1. A Sore Bottom
Ok, ok, this one is not a complete misconception. Yes, after your first class it’s not uncommon to feel, well, a little violated. BUT trust me, this quickly passes. The soreness is often not the saddles fault at all but just your body’s way of adjusting to this new activity you are asking your body to do. An indoor cycling bike, much like an outdoor bike, is designed with a saddle, not a seat. This means that you shouldn’t be sitting completely on your bottom but rather let it carry some of your weight while your legs (and a little bit of your upper body) support you. As your legs fatigue during class, you sink deeper into the seat which makes it slightly uncomfortable. Because of the rocking great time you are having, you may not even notice this until after class is over or the next day!
After a few classes, your body starts to understand the demands being placed on it, you get more accustom to the saddle and your legs are able to go longer. The soreness virtually disappears! If you find you are still quite sore after a month, you may want to invest in a pair of padded cycling shorts. Why shorts and not a padded seat? The padding in the seat can actually disperse the pressure to parts of the body, such as the perineum, where we don’t want it. The padded short remains with you at all times, exactly where it needs to be (less chance of shifting and moving).
2. Everybody is Looking at You
Once again, our ego gets the best of us with this thought. As with most fitness activities, we’re often scared to start because we think we are going to look foolish. The truth is, most of the time, nobody actually cares about what you’re doing cause they are so focused on what they’re doing. There is also no need for fancy choreography or impeccable rhythm, you are just there to ride. Most new cycling studios have low lighting which allows you to further focus on your workout and not worry about those around you. The only person that is likely facing you or looking at you is the instructor and they should never be judging you (remember there’s a big difference between giving you pointers and technique tips and judging you)!
3. Classes are Only for the Super Fit (aka It’s Too Hard)
This is likely the biggest misconception of them all!! Chances are you know how to ride a bike; actually even if you don’t know how to ride a bike, because there is no balance component, chances are you can ride an indoor bike. That’s really all you need. You see, the instructor is going to be at the front, possibly yelling like a maniac or cranking the tunes and asking you to give more gear, push harder, go faster, be the best you can be… but wait, that’s it… this is all about being the best you can be! You’re not Lance Armstrong, you’re you, and your ride is only about you.
The beauty of indoor cycling classes is that it’s almost completely subjective, meaning that on a different day, on a different bike, your ability will change. Your gear (tension) is your own, nobody else can even see it. You may have days where you feel unstoppable, you are there to climb the highest mountain, sprint to the finish, nothing is getting in your way… Or you may be having the worst day ever and it took every ounce of willpower you had just to get your butt to class and everything seems just a little bit harder today. The best thing about an indoor cycle class? You just have to do your best! There’s no medal for going faster or farther. Nobody is voting you off the island if you don’t perform to their expectations, you are there for you.
If it’s feeling a bit too much, ease off a little. Sit this drill out. But just stay on the bike and keep moving. Every class will get a little easier; you’ll be able to push a little more and before you know it, you’ll be telling the new person in class, “don’t worry, it gets so much better!”
4. I Need to Invest in Some Fancy Gear
No. Nope. Nada. You need clothes you can move in. Likely you already have a set or two of these around, after you’ve probably worn your yoga pants to the grocery store. You need a pair of running shoes with a fairly hard bottom. This is not the place to try out your Vibrams or minimalist shoes. And you need a water bottle. Yup, that’s it.
Indoor cycling classes are not about having fancy jerseys, there is no need for wind resistant clothing (there’s no wind, remember) and you certainly don’t need a helmet!
There is one piece of equipment that I recommend just don’t buy them right away. They are not necessary to get started. But a pair of cycling shoes that you can clip into the bike pedals can go along way in improving efficiency, recruiting muscles properly and decreasing risk of injury. Wait to see if this is something you are going to be adding to your schedule on a regular basis. If it is, and especially if you are participating in 2 or more classes a week, I strongly recommend you purchase a pair.
As a side note, you will need to know what type of clips to purchase for your shoes. Check with the facility that you ride at but it’s almost always SPD. You will also want to maintain your shoes (a few turns of the screws every now and then) to ensure they don’t get stuck in the pedals or worse unclip at a less than desirable moment!
5. Indoor Cycling Classes are Highly Competitive and No Fun
This ranks up there with number 3 in misconceptions! They are almost all the exact opposite. Think great music, fun lights, lots of laughing, comradery, with some sweat mixed in and you’ve got a recipe for a great class! Classes should be never boring, challenging yet achievable, and allow you to escape the mundane or chaos of the everyday. There are theme classes, candlelight classes, hybrid classes (Cycle & Strength, Cycle + Yoga, Cycle + Pilates/Core, etc), DJ classes, endurance classes and interval classes, etc, etc. You can lose yourself in the music which ranges from Top 40 to R&B to Old School to well let’s be honest, the options are endless.
As mentioned above, there is no competition, well maybe there is, but it’s only with yourself!
So there you have it, if you’ve been putting off trying an indoor cycle class for any of the reasons above, well no more! If you’ve never tried a class and you are looking for a great workout that may just become slightly addicting, sign up for a class today. After all, you’ll never know until you try!
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