The Skinny On NYC’s Spin Scene

best spin classes in nyc
[photo via Swerve Fitness]

There was a point in time where I felt like cycling studios were popping up on every corner in Manhattan. They were multiplying like Starbucks and all I could think was: WTF, you can only do SO much on a stationary bike… 

For awhile there was only Soul Cycle vs. Flywheel (which can spark a pretty heated debate between two diehard fans) but now there are other wildly popular cycling studios to add into the mix. Yes, there’s only such much you can do on a stationary bike, but even so, each studio has carved out a unique brand and offers something special to differentiate itself from the others.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices in cycling-land? Me too. Here’s my honest breakdown of the major playas in the cycling scene and the best spin classes in NYC.

Soul Cycle

soul cycle review

I’ll argue that Soul Cycle created the indoor cycling revolution and is not only the OG that made spin cool, but is also the creator of the boutique fitness phenomena. Soul Cycle is known for it’s musically driven classes that feature special “choreography” on the bikes, rockstar instructors, grapefruit scented studios and cult following.

5 things you need to know:

1. The studios are super sleek in design and all (to my knowledge) feature electronic lockers and the necessities you need to primp after class.

2. The classes are 45 minutes, unless otherwise noted, and feature a short section with hand weights about 2/3 of the way through.

3. The riding style is far from traditional and features a whole glossary of “choreography” on the bike such as push-ups and other crazy arm movements.

4. There’s a spiritual vibe to the class, complete with candlelit moments in class and inspirational mantras from the instructor.

5. As I mentioned, the classes are super music driven and instructors always ride to the beat and cue based on musicality.

What I like about the class: Soul Cycle is all about making fitness joyful, a philosophy I 100% support. The class is truly a place to let loose and get lost in the music and forget about the outside world.

What I dislike about the class: The hefty price tag- at $34 bucks a pop, water and cycling shoes (required) are extra. I’m also not always wild about the choreography and think some moves are just plain unsafe on the bikes.

Great for: Fitness haters looking for a fun workout focused on music above everything. Spiritual types looking for a workout that connects the mind, body and, uh, soul.

Locations: 17 NYC locations (and counting…) plus locations across the country.

Price: $34 + water + shoes (if you have your own SPD or delta look cleats, bring ’em!)

 

Flywheel

flywheel review

Flywheel Sports was created by one of the former founders of Soul Cycle with a more athletic approach in mind. They are known for their metric focused classes that encourage friendly competition between class goers.

5 things you need to know:

1. Every bike is equipped with a tiny monitor that tells you how fast you’re going and how much resistance you have on. Instructors call out these numbers throughout class to give you guidelines on where you should be.

2. You can participate in the optional Torq Board which lets you compete against others in class.

3. At the end of class, your stats will be online in your account. You can see how you performed compared to other Flywheel classes you’ve taken.

4. Classes are 45 minutes unless otherwise noted and feature a short section using mini body bars as weights.

5. Flywheel also has a barre studio at some locations which features their signature class Flybarre. Double up if you’re feeling especially daring.

What I like about the class: There’s NO cheating in this class, I know exactly how hard I’m working and if I’m slacking off in the middle of class. Water bottle and cycling shoes are included in the price tag.

What I dislike about the class: I’m not competitive when it comes to working out, so focusing on numbers isn’t motivating to me.

Great for: People that love a little, friendly, competition and want to compete against themselves.

Locations: 7 in NYC (and counting) plus locations across the country.

Price: $34 which includes water and cycling shoes.

CYC Fitness

cyc fitness review

CYC Fitness gained popularity in college towns before making it’s way to the big apple. Former Soul Cycle instructor Keoni created CYC as a whole body workout. Here, cycling isn’t just about cardio.

5 things you need to know:

1. These 45 minute classes has FOUR songs using hand weights. Each of the weighted songs features different “sports” such as volleyball, boxing and swimming.

2. While there’s no “choreography” in this class, there are 5 different positions on the handlebar to master. Don’t worry, instructors (called CYCologists) will go over this at the beginning!

3. CYC has recently debuted additional classes- one even more focused on strength, and another that’s all cycling all the time.

4. This class is THEATRICAL. Expect mood lighting, on point playlists and sometimes there will even be live drumming.

5. The Astor place location is located literally within David Barton and shares a locker room. Perfect for getting ready thanks to lots of room.

What I like about the class: I’m rarely ever bored at CYC and find the classes legit fly by. The former theater major in me totally digs the theatricality of it all and I love when the instructors play with the lights to get the perfect mood.

