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What’s Better: Indoor Cycling Classes or at Home Indoor Cycling?

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Cycling is usually done outdoors. Some people don’t understand why anyone would even want to attend group-cycling classes indoors. Other cyclers feel that it’s better if they just cycle using their own stationary bike at home. What you need to understand is that individual indoor cycling and group indoor cycling classes are very different from one another. Each one has its pros and cons that you need to consider. People who cycle at home have control of the environment they are in, while those who cycle with a group enjoy having a social workout.

Advantages of Cycling at Home

There are many benefits to exercising at home. For instance, when you purchase your own stationary bike, you don’t have to pay for membership at a gym. At the same time, you’ll be saving time, fare expenses, and effort because you don’t have to commute to get to the gym. At your house, you have complete control of your entertainment, pace and workout intensity.

You can watch any show or movie you want, read a book, and even listen to the music of your choice. If your job involves being around people all the time, cycling at home is also beneficial to you as it allows you to spend some alone time.

Advantages of Cycling with a Group

Some people have difficulty exercising alone. Hence, to keep themselves motivated or to have someone to talk to while exercising, they will join a group exercise class. Aside from having people to talk to, you’ll also have a trainer to keep an eye on your posture. Yes, you can cycle at your own pace, but most group classes require participants to maintain a specific pace and intensity. In fact, just the mere idea that you are around with different people will make you want to pedal harder.

What makes cycling classes effective is that trainers will push cyclers to a level that they most likely won’t be able to achieve from biking at home. Those who commit themselves to taking these cycling classes will find that they are pushed to work harder, and they will feel good about it.

Disadvantages of Cycling at Home

The thing with having a stationary bike at home is that, despite its convenience, those who own one tend not to use it; or perhaps they intended to cycle for a long period of time, but something always distracts them; like a ringing phone or a buzzing doorbell. At the same time, cycling alone prevents you from really pushing yourself to your limits.

Disadvantages of Cycling with a Group

The downside of cycling with a group is the intensity. Some people, beginners in particular, may find it too challenging. Many cyclers usually feel competitive, which can lead to not-so-good things. There is no doubt that cycling with a class can really help you burn calories and stay fit, but if you want a mellow workout, cycling at home is better. Cycling class instructors will really push you hard, and you might not find that appealing at all. In fact, with the yelling, loud music, and competition, you might find this environment very stressful.

As you can see, individual indoor cycling and group indoor cycling classes are quite different from one another. The only similarity is that these are both done indoors with a stationary bike, but that’s about it. These two exercises both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is all a matter of what is most suitable for you.

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What You Should Know Before Joining a Group Indoor Cycling Program

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Group indoor cycling classes have grown quite popular through the years. Fitness facilities all over the country have been offering this form of exercise for quite some time. Indoor cycling has various benefits— from a great social environment to motivating music, to an effective cardiovascular workout. However, as with all services, not all fitness facilities offer the same level of effective cycling classes to customers. To ensure you are getting an effective workout, here are some tips that will help you choose the right indoor cycling class. Choosing carefully will ensure that you have the best experience possible – no injuries, and a good workout that makes you sweat without going above your physical capacity.

Do Your Research

If you plan to join a group indoor cycling class, then you should do your research first. Learn about the program details along with the history and qualifications of the class instructors. A good trainer should have at least 3-5 years bike teaching experience, and a health or fitness degree along with group indoor cycling class instructor certifications.

What to Expect from the Instructor

When you join a group indoor cycling class, there are several things you should learn from the instructor:
• how to pedal properly
• how to understand the meaning of intensity interval training on the bike
• how to have the proper bike posture
• the level of resistance that is ideal for every cadence level

If you’re in a beginner’s class and the instructor doesn’t even brief you on these things, then you have the right to demand for basic training. It’s the instructor’s job to make sure you are using the right techniques for pedalling and that you are aware of the proper posture to avoid injuries.

Make sure that Bikes are Regularly Maintained and Checked

Ask the manager of the fitness centre how often the bikes are maintained and checked. Some centres have ten classes a day, so it is important to ensure that the bikes are still safe for use. Sweat and normal use could damage the bike’s working parts, and that can make it unpleasant and unsafe for the cyclist.

