Cycle Class Etiquette 101

Nine things to know before you hop on a bike in a cycling class.

If you’re not a huge fan of running and you’re tired of endless walks on the treadmill, meander on over to the cycling room at your gym and check out a cycling class. Cycling is an excellent cardio workout that tones the legs—and it’s much easier on your joints! Plus, the cool music, dim lighting and encouraging instructors make for one pretty fun—and challenging—workout.

But before you saddle up, here are nine things to know about cycle class etiquette.

DON’T: Be late to class

As a general rule of thumb, most cycle classes are dark (mood lighting), with the bikes set up side by side on tiered levels. The bikes are typically very close together, to simulate riding as a “pack.” That said, coming late to class and trying to snake your way through people pumping their legs in the dark—well, that’s a recipe for disaster. Come early, so you’re not “that person.”

DO: Try to reserve your spot ahead of time

Some cycling studios and gyms allow you to reserve your bike ahead of time. This means you can reserve that bike in the far back corner of the very back row if you don’t want to be the center of attention. It also takes the guesswork out of walking into a class and not knowing where to sit as the newbie. (We’ve all been there.)

DON’T: Just climb on a bike and start pedaling

Every bike is adjustable, so you can ride comfortably and efficiently. Make sure to check how high your seat is (it should be about hip-height when you’re standing next to the bike), and how far or near your handlebars are (your elbows should be slightly bent when you’re seated).

DO: Ask for help—don’t struggle setting up your bike during class

Still not sure how to adjust your bike properly for maximum riding efficiency? No problem. Come early to class (see above) and your instructor—or perhaps a friendly neighbor and cycling regular—can help you. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re shifting around uncomfortably during the entire class. It’s distracting for your neighbors and instructors, and a waste of your workout time with potential for injury.

DON’T: Forget your water bottle

You will sweat. A lot. Hydrating frequently during class is highly encouraged. Many instructors will even give cues throughout class to take a sip (or five). We strongly recommend taking your instructor up on those cues. Oh, and be sure to fill your water bottle before class, not after the music has started and the instructor is demoing the first song—see above about being “that person.”

DON’T: Be on your phone

A dark room plus a lit phone screen equals unhappy neighbors. Just like you (hopefully) don’t go on your phone in a dark theater during a movie, put the phone in your bag for your cycle class and just enjoy the no-screen time.

DO: Go with the flow/follow the crowd

Cycling is all about syncing up with your fellow riders and instructor and riding to the music as one. Your instructor may tell you to match the pace and sway of the person next to you or in front of you. This pack mentality makes an hour-long class more bearable when you’re all in it together.

DON’T: Be embarrassed if you have to sit down or turn down

If you’re legs are burning and you feel as if you might just die, don’t be ashamed to take it down a notch. Sitting down during a climb (when you’re standing while riding “uphill” with high resistance) or taking it down a few levels by releasing the resistance is more than OK. This is your class and your workout—do what feels right for you. The more classes you attend, the longer you’ll be able to stand and climb that hill, or keep a higher resistance as you sprint.

DO: Wipe off your bike afterward

Just like using a floor mat or other gym equipment, it’s always a good practice to wipe down your bike. You are drenched with sweat, which means it’s probably drenched with sweat—and germs. Most cycle rooms or gyms have antibacterial spray and paper towels for you to use to do exactly that.

Join a cycle class at a 24 Hour Fitness near you.

Use these four tips to nail your bike set up for your first cycling class.

Photo credit: Rob and Julia Campbell/Stocksy