Surprising Secrets About Indoor Cycling

Here's the skinny on the good and bad realities in an indoor cycling class.


When you first considered trying indoor cycling, some of your friends may have prattled on and on about how much fun it is, what a great workout it is, and so on. Maybe you believed them, and maybe you didn’t. But they probably didn’t fill you in on some of the surprising realities that might have inspired you to join in sooner—or not.

So let’s clear the air about some of the details—the good and the bad—that people don’t usually talk about.

The good ones may help you appreciate the activity in whole new ways. The bad ones will let you know what’s in store if you’re new to indoor cycling or validate your personal experience if you’re an experienced rider. Either way, you’ll learn how to cope with these challenges.

  1. There will be days when you feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill. Some days you have energy and strength to spare; some days you don’t—it’s true with any physical pursuit. Feeling like you just don’t have it can be especially frustrating with indoor cycling given that it’s such a physically demanding workout. If this happens to you, don’t sweat it; we’ve all been there. Just do your best and look forward to a more comfortable, satisfying ride in the future. 
  2. It can be a sexy experience. When you’re riding in a dimly lit studio with hip music playing, surrounded by fit, attractive bodies in tight, sweaty clothes, indoor cycling can feel kind of sexy. (If the class has racy music videos playing on the screen, this can crank up the sex appeal.) So don’t be surprised if you leave the class feeling invigorated and a bit sexually aroused. Hey, it happens!
  1. It can be pricey. If you go to a regular gym, indoor cycling classes are probably included as part of your monthly fee. If you go to a boutique studio, individual classes often run $21 to $34 apiece (though the rate might drop by a few bucks if you buy a package of multiple classes). Still, the cost can add up quickly.
  1. You’ll sweat more than you ever thought possible. Cycling indoors produces way more sweat than cycling outdoors does. This is largely because you don’t have fresh air flowing over your skin like you do outside; this lack of air flow compromises your body’s ability to cool itself effectively (even if fans are running in the studio). The result is a major sweat-fest, which is why it’s important to stay well hydrated during and after the ride.
  2. Your bum may be sore later. Saddle-soreness is a common affliction, especially when you’re just getting started with indoor cycling. As the muscles in your thighs get stronger, they will prevent you from sinking so deeply into the seat, and this post-ride discomfort will likely go away. In the meantime, it can help to wear padded bike shorts.
  3. You’ll be surprised by how hard it is to pedal fast in a heavy gear. After all, it’s a stationary bicycle and you’re going nowhere—so you might figure, how hard could it be? Very! ! Pushing heavy resistance, especially in a seated position, can be incredibly challenging but this is how you'll get stronger. Just be sure to do it safely by sticking with the recommended cadence or RPMs.
  1. You’ll be amazed by how it changes your body. Engage in indoor cycling regularly and over time, your legs will gain greater muscle tone and definition and attractive curves in all the right places. If slimming down is your goal, you can drop pounds and torch body fat, as long as you don’t compensate for the serious calorie burn (400 to 600 calories in a 45-minute class) by eating more. Tune into the physical changes your body undergoes—and take pride in them. You deserve it. 

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