The Right Bike Fit

Getting the right bike fit is important to have an effective and safe ride. Instructors should have experience in this and should be able to help you get the right bike fit.

Profile

A profile is the ride you will be doing during your session. This must be posted and made visible to riders. The instructor must also provide instructions about the riding session, such as how long it would last, the different intensities, what muscle groups you’ll be working on, and other things pertinent to the exercise session.

Room Ventilation and Temperature
Other important safety factors include room ventilation and room temperature. It is important that the group indoor cycling class you join is held in a room that is well ventilated.

These are the important things you must know before joining a group indoor cycling class. For a good cycling experience, it is necessary to take all the precautions needed. After going through these guidelines, you should be ready to pick out a suitable indoor cycling class for you.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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Using Indoor Cycling to Stay Fit During Pregnancy

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Staying fit has always been a problem for pregnant women, but pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from getting the workout you need. There are many workout options to choose from, one of which is indoor cycling. It’s a great cardiovascular workout that offers different intensities, and you can modify these workouts to match your fitness level. The experience you will get from this exercise is one that will keep you hooked, even after you have given birth.

Quick Tips on Cycling while Pregnant

Cycle at Your Own Pace
During your pregnancy, you shouldn’t push yourself too much. Instead of increasing the resistance or inclination of the bike, do more rounds instead. Worry more about the health of your unborn baby’s than your shape. Just like other exercises, stick what you are comfortable with.

Your comfort level may change on a daily basis, so be ready to make adjustments. Know your body and know your capacity. Although it is up to you how long you want to cycle, it is recommended that 30 minutes of cardio be performed for the best results. Women on their third trimester should consult their Ob-gyne first.

Stick to a Moderate Intensity

You will gain weight, so don’t be frustrated if you can’t move as fast. This additional weight will push your heart to work more, while it is adjusting to exercise with the added weight. The good thing about indoor cycling is t it is a non-impact workout, so you don’t have to support your full body weight while exercising. How do you know if the workout intensity is just right? As a rule, you should still be able to have a conversation while pedaling, without catching your breath.

Remember to Keep Cool

Pregnant women naturally have a slightly elevated body temperature, and exercising will increase this temperature even more. In most cases, indoor cycling classes are performed in small rooms that don’t have a lot of ventilation. If this is the case when it comes to your cycling class, pick a bike that is closest to a fan to ensure that air circulates around you. Aside from positioning yourself near a fan, remember to drink water during your workout so that your body is cooled internally and your muscles are kept hydrated. If you feel like you are overheating at any time during your exercise, slow down. However, if that doesn’t work, then you may need to call it a day and leave the class early.

Aside from improving the cardiovascular system, indoor cycling can minimize the risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. By participating in cycling classes, pregnant women can reduce their risk for these types of complications during pregnancy. However, before involving yourself in any kind of workout, it is always best to consult your doctor first and ask for the most suitable exercise program.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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Preventing Pain and Injury with a Proper Bike Fit

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It is important for cyclers to feel comfortable during and after a ride. Improper form may lead to soreness and numbness in various parts of the body, particularly the neck, knees and legs. Having a proper bike fit is important to avoid pain, but as each rider has a different body type, the right fit differs from person to person. Usually, adjusting your bike to get the right fit can only be done through trial and error. The good news is, once you get that right fit, your pedalling efficiency will improve and you will be able to ride faster when you are outdoors.

Aside from adjusting your bike, here are some ways to prevent pain and injury when cycling:

Pedal Properly
You might not know it, but you could be pedalling the wrong way all along. The proper form is to pedal with the balls of your feet on the pedals, with your knees bent slightly. Pedalling the wrong way may cause pain on the knees.

Adjust Your Handlebars
The position of your handlebars is important as well. If the handlebars on your bike are too low, you will end up stretching out your neck and arching your spine, whereas the right position should allow you to comfortably bend your elbows. To prevent pain or numbness, you must wear padded cycling gloves and change handlebar positions every now and then.

