Spinning Loudly at Cyc

cycFor my first class hop with my new ClassPass membership (two-week free trial edition) I needed a place that I didn’t require me carrying gym shoes around with me all day. That’s one of the reasons I love spinning studios that hand out clip-in cycling shoes when you walk in the door.

Cyc, which offers 45-minute beat-based rides with hand weight work has four locations. I went the Hell’s KitchenScreen Shot 2019-04-29 at 1.00.57 PM location on 8th Ave btwn 44th and 45th. As I walked in straight from work, I was really hoping to find a little container of hair ties like so many studios now have at the front desk. Instead, there were mints and little orange earplugs. I thought the earplugs seemed a strange choice until I walked out of the class half deaf in one ear.

The volume of music didn’t bother me during the class (I’m not that old yet!) In general, the music wasn’t memorable. The instructor, Tom was upbeat and encouraging although he did shout “Yeah?” quite often as though he was constantly asking us if we were on board.

The class includes weights and is not at all metrics focused, but I don’t think I pushed myself as hard as I do at FlyWheel or Peloton. The suggested torque knob turns just didn’t seem all that difficult and it was my first spin class in over a year. But at only $22/ride (discounts for packages) this indoor cycling class is on the budget end for NYC, and a good value for the price. You’ll pay $30-36 at the higher end for FlyWheel or Swerve (or Soul Cycle which is still not on ClassPass.)

I did like the fact that Glam and Glow Salon located just across the hall, so you can potentially wear your heels to work, take a Cyc spin class, shower, get a blow-out and go out on a date all in one day.

Here’s the skinny:

Cyc Beat Based Cycling

NYC Locations: Astor Place, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, UES

PROS: Great value for the price, solid 45-minute spin class with weights, clean space with high-end amenities like showers, lockers, mints and earplugs. Beat-based, so great for riders who prefer a Soul Cycle-style ride without too much of a sermon or the high price tag. Glam and Go studio across the hall from the Hell’s Kitchen location.

CONS: Not as challenging as some studios I’ve been too; the music is so loud, you’ll probably need those free earplugs they offer at the front desk. No metrics, so if you prefer to see your calories, miles, and/or are motivated by competition, this is not the ride for you.

cyc hells kitchen

 

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4th on the Fly and 60 Minutes at Drill

leaderboard

That’s right, I finished fourth on the leaderboard in my latest FlyWheel class! Granted, the class was on the small side, but that’s quite an improvement from my first SWERVE rides class two months ago where I finished 28 out of 35. Now’s the time that I’m thankful for those metrics since the numbers on my scale and my pants size haven’t budged much.

Since comparing FlyWheel to SWERVE is apples to oranges, I’ll have to head back to SWERVE soon. In the meantime, I did a 60 minute ride downtown at Drill Fitness. I was dragging a bit on a Sunday morning, but wearing a heart monitor and seeing my numbers on the screen kept my heart in it. (Pardon the pun.) Even though you can slack off during a ride by not pushing yourself as hard as you can or turning your resistance knob down when no one’s looking, staring at your hear rate on the screen shames you into going faster.

The teacher I had a Drill was Prozac-happy even though the crowd was hung over, and the facilities are pristine. Plenty of room in the locker room, free shoes, and a smoothie bar. It is tempting to purchase the heart-rate monitor so that I can sync-up with their system and track my progress. And I might if they weren’t so far away. Tribeca is a hike, and FlyWheel is everywhere. I’d love for someone to do some kind of test though to see how accurate the metrics are at all these place.  And, I’m kind of jonesing for a metrics-free drumroll ride at Cyc.

Drill Fitness 

Located in Tribeca, offers Indoor Cycling and Bootcamp-style, HIIT conditioning classes.

PROS

Super-solid ride with decent music; complimentary heart-rate monitors and shoes for your ride; beautiful facility with ample room in the lockers and nice showers; smoothie bar; they offer HIIT classes in addition to cycling.

CONS

Felt a little bit sterile, and the staff could have been friendlier; can’t track your numbers unless you purchase the hear rate monitor from them.

