7 Things No One Ever Tells You Before Your First Indoor Cycling Class

Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.

We know cycling is a great workout, but let’s be real — no one wants to go out and ride a bike in pouring rain, freezing weather, or on a scorching summer day. Rocking out to T. Swift and Tiësto in a darkened room with a motivating coach? Now, that's more our style.

Indoor cycling has been around since the early 1990s, and the fitness phenomenon is going stronger than ever. Most gym chains now offer classes, and thousands of boutique cycling studios are opening around the world. (You've probably heard it called "Spinning," but that term is actually trademarked by Mad Dogg Athletics to identify the company's particular type instruction and bike models. Other classes are technically called "indoor cycling.")

No matter the name, one thing is for sure: It's a highly effective cardio and strength workout. In one 45-minute class, you’ll ride a stationary bike to the beat of awesome music — and burn up to 600 calories in the process. Not only will your lungs be pumping, you'll also work your glutes, calves, quads, hamstrings, and core. Studies show that over time, indoor cycling can decrease body fat and body mass index, and improve overall cardiovascular function.

Indoor cycling is definitely intense and fast-paced, but it’s a great sport for any fitness level. Unlike running, cycling is low-impact, and because you determine how hard you work and your bike's resistance, pulling or straining a muscle is highly unlikely, says Ryan Makely, a master instructor at Flywheel in New York City.

However, we know that stepping into your first class can be super intimidating. From adjusting the seat height and clipping into (and out of) the pedals to simply keeping up with the music, your first time indoor cycling can seem trickier than whipping up a five-course meal. So, we turned to the experts to compile all the pointers you need to know to make your first ride a smooth — and sweaty — success.

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