Looking at joining a cycling class, but not sure where to start? Here are a few answers to questions I had in the beginning. Hope they help you as well!
Cycling looks hard. I’m new to exercise/group classes/exercise involving equipment/bikes without training wheels. Is it as bad as it looks?
Cycling was one of the first group fitness classes that hooked me on regular workouts. This seems counterintuitive, because the image of an indoor cycling class tends to be one of extremely fit cardio junkies that can pedal to the moon and back and still have a conversation with you.
Let me bust that myth right there – cycling got me, an overweight, shy, exercise newbie, to come more than once a week. I eventually even bought my own cycle shoes.
Yes, the first time I tried it, I knew it was a killer workout, but it was also very scaleable for my level of fitness. Which was nada.
At that point in time I had no regular workout routine and was carrying quite a bit of extra weight. Usually, I would try doing my own thing at the gym, but would get bored and give up. Cycling, however, has quite a few perks for the exercise newbie:
- You control your own resistance via a dial on the bike, and no one can see what your resistance is at. If you tend to be worried about what other people think when you’re at the gym, and no amount of your friends’ assurances that “no one is looking at you!!” can calm your anxieties, then this is a good workout for you. To be fair, I’ve felt that anxiety as well – but really, no one is looking at you.
- BECAUSE everyone faces forward and controls their own resistance on the bike, you can take it easy and not kill yourself the first class. This important, because if you don’t pace yourself and go all out the first time out of the gate – you’re probably not going to have a good time. And having a good time will bring you back. The amount of tension/resistance your instructor prompts you to put on is a suggestion. Especially the first few classes, don’t feel like you need to take every queue – enjoy the music, work at your 80%, and get the feel for the mechanics of class.
- Classes always have the same thing in common – upbeat music, upbeat instructors, and once the warmup is over… upbeat riders 🙂 I’ve given and received high fives in class. It seems silly outside of class, but there really is something about a killer cycling playlist that will put you in a great mood.
- The music tends to be really loud, so no one can hear you breathing heavily/cursing. JK… sort of… not really.
How do I set up the bike? What height should my seat be? What does this button do?
Ask your instructor for help. That’s not a punchline – it’s really important you see your instructor before your first class to get a lay of the land. They can help you with your first setup – and if one of the settings doesn’t feel quite right, you can adjust from there.
When I started, it felt like the seat was up too high at first. Generally, you want the top of the seat to line up with your hip bone. As I took a few classes, however, it started to feel really natural. Don’t worry if it feels high at first.
Explain the cycle shoe thing to me.
Most cycling studios will want you to “clip in” and will let you rent shoes. Using these shoes, as opposed to the “cage” style pedals that wrap around the front of your tennis shoes, will keep your feet more secure and allow you to keep contact with the pedal through the whole stroke.
When you first put them on, keep in mind two things:
- The clips on the bottom of the shoes protrude, so get ready to walk a little funny.
- If you need to go to the bathroom, get water, or generally do more than walk from the locker room to the studio, you may want to hold off on putting them on. They click-clack like a mother and make you walk kinda funny.
These shoes are usually Look/Delta or SPD clips, that attach directly to the pedals. Look/Delta, in my experience, tends to be easier for beginners. SPD clips can be tricky to get into place sometimes – I got the hang of it once someone described the motion to get them to click into the pedal as “squishing a bug with your foot”. Basically, if you align your foot with the pedal and slowly move the ball of your foot back and forth, it will fall into place. To remove the shoe, just turn your heel outward. Or… just undo the straps on your shoes and step off the bike. You won’t be the first, you won’t be the last, again, no one is judging you in this class, because we’ve all been there.
OW. What in the flubbity shiplap happened to my butt?
I’m not going to sugar coat it – it’s very likely your tush is going to hurt after a full class, especially if you haven’t ridden a bike in a while. It’s possible that a few pre-class pointers on how to properly sit in the saddle will relieve some of the issues – but for the most part, once you tough it out past the first few classes, it’s a non-issue. If that proves not to be the case for you – there are gel-seats available that you can put over your seat.
So there you have it! This should get you started, but don’t hesitate to ask questions the first time you go. I made the mistake of not asking for help a few times – and I felt so much better once an instructor gave me some pointers. I’ve never in my life met an instructor that wasn’t thrilled to help. And remember have fun!!
Obvious disclaimer: If you’ve never exercised in your life or have an injury/or generally just a gut feeling, get your adulting badge and go see your doctor first. Yay good sense 🙂