As you know, because I mentioned it a few times here and there, I have recently started going to cycling classes.
What you don’t know is that I had thought about going for months already, always changing my mind last minute and promising myself “next week, you’ll go”, and then I found another excuse to postpone.
The truth is: while I have done cycling workouts before, I haven’t been to a class probably since college and frankly, it’s intimidating to walk into a room full of people you don’t know. Yes, even for a seasoned gym goer.
Here are some tips that have helped me over the hump.
1. GO WITH A FRIEND!
If you can, let a friend drag you along to your first cycling class. I was lucky to get the opportunity to finally go to a cycling class with my friend Tanja (an experienced indoor cyclist) when I visited her in SoCal last month, which made the whole thing a whole lot less intimidating. I still had to go to my second class by myself, but I was already kinda aware of what to expect.
2. PICK A CLASS THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE PRIOR SIGNUP
If you’re taking classes at your gym, check the class schedule and consider taking a class at a day/time that isn’t super-popular (like Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. at my gym). It ensures that you don’t have to sign up beforehand and that it’s not going to be crowded on your first try.
3. SHOW UP EARLY
If you don’t want to walk into a room full of people that you don’t know who turn their heads when you enter, make sure to get to your first class with plenty of time to spare.
You can scope out the room, pick a bike in the back row (where most newbies will feel more comfortable), and get familiar with your bike. It’s easier to be IN THE ROOM when other people walk in, then being the one walking in. And then…
4. SET UP (OR ASK FOR HELP SETTING UP) YOUR BIKE
If you’ve never been on an indoor bike, chances are that you don’t know how to set up your bike. Asking for help might be uncomfortable, because you’re outing yourself as a newbie, but you can’t just hop on any bike and expect the settings to be right for you (most likely they’re not).
If you’re uncomfortable asking for help, you could do a little homework and learn how to set up your indoor bike correctly before you go to class. That will at least give you the chance to appear as if you know what you’re doing.
But most likely though, you don’t have to fret, someone – another participant or the instructor – will notice that you’re new and offer to check your settings for you, and you just accept it with a smile. (Remember: most people are friendly and like to help!)
5. BRING A TOWEL AND WATER
Don’t be that person that walks into an exercise class without a towel and bottle of water. That will out you as a beginner faster than anything else. And trust me: you will need the towel AND the water. Cycling makes you sweaty and thirsty like nothing else. (I am a sweaty person in general, but turns out, I am especially sweaty when I cycle.)
6. DO THE BEST YOU CAN AND HAVE FUN.
Don’t stress about being a newbie. I know, easier said than done, but I promise you, most people are not there to judge you. They have all been in your shoes at some point (even if it doesn’t look like it).
The first class will be a little overwhelming (just know to expect that). Unless it’s specified as a beginner class, you probably won’t get any other instructions on how the class is going to go. The lights will go off, the music will start, the instructor will yell instructions (and you might not know the lingo). Your body is getting used to moving in a new way, there is going to be the beat of the music you’re trying to keep up with, the instructor will give you instructions on when to “increase resistance” and when to “ take the load off”, etc., etc. Just take it all in, but don’t sweat keeping up with everything. This first class is just to get a feel for what it’s like and you should only do what you can comfortably do. Go easy in your first class, don’t push yourself to the limit (or you might never go back!).
Nobody is going to come over to look at your cycle to tell you you’re not working out hard enough. The instructor might try to encourage and push you, but (s)he’s not going to judge your efforts. Cycling class is not a competition, it’s for everybody to have a good, sweaty workout that makes you feel amazing afterwards!
REMEMBER: Everyone, keep your eyes on your own