What is Really Great about Indoor Cycling

I really like doing indoor cycling. The bikes at my gym are the Spinning(r) brand. I remember the very first time I got pulled into the class when I was walking the track at the gym and trying to get fit.  It was Nov. or Dec. of 2010 and a friend of mine was already riding in the room. I was very tentative at the beginning. It was a big deal for me to enter the room with all the bikes. They showed my how to set up the Spinning bike to fit me with 3 different adjustments. (handlebars, seat height and seat forward/back.)

Spinning water bottle with Nashbar bike sandles.

Over time I built up my knowledge base of what the spinning instructor mean when they would say things like “out to 3” or “jumps” or “turn… turn… turn… now off… off… off”. After a few classes, it became familiar and I learned what I could do. I bought the equipment (padded shorts, a water bottle that fits in the bike holder and bike shoes with cleats.) Spinning was the gateway class to get me outside riding on my bike.

By March 2011, I signed up for my first big outdoor ride commitment for August and began to “train” for it. I’ll write about that another time.

Now the Spinning classes have become a staple in my exercise program – especially in the winter when it’s uncomfortable (dark:30, ice and frozen degrees) to ride outside. I like to take classes in the morning twice a week.

On the mornings when I need more sleep, I snooze the alarm and do a class in the evening instead.

Things I really enjoy about this indoor cycling morning class:

  • Great music – slow, fast, familiar, unusual, bluesy, funk, heavy rock – it’s all mixed in together and it’s different just about every ride.
  • Experienced instructor – he cues things 10 seconds before they happen, matches the ride to the music, and rides hard – It’s always difficult to keep up with every “TURN!”
  • It is even better after the first 8 minutes. At that point it feels like my blood vessels are dilated, I’m breathing hard and my muscles are warming up. Before that I feel like my blood flow is tight and its a big effort until my body gets used to it. For me, it is 8 minutes… sometimes six. I didn’t know that until after I got past the beginning of exercising and would give up too soon.
  • Being able to close my eyes and not worry about watching for cars, other bikes or squirrels running across the path makes it somewhat relaxing. I like the dark room.
  • I like not worrying about my balance, I can close my eyes and daydream… almost meditate.
  • Pulling up with the cleats of my shoes clipped in and pushing down on the pedals, trying to make an even circle. It feels like it activates 2 different muscle groups, so I feel I’m getting a better all round workout.
  • I like it when we go fast (sprint!) as well as jumps, running and out to third (standing up with hands at the top of the handlebars)
  • The seat padding combined with the pad in my bike pants make any seat chafing/pain a total non issue. This used to be a concern for me before I got the right equipment.
  • Bike Position – the handle bars up high (at the 10), the seat fairly low (E for my short legs), and the seat back far enough (3.5 for me) that I have my feet underneath of me when I’m in the saddle.
  • Position in the room – not too close to the fans, but not too far. Near the back so the music is not too loud, but I can still hear the instructor.
  • Having a towel for all my sweat, and always one, but sometimes two, water bottles.
  • During the warm up, we loosen up the upper body: neck, shoulders, biceps, wrists, and back. Dynamic stretching for about 4 minutes.
  • At the end, we stretch for another few minutes: calves, hip flexors, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Two big deep breaths in and out.
  • Burning between 450 and 500 calories. (AWESOME!)
  • Feeling the endorphin feeling kicking in during the stretch.
  • I walk the track another 12-15 minutes to get another 100 calories and stop sweating.
  • By 7 am I’m on my way home from the gym, looking forward to breakfast and already have my exercise done for the day

The evening classes are great too, with many of the same advantages. However I’m a morning bird (a lark?) so the morning exercise appeals to me more.

Years ago, it took encouragement from a friend to get me into the class. Now I like to repay the favor by inviting others to try it and pay it forward!

Let me know if you’ve tried an indoor cycling class by leaving a comment below.

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