Adjust Your Seat Angle
If your seat isn’t at the right angle, there will be too much pressure on your thighs, knees, hands, and arms, depending on the direction that your seat is tilted. Your seat needs to be set on an angle that can support your full weight and allow you to easily shift around. In order to know when you have adjusted your seat correctly, pedal backwards with your heels on the pedals while wearing your cycling shorts and shoes. Both your knees should be able to fully extend in the downward position. If you can still manage to sway your hips to the sides, then you’re still not using the proper bike fit, and this will lead to pain behind the knees. In case you have legs of with different lengths, you may need shoe inserts to prevent pain.

Find the Right Saddle
To reduce any pressure, men should choose saddles with cut-outs in the middle. On the other hand, women should stick to wider and shorter saddles that are suitable for a wider pelvis.

The proper bike fit will certainly prevent pain when you cycle. You also need to make sure to wear the right attire like shorts without seams and padded liners for more comfort. Plus, you also need to choose the right type of shoes that have stiff soles so that any pressure can be evenly distributed, offering efficiency when pedalling. There are even some cyclists who don’t wear any underwear to prevent any sores or chafing. In addition to your attire, find the right seat as well. Seats are available in various models, ranging from leather material to gel ones.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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The Race to Recovery: Balancing Training and Recovery to Maximise Results

Race to Recovery
Every professional cyclist knows that recovery is just as important as race training. While you might feel compelled to exert more effort in your training because the race season is just a few days away, you have to remember that letting the body recover from all the pedalling you’ve done is an essential part of training itself, and not an adjunct, optional thing.

Rest and recovery are part and parcel of race training because in reality, it is in this stage that our bodies gain fitness, and not on the actual physical activity. Racing stimulates the body and stretches the capability of our muscles. Meanwhile, rest and recovery allows the body to repair itself, and ensure that the next time you exert the same amount of effort through cycling; it would be a lot easier. Without recovery, the body will be damaged, and all your training efforts would just go to waste.

Stop pedalling for a moment and let’s review the essentials of race training recovery:

It all starts in your bike- Step one of the recovery process begins when you start race training. While cycling, you need to take notice of your body’s needs! Keep yourself hydrated throughout the race, to help your body to reach peak performance. Remember, the body is over 70 per cent water, and when you are able to immediately restore the fluids you lose while training, the body would have fewer fluids to restore and recover later.

Don’t keep yourself dehydrated for too long, as extensive perspiration due to the workout and the race also deprives your body of vital nutrients. Think of it like this: Your energy level is directly connected to your hydration level. If you don’t keep yourself hydrated, sooner or later you won’t have enough energy to continue training.

Wind down right after training- After an extensive race training session; you need to cool down by doing a few easy spins on the bike. After that, the first thing you need to do is to flush out the toxins and waste products expelled by your body, like sweat. Change clothes and take a quick shower.

Observe the cycling clothes you just took off. Yes, it’s gross but you need to do this. Try to weigh how much water it absorbed. That’s approximately the water weight you lost throughout the ride. Ensure that you drink just as much to facilitate recovery.

Replenish lost nutrients

The next step you need to do is to replenish lost nutrients. Drinking energy drinks such as Gatorade, which contains extra minerals and nutrients, is one way to do this.

In addition, you need to consume carbohydrates and proteins about half an hour after race training. The body needs this to replace glycogen lost and facilitate muscle recovery.

Adapt a proper recovery programme

The intensity of your training determines the recovery programme that you need. Various training methods result to various recovery rates for athletes. After a few hours from training, you will experience muscle aches and other body pains. These muscle aches need to heal before your next training.

Take a good night’s rest and apply ice bags to your legs to ease the pain. If the muscle aches are not gone the next day, consider extending your recovery period. Remember, the rule is to fully rest before starting another race, so take your time.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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Encouraging Yourself to Workout Despite the Weather

Getting up when it is cold out is always tough, what is even tougher is encouraging yourself to workout despite the weather. Although indoor cycling is, well, indoors, getting the strength to go to the studio can be a challenge. Isn’t it so much better to stay in and drink hot cocoa? Exercising during winter is not an easy task, but with the pointers here, you can motivate yourself to workout regardless of the weather. Besides, with all the food you’ll be stuffing yourself with during the holiday season; you can’t afford not to get your butt moving.

