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What to expect from an indoor cycling class

We’ve all heard of cycling, right? But what about when winter hits and the ice and snow move in? You’re left with minimal outdoor options, and that’s where indoor cycling can help you maintain your fitness level all year around! Indoor cycling (also known as “Spinning,” its trademark name) is a high-intensity, heart-pounding workout to amazing jams lasting about 45 to 90 minutes depending on the class. And the best part is that most gyms offer it all year round. As a cycle instructor of eight years, I get a lot of questions. So I broke down the basics of this totally awesome and effective workout!

How much does it cost?

It depends. Most gyms have a cycle studio and classes built into their regular membership, which means for some it is totally free. There are also some new boutique cycle studios on the rise here in the Pittsburgh area and nationally that offer exclude cycle classes to members. They can be pricy but can have neat added benefits like cycle and strength classes and cycle and yoga pairings which can be a great benefit.

Who should try this workout?

Anyone! Cycling is a great non-weight bearing exercise for people with injuries and high-performance athletes alike. Instructors are able to modify movements and intensity to meet the needs of everyone in the room. Most instructors will give a recommendation on how hard you should be working, how fast you should be going (RPMs), and if your bike has a power meter and gears where you should be on that scale as well. This allows modification in a variety of ways for all types of riders.

What equipment do I need?

The gym provides the bike for you. But it’s probably a good idea to bring a small towel with you because you will definitely sweat! Some people wear bike shorts, depending on preference. Once you know if it’s for you, a good pair of cycle shoes is recommended but not mandatory. You will also want a water bottle; since the workout can reach a high intensity, you will need to hydrate throughout the class.

What happens in the class?

Your instructor will guide you through your ride, which should seem like you are outdoors on a bike. You can expect about a five- to 10-minute warm-up, about 40- to 70-minute session, and a five- to 10-minute recovery depending upon the length of the class and the format. There are also a few different moves your instructor will review with you like standing, sitting, climbing, and sprinting. Some classes also have drills and interval sets as well. The instructor will tell you how much resistance, how fast, and what movements. Allow yourself to be flexible, especially in the beginning when you are getting used to the class and the format. Depending upon your current fitness level, you can expect to be a little sore after your first session from the saddle (normal) and the workout. After a few classes, this should go away.

Overall, indoor cycling is a great workout and can add variety to your current fitness program. It’s also a lot of fun and very social experience with great music and an upbeat feel. Remember to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine. Also let your instructor know of any injuries you have, as modifications may be needed.