Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spinning at The Studio

New York city is the battleground for the intense rivalry that exists between its two power-house indoor cycling studios, Soul Cycle and Flywheel Sports. Both studios have established their presence within and outside of New York, each with its own unique upper body toning sequence and additional proprietary classes (Soul Cycle has Soul Bands while Flywheel Sports has FlyBarre), and each has garnered a loyal horde of followers that support it with a cult-like devotion.

Located on the second floor of a beautiful townhouse on a tree-lined street on the Upper East side is a third spin studio, one which largely stays under the radar, simply named The Studio. The Studio has been around for a few years and I have been wanting to try it for the longest time as it's a mere 10 minute walk from my apartment. I recently had the opportunity to take a few classes there. Here are my thoughts:

Image from the Studio's website

The Space:
The Studio is owned by James Park, a former spin instructor at Equinox and Zonehampton, who is also certified in ashtanga and vinyasa yoga. The yogic influence is clear when you first walk into the studio which is permeated by a zen-like atmosphere. The actual spin studio is full of sunlight which streams in through a large window that overlooks 72nd street (see picture), something unusual from standard spin studios which are almost always in dark, windowless rooms, but nonetheless, something that I appreciated. There are 21 bikes (there are an additional 4 spin bikes on the "instructor's podium" which I am assuming are also utilized when the class is full), each compatible with Look (Delta) clips but baskets may be attached if you choose to spin with sneakers. Cycling shoes are available for rent ($5). The bikes are positioned with a good amount of space between each other so you do not feel like you are brushing elbows with your neighbor. The limited number of bikes also ensures that all bikes are 'good' and provide a clear view of your instructor.

Image from The Studio's website

The Class:
I have tried 4 different instructors thus far (James, Trish, Nicky and Maggie). All four instructors were down-to-earth, friendly, helpful with bike set-up and taught a challenging class. While I enjoyed each instructor's class, my favorite was James. James leads an inspiring class with fun music, peppered with motivational quotes to encourage you to keep going. His spin style is very old-school with plenty of hills and sprints (seated and standing), and without push-ups or oblique crunches on the bike. Again, this is something I appreciated. I am not a fan of doing push-ups or oblique crunches on the spin bike. I find it hard to position myself properly on a bike in order to perform those two exercises effectively. Anyhow, James' class is challenging but he is not pushy. The vibe is unpretentious and non-competitive. The other spinners ranged in age and level of ability and everyone seemed to be comfortably doing their own thing. A lot of the spinners in James' class appeared to be regulars and it's clear that he obviously has a following.

Classes cost $32 but decrease if you purchase a package. The changing room is small and has no lockers, just cubby holes. Towels are provided free of charge and as mentioned before spin shoes may be rented. Gel seats for the bike are available to borrow. A small boutique at the reception sells water and fitness apparel. Class sign-up may be done online but the same thing cannot be done with regards to choosing a bike, that is first-come first-served.

The Good:
1. Challenging class
2. Beautiful studio
3. Friendly and motivating instructors

The Not-so-Good:
1. Music: For me, the music is the main thing which determines which instructor's spin class I take. While the music here was good, I think energetic remixes or mash-ups and maybe even a collaboration with a DJ could bring the rides to a whole different level.
2. Bike selection: While all the bikes are good, at $32 a ride, I prefer choosing my own bike beforehand and not having to get a class too much advance to secure my bike.
3. Receptionist: Some classes I took had no receptionist and the instructor had to leave class to buzz in the late-comers. While the interruption was brief, having a receptionist would ensure the instructor would provide a seamless ride experience.
4. Time: The classes are 45 minutes long but some of the classes I took started 5 minutes late. In these cases the instructors acknowledged that fact and made up for it at the end. While this did not bother me it may be a deterrent to some.

Definitely a challenging, no-gimmicks spin class, and worth trying. With a few tweaks as far as music goes, it can add energy exponentially and be a fantastic experience. If you can only try one class try James'.


Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

I took spinning several years ago. I definitely found it challenging but so rewarding and such a great workout. Have been thinking of getting back to it at the gym. These studios look like amazingly beautiful places to work out. Wow!!

Mom at the Barre said...

This particular studio is a really beautiful. Motivation to work out really soars if the space is inviting!

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