Back into the Groove with Indoor Cycling

What makes a group indoor cycling class so ideal?  This past Saturday, because I sorely miss my Saturday morning long runs and wanted to fill the void, I decided to go to my neighborhood YMCA cycling class.  Before I had kids, besides work and hanging out with my husband, I had plenty of time to explore other modes of exercise besides running – Swimming, Cycling, Yoga, Pilates, and different classes offered at the gym that I found interesting.  I love to run but my body currently requires a low-impact form of exercise yet still challenging, so I returned to one of my favorite ways to cross-train – Indoor Cycling.

And here is my Top 5 Reasons why I love it:

5.  Music  I must admit I rarely listen to music when I run.  I’m the type who enjoys listening to a variety of podcasts, ranging from running and fitness to podcasts about finance, business and parenting. It’s my multi-tasking attitude to desire to learn during a run so when I’m finished I feel fitter and smarter – yes a two-for-one deal!  Inside the gym, it’s a different story.  I love to listen and feel the beat of the music in an enclosed space allowing me to work harder and push my heart rate to its upper limit.  The class’ playlist consisted of disco and rock, unfamiliar to my ears (I’m not a music connoisseur) as well as a little bit of pop, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky – a song I noticed some older ladies would rather not hear and finished with Rihanna’s Diamonds plus an inspiring quote from our instructor which I will mention later.  Music definitely has an effect on our brains especially when we can relate to it.  I know if I hear an upbeat song, my body comes out of its tired state and suddenly I’m capable of doing more.

As stated in an article published in Scientific American: “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.”

4.  Atmosphere Our neighborhood YMCA is only a few years old and have gone through major renovations including an upgrade to their cycling studio.  The studio is tiered with 3 levels and arranged theater-style to better view the instructor and mirrors (I find myself constantly checking my form). They’ve also installed adjustable lighting plus strobe lights so it makes you feel like you’re in an awesome rocking party!!!!  Once the disco songs started playing, our instructor Janis set the mood by dimming the lights and turning on the strobe lights.

3.  Structured  Warm-up, Speed, Hills, Recovery in between.  Repeat.  End with a cool-down.  Every instructor has their own style of teaching and,program design.  Not exactly sure how often the program changes since it was my first day back in class in quite a long time.  Saturday’s consisted of a 3min, 5min, 7min drills beginning with a seated climb and increasing RPMs for a period of time, followed by standing, then a speed workout sitting and standing and finishing with a hill workout.  The goal was to maintain the intensity we started at 3 min when we finish the 7 min drill.  Let’s just say it was tough and I may have started at too high of an intensity.

2. Instructor  Janis, our animated instructor who loves to sing along to her playlist.  I appreciated her words of encouragement as she motivated us to pedal fast and hard each time we neared the recovery part of the drill, only to have to do it all over again until the hour was over.  As I mentioned above, she finished the workout to Rihanna’s song “Diamonds” and recited her favorite quote “Happiness is a Choice”.  So as we slowly pedaled to cool-down, she sang along to the lyrics – Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy.  I loved that she ended her class with an inspiring quote 🙂

1. Challenge  It’s up to the individual if you want to experience a challenging workout.  I could have lowered the resistance and made it effortless, but you don’t wake up early in the morning to have an easy day.  I was challenged by this workout with a heart race increase up to approximately 80% max HR halfway and by the end of the final 7 min drill close to 90%.  I forgot to wear my HR monitor but I checked my pulse after each drill.  I was huffing and puffing until I had the chance to breathe during recovery.

I’m thrilled to rekindle my love for indoor cycling and will be heading back to class next Saturday.  I might even try another class with a different instructor mid-week.

Do you listen to music or podcasts?  Have you tried an indoor group cycling class?  What’s your favorite mode of cross-training?  Thanks for reading!