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Indoor Cycling: More Than Just a Calorie Burn

If you have ever tried an indoor cycling class, you know that it is not for the faint of heart - literally and figuratively. When I tell people that I haul myself out of my warm bed to attend the 6:30am ride at my local cycle studio, they look at me as if I have two heads.

There is no denying that indoor cycling can be a challenging work out. It is, essentially, a cardio, endurance, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and at some studios, strength training work out all rolled into one. However, physical fitness is just the tip of the iceberg when comes to the benefits I reap from my early morning rides.


It's All About Me

Let's face it. Life is hectic. Keeping the spouse, the kids, the household, the job, and even the pets all humming along at peak efficiency is overwhelming at times. Daily tasks and responsibilities circle around in my head like hungry sharks in a tank, and every now and then I need a break from this mental sharknado. 45 minutes in the cycle studio with the music pumping is my own personal Ian Ziering with a chain saw. My only focus for 3/4 of an hour is my ride, and everything else just fades away. It's my meditation, my Me Time.

Strength - It's Not Just For Muscles

"This is where you get stronger." I love this classic cycling instructor line. As I grind away at that 'hill' on a particularly 'heavy' climb (i.e., pedaling with a lot of resistance,) these words really resonate. With each laborious pedal stroke, I'm gaining not just physical strength, but I'm getting stronger mentally and emotionally, too. I've accepted the challenge to push beyond what I perceive as my limits. I tell myself I can do it, and I do! Heck, if I can tackle that climb and not give up, what else in life am I strong enough to conquer?

Endorphin Friends

There are some days when I think that I just don't have enough left in the tank for a ride. Panting and sweating and all that pedaling? No, not today. Then I remember that I've already paid my single ride fee and it's past the cancelation window. I have to go. So I do. And you know what? I'm always glad I did. By the last song of the class, those wonderful little friends called endorphins have appeared. They come out to play when there is panting and sweating and pedaling, and they stick around for quite a while afterward, too. I always leave the studio feeling better than I did when I arrived, ready to tackle the day with energy and a sense of accomplishment.

Indoor cycling is a great way to burn calories and get in shape, but that is only a small part of what it's all about. It's high energy yet zen, it's exhausting yet exhilarating, and for me, it's a gift that keeps giving, ride after early morning ride.

© 2015 Kristen Hughes

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