There is a very good reason why indoor cycling is so popular: it’s addictive and healthy fun, and is scientifically proven to be more effective than solo exercise.
If you’re considering signing up for your first class at The Fitness Factory, we are extremely proud to offer you our experience refined by the teaching of thousands of classes since 2005.
Our indoor bikes are much more “bicycle-like” than most standard exercise bikes, thanks to the combination of a heavy flywheel with fixed gearing, subtle user-controlled resistance and a sleek frame with multiple adjustment points. Even beginners quickly learn to stand on the pedals and “climb”, something that is almost impossible on most gym bikes and very tricky on turbo-trainers and rollers.
Indoor group bikes are solid and safe and can be tailored quite precisely to each user’s ergonomics or physical limitations. Given a much more natural cycling effect, this encourages stronger and ergonomically better efforts, in a variety of positions and cadences: sitting or standing, fast or slow. It can also accommodate people with back or hip problems, while the minimal impact on joints makes it ideal for those recovering from knee or ankle problems. We’l always talk you through the initial set-up, but check out this video for a detailed tutorial on setting up your bike.
Your first class – L2, L3 or L4?
If you’re an elite athlete, you might choose to join us at Level 4 on your first day. Most people, however, will choose to start at L2 or L3. We will always advise you, using any fitness test results and in light of your past and current level of participation in sport, and cycling in particular. (Read our previous blog post on the subject of fitness testing here.)
There is one thing that unites all levels: they have to be appropriately challenging. If exercise was too easy, it would not benefit us. If it was too hard it could harm us, or put us off. Thus, we pitch newcomers at a level that is not too easy but not demoralisingly hard.
Types of challenge
In essence, our efforts on the bike revolve around two primary positions: seated or standing. In either of those we can go slow (and heavy) or fast (and light). Within that context, however, we also throw in curve balls like “freezes” where we temporarily aim to prevent the body from bouncing up and down on the pedals, or “push-ups” where we do half-body push-ups using the handlebars as our legs continue to keep rhythm.
It’s ALL about the music!
We choose our tracks to be motivational and inspiring. It’s mostly dance music, which may put you off if you’re normally a classical or jazz fan, but our tracks are chosen for their speed and length and to get you to work at the correct level throughout the session.
Your first class will usually present you with two obstacles: Trying to stay on the beat and learning what level of exertion is appropriate.
The first requires learning how to adjust your bike’s resistance depending on the tempo of the music. E.g. seated at 50rpm, your resistance would need to be much higher than seated at 120rpm. At first, most newcomers – and even sometimes experienced cyclists – struggle to stay at the correct speed, sometimes going too slowly with too much resistance, other times going too fast with insufficient resistance. It all takes a few rides to start making sense.
Over time, you will also gauge what effort level is appropriate for each song/position/challenge and time remaining. For example; a standing climb at 64 rpm might start off quite easy but every minute or so the instructor asks the group to “increase”. These staged increases in resistance are akin to the virtual hill you are cycling up suddenly getting steeper. Many newcomers struggle to understand how much resistance to add: too much and your feet slow down and your heart rate goes through the roof. Too little and your effort level remains too low. Both scenarios take some getting used to.
What to wear/bring/buy
If you have cycling shorts, wear them, or else loose shorts or leggings – nothing too thick, flappy or heavy. Most people who stick around invest in some padded cycling shorts.
Our pedals can be used with cycling shoes or trainers. If you’re going to clip in, we use MTB (mountain bike) shoes with SPD cleats. We’re happy to lend you some to try to see how you get on. Many members stay with trainers forever, but we encourage you to make this investment, and shoes with clips are obligatory for L4 classes, even on day one. See our video on cycling shoes here, in which I explain the benefits of being clipped in.
Wear a light top, ideally made of technical fibre (e.g. lycra) but a cotton T-shirt is OK to start off. You just might find it a bit heavy and hot.
All our bikes are equipped with bottle cages and there is a water station outside the spinning studio. If you forget, we can always lend you one.
We like to say “the absence of sweat indicates the absence of effort” and it’s true: if you push hard then you WILL sweat, and this needs to be wiped off both yourself and the bike after, so please always bring a towel with you.
What else to expect?
Great music (subject to taste!)
A warm welcome
To work hard
To feel some discomfort in your legs and lungs
To feel GREAT afterwards
To lose a few grams of fat every time you come
Fun and challenge in equal measure
Our unwavering and dedicated enthusiasm: nothing ever was achieved without passion, and of that we have heaps.
See you soon in class!