When Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice opened SoulCycle
in a small studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side they changed the game. It was 2002, and the concept of boutique fitness didn’t really exist yet. Charging upwards of $30 for 45 minutes of indoor cycling was a tough sell at first, but as word spread of a sweat-drenched, full-body workout with awesome playlists and a yoga-like spiritual element, classes began to garner waitlists.
In the proceeding decade, thanks to the unprecedented success of the SoulCycle model, the market exploded. There are now hundreds of spin studios in New York City aspiring to offer clients an experience that takes them beyond the monotony of the gym bike. Here are five of the best.
Gym, Sports Center
Spin with a screen isn’t necessarily new, but IMAXShift has upped the ante with an experience that will ‘leave you breathless before you even break a sweat.’
The DUMBO location is essentially a movie theatre, complete with a gigantic screen and booming audio, that provides the rider with a totally immersive workout.
Instructors and the in-house creative team work together to blend music (think new tunes and remixes aplenty) with intense visuals, so one moment you’re soaring over vertical coastline at sunset, before drifting through the infinite galaxy, and then riding an abstract virtual velodrome. The whole journey is perfectly choreographed in a way that distracts from how tough the workout is and 45 minutes seems to pass in the blink of an eye.
127 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, USA, 11201 +1 718 858 1200
AQUA Studio NY
Fitness Studio, Gym
AQUA Studio NY
Aqua Cycling is not spin as you know it. Bikes are submerged in four feet of salty water, which provides a stable level of resistance without being hard on your joints. Performing sprints in cool 85℉ liquid takes a moment to get used to, and with the water working to gently massage your lower body — stimulating the lymphatic system for improved circulation that might help reduce cellulite — you’re almost fooled into thinking it’s not as hard as spinning on dry land. Until, that is, you exit the pool and your legs feel all jelly-like. We tried the candlelit Mantra Flow class, which incorporates tough intervals and treading water with stretches and a brief meditation to finish. Aided by the calm buoyancy of the pool, quieting the mind came effortlessly. 78 Franklin St, New York, USA, 10013 +1 212 966 6784
Yoga Studio, Gym
Fitness hybrid classes are a trend at the moment, particularly if they blend cardio with some form of restorative element. Born from this premise is Studio 360, whose Signature Series begins with 40 minutes of spin and culminates with 20 minutes of yoga.
This class is all about balancing the body. If you’re a spin fanatic with strong legs and under-used arms, poses like Chaturanga will help build strength in the upper body. It’s also great for maintaining flexibility in the hamstrings, which tend to be short and tight in cyclists. You’ll leave feeling like you got an extremely well-rounded workout.
The Monster Cycle
Gothic, vampy, edgy and irreverent, The Monster Cycle feels like a cross between a nightclub and Lady Gaga’s lair.
Playlists are curated by the team of instructors, who are way cooler than you are, so don’t expect to hear too many mainstream chart toppers. The room is lit only by black-lights and TV screens playing artsy videos that correspond to the soundtrack, and peddling fast and hard to the rhythm is encouraged.
182 Lafayette St, New York, USA, 10013 +1 646 692 4703
Peloton is maybe best known for its virtual classes. Riders can follow along from the comfort of home in real time, with their own state-of-the-art branded bike.
The live classes are hosted and broadcast from Peloton’s studio in Chelsea, where riders can view their metrics thanks to state of the art technology, tracking their improvements and smashing goals as they go. Join one of the live music rides where the DJ and instructors vibe off each other, taking the nightclub ambiance to the next level.