Indoor cycle classes are usually fast paced with a fun, energetic, and inspiring atmosphere. But if you’re a first-timer or are uncertain about what to except, it’s easy to feel intimidated.
These tips from Paula Flanders, senior national manager for studio, cycle, and run at Life Time, will help you step into the indoor cycle community feeling confident — and prepared for a great workout.
1. Reserve your bike and be on time.
If your club offers online reservations, you can conveniently reserve your bike ahead of time on the Life Time Member App to guarantee your spot. Reservations open up six days before the class.
“Whether you’re able to reserve your spot or not, we recommend arriving 10 to 15 minutes before the class starts,” says Flanders. “This gives you plenty of time to meet your instructor, properly set up your bike for a comfortable ride, and if applicable, set up your heart-rate monitor.”
2. Commit to your class.
If you take a cycle class, do your best to stay for the duration of the class. If you need to leave early, let the instructor know before class begins. “Our instructors put their heart and soul into their classes, so when someone walks out, it is helpful for them to know why,” says Flanders.
It’s also helpful to sit close to the door so you can easily exit without disturbing the rest of the class.
3. Dress to move.
Wear comfortable athletic clothing that breathes and moves with you. Shorts or cropped leggings that don’t reach the pedals work well with a T-shirt, tank top, or cycle jersey.
“Sweatpants will probably get too hot, so avoid anything bulky,” Flanders advises. “Bike shorts are ideal as they have a cushion in the seat, which can make sitting on the bike more comfortable.”
For footwear, cycle shoes are ideal if you have them. “Most of our indoor cycle bikes accommodate either SPD® cleats or LOOK® Delta style clips, while some bikes are equipped to use both styles of clips,” says Flanders.
If you don’t have cycle shoes, don’t worry — all of our bikes have clips or cages that can fit any pair of athletic shoes.
4. Come prepared.
For any indoor cycle class, you’ll want a water bottle and a towel to wipe away the sweat from all your hard work (towels are provided in the locker room or near the cycle studio entrance). A heart-rate monitor is optional, but it can help you get the most out of your workout as it monitors intensity so you can aim for your ideal heart-rate ranges. (To find your ideal heart-rate ranges, consider taking an Active Metabolic Assessment.)
5. Maintain your equipment.
When class is over, wipe down your bike (handlebars, seat, etc.) and mop up any sweat that may have dripped on the floor around you. Most cycle studios provide wipes or towels for this purpose.
6. Know what to expect.
Every class starts with a warm-up that is generally 5 to 10 minutes long and intended to get your body warm. You’ll then move into drills and challenges or choreography for the bulk of the class, before ending with a well-deserved cool down and stretch.
7. Listen to your body.
The best thing about cycle classes is that you are in charge. If you need a break, you can decrease the tension to lower the resistance level or simply slow down and catch your breath.
“Give yourself some grace and do your best,” says Flanders. “After each class, you’ll be a little stronger, fitter, and able to do more for a longer period of time. Have fun and celebrate your progress along the way.”
8. Check with your doctor.
Consult with your health-care provider or physician before participating in any new fitness activity. If you have health concerns, be sure to let the instructor know so he or she can offer any necessary modifications based on your condition.
Some of our cycle classes take place in a darkened room and may use strobes and flashing lights, which may not be advised if you have a photosensitivity disorder or are prone to seizures.
9. Choose a class that works for you.
As a beginner, it’s important to try a few cycle classes to find what fits best for you. “I encourage everyone to try multiple formats to see which ones jive best with you,” says Flanders. “Each instructor and class has its own flair, so being open to trying multiple classes and instructors is key to finding a format you love and want to keep coming back to.”