What I dislike about the class: The arm section can be rough on my bad shoulder, it’s a lot of small movements which totally pisses my rotator cuff off.

Great for: Those who think cycling classes are boring and want a bit of extra strength training with their cardio.

Locations: 2 locations in NYC currently, additional locations nation wide.

Price: $28, includes cycling shoes.

Swerve Fitness

swerve fitness review

 Swerve Fitness makes cycling a team sport. The class is broken up into 3 teams which compete against each other for the full 45 minutes.

5 things you need to know:

1. Like I said, at Swerve you are broken up into 3 teams. Your team’s SWERVE score builds throughout class and is displayed at the front of the room on a screen.

2. Each bike is equipped with a monitor that tells you how fast you’re going and a ball park of how tough your resistance is. Instructors will cue using these metrics.

3. Classes are 45 minutes long and include 1 weighted section using hand weights.

4. Your score and data will be immediately emailed to you after class. Take a screen shot and post in on social media if you got a brag worthy score 🙂

5. There’s a smoothie bar where you can order a drink before class and it will magically be there, waiting for you, post class. Yum!

What I like about the class: The instructors are Swerve are some of my FAVORITES. Take a class with Dyan or Andy and you won’t be sorry.

What I dislike about the class: The team competition vibe makes me super anxious and brings back bad memories of gym class when I was always picked last (screw you, high school gym class, I ran a marathon).

Great for: Current and former athletes who love a little team competition. Would also be a great team bonding experience with coworkers.

Locations: Currently 1 in NYC

Price: $34, includes shoes.

 

Revolve Fitness

revolve fitness review

Revolve Fitness feels like a mom and pop fitness studio, and I love that about them. Revolve prides itself in it’s focus on form and safety, which is why I always recommend checking them out to cycling newbies.

5 things you need to know:

1. Revolve features 3 different class styles- Body Ride, Real Ride and the Rip Ride.

The Body Ride is 45 minutes long with 1 weighted section, using hand weights. The Real Ride is just 45 minutes, riding the whole time. The Rip Ride is an hour long and features 2 weighted sections.

2. The only choreography you’ll see on the bike is… uh nothing. All movements are in first (sitting down) and third (butt lifted but hovering over the saddle).

3. Bikes are equipped with a monitor that tells you how fast your going. Instructors will cue based on this.

4. Be on the look out for special theme rides throughout the week, I’ve noticed they do a ton of special classes like that.

5. Minus the weighted section, classes are very “by-the-book”. I took my Schwinn Certification a few years ago to become an indoor cycling instructor, and Revolve feels the most inline with the philosophy I was taught at training.

What I like about the class: The no frills approach to cycling, I know exactly what to expect and don’t have to think twice about safety on the bike.

What I dislike about the class: By NYC standards, the studio lacks a certain pizazz that the others have. The instructors are hit/ miss.

Great for: Cycling purist that want a straight up cycling experience with minimal frills. Newbies looking for a good intro to indoor cycling.

Locations: 1 location in NYC

Price: $32

 

 Peloton

peloton cycle review

Peloton Cycle is not just a studio, but also sells their bikes in stores which allows you to live stream class no matter where in the world you are.

5 things you need to know:

1. The studio space is HUGE and absolutely gorgeous. The actual room where the action happens is spacious so you don’t have to worry about being in close quarters with your neighbor. The waiting area is a large lounge with cushy couches and coffee. Hi, can I move in?

2. The bikes in the studio are super specific to Peloton (I think it’s slightly different than the at home model) and features a small tablet that tells you resistance, RPMs and overall output.

3. The bikes are also really quiet and ride like butter, just be warned if it feels a little funky at first.

4. The class you are taking is literally being filmed as it’s happening– there’s a production crew in house and everything. Smile, you might be on camera (but probably not because it’s focused on the instructor).

5. Peloton features a few types of classes. I’ve only taken the Metrics ride which focuses on numbers, but there’s also a rhythm ride which I think I would love.

What I like about the class: The gorgeous space is really unlike any other studio in Manhattan.

What I dislike about the class: The bike feels totally different to me and takes some getting used to.

Great for: Technology nerd… and those curious about purchasing a bike!

Locations: 1 location in NYC

Price: $30, includes water + shoes.

 

 

Honorable mention: The Monster Cycle. I haven’t been since they opened last year and imagine things have changed and been tweaked since! Will update after I’ve visited, but what you should know is the studio space features insane artwork and feels like an edgy fashion show. During class music videos are projected on the wall creating a fun, visual experience while you’re sweating like crazy.

best spin class nyc soulcycle flywheel swerve cyc fitness revolve

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