Indoor cycling classes are an amazing cardio workout, but if you don't know what you're doing, you'll walk away frustrated, or, even worse — injured. Compared to other group fitness classes, indoor cardio cycling is also a little harder to pick up on when trying it for the first time. After getting the lowdown on what to expect from your first class, follow these rules on things you should never do in an indoor cycling class.
- Arrive to class late: As a rule, be on time for any fitness class, but more so if you plan on riding. Since there is a cap on the amount of bikes in a class, most gyms require students to register ahead of time (either online or using a sign-up sheet). A few minutes before or after class starts, instructors often release unclaimed bikes to those on the waiting list. Show up late, and chances are the bike you registered for will be taken, or, if you didn't sign up at all, the class will be full.
- Hop on the bike as-is: This is definitely not a one-size-fits-all scenario — the person who was on the bike previously may have a good 10 inches on you. To avoid injury and ensure a comfortable ride, adjust the bike to suit your body. You'll also want to make sure the handlebars and seat are firmly secure to avoid any wobbling during class. Watch this video to learn the proper way to set up an indoor cycling bike.
Find out what else you should never do during an indoor cycling class — including pedaling too fast — after the break!
- Hunch, grip, or tense up: Improper form results in all sorts of injury including lower-back pain, inflammation of the knee, or wrist tendonitis. A properly fitted bike helps a lot, but you also want proper cycling technique: keep hands loose on the handlebars to avoid a too-tight grip, and don't lean very far forward since this puts unnecessary weight on your hands and wrists. Instead, keep the core engaged and let your weight fall into your feet. Shoulders should be back and relaxed, and as you would on the road, your gaze should be out in front of you. While it's easy to get into the habit of having your heel turn up and toe push down while pedaling, try to keep feet as flat as possible to avoid foot and ankle injury. This will also allow for a constant push-and-pull rhythm when cycling.
- Come without a water bottle or towel: These classes get hot! It's not unusual to steam up the room and sweat buckets, all in the span of 40 minutes. Bring one towel to wipe up sweat and another to place on your handlebars to avoid any slipping and sliding. Water is essential, too. Because indoor cardio cycling is a calorie-torching workout that often focuses on intervals, you'll find that a few sips of water during class can make all the difference.
- Add too much — or not enough — resistance: Finding the right tension on your bike can be the difference between having a worthwhile and wasted workout; it's also key in preventing injury. Even at its lightest, you should always feel a tiny bit of resistance under you, otherwise you will lose control, the bike will get ahead of you, and you'll end up just spinning the pedals. Too much resistance and you'll find that pedaling is almost impossible. Even when working yourself up a hill, you still want to maintain a regular rhythm of pushing and pulling. Here's a good rule of thumb: never cycle slower than 70 RPM or faster than 120 RPM. Time your cadence by counting the number of full revolutions you can do in 15 seconds, then multiply that number by four. The answer you get should never be less than 17 or more than 30. If it is, adjust your resistance accordingly. As you become more experienced (and more fit), you will find that you probably need to add more resistance to get a good workout.