Going nowhere real fast could actually be a good thing.
Lifting weights and getting on the elliptical in the gym can’t prepare you for indoor cycling. It should not to be dismissed as a leg day alternative as it is a full body workout, and just one class can prove that.
A study published in Compendium of Physical Activities: Classification of Energy Costs of Human Physical Activities, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2011) supports this claim. According to it, indoor cycling burns an average of 810 calories—that’s more than outdoor cycling, almost as much as running, and indoor cycling newbies have been reported to torch as much as 1,000 calories in one session. How?
Your heart rate stays elevated throughout this super-charged aerobic workout, which would not only mean weight loss but also improved heart health. Non-stop pedalling boosts your muscle strength and endurance without any pounding or impact on your hips, knees, and ankle joints. Indoor cycling also uses choreography, making it an effective mind-body exercise. By the end of class, you’ll have a steady stream of endorphins in your system.
The country’s first indoor cycling boutique Electric Studio currently offers 45-minute Pure Electric and 60-minute Power Hour sessions, but a 90-minute Endurance class is also in the works. The studio’s team is comprised of fitness professionals both locals and repatriates, with backgrounds that span from yoga to Crossfit, and hooked under the studio’s bikes are a pair of three- and five-pound dumbbells. Clean, peppermint-scented hand towels hang on the handlebars, which you’ll be thankful for 10 minutes in.
Indoor cycling classes require a change of clothes, your own water bottle, and wearing socks. Some studios provide cycling shoes, though at Electric Studio, you can bring your own shoes as long as they have cleats that are compatible with the pedal brand Look Keo. By clipping shoes onto the bike’s pedal, you maintain control of the bike and activate more muscles.
It’s best to come to class early for stretching and warm-ups, set to the beat of pumping music, the encouragement of instructors, and the choreography that varies, depending on your instructor’s personality.
You need to be set up properly on your bike for the right seat height. The right position is high enough where you can get proper knee extension, but not so high that you have to reach down to the pedals when your hips are moving on the saddle. Your handlebars shouldn’t be so high that your shoulders are hunched around your ears, nor so low that you have pain in your shoulders and back. Your knees should be positioned directly over your feet.
Most of the time, you will be in a position of hovering back and forth over your bicycle seats while you pedal, requiring you to engage your front and back core muscles for balance. As you pedal against various degrees of resistance, including bearing your body weight, your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves will feel the burn. Stationary bikes have a knob that you turn up or down throughout the workout for resistance, though there are no visible indicators of weight or “speed”; you just feel what you can handle and try to exceed your limit. Leg strength is something men are naturally predisposed to be challenged at, and since all classes at Electric Studio are co-ed, first-time male riders are sure to find a whole new meaning to doing anything “like a girl.” You’ll get to tone and show off those biceps and triceps, too. You will be doing push-ups on your handlebars to the beat, and toward the end of the ride, you get to sit back and spin as you do arm exercises using the aforementioned dumbbells.
Anyone at any level, from pro athletes and avid cyclists to those who have never mounted a bike before and don’t do any cardio exercises, can benefit from indoor cycling because its culture allows you to focus on your own workout (read: no competition with your neighbor) and get lost in the music. You’ll feel like you’ve been through an adventure by the end of the workout, and you’ll be raring to go back.