I consider myself a spinning enthusiast, spending an average of three exercise sessions per week dedicated to indoor cycling. When I can't make it to the gym for a class, I rely on my internal motivation and the bike I stash in my attic at home for a crushing cardio workout and major calorie burn every time. Pedaling my heart out and heart rate up has become an important and reliable part of my fitness regime, so when CycleBar, a boutique cycling studio, opened in my neighborhood, I was eager to test out its promise to rock my ride to a new level.
Exercise Scene: CycleBar has the vibe of a spin spa. I walked in feeling that it was definitely the most luxurious environment where I have ever worked my flywheel. Despite all the sweating going on, it smelled lovely, smiley staff members greeted me at the front desk, and complimentary snacks, towels and water bottles (filled with iced cold or room temperature H2O) were provided. Lockers had coded keypads for easy access and safe storage for all of my belongings, and a shower was available along with robes, hair ties, wet clothing bags and other toiletries, including lotion and dry shampoo. In the CycleTheater, I found two large screen TVs, high-tech lights kept dim upon entrance, and tiered, stadium-style stages holding 55 top-of-the-line bikes.
CycleBar Co-Owner Casey Bushey
Before The Burn: The CycleBar experience begins electronically. Before coming to class, participants view the schedule and sign up on the website or app, selecting from a variety of times, instructors, available bikes and rides like Classic, Performance or Themed (with music selections such as P!NK vs. Dave Matthews Band, Hip Hop Hits, etc.). First-timers register and select a screen name, shoe size and fill in a few personal stats. It's recommended that riders arrive 10–15 minutes early so staff members can outfit them with shoes (provided) and help them find and adjust their bikes and clip in.
The Workout: For my ride I chose the Jamie and Christina Mashup—team taught by two instructors (or CycleStars) to keep me extra motivated. As soon as I climbed on my bike, I deemed it the nicest I have experienced, offering super smooth pedal strokes and a digital device on the handlebars that showed my levels of resistance, RPM (speed) and watts (a combination of both). As Jamie and Christina enthusiastically led our group through a series of jumps, hills, sprints and arm exercises using a small weighted bar, they also routinely called out a recommended resistance and RPM level to keep us all in check. The class stood out from ordinary indoor cycling due to carefully coordinated lighting and music (CycleBeats playlists are available for download) that made it feel more like a party than a grueling workout. I loved feeding off the energy from the other riders and feeling like we were all enthusiastically accomplishing something great together. Camaraderie aside, my favorite part of CycleBar was competing against my fellow pedal pushers when Jamie turned on the big screens and led us in a live sprint competition where effort was rewarded with a top rank.
Post Pedal: After the 50-minute, endorphin-boosting session, I left feeling sweaty, challenged and terrific. As soon as I got to my car, I checked my email to find my CycleStats, sent immediately after every CycleBar class. I burned 657 calories and was ranked second in the class of 39. For someone competitive like me, this was the news I needed to ensure I would be back to attempt taking the coveted first-place slot.
Pros and Cons: Indoor cycling is great for all fitness levels from beginner to expert because it allows you to spin at your own level and change the settings on your bike accordingly. The studio setting helps accountability with a team mentality complete with regular challenges. CycleBar doesn't offer childcare, and it's more expensive than a larger, less specialized fitness center, but look out for many free trial classes offered throughout the year. Since only cycling workouts are offered, this would be a great complement to an overall fitness routine that also includes strength and cross training.
CycleBar Red Mill is at 2217 Upton Drive in Virginia Beach. CycleBar Hilltop is located at 1624 Laskin Road, Suite 752, in Virginia Beach. For more info or to schedule a class, visit RedMill.CycleBar.com or Hilltop.CycleBar.com.