a sitting position ridiculously quickly. This move is pointless, it doesn’t imitate any move you would do on an outside bike, people just make these things up that aren’t good for your body.
- Going to a stand position on the bike and leaning all your weight on your bars while your knees are pushed far forward. If you’re going to get knee pain from a spin class, this is where it will come from. As I mentioned earlier, you are not to put all your weight on the bar and you are also not to shift your knees forward, bad for the knees, just like you shouldn’t do a squat like that (unless you’re a power lifter of course)
- In a standing position pushing up and down (almost like a push up) on the handle bars. This is terrible for your back and who the flip does push ups while they are cycling?
If you have cycling shoes, it is very helpful because it sets your foot at the appropriate angle, so you couldn’t possible push with your heels even if you wanted to. The focal point is underneath the ball of the foot and the shoes hook in right in that area.
Shorts. If your butt gets super super store continuously after a series of classes you might want to consider getting bike shorts, they have padding on the butt to make your indoor cycling experience a little more comfortable.
Cycling tops: Noooot really, unless you’re teaching the class then okay, otherwise, you don’t really need it. A workout top is sufficient.
Helmet? Unless you want to look like you need to be in a psychological institution.
Your butt will definitely get sore after your first ride or two, that’s because those muscles are not used to support yourself on the bike, they become strengthened after riding for a while.
Hope this has encouraged some to try out a spin class, they are SO much fun!