Written by: Ashley Fern
Photos by Demi Ward
Group fitness classes can be intimidating, especially when it comes to something like indoor cycling. When you're new, it seems like everyone else in the room knows what's going on, and you're stuck trying to get your shoes to magically "clip in" to the pedals. As someone who used to avoid intense cardio activity, I gave indoor cycling a try and found myself completely obsessed.
I finally understood what the hype was all about. I no longer questioned people when they told me how much they loved and needed their 45 minute release. This soon became the part of my day that was totally dedicated to how I felt and I was in control. It’s the time when I get to completely let go of all of the stress in the outside world and do something for myself.
Whenever I hear people complain about cardio, I feel compelled to explain my journey and how I fell in love with indoor cycling. It goes beyond the workout itself–it brings you into a community you never knew even existed. Living in a huge city can be overwhelming but the fitness community is one that welcomes you with open arms–and once you’re a part of it, you don’t ever want to leave. Getting your foot in the door may be the hardest part, which is why I sat down with some of SWERVE’s instructors to answer some questions to help you feel more comfortable in the studio and motivated in the saddle.
1) “Is everyone going to know I'm new?"
It’s natural to feel a little self-conscious when you're getting on your bike, but believe me, when you are hitting your 4th hill in a row, the only person people are watching are themselves.
At SWERVE, once you settle in, you realize there are colored lights above you, either red, blue, or green. That's your team color. Your little console in front of you will tell you how you're doing in class, but no one else can see that. Your metrics are averaged with your teammates' scores, and those are the numbers shown on scoreboards during the ride.
“We have a competition element, but SWERVE is a team sport. We're in it together. Everyone was a first-timer or a newbie at some point. All you can ask of yourself is to give your best--whatever that is for you!” says Jenna Arndt, instructor and resident playlist master.
Photo from @jenna_arndt
2) “What’s the right way to set up my bike?”
Don’t be afraid to ask the studio crew for help- that's what they’re there for! They want to help you get comfortable and achieve the most out of your workout. When it comes to bike setup, SWERVE instructor Jenna says:
“One common thing I notice is that people tend to sit too low and too close to the handlebars. When you stand beside the bike, set the seat height to hip level. When you hop on and pedal, there should be a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of your stroke. Sitting too low can cause undue pressure on the knees and can compromise your posture. If you have questions about your setup--even if you have been riding for a while--don't be afraid to ask to have it checked.”
3) “Isn’t cycling just a workout for your legs?”
Another crucial piece of cycling info from Jenna is that “cycling isn't just for the legs! Besides getting your cardio in (and a built-into-class 5 minute arms sesh), you are constantly working different muscle groups by alternating between the upright and seated positions and varying your speeds.” So the next time your friend tells you she wants to bail and do some crunches instead, remind her that core strength is built into your cardio workout at SWERVE.
Find @colemanannison on Instagram
4) “How do I make the most of the class?”
Your time is valuable so when you commit to class you want to make sure you are making the most out of your 45 minutes. SWERVE instructor, Coleman Annison, wants you to remember, “The energy created during the first two minutes of class between instructor, room and music can often times set the tone of an entire ride. The more you give, the more you get. Class flies by. Don’t wait until the final two songs to remember why you showed up.”
5) “What’s more important: resistance or speed?”
Resistance helps you manage and power your ride. If you are ever feeling out of control on the bike, turn that resistance up!! You're stronger than you think. As instructor Coleman says, “With lighter resistance, it’s easier to lose control over your RPM. As a rhythm-based class, you want to live right with the beat of the music.” So the goal isn't to ride as fast as you can, it's to ride on the RPM (the beat of the music), with as much resistance as possible.
Find @jasonnart on Instagram
6) “What’s the proper way to pedal?”
If you have ever taken class with Jason Tran, you know how entertaining he can be. But when it comes to proper form, he’s all business, “As much as I love a toe point, doing it while riding is not the place. Often times, your toes will go numb and you'll have less leverage on the bike. The most effective way to pedal is with flat feet and relaxed toes, think toes/heels at 3 and 9 o'clock or bottom of your foot parallel to the floor.”
7) “What separates SWERVE from other studios?”
Coleman sums it up perfectly, “SWERVE is often described as a HIIT style cycling class (High Intensity Interval Training). We work through our ‘intervals’ as sprints. Through our sprints, plus rhythm-based challenges where all riders must maintain beat together, we keep the team aspect motivating everyone in the room, all class long.”
The energy during class will ensure you never feel alone and never back down. There are dozens of riders surrounding you, and you know they're pushing their hardest, so you'll want to do nothing less than your best. And as Jenna said, your best is all we ask.