Just under a year ago I wrote about my first week of indoor cycling. After recently re-reading that post laughing mostly about my opinions at the time, I decided it’s time to update with a year in.
Lifesavers make indoor cycling better.
Yup, it’s true. Pop a lifesaver before you walk into class, and let it dissolve through the warmup and first working track. I can’t explain it, it wakes you up and makes you feel fresh and like you can take on the day. I will tell you I can always tell what type of class its going to be by my lifesaver method too. If I have crushed the lifesaver and it’s gone before the warmup is over, it’s going to be a long hard class.
Position of your clips makes a difference
It’s more than just being clipped in, it’s about making sure your clips are in the right position for your foot. When I first started cycling, I struggled to get into the clips. I struggled every class, and my friend would sometimes get things for me so I didn’t have to unclip and try again before class started. Once clipped in, it was fine or so I thought. I didn’t know what the feeling was supposed to be? After moving my clips back in my shoe and some slight adjustments to center them, I found that all the positions “felt” better. Clipping in each day was a breeze all of a sudden, and the satisfying “click” happens almost every time now.
Shoes must fit properly
One of the interesting things about cycling is that a lot of the shoes come in EU sizes. Make sure you get the right size and make sure they fit. There is nothing worse than feeling the blister starting. On a bike you’re constantly lifting your feet. Your feet will thank you, and you will have a better experience if the shoes fit well. Don’t settle for good enough. It’s absolutely worth it.
Push & Pull
Pull up. After many classes it starts to make sense, but part of the strength building of this exercise comes from pulling up. It’s more than pushing all your weight down on the peddle and then switching to the other side, it’s about learning how to center your body and depend on your core. Push and Pull. Your handlebars are your guardrails, you shouldn’t be dancing outside of them.
No, they don’t know it was too loud, and sometimes it’s just you
Occasionally you will have that one class where the speaker is whining and the instructor seems oblivious to the sound. They likely really don’t know. If your studio is anything like mine, just hop off your bike and sneak up to the front desk and grab a set of earplugs. There is nothing wrong with that. I recently had one of those on the weekend where I had a headache when I was done and kept attempting to avoid the ear plugs. It just makes the experience that day not exciting, and you will end up counting down the songs until you’re free. Sometimes, it just seems loud. Ear plugs are worth it.
Every Instructor is different
Sometimes it’s a dance party. Sometimes a zen like yoga based bike ride. Sometimes you’ll be climbing a real mountain. Sometimes you’ll be at the rodeo, (the crazy instructors even wear chaps). It’s an experience in every ride. Find the instructors that make the experience something you enjoy. I’m not much of the dance party type, I’m more of the zen type, so I have my favorites who have a similar style. I also enjoy the occasional change up from that. Some classes are harder than others. Some instructors make decisions based on the song, such as running during the chorus. Others are driven by the beat and do 32 count loops for fun (a loop is when you change through positions at a set interval, such as 32 beats).
No one cares how good you are, if you can sit in the front row
My first few weeks, I was terrified of the front row. People behind me were going to use me for keeping track of where they were. I was going to get judged. My fitness partner forced me up front after about 2 weeks. Being in the front row forced me to push harder and get better. It didn’t matter how terrible I did for the first 6 months. It gave me access to the instructor the first few weeks in a way I didn’t have hiding in the back. I was given a lot of feedback during class to help fix my form and make my ride better being where I was easy for them to see. It’s made the experience much more exciting. Now I go to the front row no matter what, and mostly keep up.
It’s a cult
One of the most interesting things from the past year is the cult like experience. As you become a regular you find that you are friends with more and more of the people, discussing life, friends on facebook, and people notice when you don’t show up for class. Instructors occasionally check in on you, everyone cares about everyone. It’s a cult, and it’s a good family.
Overall, I have found myself addicted. There are days I have no interest in getting up in the morning to go cycling, and some mornings I really just want to take a week off. But over the past year I’ve lost nearly 50lbs cycling (and adjusting diets). It also sets my day every day to be a better one. I look forward to it. If your studio doesn’t feel like a welcoming and exciting place to be, keep looking, there are ones that will.
With that, it’s time to go to class!