Do bring a towel and a water bottle to an indoor cycling class. You’ll need the towel to mop sweat off your face and prevent your hands from slipping on the handlebars during the ride. The water is a must to prevent dehydration.
Do ask an instructor to set you up on the bike properly before your first class. The positioning of your seat height and fore-aft status, in particular, are crucial for safe leg extensions and smooth pedal strokes during the ride as well as for providing comfort and preventing injuries (especially to the knees and back).
Do familiarize yourself with the three hand positions. With Position 1, the basic hand position, hands are placed in the center of the base of the handlebars; this position is used while you’re seated, especially during warm-ups and cool-downs. In Position 2, your hands are placed on the handlebar’s base a few inches apart; this position is used for seated flats and climbs, jumps, running with resistance, and sprints. In Position 3, your hands grasp the long ends of the handlebars, with your knuckles facing out and your thumbs over the top; this position should not be used while you’re seated.
Do pay attention to your form throughout the ride. Your butt should be on the widest part of the saddle, you should be hinged forward at the hips, and there should be a slight bend in your elbows. Your shoulders should be down (away from your ears), your knees should be aligned with your feet and your elbows should be in line with your knees (no chicken-winging allowed!).
Do breathe smoothly during the class. When your resistance and pace are light, you’ll be able to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. When the ride gets more intense, you’ll transition into mouth breathing. In both circumstances, keep your oxygen exchange smooth and consistent to enhance your performance.
Don’t pedal without any resistance on the flywheel. This is called “free Spinning” and it’s dangerous because it can cause you to lose control.
Don’t off-load your weight onto the handlebars. When you’re in a standing position, your body should be positioned over the center of the bike, you should feel the tip of the saddle against the backs of your thighs, and your weight should be applied to the pedals.
Don’t overdo your intensity. Be aware of how hard you’re working throughout the class—never mind how hard your neighbor is working—and train at a level that’s comfortable but challenging for you.
Don’t abruptly stop pedaling and get off the bike. Instead, slow down the pace and gradually do cool down to prevent dizziness from setting in when you dismount.