This time of year, it’s too cold to bike in New York (for most people, at least) and too bleak to get yourself amped up to exercise by your lonesome. Spinning might be just the adrenaline rush you need, combining a hard-core indoor cycling workout with motivational coaching. A typical class features resistance-equipped stationary bikes, a charismatic instructor and pumping music to pedal by. But every studio in NYC has its own style and specialties; here are some of the best Spinning classes.
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This trendsetting chainlet’s style is as much about establishing a mood as about getting you to break one hell of a sweat. Classes take place by candlelight, include a simultaneous core and upper-body workout using free weights, and promise a yogaesque release. Some studios also offer a SoulBands class, which adds overhead resistance bands to the routine. The company, founded by Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler in NYC, has expanded to the West Coast (Gwyneth Paltrow’s an acolyte), but hasn’t turned its back on its hometown. Locations and schedules vary; visit soul-cycle.com for details. Single class $34, ten classes $320.
Who says scoreboards are solely the province of ball sports and arcade games? Show you’re at the head of the pack by opting to have your stats displayed on an electronic leaderboard at the front of the room. Even if you opt out of the public display, the studio records all your performance metrics and stores them on its website, so you can track your milestones along the road to badassery (and pin them on your fridge door). The bikes’ raked, stadium-style layout ensures a clear sight line between you and the instructor (no hiding in the back row, kids). You can also take FlyBarre, a transdisciplinary body-sculpting workout designed to complement Spinning. Locations and schedule vary; visit new-york.flywheelsports.com for details. Single class $34, ten classes $320.
Former professional motocross and BMX racer Pablo Toribio hung up his helmet to train others at his midtown studio, with a focus on getting results through positive reinforcement and individual attention in smaller-than-usual classes. Pedal with the man himself during Ride with Pablo, designed to shed 500 to 700 calories in 45 minutes, or for a combo cycling class and core workout, try the 45 minute-long Spin & Power. Alongside its trademark Spinning sessions, the studio also offers vinyasa yoga classes. 212-308-0077, pablofitness.com. Schedule varies; visit website for details. Single class $30, ten classes $270, monthly unlimited classes $180.
Crank Indoor Cycling Studio
Situated along the Long Island City waterfront, Crank is Queens’ only dedicated Spinning spot with an additional location on the Upper East Side. It’s worth the trip across the East River: At $23 a pop (includes use of cycling shoes, a towel and a bottle of water), classes are cheaper here than at any other studio we found in the city. Run by fitness vet Anthony Maniscalco, the three-year-old workout business offers 45, 60 and 90-minute options focusing on strength, endurance or interval training. 718-606-6309, cranknyc.com. Single class $23, ten classes $190, monthly unlimited pass $199.
If you’re a fan of hybrid exercise, this one-year-old Spinning space might be your speed. Mix it up with 30/30, an hour-long combo of indoor cycling and a core workout. Anyone who craves intensity should try the 90-minute TRX Cardio Mashup class, which combines Spinning, TRX Suspension Training (which leverages your body weight) and a wild card—anything from sprinting to battle ropes (hitting heavy ropes against the ground to build strength). You can also take a straight-up Spinning class, TRX or the abcentric CoreRxN. Remember to replenish your fluids postclass: Proceeds from water-bottle sales benefit Running Through Walls (runningthroughwalls.org), a pediatric cancer charity. 212-561-5435, pedalnyc.com. Single class $30, ten classes $280, monthly unlimited pass $249.
The pain: I dragged my scrawny, decidedly nonathletic self into class at SoulCycle’s Union Square studio a few minutes late, sliding around in my rental cycling sneakers like a baby horse on a patch of ice. I was greeted by a surreal apparition, like “Ride of the Valkyries” via Gramercy: Lit only by candlelight, two rows of women pumped their bodies up and down on their stationary bikes in perfect unison as techno music blared. I did my best to fall in with the pack as our instructor, Marvin, barked encouragement. After only a few minutes, I could hardly hear him; my whole world was my legs and abs and this funny metallic taste in my mouth. “Are you ready for more?” Marvin shouted as we prepared for yet another (possibly the kabillionth) set of standing midcycle push-ups. “No!” my brain screamed. “Yeah!” everyone else roared. Just when death seemed imminent, my body crossed some Rubicon, and I was in the zone. This state of grace lasted until I couldn’t figure out how to unclip my shoes from the pedals, but it did the trick. Leaving class, I felt like I’d mainlined five espressos.
The gain: “You get the benefits of a full-body workout and burn 600 to 700 calories, on average, in a really short amount of time—45 minutes. Also, it really strengthens your core. New Yorkers are obsessed about six-packs and their abs, and everything we do at SoulCycle originates from the core. The other benefit is it’s fun. There’s awesome music, and you just feel like you’re on the road on this amazing journey. We really treat the room as a sanctuary. We do all of our classes by candlelight; having the room dark strikes out some of the sensory overload that we deal with in New York City.”—Marvin Foster Jr., 31, SoulCycle instructor