If you’re looking for a dedicated community to help you stay motivated, a cycling group exercise class at the Y may be the fitness formula for you. Cycling is a low-impact way to engage your whole body, and, as instructor Wynedka Palmer says, “We get to work out to really fun music.”

Wynedka has been teaching at the Y for nearly 10 years and has a loyal following in her cycling classes. “I have the opportunity to help people of all ages accomplish their fitness goals,” she says. “You’re working really hard and not realizing how intense it is because the music is cool and it’s a great vibe.”

Getting set up

If you’re new to cycling, Wynedka recommends that you come a little early to check out the bikes. You can get familiar with how they work, what height to use and how to adjust the weight load.

“I like to spend some time one-on-one [with new participants],” Wynedka says. “Every bike is set up a little differently depending on the individual. We can give you an overall idea of what to expect and also let you know that your number one goal as a new participant to cycling is to have fun.”

Bellevue Cycling Room

Finding a class that fits

Not all cycling classes are created equal. Every instructor will add their own flair, and the classes themselves will vary in difficulty and style. For beginners, our standard Indoor Cycling class is a great place to begin. Classes last between 40 and 60 minutes and go through the basics of hills and sprints.

If you’re looking for more variety, our cycle fusion classes combine cycling with strength training that targets specific muscle groups.

RPM is a choreographed cycling experience created by fitness company Les Mills. Riders can expect to pedal through interval training, hills, sprints, flat surfaces and even mountain peaks to empowering music. Finally, SPRINT (also from Les Mills) is a high-intensity interval workout that will challenge your heart and lungs with hard, fast movements in just 30 minutes.

Full-body workout

A common myth is that cycling only works the legs. Give your all to a class, and you’ll learn the truth. Cycling is a full-body workout, meaning that your whole body—legs, arms, core, heart, lungs—will be engaged.

“We have variations of intensity,” Wynedka says. “Sprinting is really fast with a lighter weight load. We also do climbs or weight training, where the load is really heavy. The pace is a little slower, but you feel it in your muscles. And then we have power training, or running, which is just like regular running except you’re on a bike.”

Wynedka Palmer
Wynedka and two of her class members

Feeling the afterburn

In a cycling class, you can expect to burn up to 500 calories or more. Then, there’s the prized afterburn effect.

“If your body is working hard enough, you do get the afterburn,” Wynedka says. “You can continue to burn up to—and this is going to sound crazy—eight hours after my SPRINT cycling class. And, in other classes, you are still burning for two hours after you leave. Still a win!”

Part of the community

Because of the returning members week after week, cycling classes develop a strong sense of community that extends beyond the Y. “We get together outside of class to strengthen that bond we have,” Wynedka shares.

She jokes that she’s the preacher, and the members of her congregation can get in touch with her anytime about anything. “I’m not just there to coach them and leave. It’s important for everyone to know that someone has your back, and someone is there to encourage you.”

All of that hard work and encouragement often result in incredible transformations. Seeing members reach their goals means the world to Wynedka. “It’s all about helping people,” she says. “That’s really what it’s all about.”

Start somewhere

For new exercisers, Wynedka encourages an open mind. “What I tell my students is, ‘I want you to have a good time. I want you to try this. You will never know how it's going to turn out until you try it,’” she says. “I like to encourage participants to try the class a few times, because the first time you're just trying to figure out what I'm talking about, and I want you to come back so that you can connect to what I'm saying. The worst thing that could happen is you lose weight and build muscle.”

Find a cycling class at a YMCA near you to get started.