Feature – Indoor Cycling

Feature – Indoor Cycling

Does the thought of sitting on a bike inside seem ridiculous? Well, spin instructor Izabela Ruprik is here to shed light on one of the fitness industry's most popular cardio activities. "You need to know why you are there, embrace the discomfort and really get in the zone" she says.

What is spinning?

People tend to have an opinion about "spinning" whether they have tried it or not. Many of those who haven't, feel intimidated seeing people – some of them top to bottom in lycra and funny looking shoes – filing out of a studio dripping in sweat. Makes you think you have to be fit (or mad) enough to take part. Those who have tried it, either love it or hate it.

The truth is indoor cycling ("spinning" is a trademark) is a great cardio exercise building cardiovascular fitness: heart, lungs and leg strength and speed.

Who is it for?

It is beneficial at every fitness level and as it is low impact it may help with injuries and is suitable even for pregnant women (provided they have done it before and their doctor has not advised them otherwise). So what about the scary lycra-clad folk? You will see people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels in that studio, amongst them outdoor cyclists, athletes and triathletes who are partial to lycra.

You are never too fit for an indoor cycling class

You will always get a workout in these classes PROVIDED you understand it may involve some suffering. Sometimes quite a lot of it. Embrace it. One of my favourite quotes is: "Cycling is not easy. You play tennis. You play football. You don't PLAY cycling". You turn that resistance up, and you are entering another level. If you are looking for a class to start and finish without damage to your hairdo and make up though – this is not it.

What classes are available?

Gymbox is giving its members two types of indoor cycling classes: Bikes & Beats and Tour De… .

Bikes & Beats is more suitable for those who want to get a good tune selection and ride their butt off to some intervals. You will be in and out of the saddle frequently. Just follow the instructor and enjoy. Ride away your frustrations.

Tour de… (available at each club) is a more focused class involving long climbs or speed or strength endurance rides. This means working in the saddle a lot. Enter intrinsic motivation: you need to know why you are there, embrace the discomfort and really get in the zone.

Gymbox uses Schwinn Bikes across most of their sites with the virtual system that links all the bikes to a big screen showing you how you rank against others. However, if you're not competitive, or you are a complete novice, worry not: your name is not on display so only you know which results are yours. The bikes also have individual consoles where you can see your speed and power helps to make sure you are working at a level required.

Say watt? Exercise Vs Training

Covent Garden studio is full of WattBikes – futuristic looking objects that make a lot of noise. Word of advice: if you have never tried indoor cycling, WattBike may be a challenge as most beginners and as much as 70 per cent of regulars are unable to ride them out of the saddle. I won't go into detail, but that means sitting through the whole class.

However, these have got amazing technology which is invaluable in training for outdoor cyclists, triathletes and data geeks who want to track their stats, splits, tests etc. The virtual studio display has race option where you see your avatar racing on the big screen. Pretty cool stuff.

Just do it!

Thinking of giving it a go? Remember:

1. It's YOUR ride.

2. If it feels like nothing it does nothing so don't be afraid to add resistance.

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