My Latest Rides: Monster Cycle and Peloton

I was going to wait to write about my latest indoor cycling adventures until I’d tried all the studios in Manhattan (well, most of them at least), but my two most recent rides warrant writing about. My Tour de Spin Class so far includes:

FlyWheel, Fit RxN, SWERVE, Sweat Therapy (in Florida), and now Monster Cycle and Peloton.

Here’s me in front of Monster Cycle 

monster cycle

Aside from both having swanky juice bars and plush couches, Monster Cycle and Peloton couldn’t be more different.  Albeit, both left me sweaty and worn, but one in the pitch black while watching subversive music videos, and the other with a primped-for-prime-time instructor and an electronic leaderboard.

Maybe I don’t have enough tattoos yet (both the instructor and several riders were covered in them at Monster), but my initial attraction is to Peloton’s pampered approach. You walk in and are greeted right away with a smile, shown to the shoe window where you’re handed clip-in shoes and a complimentary bottle of water. There’s staff walking around to help you adjust your bike, and a touch-screen tablet on each bike so you can log your effort, RPMs, and distance. You can choose to watch or hide the leaderboard. (I learned at the end of class that I ended up 39th place out of 50, so mine’s gonna stay hidden!)

chelsea-storefront-5140w23peloton

I like numbers, and there were plenty of them at Peloton. My effort, cadence, and resistance were all right in front of me. I could aim to match my numbers with the ones called out by the peppy, on-camera instructor. All the classes stream live on-line so you have a little added pressure to keep up. And aside from the jam-packed locker/changing area, the pampering continues post-workout with 4 separate showers and bathrooms, and complimentary coffee and snacks.

That said, and despite the SoHo snob factor at Monster Cycle, the more I think about it, the more I might head back to Monster Cycle first. As much as I like numbers, they can be distracting, and they tend to co-exist with anxiety. At Monster, you can see your RPMs, and othermonster lounge than the R-rated videos, not much else. It’s dark and the music is loud, and you bike to the beat in the basement. There was no 5-minute upper-body hand weight break either. Just intense cycling, mostly out of your seat. A  much grungier vibe with an equally intense burn. Upstairs, you can leave the grunge behind and enjoy a smoothie from the hipster juice bar, Salud on a plush couch. There’s no freebies though– you have to either bring your own cycle shoes or strap in with sneakers, and bring your own water so you don’t have to pay the $2.50 for a small Fiji.

I’m still dying to know what Soul Cycle is like since it seems to be the gold standard, and I’ll probably dish out the out-of-network bucks (since they’re not on ClassPass) to try it. But I have a feeling both these studios (which are comparable in price) are in the same league.

Any Soul-cyclers want to chip in on their experience?

Coming soon: A spreadsheet with the prices, pros, and cons of my Tour de Spin Class NYC.

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Florida Hoppin’: Bikes that tilt and lean at Sweat Therapy Fitness

I’d almost resigned myscropped sweat therapyelf to making due with on-line classes using my free trial of FitnessGlo while I was home for the holidays. I’ve been motivated to do one whole 10-minute mommy stretch video since signing up. Yet another reminder that I need in-person classes.

Then at Christmas dinner, between bites of roast beast and sips of wine, I chatted with my aunt about a new fitness studio she thought I should try while I was home visiting: Sweat Therapy Fitness. She described indoor cycling bikes that tilted and turned, giving you a total body workout. I was intrigued.

I left Tallahassee over 15 years ago, and it has gotten much hipper in my absence. I haven’t even seen these kind of bikes in NYC yet, although apparently they do exist at FlowCycle in Tribeca. They’re called Real Ryders, and their creators claim that the bikes increase core strength and stability by recruiting more muscles during leaning and steering movements, and in so doing allow you to burn 20% more calories than on a traditional stationary bike.  You definitley have to use your muscles (both upper body and core) to get the bike to turn, and as Brian, my instructor at Sweat Therapy’s Real Ryde class, told me, it takes some getting used to.

I enjoyed the challenge, but even more, it was fun to pretend we were riding along the scenic roads shown on the two giant flat screens in the dark cycle room that took us from mountain hills to country roads and beach cliffs. It was a little too intimate of a class to totally let loose (it’s Tallahassee, after all, filled with Southern charm and personal attention in contrast to New York’s annonymity), but I found a groove and found myself concentrating on pumping to the cadence of the music rather than constantly watching the RPM monitor. After the class, they gave me a tour of the facility which includes TRX Suspension Training rooms, the “Boat House” for Indo-Row classes, and the Real Ryder cycling room decorated with motivational quotes on framed chalkboards and strings of big red lights that come on when the room darkens and the music starts.

