5 Things That Instantly Enhance Your At-Home Cycling Experience

5 Things That Instantly Enhance Your At-Home Cycling Experience

The most recent addition to my home gym stemmed from missing my favorite indoor cycling studio, Swerve. When I was in the depths of training for my first marathon, visits to this studio kept me in shape, motivated, and strong. I had even become friendly with some of the instructors and owners of the boutique studio, so walking in for a morning workout was much more invigorating when met with smiling faces.

As I began to gear up for another race season this year (and my fifth marathon!), I was excited to head back to the bike. As races began to cancel and studios and gyms shut down for months, it became clear I wouldn't be saddling up anytime soon. But I didn't want to kick my cycling habit to the curb, so I invested in an at-home stationary spinning bike. After weeks of should-I-or-shouldn't-I talk and texting my best friend endlessly about a bike, I decided upon an affordable option. Although I was tempted to spend my entire paycheck on a fancy bike with bells and whistles, I decided the best one for me would be a basic but solid bike.

I haven't regretted my purchase since it arrived, but I still have longed for my favorite studio experience. Although it's entirely up to you how you structure your Spinning session — I prefer to pay for a monthly Peloton app membership and some Swerve online classes to see my favorite instructors — there are any number of at-home streaming options. And even if I'm not be able to bring my friends or fellow Spinning enthusiasts into my at-home setup, there are a few things I can do to make my home a little more like my favorite studio and instantly enhance the experience.

When working out at home, it's easy to stick to loungewear or more casual attire for a workout. But I've learned that in order to take my at-home workouts seriously, I need to dress the part. In terms of my cycling classes, I always make sure I'm decked out in ready-to-work gear. For me, that means proper bike shorts (not just the fashion kind). Right now, I'm loving the UA Meridian Bike Shorts ($60) for their high, no-slip waist and longer inseam to prevent chafing. And more importantly, I never skip my pair of trainers. Typically for my home workouts, I'm sticking to yoga or HIIT classes that don't require me to wear much more than my grippy socks. But when it comes time to cycle, I always make sure I'm armed with the sleekest shoes for added stability and pedal control.

Creating my at-home cycling setup doesn't have to be cold and stark. It is my home after all! I carved out a unique space that looks the part with an exercise mat to go under the bike. A thinner mat like the Sunny Health and Fitness Exercise Equipment Mat($40) keeps my floors protected, and it's sleek enough to fit right into my decor. What's more, I let myself have all the comforts that a fancy studio offers, and that means a comfy cushion. Indoor bikes are notorious for having pretty uncomfortable seats. To avoid bike bum soreness, investing in a supportive and comfortable saddle cover like the VicTsing Gel Bike Seat Cover ($21) can be a great option to keep you moving and riding longer like you would at class.

One of my favorite parts of my Swerve classes were the minibreaks after a big push. But what was fun about these breaks was more that they gave studio-goers a chance to work their arms. I found that after a few times on my bike, my experience just didn't quite feel the same. So brining a few light hand weights into the mix made all the difference. These three pounders from All in Motion ($5) are easy to store and have a no-slip neoprene coating, so I won't drop them while I'm working up a sweat.

I have a feeling any Spinning-lover would agree with me that one of the best parts of the studio experience is analyzing your data post class. Although each class tackles it differently, for me, it was important not to lose this aspect of class at home. Although my bike came with a simple computer that clocked speed, distance, and time, I knew I wanted to know a little more. A simple sensor like the Wahoo RPM cadence sensor ($40) adheres to my bike's crank or my shoe cage and via bluetooth connects to an app on my phone — and even the Peloton app — so I can always know what RPM I'm hitting. This is superhelpful when I'm streaming a class where the instructor is telling you to hit certain numbers.

There's definitely not a smoothie bar in my kitchen, but some amenities from my favorite studio are easy to re-create at home. Adhering an easy-grab water bottle holder like the Delta Design Alloy Bottle Cage ($5) keeps me from pausing my workouts and getting water or alternately bending over awkwardly to get my bottle off my coffee table. It's a small detail, but it keeps me running smoothly. Another small detail that has made the experience infinitely better is to prep my bike with a towel like the UA SkiILL Towel ($18). I always took the towels for granted at the studio, but when the sweat starts flowing, having one of these on hand can help with a slip-free grip and a more pleasant experience.

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