Murray Hill’s Studio 360

studio 360

Ventured all the way to Murray Hill to hit another cycling studio, Studio 360. The quick summary is that if I lived nearby, I’d probably go back, but it’s not worth traveling for. I signed up for their Signature Series class which they say is 40 minutes of cycling and 20 minutes of Yoga. I got there just in time, only to find out that you don’t automatically get to do the Yoga part. There’s not enough space in the Yoga studio to accommodate all the riders. I was put on the wait list, and luckily I was the last person admitted.

360 yogaRather than a long rant, I’ll just get straight to it.

PROS: Good, accurate metrics (you can input your gender, age, and weight for more accurate calorie burn count) and a light on every bike so you can see the readout; a teacher that seemed to really know what she was doing; if you put in your own effort, it was a great burn; decent music; lockers with locks and cycling shoes provided.

CONS: The mic was broken so the teacher had to shout at us off her bike; the whole ride was in the seat (unless you chose to stand) and that can get boring, not to mention uncomfortable since the bikes were by far the least comfortable I’ve experienced; no showers, dry shampoo, or deodorant so don’t plan on going anywhere but home right after your workout; have to get there early if you want in on the Yoga part of the Signature Series.

WHAT TO WEAR: Cycling pants, and any kind of shoes because cycling shoes are provided.

One little rant: I take issue with the fact that their website says they are the only studio in Manhattan dedicated exclusively to Cycling and Yoga, because Monster Cycle also offers Cycling and Yoga exclusively, unless you count that Monster Cycle has an awesome juice bar and Studio 360 does not.

Backtracking: Tribeca Health and Fitness and Pablo Fitness

I haven’t yet written about a couple of classes I took last week. That’s because they were nothing to write home about. But if you’re a ClassPasser or just passing by, you get to have my two cents about them anyhow. Both of them felt a bit like stepping back in time compared with some of the sparkling new studios I’ve been to lately.

The first was Tribeca Health and Fitness, which is not a boutique studio, but an actual gym with weight rooms and treadmills in addition to a windowless exercise class room. With the word Tribeca in the title, I was expecting understated swank and a little snobbery. Instead I was greeted at the door with a sign that said TANNING in bold print. It foreshadowed more anachronisms circa 1985. Either I was in a time warp or they just haven’t remodeled or changed their playlists in quite a while.

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Passing through a weight room of muscle-heads straining to Twisted Sister, I found the hidden room that houses the exercise classes which include Karate, Zumba, Elf Tennis (I really hope this does not involve tossing elves around), Flat Iron Express (I don’t think it’s a hair styling class), and the class I’d come for, Body Shred. The room was large, but dingy and covered in cushy padded vinyl flooring (see above). Even the teacher was wearing 80s-style floral leggings. But she was welcoming, asked my name, and had prepared a fun, sweat-filled class for us. Apparently, it’s not just a catchy title, Body Shred, but a specific kind of circuit training that includes several sets of strength training, cardio, and abs. We were constantly in motion. It was an efficient 30 minutes well spent, with a wonderful 15 minute stretch segment afterward using foam rollers (that once again looked as though they were purchased many years ago).

After my surprisingly gratifying workout, I headed two deep stories down where the locker room is. There was plenty of room, but don’t expect Bliss personal care products or any freebies. I was really wishing I’d brought my own flip-flops as I tip-toed across the moldy tiles into the shower which had a totally exposed light bulb on the ceiling. Health code violation? But maybe I’m being too harsh. I’m getting spoiled by David Barton and Exhale. There were two hotel-style hair dryers and some body lotion which was really all I needed to get ready for work.

PROS: Great teacher and a quick, efficient workout with a wonderful stretch afterward.

CONS: Bring flip-flops, or better yet, shower at home. Locker room leaves much to be desired.

pablo fitness

And now I’ve written so much about one place that I claimed was nothing to write home about that I don’t have time to write as much about Pablo Fitness. As a part of my quest to try all the cycling studios in Manhattan, I ventured to Midtown East to try out their Interval Cycling class. The bikes were basic, with RPM meters attached, and it was clean and well-kept, complete with two bathrooms (that also had small showers) and a changing area with cubbies (not lockers). I found the workout a little on the easy side, but truthfully, I could have put more energy in. The teacher was peppy and the music was better than most, with more of a Latin vibe. If I didn’t have so many other snazzy cycling options closer to my apartment, I’d probably go back if only to have a ride with good music.

