By Linda Freeman, STAR 3 Certified Spinning® Instructor | Vermont
New to Spinning® classes? Here are a few recommendations to overcome those initial discomforts new riders may experience riding in their first indoor cycling class.
Talk to a Certified Spinning® Instructor: We’ve Been There!
We were all new riders at some point. We, the Spinning Instructors, have “been there, done that.” We have, however, put so many hours in the saddle that we sometimes forget, but we are always aware of the well-being of our students.
Be a little patient. Keep riding for several weeks before making a decision as to whether or not an indoor cycling class is right for you. Along with patience, remember to ride your own ride – always maintain an effort that’s comfortable for you.
Bike Fit: The Foundation of a Great Indoor Cycling Class
Bike fit is imperative. Inappropriate bike fit is a leading cause of discomfort, potential injury and failed experience — we want you to have a good time in class.
Once a new rider is safely settled on the Spinner® bike, feet securely on the pedals, water bottle and towel nearby, a rider should ride along with the group, focus on the instructor and model hand positions and core movements.
Furthermore, new riders love to know that what they do with the resistance knob is their business —no one knows (or even cares) how much resistance is on the bike. Ultimately, the rider will comprehend the importance of resistance in performing a variety of core positions and building intensity.
Music: It’s What Moves You
Most new riders breathe a sigh of relief when they are told that the music is usually chosen to create a feeling, not to be ridden beat by beat.
When a rider learns that the first indoor cycling class is not a one-hit-wonder, but the very first step on a long and varied path, the rider will often relax into the process.
Cycling Gear: Keeps You Comfortable
Warning a new rider of potential problems can deflect alarm. Some folks don’t even know about bike shorts. Inform them quickly. They should know that a few pieces of equipment are desirable, and the padded shorts should be a priority. Cycling specific shoes can also improve your comfort level. A comfortable top that wicks away sweat should also be in your gear bag. You can probably hold off on a padded seat, and cycling gloves are usually extraneous.
Cycling Technique: You’ll Refine It Over Time
What bike fit won’t cure, technique and experience probably will. Spinning instructors carefully coach pedal stroke, foot positions on the pedal, lack of tension in the foot and calf muscles, good tracking and alignment help relieve pressure and avoid numbness or tingling in the feet. (Don’t neglect the obvious. Be sure the shoe is not laced or cranked down too tightly.)
Remember, keeping the hands relaxed in each of the three hand positions is essential. Relatively straight wrists and soft elbows help prevent impeding the blood flow to the fingers. A common error is inappropriately putting too much pressure on the hands and leaning on the handlebars. Riders who are just getting started may want to limit time spent in standing positions.
Finally, remind relax your shoulders, neck and jaws and breathe. Breathe deeply and regularly.
Ready to Ride?
Above all, remember that progress and adaptation takes time and many repetitions. When you feel confident and comfortable, you’ll be able to get glimpse the amazing road that lays ahead – no ifs, ands or butts about it.
Spinning® Instructors: How You Can Help New Riders
Spinning Instructors, do you remember walking into your first indoor cycling class? Remember some of your new riders may perceive the environment as a mixture of dark, cold, loud (or silent) intimidation. Though the Instructor coaches throughout the class, the new rider must pay attention to what is going on.
A club or studio should periodically offer an Introduction To Spinning® Class to familiarize the new riders with Spinning Energy Zones™, cadence, pedal stroke, hand positions, heart rate/RPE, etc. The newbie hears much of this for the first time — they are not expected to remember it all, but begin to learn the vocabulary. Introduce the newbie to what might occur in class. This is an introduction, a platform for recognition when he hears it again and again in class.