The technology behind indoor cycling has changed a lot over the years, from TV-equipped machines to heart-rate monitoring to virtual trainers. But the myths surrounding cycling classes remain unchanged. Here are five myths that instructors would like to shatter.
1. Indoor cycling class is only for hard-core athletes.
On the contrary, it is a perfect workout for beginners. It’s non-impact, requires little to no hand-eye coordination and lets you go at your own pace. Each bike has a resistance dial that you can easily and quickly adjust to make your workout as hard or easy as your fitness and/or energy levels dictate.
Because all ability levels are welcome, said Marisa Michael, certified cycling instructor and author of “Bike Shorts: Your Complete Guide to Indoor Cycling,” you get to experience camaraderie with people you wouldn’t necessarily ride with outdoors.
2. The workout is designed to leave you exhausted.
Working at your maximum capacity for the entire class is a recipe for burnout.
“Getting a good workout is not dependent on being breathless the entire time,” said Shannon Fable, an executive for the national Fit4Mom franchises, which has a Twin Cities branch. “Each drill should have a clear goal (what will you be doing), feeling (what should you be feeling) and time (how long will it last).”
3. You’re competing against the rest of the class.
Your biggest competition is against yourself — if you choose to compete at all. To measure your own progress, note whether your metrics (such as heart rate, distance, speed and wattage) are changing and whether you feel that the workout is getting easier.
What if your studio uses a leaderboard that displays every rider’s stats for the whole class to see? While it can be motivating for some, it can be a major turnoff for others.
Fable recommends taking the leaderboard “with a grain of salt: Just because you can get your heart rate higher than the person next to you does not mean that you are ‘winning.’ ” Also, power measurements may be misleading if they fail to consider your size. Based on weight alone, a 215-pound man is going to be able to generate more force on the pedals than a 115-pound woman.
4. It’s a pain in the butt – and the back and knees.
It’s normal to leave your first few classes with a sore derrière, but that should subside after three to five classes, according to Fable. At that point, coming to class a minimum of once a week usually is sufficient to keep the discomfort at bay.
That said, most regulars invest in padded bike shorts to maximize comfort. A gel seat cover also can be a quick fix. If all else fails, you can always pedal out of the saddle.
Nothing enhances your overall comfort and reduces your risk of injury like a proper bike fit. Arrive early for your first class so your instructor can help adjust your bike. Once your settings are dialed in, record them in your phone or snap a photo so you are ready for next time.
5. You need special shoes.
While wearing bike shoes that clip into the pedals allows you to transfer your effort more efficiently to the bike, there’s nothing wrong with wearing sneakers, especially if you have yet to make cycling class a habit. The stiffer the sole, the better.
That said, you’ll get a lot more out of your workout with cycling shoes. Their extremely stiff soles facilitate an efficient power transfer from your foot to the pedals. That stiffness also protects your feet from injuries such as plantar fasciitis, according to Michael. Fable recommends investing in cycling shoes if you plan to attend classes consistently.