How to find your indoor cycling tribe
Firstly, let’s clarify, what is indoor cycling?
Most simply - indoor cycling is cycling that you do inside. I know - shocking right? It could be in a gym, in a studio, in your front room or garage. And I guess if it’s in your garden (weather permitting) that’s also ‘indoor cycling’ - so it could also be ‘static’ cycling. The bike is in a fixed position, you move but it doesn’t :)
What is the difference between indoor cycling and spinning?
Spinning is a type of indoor cycling. In the same way Mcdonalds and Burger King are types of fast food, Spinning and SoulCycle are types or brands of indoor cycling.
Spinning is considered by many as the OG indoor cycling method, the first ‘branded approach’ to indoor cycling starting in the early 1990’s. SoulCycle, CycleBar and Peloton are other brands within the space.
Do you have to start with a named brand?
No! The most important thing is the instructor is qualified so that you are able to learn safely. There are lots of different qualifications as there are different specialisations. Your instructor should always be willing to explain what qualifications they have and what they mean.
Which type of indoor cycling should you choose?
The first consideration is what type of equipment do you have access to? There are different types of bikes that will support different types of workouts.
A standard exercise bike (stationary bike), traditional or recumbant, may allow you to change the level or difficulty (resistance) and you can change how quickly you pedal, but it may not support you standing on the pedals. The bikes you would find in any cycling studio are likely to be designed to support you riding whilst seated and standing (’out of the saddle’). A lot of at home bikes now are of the studio type, along with ones like Peloton and the big name brands like Schwinn, Stages, Keiser and the Spinner bike.
If you aren’t sure about the bike you have access to, a quick google should help you find the manufacturers instructions.
The next consideration is music - do you like a beat?
Music is used in two ways in indoor cycling - either as a background or as the foreground (I hope no one rides in silence because... well. Weird.) Anyway, what is the difference between background and foreground music and what does this mean for your riding?
Music is used in the background of classes where the focus is primarily on performance, whether Heart Rate training, Energy Zones, Power output, Speed intervals or even a visualisation ride where you imagine cycling through the mountains or a particular trail or tour for example. Music supports your riding, but you are focused on something else.
Music is the basis of the class. You are riding to the beat, so as the music changes you change your riding. You are focused on the music. There are different styles within this - from riding on the beat (Rhythm riding) to full blown choreography (choreo) - so if you love cycling to the beat, you would still want to find what works for you.
Need help deciding?
I put together a playlist with a range of different riding styles from different instructors - check it out here or below and see what vibes your ride.
The most important thing, within the realms of riding safely on the bike you have access to, is to find what you enjoy. Because then you are more likely to come back and do it again, and again! Which is the aim of the game. And you don’t have to stick with one, if a variety of approaches keeps you going then mix it up! But if you have a strong preference for one style, then let the variety come within those types of rides, whether that be terrain or music tracks.
What do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!