I was also able to take a class called Sweat Fest at Sweat Therapy while I was in Tallahassee, and it is appropriately named. I brought along my 21-year-old cousin who is a super-fit capoeirista, and she too was left challenged, drenched, and sore. This was a circuit-style class with about 10 different stations including rowing machines and TRX equipment. What I liked most was the fact that there was a true variety of fitness levels within the class, and the teacher was able to modify accordingly. That said, there were a few too many circuits for her to keep an eye on all of us, watch form, make adjustments, and answer questions. Luckily, Jake, the cutie from the front desk who is clearly a fitness guru in-training was able to assist demonstrating the exercises for various stations as we got there. (Jake also showed us around the studio, and was a bastion of Southern hospitality, a refreshing respite from the aloof SoHo snobbery at some of NYC’s more elite boutiques.)

Here’s the skinny on Tallahassee’s locally-owned boutique fitness studio, Sweat Therapy Fitness:

  • 2 Locations (Midtown and Uptown Tallahassee)
  • A variety of classes are offered including, Real Rydes indoor cycling, TRX, Rowing, plyometrics, Barre and variety classes that are high-intenisty interval (or HIIT)- style classes that use a combination of all of the above.
  • Variety of class packages are offered and your first class is only $5. After that, prices range from $18 for a single class to packs of 10 for $100 or unlimited workouts at either location for $179/month. (This seems to be a bit high for Tallahassee prices, although not as high as some, and super-affordable by NYC standards.)

PROS

Beautiful space with lots of room, showers, bathrooms, water, and snacks; wonderful family-like atmosphere with a very friendly staff; great variety of classes.

CONS

Not all the bikes are hooked up to the electronic RPM readers, so not as high-tech as some studios as far as recording your stats; the teacher I had for the Sweat Fest class seemed a little flat/tired, which was a contrast to my first class there.

Indoor Cycling Classes: FlyWheel Sports

That’s me, at the door of FlyWheel, getting ready to get my butt kicked. Yesterday was my second FlyWheel class, and my 4th indoor cycling class since I began my ClassPass adventure. This is one of those perks of the $99/month ClassPass membership because FlyWheel classes are $34 for one clasIMG_20141217_122113993_HDRs, or $30/class for a 20 pack, or unlimited classes for $375 a month! One of the catches with the ClassPass membership is that you can only go to 3 classes at any one studio per month. For FlyWheel Sports that includes their other studio classes called FlyBarre as well. So even if those were the only 3 classes you did all month, you’d have gotten your money’s worth out of ClassPass.

Ever since I first heard the buzz about SoulCycle (which isn’t a part of ClassPass) and FlyWheel, I’ve been wanting to try an indoor cycling class. I will definitely be using my 3 classes per month at FlyWheel. I also really liked the SWERVE Rides class I tried.  In 45 minutes you get an intense cardio workout with some added strength-training for your arms. The time flies by because the teacher has you switching speeds and positions and pumping your legs to the beat of dance party music. The room is dark so you can close your eyes, let yourself go, and not worry about anyone in the class thinking you’re a weirdo since they can’t really see you anyway.

Here’s a breakdown on my FlyWheel experience. Stay-tuned for a comparison of FlyWheel to SWERVE and Pedal/FIT RxN.

FLYWHEEL

There are six different locations in Manhattan (I’ve been to the Lincoln Center and Flatiron locations). You’ll be asked to create an account on-line prior to going to class. Then upon arrival, you can check in to track your progress and participate in races during the class (if you want to). After class you’ll get an e-mail with all your stats including your average and fastest speeds, calories burned, and the total distance you biked in miles. They provide you with cycling shoes, towels, and water. The friendly staff will help you set up your bike. As you ride, you adjust the torque (or resistance) on your bike and try to reach an RPM goal that the teacher requests of you. You’ll also be asked to rise out of the seat to pedal standing off and on. After class, you can take a shower using Bliss Spa body products and grab a complimentary apple or banana.

PROS: Water, towels, cycling shoes provided; high-tech bikes and a system that tracks your progress; intense cardio workout with fun music in 45 minutes.

CONS: Some classes have better music than others; isn’t really a full body workout even though about 5 minutes of weight work with arms is included; unisex locker area (and many of the electronic locks on the lockers were broken at the Flatiron location)– there are private changing rooms though.

WHAT TO WEAR: Good sports bra and tank and pants that are fitted (capris are probably best). You don’t want any flowy yoga panta because they could get caught up in the bike; good socks of course. You can bring your own spin shoes, but FlyWheel does provide them.