by Garneau

Intimidated? Not sure if you even remember how to ride a bike? Worried that you won't be able to keep up? In the dark about the entire indoor cycling craze?  We'll help demystify things with a set of things to know about indoor cycling.

Don't make excuses to avoid taking a class at your local indoor cycling studio.

For one thing, indoor cycling is a great way to stay in shape during the off-season, or to have as an option on those days when the weather outside is less than inspiring. But you don’t have to wear spandex or identify as a “cyclist enthusiast” to reap the benefits of indoor cycling training; you torch around 500 calories in an hour-long session whether you’re a pro or a newbie. And besides — it’s actually pretty fun to pedal in sync to a thumping bass line. (Hint: no one can hear you singing along. We promise.)

Sarah DeGray, founder of the Burlington, Vermont-based indoor cycling studio REV, is a pro at talking newcomers into joining one of her high-energy, heart-pumping classes. “Something I really like to do when I introduce indoor cycling to people is to break it down so that it ceases to be intimidating for people,” DeGray says. “There's a lot of myth out there... or mystique, rather.”

Here are the top five excuses she hears — and how she stops them in their tracks. 

“It's too intense.”

DeGray: Not true! Because you, the rider, manage your own intensity.

Unlike a road or mountain bike, where the road dictates how hard you have to pedal to move forward, stationary bikes are controlled by a knob just below the handlebars. You can adjust the resistance by turning the knob to the right. Too intense for your liking? Dial it back by twisting to the left.

“I have to be in shape to get on a bike.

DeGrayNo, you don't have to be in any kind of shape to sit and pedal. Again, you can select your own speed and resistance — and no one will know what you choose.

Here’s the dirty little secret to indoor cycling: It often takes place in a darkened room (DeGray favors a spotlight on the instructor, then illuminates the rest of the room with candles). When you can’t really see what everyone else is doing, you can enjoy the freedom of a competition-free workout. But even if the lights aren’t turned down low, there are no markings on the resistance knob — so no one actually knows what resistance you’re pushing. Do your own thing!

“I don’t have any "biking" experience.

DeGrayThat’s totally fine! You don’t need any experience on an outdoor bike (I don’t even own a bike that can be ridden outdoors).”

Indoor cycling is a great leveler. While the guys in full team kit might look like they know what they’re doing, you don’t even have to know how to ride a bike on the road to enjoy an indoor cycling class. (And guess what: all those pros need just as much help setting up a Spin bike for the first time as you do.) All that’s required is to show up — and be willing to sweat a little. Ok, a lot.

“I'm going to slow the group down.”

DeGrayImpossible; you aren't actually going anywhere!! It's an individual journey in a group setting.

… And that’s actually one of the reasons indoor cycling is fun. Yeah, the people around you motivate you — but no one knows how hard — or not—you’re actually working. Although it is fun to pick up the beat that everyone around you is pedaling to.


“My legs will get huge!”

DeGrayNot huge, just strong. In all my years of indoor cycling, I've never seen legs get huge from indoor cycling training — just stronger. And if anything, more streamlined.

Gear Up and Have Fun!

Remember your body's touchpoints - hands, butt, feet - and get some gear that'll help you ride comfortably and perform at your best. 

A towel across your bars is a great way to keep sweat in check and maintain a good grip.

Cycling shorts with a pad (it's called a chamois, pronounced like sham-mee”, in the cycling world lingo) will keep you comfortable on the saddle. Check out some cycling shorts here.

Cycling and indoor cycling shoes are great for moisture-control, heat buildup, and support. They'll help you get more out of your workout, give extra stability, and clip into the indoor cycling bike pedals to show that you mean business!  See indoor cycling shoes here.