Indoor cycling hardly needs an introduction. While recent news suggests that high-energy boutique studios have reinvented the wheel, so to speak, every class still comes down to one very simple action: riding a bike, hard. And what could be easier than that?
Well, riding one that stays upright on its own and doesn’t go anywhere, for starters. If you’re new to group fitness, this is your safe place. There are no special moves here; it’s just you and the bike in your own personal pain cave—and, if you’re lucky, an instructor who can lead you out. “It’s simple,” says Josh Taylor, a veteran Spinning master instructor and former pro cyclist, “and it will give you an enormous calorie burn.”
Ready to ride? Here’s your road map.
How to Choose Your Peloton
Start the search at your own gym, but be aware of the other options. SoulCycle is a boutique studio known for candlelit female-friendly classes that are variously described as a dance party, a meditation session, and group therapy. The other big studio, Flywheel, is almost its antithesis: It motivates clients with real-time ego-boosting contests to see who can work the hardest. (For the record, we prefer the latter—unless you want to increase your chances with the ladies.)
A good instructor is someone who motivates but doesn’t annoy you. For targeted workouts that get results, Taylor suggests finding someone who’s metric-based and goal-oriented. Also, check backgrounds to see who’s an athlete, and pay attention to certifications. In class, listen for parameters—form checks, as well as breathing, resistance, RPM, and power-output cues—that indicate a solid, technically based plan. And, of course, choose someone who’s able to get you moving.
To start researching, call your gym and ask if one instructor is especially popular with guys. And check Yelp and niche sites like Rate Your Burn for their helpful reviews.
Pedaling Dos and Don'ts
Do: Get to class 15 minutes early and ask the instructor for help setting your bike up with proper fit, checking seat height, fore-aft adjustment, and handlebar height.
“If you’re too low or too far forward, you’re robbing yourself of power, you’re robbing yourself of efficiency,” says Taylor. Not to mention, you look like a goofball.
Don't: Pretend you’re a pro fighting your way up the Pyrenees. Yes, you’re here to ride, but that doesn’t mean you should show up to class in full racing kit and act like you’re Bradley Wiggins.
Don't Be a Douchebag
“Leave your phone in your locker,” says cycling instructor Seth Maynard at Swerve. "If you text in a dark room of 40-some people, you ruin the experience of everyone around you.”