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Navigating the world of indoor cycling - learning the language

Getting started with something new is scary, when it's in a different language it can be even more daunting! This post sets out all you need to know and is a handy quick reference you can refer back to.


Indoor cycling (IC) - this is what we're doing (and to differentiate from road cycling or mountain biking for example) Within this, you can be more specific with what 'brand' of IC you are doing - Spinning (Spin) class, SoulCycle Class or Peloton Class. Or it might be about what that class is focusing on - Rhythm riding, HIIT or HR (Heart Rate) training. If you're ever in doubt as your instructor what the class is about and what to expect - they are there to help! Check out this post and this playlist to see more about the different types of IC you can try.


Studio - this is (often) where we are cycling! Studio refers to the room the bikes are in (in the same way there may be a pilates studio or yoga studio). But you can also do indoor cycling at home, in a gym, in the garden... wherever you have access to a bike can be your studio!


Cleats - 'Do you have cleats?' - this is a question you may be asked on arrival at a studio or by someone you are talking to about indoor cycling (once you start you will talk about it all the time... or is that just me?) What they are asking you is 'Do you have cycling specific shoes?'. Cleats are the connections between the cycling shoes and the pedals of the bike - so rather than putting your trainer clad feet on the pedals (or normally sliding them into the 'cage' on top - as in into the strap) you would 'clip in'. Not essential to indoor cycling but these connectors help the efficiency of your pedaling - which is why pro cyclists and regular indoor riders use them.

Cage - this is a term referring to the strap on the pedal to help keep your foot connected to the pedal during your ride.

Emergency stop - unlike normal bikes, indoor studio bikes don't have brakes on the handlebars. The way the pedals and wheel work are different so you CANNOT JUST STOP PEDALING. Honestly, please don't. Ever. You could do yourself a serious injury. So when your instructor shows you where the brake is, pay attention!

Fore/Aft - this is to do with the position of something forwards (fore) / backwards (aft). Normally used to talk about adjusting the 'fore/aft' of the saddle - so ensuring the distance of the saddle to the brake / handlebars is correct when you set up your bike.

Resistance - this is about how difficult it is to pedal. Normally controlled by a dial (the same as the break) but some bikes have gears that may be a switch. Your instructor will tell you to increase / decrease your resistance during the ride so pay attention!

Cadence - this means speed. 'Increase your cadence' means cycle faster. Your speed is often measured in RPM.

RPM - revolutions per minute. This is how many times one foot completes a revolution ('once around the clock') in a minute. In rhythm riding the RPM is connected to the tempo, or beat, of the music.

Power - this is a result of the combination of speed and resistance, measured in watts. A good power output is a great goal.

Watts - the unit that power is measured in.

Riding positions - the terminology used varies by style, studio and instructor, but there will be hand positions and body positions.

Hand positions - where you hands should be on the handlebars. There are three commonly referenced positions - first, second and third. Link:

Body positions

In the saddle - being seated on the bike Out of the saddle - being in a standing position on the bike This may also just be 'seated' or 'standing'

Instructors will lead you through the movements, for example, 'stand up, hands to position three'. They may also use other descriptors to explain what they want you to do.

Flat or Climb are describing the terrain - and what effort might be expected. You would generally cycle faster on a flat road than you would climbing on a hill. Telling you that you are on a flat or a climb helps you to adjust your speed and your resistance.

A jog or a sprint would guide the expected pace.

Movements These often combine several of the above terms - so a seated climb or standing jog - in classes your instructor is your guide, so follow them, but if at any time it becomes too much you can always come back to a seated position.

Choreo - Choreography This will depend on the type of class you ride, and on your instructor. Things like hovers, tap backs, dips, presses - check your instructor to find out more about this.

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