Exercise Motivators for the Cold Weather

  1. Create Heat
    One of the excuses that you might have when exercising during winter is that it is too cold to get up and exercise. So what’s the solution to that? It’s obvious, heat. Set your heater on the right temperature so you won’t have a hard time getting up in the morning. To make it better, consider putting your gym clothes near the heater, so it would be nice and toasty when you put them on.
  2. Cycle with a Friend
    Getting up in the mornings would be easier if you are taking indoor cycling classes with a friend. Find someone who can commit to working out with you despite the cold weather. Just the fact that you know there’s someone you can chat, and share your pain with will motivate you to exercise.
  3. Get the Right Winter Workout Outfit
    Exercising during winter is even more unbearable if you aren’t wearing the right clothes. You need to have suitable winter performance gear! Of course winter clothes are often more costly, but getting the right gear is going to be worth it. Even if you already have a set, consider getting a new one. New workout outfits are often great for motivation to workout.
  4. Plan Your Workout Routine for the Season
    Seeing the big picture of your workout routine for the season will definitely motivate you. Make a calendar and post it in a place where you will see it daily. Seeing your progress, such as the number of times you exercised, and the weight you lost, will motivate you to continue exercising.
  5. Challenge Yourself
    Sometimes, the best way to motivate yourself is to set a challenge. Consider joining advanced level indoor cycling classes. You’ll be motivated to exercise more to catch up with the cyclists in the advance class, and you’ll feel good after you got through the class.

Exercising during the winter season isn’t an easy task. The key is to be creative in encouraging yourself. Although sitting at home and enjoying the warmth may seem more inviting, exercising will make you feel even better in the end.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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Extra Benefits Would Popularise Cycling to Work

 

With traffic and pollution continually engulfing the busy thoroughfares of many business districts, it’s becoming more and more efficient for companies to have a larger bicycle-riding workforce. Many companies have thought of ways to popularise cycling to work, as it has been proven to both be environment-friendly and good for the health of employees. In addition, tax incentives provided by the government for businesses that promote cycling provides an additional incentive for companies to encourage their employees to change their mode of transportation.

Yet, even with the intensified cycling-to-work campaign of many companies, the number of employees that prefer cycling to work is still relatively low. Employees point to road safety, the ease of travelling with cars, and dozens of other factors for not considering cycling as their main mode of transportation.

Employees are Willing to Cycle Given the Right Rewards

In a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom, almost half of employees would voluntarily cycle to work if they were given additional rewards or incentives for doing so.

Martha, a secretary working in Leeds, says that if only her company gave more incentives for cycling, she’ll give it a try. “Even with the traffic, I would still prefer to drive my own car to work than cycling. But if my company would offer good rewards for cycling, I’ll readily take the shift to cycling,” Martha says.

The said study also showed that a considerable number of employees, who are cycling to work occasionally, are willing to do it regularly if they are given certain privileges. The extra incentives commonly requested are free bike maintenance, bicycle parking, and shower areas. Employees are also demanding free training sessions on cycling basics and road safety.

“Companies should provide the basic services needed by bikers, if they want us to cycle to work on a regular basis,” says Simon, who works in the bustling city of Cardiff.

Companies are not Doing Enough

Another UK study has shown, however, that less than a fifth of company managements are offering work incentives for employees who are cycling to work. According to the said study, almost a quarter of company owners don’t see the point in popularising cycling to work, despite the fact that pertinent data have supported the claim that regular cycling reduces the number of sick days.

Cycling has many benefits, and it can only be popularised if companies are willing to go overboard and promote it by giving monetary incentives and providing essential infrastructure and services for their employees. A bike-to-work programme wherein employees are given bikes, for example, can be a good start. Just think of how much your company could save if you give out bikes instead of loaning company cars! And you’ll be sure to meet environmental targets too!

It is high time for businesses to think of creative ways to introduce cycling to their workforce. After all, both the company and the employee would benefit in such a set-up. Start cycling to work and see the big difference for you and your company!

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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