Attending your first spin class can seem a little scary and intimidating. Why is it so dark in here? Does everyone know each other, because it seems like they do…And why are they all so happy to be here? Will I be able to keep up? Is everybody going to be watching me? What are those funny shoes that clip into the pedals?
These are all common concerns that might enter your mind when you are thinking about taking your first indoor cycling class. Don’t let these fears get the best of you, because they could be holding you back from the most energizing, high-intensity, fun, and addictive workout you have yet to try! If you’re feeling a little anxious or worried about your first class, grab a friend and reserve bikes for the both of you; the buddy system works! Most studios require you to sign-up online to reserve a bike and ensure you’ll have a spot, as popular classes do fill up! If you live in the Capital Region area of Upstate New York, check out www.myrevnow.com. The Revolution Indoor Cycling Studio is a state of the art indoor cycling and fitness studio with three locations in Albany, Clifton Park, and Loudonville, New York.
“I Like It Better In the Dark”
As soon as the instructor turns the music up and dims the lights down low, you will quickly realize that no one is watching you or paying attention to anything but their own workout. From start to finish, your instructor has choreographed a killer playlist and routine of climbs (hills), jumps, sprints, and runs. As you become more comfortable, you will likely add push-ups on the bike, tap-backs, and slides, as per the direction of your instructor. At times you may feel like a spontaneous dance party has broken out on the bike! Everyone is in their own little zone and working so hard that no one has the energy or interest to check out what the person next to them is doing. Try to embrace the positive energy in the room all around you and be inspired to push yourself to new limits. New riders tend to gravitate towards the back row, but go for the front row! You will be better able to focus on the instructor, and the instructor, in turn, will be able to give you more specific ques to correct your form, posture, and mechanics on the bike. Plus, the closer you are to the front of the room, the fewer the distractions you will have all around you. This will allow you to truly center yourself on the bike and focus on working for those 45 minutes.
“Resistance...Turn it Up!”
During a spin class you have the ability to add resistance to your bike, increasing the tension and thus making it more challenging to pedal. Throughout class the instructor will have you add resistance to simulate climbing uphill. Don’t be afraid to aggressively turn that resistance dial to the right! The more you add, the more muscle you are building and calories you are burning (during and after class). Besides, what is the worst that could happen? If you add a little too much resistance, just tap the dial back to the left and lighten it up a bit. No one is watching, no one will know, no one will care. This workout is about YOU. Find a resistance that is challenging, yet still allows you to move your legs. If at any time you feel as though the resistance is so high that you can’t make a full pedal-stroke, ease up a bit. While I respect your grind to try and max out on resistance, you want to live to pedal another day! Before you attempt standing up on the bike, also known as “coming out of the saddle,” be sure to add enough resistance to support your body weight. You don’t want the tension to be so light that your legs go flying. Use the resistance to build your base before you stand. Standing up without adequate resistance could lead to injury and a super-uncoordinated feeling.
“I Just Want to Make You Sweat”
When you come to spin class, prepare to sweat! Even though the studio temperature is comfortable and climate-controlled, you will likely find yourself sweating more than you have with any other type of workout. Sometimes you may find yourself sweating so much that your hands slip on the handlebars. To prevent this, I always spin with either two small towels or one large towel. I drape it right over the handlebars to prevent slipping and to wipe my face as needed. A few other spin class essentials are: a water bottle (preferably a squirt-bottle so that you can use one hand to drink while you ride) and a headband to keep sweat out of your eyes, if desired. I also recommend wearing long pants while you ride as shorts tend to get bunched up and become uncomfortable. My favorite pants to cycle in are the GTS Star Struck Leggings, Perfect-Fit Yoga Pants, and the Tear it Up Tights. The high-waist on these leggings keeps everything in place and the style can take you from the studio to the street.
“Spin Shoes… A Game Changer”
For your first spin class be sure to wear athletic-style sneakers with a thick/solid sole if possible. If you opt to wear a sneaker with a light or soft sole, you may find the pressure of the pedals under your feet to be a bit uncomfortable or painful. You can adjust the cages that hold your feet to tighten or loosen them and secure your feet as needed. If you find yourself loving spin and that you’re going back to classes on a regular basis, I strongly urge you to make the investment in a pair of spin shoes. These are the shoes that “clip in” to the pedals, allowing you to work harder and push faster without worrying about your feet slipping out of the cages. Any avid spinner will tell you the same thing; spin shoes are a game changer and will take your workout to a whole new level. Before buying, be sure to check what kind of clips the bikes at your studio have; most are SPD. You will want to arrive a few minutes early to class after purchasing your first pair of spin shoes. It usually takes riders a few extra minutes to get the hang of clipping in. I occasionally hear clients say that they feel like their toes are going numb at some point during class. To prevent this, I recommend dropping your heels down and wiggling your toes in your shoes from time to time. While your core should be locked in strong with your abs engaged tight, make a conscious effort to keep your extremities light, loose, and relaxed.
Spinning is a high-energy addictive workout that can be appropriate for people of all abilities, ages, shapes, and sizes. After 6 years as an indoor cycling instructor and teaching more than 1000 classes (literally), I still find new ways to challenge my clients and myself on the bike! One thing I will forewarn you of is to be prepared to feel sore in places that you have never felt soreness before...in a good way, of course! I always tell my riders to expect to be sore in the days following their first few classes. Don’t let this deter you from coming back for another class. It means you’re getting stronger and working muscles that haven’t been challenged in a while. Indoor cycling is a full body workout, training muscles from your core, to your quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and triceps. The key is to keep coming, as after 3-4 classes you will feel yourself start getting stronger.
If you love music and are looking for an effective way to get in your cardio and strength training, indoor cycling is for you! Be sure to arrive to your first class 15 minutes early so that your instructor has adequate time to show you around the studio and get you set up properly on your bike. Forget your fears and come with a positive attitude. You will likely feel the positive vibes of other passionate riders all around you. Your endorphins will continue to flow long after you get off the bike. Indoor cycling will take your fitness level to new heights, help you look better, reduce stress, improve your sleep, and most of all, make you feel GOOD (I mean like really, really good).
GTS Clothing Ambassador
Lead Instructor at The Revolution Indoor Cycling Studio