If you've ever thought about taking a Spinning class, we'll tell you how to get your wheels in motion.

By Alyssa Shaffer

The pulsing music. The intense energy. The pounds that melt away. You've heard incredible things about Spinning and you're ready to ride — or at least, you would be, if you could just find the time, cash or courage. Believe us, it's worth it: Indoor cycling burns upwards of 400 calories in just 45 minutes while sculpting your legs, butt, arms and abs. Best of all: "You'll leave class feeling like you've won a race," notes Heather Allen, a group exercise specialist at New York Sports Clubs and mom of two. Whether at the gym or home, here's how to prep for the ride of your life.

Insider Cycling Tips for Newbies

Show up early. "A lot of first-timers quietly sneak in at the last minute," says Allen. "But the sooner you arrive, the more time you'll have to get situated." Also check beforehand to see whether you need to reserve a bike.

Tell the instructor you're new. She can answer questions, keep an eye on you and help you adjust your bike. "How your bike is set up can make or break your ride," explains Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, a Schwinn master trainer and cycling instructor at Equinox Fitness in New York.

Move your seat. The most common mistake beginners make is riding with the seat too low, which can hurt your knees and minimize your power. If you stand next to the bike, the seat should be about hip height.

Stay for the cooldown. "You'll feel more energized and a lot less achy later," reveals Vaziralli.

No Gym? No Problem!

Replicate the class experience on your own with a stationary bike, Spin bike (which usually has no motor or electronic resistance controls) or trainer (a device that keeps your outdoor bike stationary and allows you to ride inside). Then cycle with one of these Spin-simulating options.

  • In your headphones: Download guided rides led by top instructors like Vaziralli, whose 60-minute Cycle Coach program is a motivating high-sweat session set to upbeat music (amazon.com, $9, or iTunes, $10).
  • In your DVD player: You can pedal along with everything from classic group-exercise programs (Cathe Friedrich's XTrain: Ride, collagevideo.com, $23) to stunning almost-there vistas (IGC World Tour: Northern Italy, collagevideo.com, $25).
  • On your tablet, laptop or Internet-ready TV: Download videos of actual classes through websites like StudioSweatOnDemand.com ($8 per download) or EMGLiveFitness.com ($8 per download).

Try a FREE Class! Go to spinning.com, enter your zip code and click on the "Class Pass" button for a facility near you.

For a chance to WIN a NordicTrack GX 5.5 Sport indoor cycle click here!

Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.