A Peloton Pro is about cycling for beginners

MThe y relationship with exercise is a complex one. But nothing scared me like cycling. Whenever I walked past an indoor cycling class at the gym, I’d only see thin-looking people on bikes – not someone with a curvier body that had stomach rolls like mine. I would see everyone standing up and pedaling at 45 miles per hour, and wondered if that was something “like me” was even capable of.

I couldn’t imagine being able to do it without hurting myself. And I was worried that I would spend the whole time thinking about what everyone would think of me. What if I can’t keep up? What if my body doesn’t move the same way as everyone else’s?

Of course, I knew it was anxiety getting the best of me. So when I recently moved into an apartment complex with a room with several Peloton bikes, I decided it was time: I was no longer going to let scary assumptions keep me from trying something that seemed like a great workout.

To ease my nerves, I decided to talk to a real expert on the subject: Peloton trainer Kendall Toole. We chatted about indoor cycling for beginners, and during our conversation, he put several of my big questions to rest with these five great tips.

1. Realize that we all have to start somewhere

Remember that, as with anything in life, even the most seasoned professional was a novice at some point. “We all had to start at the beginning,” Tull said. He notes that Peloton has “multiple classes that are labeled ‘for beginners’ or titled ‘advanced beginners,’ so we can get on with you.”

I’m of the opinion: starting with beginner classes will teach you about the types of workouts and programs that are recommended to be safe and prevent you from doing too much too quickly or incorrectly. I also find it less intimidating to ride with other people (even virtually) around the same skill level. I won’t be the only one to look potentially awkward as I get used to the bike.

“Start small,” Tull advises. From there, he says, you can work your way up to more intense HITT classes.

2. Focus on your own progress

I know from experience that it can be hard not to compare yourself to everyone around you. But, Tull says, remember that we’re all on our own unique journey, no matter what we look like or how skilled we are. If you find yourself stuck in a competitive mindset, a home bike like Peloton can feel more manageable than attending a private class.

“Don’t focus on where you fall on the leaderboard because everyone is at a different point in their journey,” Tull says. “It’s important to discover your own strengths. What’s important is that you’re proud of the fact that you can add another resistance to the ride or feel more comfortable on the bike after a few weeks of practice.”

3. Ignore the negative voices in your head

I was still afraid that my insecurities might prevent me from getting the most out of the class. Yet even Tull admits to sometimes being bombarded by critical inner thoughts. “But I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to trust that voice,” Tull says. “This voice is in the background of what my brain thinks and what my brain does, but it is not my truth and I can choose to accept it or not, we are not listening to you today. We are proud of what we are doing.”

4. Respect where your body is

Exercise is supposed to feel empowering, not uncomfortable or painful. Toole recommends always listening to the trainer—and to your body: “If something feels weird, it’s probably not something you should be doing,” she says. “You know your body. Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it is.”

The tool helped me realize that changing doesn’t mean I’m weak or “less than.” If I have to cycle slower or use less resistance, I’m just respecting my body and treating it with respect.

5. Celebrate small wins

Don’t underestimate what you’ve achieved when you’re just starting out. Even going to class, or pushing yourself further than the day before is something to admit. “It doesn’t have to be a huge moment to celebrate,” Tull said. “It’s those little victories every single day that really create the source of empowerment.”

Once you get into a groove, you can get rid of all that cycling with this dedicated yoga flow:

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