PROS: Good music with Latin vibe; friendly staff; clean space; decent burn

CONS: Older style bikes with limited metrics; nothing special about the ride and no upper body; no lockers

Speaking of music, I’ve been to so many classes with mediocre music, I’ve stop expecting to get into my workouts through the music, but the class I took this morning at FlyWheel had the BEST playlist ever. I was singing along to Janis Joplin and Cindy Lauper (which reveals something about my age). I’ll write more about the class in my soon-to-come Tour de Spin post. In the meantime, check out Danielle’s classes at FlyWheel.

Day 18: A New Fav, BFX Studio!

Continuing my quest to visit every indoor cycling studio in Manhattan, I finally made it to BFX Studio in Chelsea. I woke up feeling slow after cocktails at another new fav, STATE Bar and Grill last night, but I pulled myself together and made it out the door by 8:15 AM to make the 9 AM class I’d reserved on ClassPass. (Must avoid racking up anymore of those $20 no-show fees!) Feeling quite proud of myself for my early departure and the will to brave both snow and rain, I soon found myself staring at the subway tunnel walls. News flash: incessantly checking the time on your phone does not cause the train to start moving.

I arrived2014_07_bfx-techs at 9:05, and the girls behind the front desk said they’d let me in, if I went in right away. But I really had to pee (nor did I feel like rushing). I explained my ClassPass plight and asked if there was anyway I could take a later class instead.  The smiling girl politely informed me that Class Pass was very nice in these situations, and she was sure I could call them and work something out.

Crestfallen at the thought of a phone call and no class for the day, I was quickly rescued by the studio’s manager who came over to help me figure something out. After perusing their schedule, I was able to find a spot in Juan’s 11:00 FusionRide and Build class. I am a changed woman.

Prior to today, I’ve been wondering why anyone would pay upwards of $500 a month for an indoor cycling studio or any type of boutique studio membership, only to be locked into that one studio when you can get ClassPass for $99 a month and go to several different studios. I know a community factor comes into play. On ClassPass you’re roaming rogue (which you can also do by purchasing packs of classes at various studios). But if you join a studio, you get to know the people there, feel part of the tribe, and have the added benefit of accountability for your fitness goals. I’m kinda into anonymity myself, which may be why I’ve stayed in NYC after growing up in a small town. However, after today I saw the appeal of joining. Well, joining BFX Studio anyway.

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BFX stands for Boutique Fitness Experience, and they fit the bill. Not only is the space exquisite– open, bright, they also offer a lot more than just indoor cycling classes including Barre, Pilates, HIIT-style conditioning classes, and personal training sessions. And, if you’re into metrics, they go the extra mile. While waiting for my class, I got a Fit3D body scan which collected 450 body-circumference measurements in 30 seconds. I’ll be going back to take a strength and endurance test as well. In addition to offering members an initial consultation where you are assessed and set goals, (which I’ve done at every traditional gym I’ve joined and then never referenced again), they have MyZone tracking belts that you can strap on during workouts on or off site. The workouts then get uploaded to their system so that you can track accurate data like heart rate and effort.

So that leads me back BFX-2to the mebfxclasstrics debate. From my rides in various classes, I’ve really enjoyed being able to let go and forget about the numbers at places like Cyc and another new studio I found on the UES called Crank Cycling Studios (look for classes with Amina who was top-notch). Non-metrics style classes depend on stellar instructors and carefully chosen music whereas riding with metrics often leaves me checking my watch along with my RPMs. Focusing on numbers is boring. And how the hell does the FlyWheel bike know how many calories I’ve burned when it doesn’t know how much I weigh or whether I’m a man or a woman?

