With the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities have encouraged the public to stay at home and away from crowded places. But as more people grow concerned about their overall health, making time for fitness routines becomes even more important. Some risk going to public gyms, while others resort to forming their own workout stations inside the comfort of their homes. For homebodies, having a peloton or a stationary bike is enough to accommodate activities that keep them fit and sane inside their rooms.
Noticeably, especially throughout the pandemic, interest in indoor cycling had skyrocketed, with many resorting to cycling as their pastime and exercise. Cycling is generally a good source of cardiovascular exercise after all. It helps strengthen one’s core and lower body, and can also boost one’s mood and improve cardiovascular health and posture—if one maintains good form on the bike.
Discussing the fitness craze, UAAP Season 75 DLSU courtside reporter Billie Capistrano (AB-OCM, ‘13), Ride Revolution instructor Edd Vicente, and Perigon head trainer Ytle Cruzado share their thoughts about helping people enjoy staying in shape through indoor cycling.
Starting the ride
In the Philippines, it is not the norm to go to a fitness gym to ride a stationary bike for hours. What is more common is using the bike for warming up, until recently.
The indoor cycling trend is not really new in the fitness world. In countries like the United States (US), its popularity is incredibly visible. In Metro Manila, studios such as Ride Revolution and Perigon have established themselves as go-to places for such exercise. Specifically for Ride Revolution, owners Viv and Noel Tordesillas saw the potential of indoor cycling to grow in the Philippines and decided to put their first studio up six years ago, Capistrano shares.
Before the pandemic, indoor cycling studios were also great places to be with friends and family, together making time for staying fit. “This is a cool place to hang out…[and indoor cycling] is an exercise that you can do…even if you’re a first-timer,” Capistrano expresses. This community and bond, however, is not exclusive to just certain studios. For Vicente, a feeling of belongingness is an integral part of attending indoor cycling classes because riders get to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. In turn, a culture among cyclists is developed.
Following the rhythm
With such an environment, maintaining one’s physique should not be a burden. In fact, people advocate that it be made enjoyable. And at least for those who regularly engage in physical activities, attending a cycling class is nothing but fun. “I believe that indoor cycling will help you no longer view exercise as a task but as a hobby that will help you maintain [an] active lifestyle,“ Bettina Runes (II, AB-CAM) comments.
Depending on the studio, one may have the option to choose which class they would take—taking into account their own schedule and playlist to be used. Not everything can be up to one’s choices, however, as even the intensity of the class can depend on the music prepared by the instructor. “It’s rhythm-based so you’re following the BPM (beats per minute); it could go slow to fast,” Cruzado shares. This way, the music “adds up to the mood,” says the instructor.
Among what makes indoor cycling a unique experience for fitness enthusiasts really is moving with the music. Some would argue that this is normal for any exercise or routine, but music is somehow inseparable from riding. Playlists can be mixed, but sometimes classes also have themes. “[Themed] rides are basically like special classes. Let’s say kunwari one would be an all-Taylor Swift [class], or one class’ [songs] would be all [by] One Direction,” Capistrano explains. These gimmicks are what the studios also use for marketing, enticing people based on their interests to join classes. And as people normally respond better to what they like, these themed classes become doors to the world of indoor cycling.
Amid the pandemic, fitness centers and facilities have been greatly affected, with some having to close down. Despite not having indoor classes, cycling studios have adapted to the next normal and have transitioned to the online setting—similar to what businesses or universities do to operate. This transition allowed people that were then unable to go to gyms to actually try out this form of exercise. “It’s a hybrid of digital and in-person experiences. So now we just have a lot of cycling classes,” Capistrano remarks. And to cater to the demand, booking and attending classes are facilitated through websites, social media pages, and mobile applications.
Beyond opening new opportunities for people to engage in fitness through online platforms, DLSU alumna Capistrano shares that indoor cycling during this time “is more of just finding an escape” as well from stressful environments.
Aimee Tuazon (II, AEI-MKT) echoes this, “I could set aside the brunt of online class and clear my mind even for a while.”
Keeping this in mind, instructors especially do their best to maintain a casual and friendly atmosphere that goes beyond screens. The instructors’ online setups also resemble the vibe of their studios, so the riders can somehow feel the actual experience. In their own way, the indoor cycling community reminds riders that they have a group that has their back amid these trying times.
Going for it
As of press time, indoor cycling studios have yet to reopen, as instructors and staffs want to make sure that having riders over is safe enough for everyone. This has not deterred people from continuing to join classes, however. Similarly, it has become a reason for some to take a break.
Vicente points out that there are riders who stopped attending because they do not prefer the online setup but an influx of new riders has also been observed during the pandemic. He mentions that there are those who fall in love with the activity after joining for the first time.
With the beginning of a new year, Capistrano encourages those who want to try indoor cycling to go for the experience, citing that this is usually the time where most people sign up, with improving physical health being a common New Year’s resolution.
Indoor cycling offers a different experience for everyone—whether that be through the routines, the playlists or themes, or through the people one can ride it out with. But a shared appreciation for the exercise is what ties people together, whether that be in-person or online.