Indoor cycling can be a high-energy, addictive way to torch calories—400 to 600 in a 40 minute class!—but only if you’re doing it right. Maximize your studio time with these etiquette tips from Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and Schwinn Master Trainer with more than 10 years of experience teaching in New York City.
1. Don’t text, email, update Facebook, play Words with Friends, or chat on your smartphone. It’s rude to the instructor (who has essentially created a presentation), to your classmates, and it diminishes what you could be getting out of the class.
2. Don’t pedal at 120, 60, 54 or 133 RPMs when the instructor says to pedal at 90. Do 90 or something close to it. Anything else is like doing squats when everyone else is doing push-ups.
3. Do try your best. If the workout is too difficult, you can always back off. But slacking from the start is like standing in the weight room, not picking up a weight, and expecting something to happen!
4. Don’t ride with your arms crossed, your hands behind your back, or while doing crunches to “strengthen your core.” There’s a misconception you can get a great cardio workout and a great strength workout on the bike, but what you end up getting is a mediocre version of both. What’s worse, doing strength exercises on a bike is inadvisable and possibly dangerous. There is no nationally accredited cycling certification program that teaches these moves and it’s because they produce no physiological benefit and are biomechanically unsound. It’s better to get the full benefits of what the bike is intended for. If you want to do upper-body or core exercises, do them in the appropriate environment: the weight room.
5. Don’t wear headphones. And if you do, don’t call the instructor over to ask what you should be doing since you couldn’t hear them explain it the first time. If the music bothers your ears, wear earplugs. If you prefer your own playlist, then ride on your own time.
6. Don’t bring your oversized gym bag or enormous coat into the studio. Indoor cycling rooms are small and the instructor needs to be able to walk around to assist students without tripping over your stuff. If you have personal items with you, put them in a locker.
7. Do inform the instructor before class starts if you are injured or have a medical condition that cyclng may affect. It’s reckless to assume the instructor will know or pick up on it.
8. Don’t bounce—whether seated or standing up. Both indicate a lack of resistance and can put stress on your knees and limit the effectiveness of your workout.
9. Don’t stand up on the pedals with a vertical spine. It reduces your power, grinds away knee cartilage, and compresses lower spine vertebrae. Instead, stand as you would on an outdoor bike: hinge slightly at the hips, keep your hips over the cranks (the levers that attach the pedals to the bike), and your torso slightly forward of your hips.
10. Do save conversations for after class. If you’re talking to your neighbor, you’re not working hard enough. Maybe you meant to meet them at the cafe?
11. Don’t read a magazine or a book or a Nook or a Kindle or a newspaper. If you want to read, go to the library.
12. Do follow the workout. If you have your own agenda planned, then give your bike to someone who would like to participate in the group fitness experience and relocate to the cardio deck where it’s completely appropriate for you to do your own thing.
13. Do leave your negative attitude at the door. A bad attitude sucks away the life and energy of those around you. Indoor cycling is a team workout. If you don’t like the music, the teacher, the temperature, or the bike seat, then find a class that better suits your needs.
14. Do remember that an indoor cycling class is not a personal training session—the 39 other people around you may have different levels of comfort. If you’re always cold, instead of always complaining, wear layers and stop reserving the bike under the air conditioning vent. If you’re always hot, take off the turtleneck, bring a cool hydrating beverage, and stop reserving the bike furthest from the AC vent.
15. Don’t pedal backwards. There’s no benefit. You might as well just sit on the bike like it’s a recliner.
16. Don’t pretend to turn the resistance. Do it or don’t—what’s the point of pretending?
17. Don’t be mad at the instructor who gave your bike away—or the student who took it—if you’re late. If you’re going to get angry, be mad at yourself for being tardy.
18. Do inform the instructor before class if you have to leave early, and choose a bike close to the exit to minimize distraction.
19. Don’t stand in between the bikes to stretch while others are still participating in the class. If you leave class early and want to warm down, go find an empty mat in the gym.
20. Do have fun and get a great workout. (Don’t be upset with the results you don’t get because of the work you didn’t do).
To keep up with Rachel, visit her website rachelvfitness.com or follow her on Twitter @rachelbuschert.