Beginner Indoor Cycling Classes

indoor cycling

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Now that so many people have resolved to start working out in a more dedicated fashion and perhaps try new forms of exercise, there are lots of new faces showing up in indoor cycling studios. In recent weeks, several newcomers have walked into the cycling room after my classes, told me they’ve never done it, and asked if there are beginner indoor cycling classes. Unfortunately, I’ve had to tell them, “No.” Some health clubs and boutique studios may offer them, but I’ve never seen them.

When I broached the subject with my group exercise director a few years ago, she said there isn’t enough of a demand to warrant having beginner classes. I saw her point. After all, a newcomer really only needs a couple of classes to get up to speed—and it can happen in any class by modifying it to their fitness level. That’s what I now tell people who’ve never done it and want to try it.

Even though it’s a form of group exercise, indoor cycling is ultimately each individual’s own ride. So newcomers can dial down the intensity. In other words, you can take the DIY approach to make any indoor cycling class into a beginner class.

Prepare Wisely for the Workout

Fuel up with a light but nutritious snack at least an hour before the ride. Wear fitted, padded bike shorts (or regular workout shorts or capris) and a breathable tank top or t-shirt, all made of a cool, moisture-wicking fabric. Choose cycling-specific shoes, if you have them, or wear hard-soled athletic shoes (like running shoes, not soft-soled tennis shoes). Bring a water bottle as well to avoid getting dehydrated during the workout.

Arrive Early and Seek the Instructor’s Advice

The most important thing is to get help in setting up your bike properly for your body. Having your seat at the right height and the right distance from the handlebars will make your ride safer, more efficient, and more comfortable; how high or low the handlebars are is really a matter of comfort, so decide what feels right to you. Also, ask the instructor how to change gears and how high they go, if it’s not immediately clear.

Learn the Basic Moves and Body and Hand Positions

You don’t need the instructor’s help with this. You can learn the basic hand positions and the primary moves (such as a seated flat, seated climb, standing flat, standing climb, jumps, and more) on the internet before you even step into the cycling studio.

Don't Try to Follow the Instructor’s Cues Exactly

Even if you’re in relatively good shape, it's a mistake to go full bore in your first class. Yes, you should heed the instructor’s cues for proper posture and correct form and for warming up and cooling down properly. And you should follow the general arc of the ride. But you may not want to make your maiden ride as intense (in terms of pace or resistance) as the instructor asks you to; if you do, you may end up feeling a bit queasy. For maximum comfort, it's best to ease into this form of exercise gradually.

Listen to your body, pace yourself, and adapt the instructions to suit your needs.

Be Patient With Yourself

As with many activities and skills that are new to you, there’s a learning curve with indoor cycling. The first handful of classes you take may feel painfully challenging, but most people begin to feel more comfortable within a couple of weeks. As you gain strength and fitness and become more familiar with the moves, you’ll begin to push yourself harder and get into the groove of the rides. It’s a natural progression that will crank up the enjoyment and the benefits you get from indoor cycling.    

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mohr CR. Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019.

  2. Chiu MC, Wu HC, Tsai NT. The Relationship Between Handlebar and Saddle Heights on Cycling Comfort. In: Yamamoto S, ed. Human Interface and the Management of Information. Information and Interaction Design. Berlin: Springer; 2013. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-39209-2_2

By Stacey Colino, AFAA-GFI
Stacey Colino is a certified spinning instructor and group exercise instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).