10 Tips for Your First Indoor Cycling Class

Photo Credit: Biker Barre, Washington DC

​​- By Carly Isakovic

If you have always wanted to try spinning but do not know where to start, this article is for you. For many people, indoor cycling can be an intimidating idea. The uncertainty leaves us asking questions such as what do I wear? What do I tell the instructor? What if I can’t do a whole class? However, you are not alone. Teaching the past eight years, I’ve learned these questions are normal.

Don’t let the fear of trying class spin you in a mental circle. Here are 10 simple tips to make your first time in the saddle a success!

  1. Call the Studio/Gym. Sometimes a simple phone call and friendly voice can ease your pre-class nerves. If you sign-up, show up. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if there is a class for beginners. Sometimes introductory classes can be comforting to learn the basics. If not, no problem. Spinning instructors are trained to coach multiple ability levels in one room and offer modifications for more complicated moves. 
  2. Hydrate. If you are heading to class ensure you have water or an electrolyte fluid to keep you hydrated before, during and after class. According to Spinning.com, you should drink at least 40 oz. of fluid for a 40-minute indoor cycling session: 8 oz. within 30 minutes before class, 24 oz. during class (the average water bottle holds 16-24 oz.), and 8 oz. within 30 minutes after class. 
  3. Wear the proper clothing/shoes. Dressing for class does not mean you have to wear padded shorts or a cycle jersey. For males, sometimes padded shorts can provide comfort, but that is optional. For females, if you choose to wear shorts, make sure they are spandex or tighter fitting. Running shorts can sometimes ride up and cause discomfort. You may want to wear pants/crops that are fitted. However, just keep in mind loose clothing can be dangerous if it gets caught in the wheel. For tops, a sweat- wicking t-shirt or tank top is perfect. And, of course, a good sports bra is always a must.

    For shoes, stiff soul sneakers work well in the beginning unless cleats are required for the bikes. While spinning cleats are ideal for safety/body alignment reasons, it might be better to wait to invest until you see if spinning is something you want to continue doing. If you are heading to a facility that does not provide towels, take one with you so you can wipe down your handlebars when they get sweaty to avoid your hands from slipping off the bike.
  4. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Instructors understand how scary your first indoor cycling class can seem. We all started here at one time!  Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and point out if it is your first time. Not only will this provide a sense a comfort, it is also an opportunity to ensure you are safely set up to prevent injury. Feel free to also let the instructor know if you have an injury, are pregnant or have any other concerns. We want you to come back!
  5. Understand the bike. The instructor or staff should be available to walk you through how the bike works when they are setting you up. However, if that does not happen be sure to ask how the resistance knob works and when you will be using different hand positions. This also ensures the handlebars and the placement of your foot are correct.  No question is stupid as your safety comes first. Not to mention, learning correct form from the beginning is the best practice.
  6. Work at your own level.  As class begins, your body will feel movements that are unfamiliar. As you gradually turn the wheel to the right, you will add resistance. While we want you to add until you feel some tension under your feet, we do not want you to add so much you cannot push the pedal over. Your first couple classes will require your body to work on that muscle memorization and developing that cardiac base if you don’t already have one. While everyone may be up out of the saddle running, feel free to stay seated and work on developing the basics. Each class you will see progression and be able to master new moves. Consistency is the key to any workout but especially with indoor cycling.
  7. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Every person in class can relate to one thing - we have all been beginners at some point. I encourage my clients not to compare themselves to anyone in the room. When you are spinning, focus on you. Focus on breathing in through your nose out through your mouth. Focus on your goals and what motivates you. You are the most important person in the room. Be proud of the small steps you make each time you go. There is no competition in spinning.
  8. Don’t stop pedaling unless you feel faint or dizzy.  If you should find during class the workout has become too intense, sit down in the saddle and slowly pedal to bring your heart rate down. However, if you find you are faint or dizzy, feel free to stop your feet slowly, step off the bike and inform the instructor right away - even if it means waving your hands to get their attention.
  9. Stay for the cool down and stretching. Properly cooling down allows the body to recover after the intense workout. It allows for proper blood flow back to the heart and other extremities, and has been known to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. 
  10. Let the instructor know how your ride was.  Often clients leave without letting the instructor know how class was. It is important that you let the instructor know how you feel after your first ride. Even if you feel exhausted, the conversation ensures you don’t have any concerns that will prevent you from coming back. We know how hard the first class is and we are here to support you and encourage you to take another chance and try it again! 
High-energy, positive thinking and having fun. That's what Carly Isakovic's fitness classes are about - living and loving life to its fullest!  With a fusion of pop, dance, techno, Latin beats, hip-hop and even once in a while some good old rock n roll music - you are guaranteed to break a sweat! Carly always says if you leave class feeling better than when you walked in the door, that in itself is an accomplishment - be proud! When not teaching spinning at Biker Barre in Washington, DC or pushing clients through challenging total body conditioning workouts at Washington Sports Club, you can find Carly working at The Washington Post and spending time with her husband, family and friends. Carly will also be a guest instructor at Reebok FitHub in Georgetown in 2014.

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  • thanks for the tips and advice. I will follow them in my cycling class. I must say she gave professional tips.

  • Thank you for the great list of tips, especially for #8. In my fist cycling classes I was getting tired after 5-6 minutes and stopping even for a very short period of time (20-30 second) giving me a boost. Thanks again.

  • Great article for first-timers! But also a lot of advice for experienced users as well. A lot of people who regularly attend cycling classes skip one or more of your tips!

  • I've been into spinning from last month all I say that it is amazing. The suggestions given by Carly are amazing. Thanks, Carly.

  • Enjoyable article! Hope I will get more researchable article like this

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