The 10 Commandments of Good Indoor Cycling Behavior

Find out your rights (and wrongs) before you go to class.

Indoor Cycling
Glow Wellness/Getty Images

In a perfect world, there’d be no need to discuss the basics of good behavior in an indoor cycling class. But unfortunately transgressions often happen in these intimate studios. Not only does bad behavior put the instructor in the awkward role of disciplinarian, but it also makes other riders feel uncomfortable, distracted, or worse. The truth is, every cyclist has as much of a right to enjoy his or her workout as you do.

So with that basic principle in mind, here are 10 commandments for what you should or shouldn’t do in an indoor cycling class.

Thou shalt not fight over a particular bike. If you have your sights set on a certain bike, get to the studio early and claim it or reserve it ahead of time if you can. If it’s already taken, find another one to ride. Remember: It’s not your bike; it belongs to the studio so other people have as much of a right to claim it for a class as you do.

Thou shalt check a bad attitude at the door. Cyclists with bad attitudes can be like energy vampires, sucking the vitality and enthusiasm out of the studio and spoiling the class for other people. If you know you don’t like the teacher or music in a particular class, don’t go. If you discover this partway through the ride, aim for an Emmy-worthy acting performance. Fake it, in other words!

Thou shalt not be disruptive if you come late or leave early. It’s no big deal if you’re a bit tardy or you need to slip out before the cool-down but do take or leave your place quietly.

It’s a matter of courtesy to your fellow riders. (But keep in mind: The warm-up and cool-downs are for your benefit.)

Thou shalt not bring excess baggage into the studio. In most cycling studios, the space between bikes is tight and the room is dark. So if you cram a hefty duffle bag, a large coat, and other stuff next to your bike, other people could trip on it.

It’s a safety hazard, pure and simple. Put your stuff in a locker if possible; otherwise, place it against the studio’s front or outer wall, away from the bikes.

Thou shalt not chat nonstop with the rider next to you. An occasional comment or quip is fine but talking continuously to your neighbor or on a cell phone or texting during the class distracts other riders and interferes with the spirit of the class. If you need to use your cell phone during the class, leave the room to do so.

Thou shalt not criticize the instructor during the class. I have been a participant in classes where disgruntled riders have blurted out things like “This is not inspiring!” and “Stop talking so much!” Harsh comments like these just make everyone feel uncomfortable and they ruin the mood in the class; I once saw an instructor pushed to the brink of tears by mean-spirited participants. Just as you may not appreciate it when an instructor picks on you, if you have something that’s not nice to say, keep it to yourself until after the class; then, politely share your opinions with the instructor privately.

Thou shalt not ogle the rider in front of you. I know it’s tempting to admire the fit bodies around you but consider it a matter of personal space and privacy. Even though the room is often dark, people can sense when someone is staring at them when they’re riding. So keep your eyes on the instructor or check yourself out in the mirror.

Thou shalt not be a high-maintenance rider. Don’t pepper the instructor with questions throughout the class. It’s group exercise, which means it’s not just about you. If you’re new to indoor cycling, arrive early so you can ask questions about what to expect, how to perform the basic moves, and how to set up your bike properly. If you have questions after the class, feel free to ask the instructor then. During the class, limit your questions or requests so other riders can enjoy the experience, too.

Thou shalt not leave a mess behind. Please clean up after yourself. Don’t leave your empty water bottles on the floor or sweaty towels draped over the bike (and don’t come to the class if you’re really sick). Take your germs and your wreckage with you, and clean your bike with a disinfecting wipe after the ride. Imagine what a disaster the studio would be if every rider left a mess in his or her wake!

Thou shalt not be inappropriate with the instructor. Feel free to compliment an instructor’s physical fitness level or personal style but keep the comments in the proper zone. Don't ask the instructor to wear shoulder-baring tank tops if she prefers t-shirts (this once happened to a friend of mine) or make wet t-shirt comments after class (ditto).

I once had a married man with grandchildren, a regular in one of my 6 a.m. classes, tell me that he really liked my rides, my music, and my coaching style. But “I want to see more of you in the class,” he said, gesturing from my head down to my feet. I asked what he meant. “You’re very attractive,” he said. “I’d like to see you flirt with the class while you’re teaching.” When I told my group exercise director, she was horrified. “That’s completely inappropriate!” she said. “You’re a fitness professional, not an entertainer!” Sure, indoor cycling can be fun and festive, but it’s about exercise first and foremost. It’s not about fulfilling an individual cyclist’s desire for a sexy encounter with an instructor. So please, don’t even go there!

Continue Reading