Notes from a Ride instructor: How to make every ride your best!

Fitness, Mind

Love the feeling you get when you’re into that perfect ride, sweating everywhere, breathing heavily, feeling that magical sync when the music literally lifts you out of the saddle? What if you could make EVERY ride that way? Here are some notes from Ride instructor, Stacey, about how to make your next ride your best…

I love teaching. I really, really do. The feeling of being able to lead people to create their own zone of amazing power during a day is an incredible gift to me. And because everyone asks me what my top tips are for riding, I figured I’d let all of DOSE in on the secret to creating great experiences when you ride. A lot of these are very transferable to other forms of exercise as well, so read on for my top tips:

Arrive early (especially your first time but every time if possible)

Always try and come at least 5 minutes early to class. “Come early” applies ESPECIALLY if you’re visiting a new studio. Personally, I will show up at least 15-20 minutes early my first time in a new studio, because I know that all the equipment is slightly different – and I’ve been teaching for years.  I have students who come from Canary Wharf all the way to Notting Hill, so my policy is always that regular students can come in a couple minutes late for evening classes, because they know the setup. But if you’re new and show up right at the start or late, you’re putting yourself at a big disadvantage because we can’t set you up properly; you could get injured or just have a meh ride. 

Get shoes to maximise your session

Get proper shoes

Honestly, for £60-80, this is the best investment you can make if you like indoor cycling. Good studios will offer shoes (either to rent or free) to make sure you can have a good experience, but hey, everyone wears them, and (grossness alert) not always with socks. Bigger gyms don’t offer them at all. The benefits of cycling shoes are significant – they give you more stability, and allow you to activate your posterior muscle chain more effectively when pedalling seated (better booty, better legs, better work). And learn how to clip in so you can feel confident every time you come to class. (oh, fwiw from time to time I have problems with it too – so don’t let it make you feel awkward. We’ve all been there). 

Tell me if you’ve got an injury, you’re not feeling well, or you’re pregnant or have recently given birth

You know your body best. If something’s not feeling right, come early and tell me before class starts so I have the chance to help you modify your setup and talk you through moves you should or shouldn’t do. If you’re ante- or post-natal, always ask your doctor first before you come in to class (and throughout the pregnancy) just to make sure you’re all good. Later in the pregnancy, you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING, and that’s just fine. I’ve had students ride literally up ‘til the week their water breaks – and many come back as soon as they’re cleared by their doctor to do so. Go with what your body (and doctor) tells you every time.

Create your own point of inspiration to focus your ride

The easiest way to make a class meaningful? Find a topic, a concept or even a word to focus on during class, and return to it throughout the ride. Some of my favourites that students have shared? Gratitude. Grace. Empowerment. Strength. Love. Friends. Faith. Set that word in your mind at the start of the first track, and check in with yourself throughout the ride. What associations does that word have for you? How is it changing during your workout? Is it harder during a climb, or a sprint? Does it bring up more feelings during a meditative song or a heavy beat track? Why? And check in at the end – do you have a different understanding of that word from when you started? Your focus is your own – you don’t have to share. Let it guide you. 

Make a goal for class

Everyone has a different reason for coming to class, and every single person deserves to have the ride they need that day. Your ride is your ride – I really believe that, and I encourage people to own their ride so they feel amazing afterwards. Know your goal: some people want to hit massive watts. Or want to go a specific distance. Many come to see their community. And some riders just want to chill and listen to tunes. Whatever your goals, I’m here to help you with them. If you want to chill, cover your monitor when I’m walking around; I’ll leave you be. If you just NEED to hear a specific song, tell me (preferably a couple days before class) and I’ll make sure it’s in. Working on a personal goal for watts or distance? I’ll come cheer you on. I know exactly the right spot in the playlist to get you excited, so let me help!

Add resistance to make your ride better

Sad but true: if you don’t have any resistance on your bike (the dial is all the way off), you’ll pedal but not really get anything from it, because all you’re doing then is flywheeling. Although it might feel exciting to go super-fast, that speed is not really doing anything substantial for your body. That’s why I ask people to set up with “base resistance,” enough turns to warm up properly. During the playlist I’ll tell you how much to put on so you’re maximising the music and making the most of it. But hey – the best thing about Ride? No one (including me) knows how much resistance you have on at any time and you can always take resistance lower if you really need to as long as you keep base resistance steady. Own your ride, own your results. #nojudgment

Eyes on your own bike

On the owning your ride part: your ride is your ride. It’s not a comparison against other riders. If you need to have something to compare, take a photo of your monitor at the end of class, or simply check in and see how your body feels. Your ability to hit watts and mileage has everything to do with your body composition, your relative strength on that day in class, and your energy level. It varies from day to day and even bike to bike! What matters is how the ride makes you feel, not what someone else does or doesn’t do or whether you can “beat” your neighbour. Ride is for everyone. Enjoy that you can do it and feel amazing. Anything else is a bonus. 

Put the phone away

I think that one of the most uncomfortable parts of the workout isn’t related to the actual work: It’s the fact that you shouldn’t touch your phone during a workout. You can keep it with you but please don’t check it and put it on airplane mode so the notifications aren’t flashing constantly. Please, just take 45 minutes for yourself where you’re not distracted, not half-aware. Stay focused. Be in the moment and let that music carry you away. Sweaty selfies should be taken after class, because it’s a spin studio, not a photo studio. And never ever record classes without permission from the instructor. Finally, you don’t need to Shazam my songs – I’ll happily share title and artist of any of them after class.

Sing along

Sing out, sister! Singing while riding helps you increase your oxygen levels almost instantly and also helps get you into a deeper breathing state (which allows you to push yourself more effectively), plus it just makes the ride more fun. Don’t want to sing? Holler out when you’re in a hugely difficult phase of your ride, or when you finish a challenging song. I’ll holler back, believe me. I don’t know any instructors who don’t like to hear from their students especially after an exhilarating climb or flat road sprint. Engaging makes the class MUCH more fun for everyone. 

Finally

HAVE FUN. One of the best things about Ride? It allows everyone to listen to amazing music while getting even fitter. Can’t ask for more than that, right?

Stacey is a DOSE contributor and teaches Ride at Heartcore Notting Hill 2.

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