Indoor cycling has been calling your name, so let's find the perfect class for you. There is a huge range of indoor classes to choose from - some focus on structured interval-like training while others resemble more of a dance class with flashing lights. Some have loud and energetic music, while others follow the ups and downs of the class efforts. Instructors also vary widely from class to class and finding the right person to push you to your limit while keeping things fun and engaging can make all the difference. With so many indoor cycling options out there, how do you choose the right one for you? Here are some tips to get you started.
At Home or In the Studio?
At Home: If you have a spin bike at home or an indoor trainer for your bike, there are various virtual programs that offer guided classes to follow along in real-time or on demand.
- Peloton is a popular option even if you don’t have one of their at-home bikes. With the Peloton app, you can choose from sessions that range from 10-90 minutes in length and offer a wide selection of different instructors.
- Zwift is an online, social riding platform that allows people to meet up virtually and ride together in groups – or you can ride solo – it's your choice. Zwift is a great option for riders building cycling-specific fitness or who enjoy competing against others from around the world.
- TrainerRoad offers a long list of interval workouts that you can follow along with at home at any time. The workouts include detailed descriptions of the effort levels and interval goals, and these are great for focused riders looking to set some PRs this season.
- YouTube has a number of incredible instructors, including Kaleigh Cohen. Kaleigh uploads weekly workouts and often features her pug on screen for an upbeat and engaging class.
In Person: If you do not have access to a bike at home, there are loads of great classes available in cities and towns all over. A quick google search will help you identify indoor cycling studios nearby or check if your local gym offers any indoor classes or has spin bikes available.
Most indoor cycling-specific studios offer a wide range of classes, so you can find the right one to keep you motivated. Some classes are based on specific music, some are focused on performance, and some classes forego all monitors or bike computers so you can get away from screens and zero in on how you feel instead of relying on numbers.
Many studios offer the first class for free, which is a great way to try a few different studios and find the class that makes you want to come back.
What Do You Want Out of the Class?
Invigorating Environment: Studios such as SoulCycle and CycleBar, alongside many local options, are all about creating a vibe. They coordinate riding with loud music, add neon lights, and create a dark studio space where you can rock out while riding hard.
Total Body Workout: Many indoor cycling classes incorporate upper-body strength exercises such as push-ups or weightlifting moves on the bike. If you’re looking for a full-body workout or want to build overall strength, look for classes that integrate a mix of these exercises throughout the cycling class.
Cycling Specific Strength: Some classes are focused on building strength and endurance inside, so riders can feel better and ride harder outdoors. These classes feature specific skill work and interval sessions that often utilize power numbers to maximize fitness easily transferred to the road. CycleBar calls this type of class the Performance Class and uses CycleStates technology to give riders insights into their power and strength. Other subscriptions, such as TrainerRoad and Zwift focus on the same goal of building translatable cycling skills to get outside and ride faster.
What Kind of Instructor?
Hype: Indoor cycling instructors are generally a hyped bunch. It's worth asking around the studio how the different instructors teach. Aim to find an instructor who matches the energy you want and who’s ques make sense to you. It might take a few tries to learn what energy level keeps you excited for more, so test out some different classes to see what strikes you.
Credentials: Most instructors have been through numerous training sessions and classes to ensure they are ready to teach or train others. Check that the instructor you are riding with has credentials that you value. This is an important step for not only indoor cycling but any general health and fitness training.
Great Playlists: Riders often say they came to a studio for the workout and kept coming back for the music. When you’re looking for a class, ask about the instructor's music taste and use this as a guide for finding classes you think you’ll enjoy.
Encouragement: Finding an instructor who feels encouraging in the ways you want is key to enjoying the class. Some instructors aim for gentle encouragement, while others can be big and boisterous. This can be a great question to ask someone at the studio if you know you are looking for a certain type of communication on the bike.
Give these questions some thought as you start your indoor cycling journey. Remember that there are lots of options out there, whether you're riding at home or joining a new studio. Be sure to check out some different styles of classes or try different instructors; you might just find motivation somewhere you weren’t expecting.