Indoor Group Cycling. What Should I Expect?

What to Expect in an Indoor Group Cycling Class

An Indoor Group Cycling Class is led by a certified instructor who is situated at the front of the room.  The instructor will lead the group through a series of movements that are designed to mimic situations that would come up in traditional outdoor cycling.  The class will have a music assortment that is put together by the instructor or can be purchased pre-arranged that will help motivate the class based on the maneuver that are being performed such as hill climbs, jumps, sprints, etc.  The instructor will give verbal cues and encouragement throughout the ride.  The intensity that the participant rides at is based off of heart rate or if the participant does not have a heart rate monitor, then the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) is utilized.  Perceived exertion can be measured through the talk test or by utilizing the Borg Scale.  Research has indicated that using the Rating of Perceived Exertion, even though it is subjective, is very close to what the actual heart rate would be for that intensity level.   Now, many manufacturers are coming out with computers that can measure Watts.   Watts is a measure of power output that allows a rider to quantify their workout and strive for improvements based off of hard data.

How Intensity is Generated in an Indoor Group Cycling Class

Intensity is how hard a person is working.  Intensity can be varied in many ways

1) Resistance – Resistance in Indoor Group Cycling is the about of friction applied to the flywheel.  There are various mechanisms in which to apply this friction:

A) Friction Belt – This is a belt of fabric that runs around the entire diameter of the flywheel.  It is tightened and loosened by the turning of a knob situated on the upper part of the bike frame.  The drawback to this method of resistance is that the belt could break and it was more expensive to replace due to all of the material used.

B) Caliper Brake – this is the old style brake that used to be used on outdoor bikes that have a pad situated on each side of the hub of the flywheel.  Friction is adjusted by turning a knob on the upper part of the frame of the bike.  The drawback to this method was that you had uneven wear of the brake pads.  One side always wore down quicker than the other.

C) Leather Pad Brake – This is currently the most common style of resistance.  There is a plunger that pushes down on a leather pad situated directly over the top of the flywheel.  The leather pad has a much longer life over the caliper brake and the friction brake with a much more even resistance.  The only drawback is that you still have a part to wear out, but it is easily changed and lasts a long time.

D) Eddy Current Magnetic Brake – This is a newer style of resistance that utilizes a magnet to apply resistance to a flywheel without friction.  The benefit is that you do not have a wear and tear part to replace, it’s very smooth, it’s quiet, and it allows for a mechanism to quantify the resistance since a lever is utilized to switch from one level to the other.  The drawback is that not everyone can do the same level of resistance and for many elite riders it is difficult to get enough resistance

2) Cadence – This is how fast the user is pedaling.  The faster the user pedals the more energy that is expended and thus, the higher the intensity.  Cadence is measured in terms of RPM’s (Revolutions Per Minute). 

3) Body Position – By doing various standing and sitting positions the user can incorporate more muscles and utilize a higher resistance, thus increasing intensity.

Benefits to using an Indoor Group Cycling Class

1)      Go at your own paceIndoor Group Cycling Classes are designed to let the participant get out of it what they put into it.  It is a totally go at your own pace experience.

2)      High caloric burn – The amount of calories that you burn depends on many factors such as the cadence you ride at, the resistance setting, your body weight, etc.  Most research indicates that the average rider will burn between 400-500 calories in a 40 minute session.

3)      Limited Weight Bearing – Depending on if you do the jumps or not during the ride the amount of your body weight that you would exert on your joints would be minimal, so this is a great form of exercise to cross train with another activity that has a lot of impact or weight bearing.

In summary, Indoor Group Cycling has been around since the early 1980’s and was developed by Jonathan (Johnny G) Goldberg.  Indoor group cycling is a great way to burn calories in a fun and exciting environment without putting a lot of undue strain on one’s body.

 For more on the history of Indoor Group Cycling click here

– The Staff at

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