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Indoor Cycling

February 11th, 2013 by Elly McGuinness from Natural Balance Health and Fitness

With spring fast approaching and the likelihood of your legs seeing the light of day draws closer, the desire for lovely strong, toned buttocks and legs also grows. Perhaps it’s still a little cold for you to want to get out and exercise your legs in the great outdoors, and maybe the idea of doing cardio or weights in the gym seems a bit boring for you to want to stick to it. If so, consider adding indoor cycling to your fitness regime as a fun and effective alternative way to achieve those outcomes you’re striving for. Christchurch based fitness professional Elly McGuinness gives you the lo-down on this popular group exercise class:

‘RPM’, ‘Top Ride’, ‘Revs’, ‘Spin’ and ‘Spinning’ are among the names you might find this type of class advertised as. Essentially, they are all classes that are carried out on a specially designed stationary bike indoors. The hardest part for a first timer will simply be surviving the full duration of sitting on what will at first feel like a rather hard, small, uncomfortable seat. Not sounding appealing? Let’s explore some of the fantastic benefits of indoor cycling, what to expect when you attend a class, and ways to make your experience more enjoyable.

If you choose to include indoor cycling as a regular part of your exercise regime, you can expect to get improvements in your cardiovascular system. In basic terms, this means you’ll feel less puffed when going about activities of daily living. Your legs will become stronger, and if you’re following a sensible nutrition regime, your buttocks, thighs and calves will appear more toned – perfect for showing a bit of leg as the warmer months approach! The setting of the class will allow you to zone out by yourself, while at the same time use the energy of the music, instructor and other participants to help you get the most out of it. On top of all this, you should expect to release lots of ‘feel good’ hormones, experience increased energy levels after the class, and feel more positive, motivated and productive, especially if you choose an instructor you find inspiring. Ready to give it a go? Let’s look at what to expect when you attend a class.

Most classes run for 45-60 minutes, but you will also find endurance based classes, running for around 90 minutes – if you’re a beginner, check you’re starting with the former! Let the instructor know that you’re new to the class and they’ll help you get your bike set up. They will then show you how to stop safely and adjust your resistance level. That’s the beauty of these classes and the reason why beginners, or those without a high level of fitness can give it a go – you are totally in control of setting your own level of resistance. So if you’re feeling too puffed to continue, you can just take the resistance back to zero and have your legs spinning freely while you compose yourself! Throughout the class the instructor will guide you through hills, speed work and recovery for the purposes of variety, and achieving specific benefits – but ultimately it’s your workout, and if you’re not coping with the intensity, you can increase the recovery intervals as required. With regular attendance you’ll soon build up the strength and stamina to keep up with the guidelines from the instructor.

First timers can expect to get a sore bum. Sometimes a very sore bum – your ‘sit bones’ can even be painful to sit on for a few days afterwards. But understand that you’ll get used to this pretty quickly if you attend regularly. The body just needs to go through an adjustment period when you ask it to do things it’s not used to doing! Let’s now look at some of the ways you can minimise discomfort and maximise your enjoyment of the class.

Arrive 10 minutes early. This ensures the instructor is able to spend time helping you get set up. Bring a sweat towel and a bottle of water. You can put the sweat towel over the handlebars and there will be a holder on the bike for your drink bottle. Aim to get through a full bottle during class, and to continue replacing your fluids after class. Consider investing in some padded cycle shorts. They’re not sexy (although some may argue otherwise), but they’ll significantly increase the comfort factor of your ride. Replace your energy by getting a healthy snack or meal on board as soon as possible after the class.

Ready to give it a go? Then get out there and investigate the times and locations that suit your schedule. Book it into your diary and go for it! Don’t wait – spring will be here before you know it and your legs will love you for it!

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