6 Spin Essentials to Get You Through Your Next Class

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I have had a strong and unwavering love of indoor cycling ever since I took my first class many years ago. If you're opposed to exercising outside or dread the treadmill, cycling class is a perfect way to get a dynamic cardio workout indoors.

I teach at a gym where a lot of serious cyclists train. They take the class when the weather is too bad to train outside, and they are easy to pick out of the crowd with their cycling shoes, padded bike shorts and jerseys, logoed water bottles, watches and bandanas. This can be an intimidating sight for any class newbie.

Technically speaking, though, you don't need anything special for an indoor cycling class. Standard workout clothes, a hard-soled pair of athletic shoes and a water bottle will do just fine. However, there are a few extras you could consider purchasing in order to make your ride more comfortable—and keep you coming back for more.  

My Must-Haves for Cycling Class 

Gel Seat Cover ($10)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

As often as I ride, it's important to stay comfortable. The saddle (seat) on an indoor cycling bike can be very uncomfortable for most people. One way to add comfort is to wear padded cycling shorts; though they are comfortable and can be worn both in indoor cycling class and when biking outdoors, they're also pricey. Instead, I invested in a gel seat cover. I keep it in my bag and tote it to and from class. Compared to that hard, uncomfortable bike seat, using a gel seat is like sitting on a cloud! This is the best investment I've ever made!

Cycling Shoes ($60)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Cycling shoes are a bigger investment, but great deals can be found with a little searching. I've seen people buy them for as little as $40 during end-of-season or online sales. If you go to indoor cycling regularly (or ride outdoors), clipping into your pedals makes a world of difference and the shoes last a really long time because they won't get worn down from impact like running shoes. They connect your foot directly to your pedal, and with that better connection, you're able to pull up more strongly, which means greater speed, smoother pedal strokes and better hamstring engagement. That adds up to one great workout. Most indoor cycling bikes are compatible with SPD or LOOK cleats (cleats are usually a separate purchase from the shoe itself). Be sure to check your facility first to see which types of pedals they have.

Heart Rate Monitor (starting at $70)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

I can't imagine working out without my heart rate monitor. Once you get one, you'll wonder how you went so long without it. It's always important for you to monitor your intensity level during exercise, and indoor cycling is no exception. Most indoor cycling classes put an emphasis on specific heart rate zones, and a monitor helps you keep track of how hard you're working so you can adjust when needed. You can find a great heart rate monitor without all the bells and whistles for less money. 

Compression Shorts ($13)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

These are my new favorite workout shorts. You can't beat the price—or the fit. They stay put with no bunching or chafing, and I can wear them for running, strength training and of course, indoor cycling! These are great for riding because they don't, well, ride up. While you can wear any kind of bottoms for an indoor cycling class, shorts or capri pants are best. Avoid long pants that could get caught in the pedals as you ride.

Gym Towel ($11)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Indoor cycling classes will definitely raise your heart rate, and with that comes the perspiration—sometimes more than you bargained for. To wipe the sweat from your brow (and upper lip, back of your neck and bike), consider bringing a microfiber gym towel to hang over your handlebars for easy access when needed. A fast-drying version will come in handy in case you work a little harder than usual and buying them in a multipack means you will always have one at the ready. 

Water Bottle ($12)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Having water nearby when you exercise is a must, especially for indoor cycling class, where having a high heart rate and increased perspiration means you'll need more water than you think. If you like to keep your water cold, consider an insulated version like this one. The drinking valve also makes it easier to take a quick, one-handed drink and then seal it right back up to ensure it won't leak, causing you to make a less-than-graceful exit off your bike at the end of class. 

Are you a fan of indoor cycling classes? Have you invested in any of these items? If so, did they make a difference for you?