What To Know Your First Time At Group Cycling Class

Ready to try a group cycling class? You'll need to set up your bike and learn how to connect your shoes, but once you're in the saddle the instructor will tell you exactly how to work your butt off. Here's what you need to know for your first time.

Photo by Beth Skwarecki.

But first, look up what to expect. I've been to spinning classes at the local gym where you drag a bike from a closet out onto the floor. And I've also been to a trendy place where you get "concierge level service" including free water and towels and everybody gets assigned a specific bike in the permanently set up studio.

  • It may be dark and loud. I found the volume just loud enough to be immersive, but my studio also had a jar of earplugs for anyone who felt that was a bit too much. It would be fine to bring a pair of your own.
  • Get there early and ask for help adjusting your bike, even if you think it couldn't be that hard. It's easy to miss one of the adjustment knobs, or to misunderstand what the right position should be. It's going to be awkward to impossible to adjust mid-class.
  • Get to know your shoes. Studios may have all their bikes set up with SPD pedals, which means you need special shoes that clip in. (If they don't hand you a pair of compatible shoes, ask for a bike or a clip adaptor that can work with your sneakers.) Make sure you've got a pair of shoes that fit and then practice clipping in and out. I couldn't figure it out, so an instructor helped me clip in and I sat on the bike from that point until the end of the workout because I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back on. Be better informed than me, and read this guide to clipless pedals before you go. (They're called "clipless" because clips are a different thing.)
  • Don't bring a water bottle that has a screw-off cap. You'll drop it halfway through class, and you can't retrieve it because your feet are locked down, the studio is so dark you don't know where it went, and it's probably under somebody else's bike.
  • Take it easy. You don't have to give 110 per cent, even if the instructor screams that you should. Adjust the resistance on your bike to give yourself a good workout without totally trashing your legs. I know, it's frustrating if there's a leaderboard and your name is at the bottom, but it's not actually a race.

So, have you tried it? How did your first class go? What advice do you have for the newbies? And newbies, what else would you like to know?


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