Whenever I’m traveling, I like to squeeze a few “fitness adventures” into my itinerary. While I love my life in Central Minnesota, the wide variety of super niche workouts I used to have at my fingertips are no longer readily available. Striptease aerobics in Smalltown? Pretty sure pigs will be flying circles around us before that ever happens.
While I was back in the Northwest last week, I made trying a new form of physical activity a top priority. The original plan was to take an aerial yoga class with my sister — but research soon revealed an 8-hour introductory workshop was required before signing up for an actual class. Thanks, but no thanks.
Next on the list of fitness adventures was SoulCycle. I’m constantly hearing my NYC friends rave about it…and if it’s good enough for Katie Holmes, it’s good enough for me! But alas, SoulCycle is only available in the Tri-State area and SoCal. Strike two.
Thankfully, Google is smarter than I am. My search for “Soul Cycle Seattle” led me to FlyWheel Sports in South Lake Union. It was a five-minute drive from where I was staying, and a few reviews I had found online actually preferred FlyWheel to SoulCycle. Done and done! I signed myself, and my sister’s boyfriend up for the 6:30am Saturday class. (He’s such a good sport.)
Never heard of FlyWheel? Here’s a brief explanation I found on their website:
This is the experience crafted by Ruth Zukerman, the legendary instructor and driving force behind the New York indoor cycling phenomenon.
An experience that lasts 45 or 60 minutes and includes climbs and descents, while working arms with weighted bars. It’s an amazing escape that challenges your body and relaxes your mind. Our studios offer stadium-style seating, making every seat in the house a good one.
Music is also an integral part of the Flywheel experience. Our playlists are created by instructors from a collection of music carefully curated by our own in-house DJ. Instructors choreograph their own classes, syncing their rides to the beat, assuring a fresh ride every time, and showing a little glimpse of their unique personalities.
Here’s my take of the FlyWheel “experience”:
I was able to create a FlyWheel account online, and reserve my spot in class. Reservations ahead of time are required — and classes fill up quickly! This is how I found myself resorting to the 6:30 am Saturday class. The sign-up process included selecting exactly which bike I wanted to use during class from a map-like graphic of the studio — similar to when you pick your seat on an airplane. (The attention-whore in me selected to be in the front row.) I also input my shoe size so the folks at FlyWheel could have a pair of clip in bike shoes waiting for me. Overall the website was easy to use and sign-up was super simple.
You pay for FlyWheel classes with credits. One credit, sold a la carte for $25, equals one class. This is usually more than I’d be willing to spend, but I was willing to do in as a one-time “treat”. Imagine my delight when I realized the first class was free, and I didn’t have to fork over any cash– score!
Gorgeous, chic and basically everything you would expect from place that charges $25 per class. “It’s good to have money!”, Hayley’s boyfriend remarked as we entered the studio and were generally overwhelmed by the fanciness of it all. Spa-like showering facilities? Check. Water bottle filling stations that dispersed filtered water in not one, but three different temperatures? Check. A giant chalkboard class schedule that looked as if it had been illustrated by Michelangelo himself? Check.
There were several iPad check-in stations, and our bike shoes we’re waiting for us in pre-assigned cubbies. We were given access to digitally controlled lockers, and the girls at the front desk were beyond understanding when I mistakenly forgot my code and had to have them override the lock for me.
All in all, a girl could definitely get used to a facility like this.
Our instructor Jay recognized B and I as newbies, and was extremely accommodating in helping us get settled. He showed us how to adjust our bikes, explained the various settings, and went over proper form and positioning. He even snagged an extra cushy seat cushion for me and my delicate lady bones to sit on.
Our workout was 45 minutes long, and absolutely flew by! (No pun intended.) Here’s what made FlyWheel different from a more run-of-the-mill spin class.
- The instructor. He was just really good. Super motivating, smooth, professional and helpful. As an instructor myself, it takes a lot for me to be impressed. Jay was spot on.
- The “targets”. We had set RPMs (rotations per minute) and Torq (resistance) numbers we were encouraged to hit that changed throughout each song. I liked being able to know exactly how fast I should pedal, and at what setting.
- The Torqboard. This is basically a scoreboard at the front of the room that all the bikes are connected to. B and I selected super-secret Torqboard names (mine was “Katranny”), and were able to see how we measured up against the rest of the class. There were even a few stand-alone “races” where we would sprint for 60 seconds, and see our standings in real-time. Torqboard scoring is totally optional, but is a great motivator if you have a competitive streak.
- The shoes. Having clip in bike shoes made SO much of a difference. Jay explained than when you’re clipped in, you target your hamstrings more as you pull the pedal up, not just when you’re pushing down. Trust me…the back of my legs could feel that he was right the next day!
- The atmosphere. The “stadium style” set up of the class was really cool. And like many things in life, sweating your ass off on a stationary bike is so much better when the lights are out.
- The bars. About 2/3 of the way through class, Jay lead us through a killer arm workout with a 6 pound bar. And I mean killer. It was great to get a break from all that intense pedaling, and my arms had definitely reached jello-status by the end of the song.
Whether you use the Torqboard or not, FlyWheel tracks your progress in a private online dashboard you can access at any time. It was really interesting to see my stats after class! I can especially see how this would be useful overtime if you were a regular flyer.
As you can see, B and I were spent by the end of our first FlyWheel class. But we had so much fun and felt pretty accomplished for making it through.
(I mean…not to brag or anything, but according to the Torqboard, I did beat the lady who was five months pregnant. #nobigdeal)
While I really enjoyed this Fitness Adventure, spinning isn’t my favorite format of exercise on the planet, and a FlyWheel membership is a bit too spendy for my blood. I’d like to FlyWheel again in the future — but as a once in the while ‘workout splurge”, not a regular endeavor. FlyWheel also offers FlyBarre, a dance-inspired total body toning class, which I’m hoping to try the next time I’m in Seattle.
Who else has tried FlyWheel? Any SoulCyclers out there? I’d love to hear about your experience, as well as any other “Fitness Adventures” you’ve taken on. I’m always looking for new ideas!