If bad weather conditions do not allow winter cycling training on the road and the motivation to train once again alone on the trainer is low, then indoor cycling, also called spinning is a good alternative.
Many triathletes swear by spin classes in the winter, as a good spin class can give you leg strength as well as keep your heart rate high for an extended period of time. The sense of community in a spin class can be a motivator as well – where else can a husband and wife who might be of two different fitness levels sit side-by-side and enjoy the same workout.
If you have never been to an indoor cycling class, don’t be intimidated. Classes can be really tough, but when it comes down to it, you are in control of your workout.
The instructor should help you to set up your bike properly and let you know how it works. Usually you will go through a warm-up, a variety of terrain (hills, flats, etc.) and speeds and finish with a cool down, all accompanied by high-energy music. Because you control the tension level, you can keep your first sessions easier if you need to until your body gets used to the new workout.
Indoor cycling classes are excellent for a mid-week session when it’s just easier to get to your gym, or as a fun way to provide motivation during a training slump.
However, indoor cycling does NOT take the place of training outside on your bike for a few reasons:
- You are not always getting a triathlon-specific workout
- You are not able to practice essential skills such as cornering, drinking while moving, and balance on the indoor bike
- Your bike geometry is different than the indoor cycling bike
That does not mean you can’t have a great session.
If you decide to look at spin classes, try a few and settle on one or two that fit your style. Find an instructor who gives you the challenge-level you are working for, and know that some classes focus more on intensity and might only be 45 minutes long, while others are geared toward endurance and could run 75 or even 90 minutes.