Spring is here: Start spinning your wheels!
Published Thursday, 04-Mar-2010 in issue 1158
Ahhh, its March. Spring is in the air; the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and your love handles are showing. Old Man Winter is on his way out (for as much as he actually shows his face here in Sunny San Diego) and so should be those unwanted pounds that have so effortlessly attached themselves to you over these past few “hibernating” months. It’s time to get your body moving and blast those bulges back into obscurity!
One of the most stimulating and invigorating ways do that is to take an energizing and heart-pumping ride in an indoor group cycling class. You can burn an unbelievable amount of calories in one class (as long as you realize you are not there to just sit and spin). Remember, you get what you train for so train like you mean it!
Almost every fitness club in town offers group cycling classes. Whether you are a novice or experienced rider, group cycling is an activity in which anyone can enjoy and participate. Give it your all and you will be rewarded with a warm, happy feeling at the end and an endorphin rush to be envied by the most elite of athletes.
Here are some important things to know before you get your ride on:
Comfortable workout attire is a must. You can’t enjoy yourself and learn how to ride if you are spending all your time tugging at your shorts and readjusting yourself every few minutes. Short shorts are a no-no; but regular shorts or workout pants are just fine. You are going to work up a great sweat so if you have moisture wicking clothing wear it. If not, wear something that will withstand some heavy duty perspiration, remain comfortable and of course be somewhat fashionable.
Proper riding shoes make the ride better. Indoor cycling bikes have straps, or “cages”, for your feet that hold them in place during the ride. However, once you decide cycling is the workout for you then you should invest in a good pair of cycling shoes.
Cycling shoes are breathable and have a very stiff sole that gives you more stability and enables a more powerful and efficient push/pull stroke. They clip, or lock, in to the pedal and allow you to perform at a higher level than regular workout shoes. Most indoor bikes use an SPD pedal system but you should always check with your club to confirm the pedals in use before you make a purchase.
“Booty cushions” protect your tush. If you have a delicate derriere then you may want to consider wearing padded riding shorts. Or, if you have enough “junk in the trunk” and prefer to avoid the illusion there may be more back there than there really is, a comfortable gel seat cover may be a better option for you. However, after the first few classes most bottoms adjust to the ride and participants will probably not need either.
Heart Rate Monitors keep your workout intensity in check. To get the most out of your workout you need to keep an eye on your heart rate to avoid over training. Raising your heart level too high can be counterproductive if you exert yourself beyond an aerobic workout. A heart rate monitor assists you in staying in your preferred aerobic zone and helps keep you working at a consistent pace.
Proper bike set up is crucial. There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to ride an indoor bike that is not adjusted to fit your body; except maybe riding a wild horse bareback and naked. Both will leave you sore in places you don’t want to be sore and more importantly, possibly injured.
The good news is the cycling seats and handlebars move forward, backward, up and down to ensure the perfect fit for your particular height and body build. By ensuring correct knee and hip alignment, you will be in a more biomechanical correct position to prevent stress injuries. So unless you want to risk exploring uncharted riding territory on your own, show up to class a few minutes early and let the instructor help you find the perfect fit for the perfect ride.
Indoor cycling provides an excellent cardio workout with benefits similar to jogging and running but without the jarring impact to your joints. It’s fun. It’s hip. It’s cool. But most importantly, you can do it!
The first class might seem intimidating for a “newbie”, but the good news is you can always work at your own pace and kick butt in your own special way. Work up to the more advanced levels when you are ready and don’t try to do it all in the first ride. When in doubt about anything, ask your instructor. Now, gear up, get ready and go for it!