It’s no secret that bicycling is an amazing activity. It's an environmentally friendly and inexpensive source of transportation. It's also a safe and easy way to shed extra pounds and get in great shape. Cycling is the perfect way to explore backcountry roads and trails, too. Best of all, it's loads of fun.
Unfortunately, bicycles and the thought of riding can be intimidating. The fact is cycling, like all new activities, requires practice. Another hurdle is the cost of getting started. You might not want to invest in a bicycle for fear you won't enjoy it. Well we have a great idea for you: An excellent no-risk, low-cost way to give cycling a whirl is at an indoor cycling fitness class at your local health club or recreation center!
Often called Spinning, these 45-minute to 1-hour classes are perfect for experiencing what cycling's all about. The specially designed stationary bikes fit and ride like real bicycles so you’ll feel what it’s like to sit on a bike and pedal at different speeds and intensities.
The instructor should help you adjust the stationary bike so you're comfortable with no back or neck strain. And, the instructor should provide advice on proper pedaling technique and upper body position. Ask for help if you have questions.
Although it's quite a workout and you’re likely to sweat a lot, indoor cycling is great for all ages and fitness levels. A dial attached to the bicycle controls the amount of resistance so you can make pedaling as difficult or easy as you like. Clubs also often have classes for beginners that involve more instruction and offer a more moderate workout intensity.
After a few classes you’ll get the feel of what pedaling a real bicycle is like. Although we'd argue that there’s no comparison to feeling the wind and sun on your face while cycling outdoors, riding a stationary bike is super preparation for the real thing. It gets you used to sitting on a bike seat and gripping the handlebars and strengthens your legs and lungs. When you ride outdoors you'll probably be surprised how easy it is, too. To find a class near you, look under Health Clubs in your Yellow Pages or do a quick on-line search.
Though you won’t need to spend any money on a bike, we do recommend getting these three things before your first class. 1) A pair of cycling shorts. These should have a padded crotch, commonly referred to as a “chamois,” that makes sitting on the seat comfortable. 2) A pair of stiff-soled sneakers. (These will make pedaling easier.) 3) Lastly, bring a water bottle so you can stay well hydrated.
Chances are after a few classes you’ll catch the cycling bug and long for outdoor biking experiences. That’s when it’s time to get a real bike and get outside! You’re likely to meet other cyclists in these classes, too. Soon you’ll have a network of friends to meet with for group rides and consult with for tips. And remember that on rainy days or during the winter, indoor cycling is a great way to stay fit and ride.
Alone and with a group, cycling is wonderful fun. The friends you make, the places you see and the experiences you have enrich your life while keeping you fit and happy at the same time. If you’re at all nervous about riding a real bicycle, give indoor cycling a try. Soon you’ll be calling yourself a cyclist and riding with confidence indoors and out!