Cycle 101

If you recall from yesterday's post, I got a cute little bikini while shopping in Old Town.  With bikini weather in the near future, I thought it was only appropriate to share my favorite way of getting a bikini bod (or at least attempting to get a bikini bod....).

To work on that bikini bod, I cycle!  In fact, I'm a bit of a cycling addict!  My early days of cycling (or spin classes) were not smooth sailing, though...

For starters, the first time I ever attended a cycle class was my first year of college.  A hallmate I frequently worked out with asked me to join her.  I figured, "Why not?"  Within the first 10 min I was DYING!  I started to calm down at the 45 min mark assuming a cool down was coming soon (most exercise classes at our gym were an hour); when we were still sprinting after an hour I realized-- I, who had never been to a cycle class in my life--was at...EXTREME CYCLE!  I had another half hour!  Needless to say, I did not return to cycle for almost a year.

I felt a little like this girl after that hour and a half

In the fall of my second year, I decided to give this cycle thing another try.  It wasn't easy-- the instructor saw me struggling and politely suggested I lower the resistance.  After an hour, I was worn out, but determined to continue coming back.

Now, two and a half years later, I LOVE cycling and am the weird girl in class with a smile on her face during sprints.  In an hour cycle class you can burn upwards of 600 calories, so why not give it a try!  Here are my tips for beginning cyclers!

1.  Don't give up!  Cycling is one of the hardest, most intense workouts!  You're going to be exhausted, that's normal!

2.  Come prepared! Crucial elements to every cycle class are:  LOTS of water, a towel, and a good hairtie to keep your hair out of your face.  (Cycle shoes are great, but not necessary.  Regular tennis shoes work fine and I suggest making sure you love cycle before buying a cycling pair.)

My cycle bag with its usual contents.

3.  Make sure your bike is set-up correctly.  When you first attend a cycle class, ask the instructor for help setting up your bike.  Typically, the seat should be at about hip level and the handlebars should be at a height that is comfortable for you.  The distance of the seat from the handlebars affects how much your abs will be challenged during the workout.  Beginning cyclers should start with the seat closer to the handlebars and gradually move it back.

4.  Use good form.  Sit up straight while cycling-- hunching over doesn't help!  Keep your back straight and your face up, looking forward.  Keep your feet parallel to the ground, pointing your toes down can put a strain on your knees and calves.  Use the handlebars for balance, not support.  When you put all your weight on the handlebars, you're not allowing the strong muscles in your legs to do the work.

5.  Breathe!  It is important to breathe while cycling, so oxygen can get to the muscles that need it!

6.  Own it!  It's your work out, so own it!  The instructors might say "Give me one turn on the resistance wheel," but keep in mind that all bikes are calibrated a little differently, so 1 turn on the instructor's bike might be a 1/2 turn on your bike and 3 turns on your neighbor's.  Also, pace yourself.  If you're having kind of a blah day, take it easy!

7. Don't be afraid to be a rebel!  What I mean by that, is if something feels weird, change it up.  Just because the instructor says to get out of the saddle and stand, doesn't mean you have to.  If a certain move feels weird to you, be rebellious and do something else that feels better.  And always go to the instructor with questions or concerns.

8. Stretch before and after.  Cycle is hard on your body.  Make sure to take the proper time to reward your muscles with some good stretching!

9. Try Out Different Instructors.  Everyone's preferences are a little different.  My favorite instructors are the ones that have the hardest classes and are loud and in charge.  Other people, prefer the quieter instructors.  If you're not feeling it with one, try someone else!

10. Have fun!  As the fabulous Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde:  "Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy." After a tough cycle class, tons of endorphins are pumping through your body, so be happy!

Happy Elle...I bet she's a cycler!

Does anyone share my passion for cycling or have tips to add?

Good luck to any new cyclers!  Hope this post is helpful!