But at BFX, they seem to look at numbers as a part of the whole picture, and they only offer you numbers if the ones they can give you are accurate. In the 30-minute ride I took as a part of my FusionRide and Build class, we were asked to look at RPMs and our effort number, and the instructor provided a nice balance of suggested specific-RPM numbers and general calls to increase our individual effort numbers. Hungover though I was, I pushed myself as hard as I could. The music was decent, but not terribly inspiring. The instructor was inspiring, and unlike the instructors at Barry’s Bootcamp, he managed to watch and correct our form during the Build portion of the class. (I’m sure the instructors at Barry’s are great, but the layout of the studio and number of people in each class there make it impossible for them to keep an eye on everyone.) I felt equally challenged, but much safer.

BFX has also convinced me that a studio that doesn’t provide you with cycling shoes can be worth it. One of my favorite things about picking classes is picking them based on how little stuff I’ll have to tote along with me after work and before meeting up with friends. BFX makes an it’s-more-safe-and-sanitary claim for not having having cycling shoes, and the cages on their bikes felt very secure. At least I don’t have to lug my own lock. They have the built-in lock lockers, plenty of them, and all those little goodies the best studios seem to have now, like complimentary hair ties, bobby pins, and mints. Needless to say, I’m sure I’ll be back for another class at BFX Studio soon.

img_0176PROS: Great class selection; accurate metrics; super friendly staff; amazing space with plenty of amenities, lots of personalized attention.

CONS: I wasn’t able to buy a pair of socks because they’re computer system was a little messed up. Maybe they’re still working out some kinks, but I wouldn’t hold that against them. Would be super expensive without ClassPass; have to bring your own shoes.

Day 1 of 100 Days of Classes: Cyc Fitness

Yesterday kicked off my 100 days of classes! Continuing my Tour de Spin NYC, I tried another indoor cycling class: Cyc. It’s located in the David Barton Gym down in Astor Place, and once again, I’m amazed at exactly how different all these cycling classes can be.

This is starting to feel cyc drumlike going out on 100 first dates. As I go to each new cycling studio, I find myself trying to analyze the experience based on appearance, upkeep, fun-factor, the little gifts they give me, and of course, how well they can work me out. And, just like when I was dating, I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the money factor as I should.

Also, like dating, so much of it really comes down to a gut feeling and a personality match. I’ll be making a spreadsheet with a list of cost, amenities, metrics, music, and burn-factor, but ultimately it comes down to who I click with. And that seems to come down to the teacher. So far, my favorite teacher has been Leah at Cyc.

I think I tend toward the bubbly type, in fitness instructors (not so much with romance). Leah was practically on crack, and she must have attended an evangelical church as a kid because she made first-timers raise their hands and get welcomed by the congregation. Despite this, she won me over with her constant switch-it-up-to-distract-them-from-the-pain technique. I was genuinely surprised when the class was over. She’d made us cycle-box with our sandbag weights, as well as swim with them, row with them, and race up hill standing in between. At one point she even became an orchestra conductor, dividing the class in half and having us rise up and down in harmony as she pointed her giant drumstick at us or beat it against the big-ass bass drum on the stage. I was impressed that she did all this, plus worked the lights from dim to black-light glow to pitch black depending on our simulated activity and the music.

The music was pretty pop-y, and there were no metrics in sight, not even RPMs, yet my legs found the rhythm, and maybe that’s part of what made the class go faster too. I wasn’t caught up in the numbers. I tend to choose artists over accountants. There’s this part of me that feels like people who understand spreadsheets and numbers must know more, but when it comes to really winning me over, I like drama and metaphor.

A location within the David Barton Gym doesn’t hurt either. Spacious locker room replete with big towels and fancy bath products? Check. Cubbies for your shoes and lots of benches to change them on? Check. Coat check? Check. Of all the studios I’ve been to, this one has the most space which is a precious thing in Manhattan. Oh God, this is another way it’s just like dating for me. I totally fell for the guy with the big loft in Chinatown, so big a hammock stretched across his living room. The same hammock that started his now going on 10-year lesson for me to close my eyes and enjoy the ride with him.

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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.