This morning I headed to Chelsea to check out an Xpress Cycle class at David Barton Gym. My last spin experience was three years ago when I nearly passed out in the middle of class and had to be escorted out, so I was nervous but I've been hearing so many great things about spinning since it became a serious fitness trend again that I had to give it another go.
The Instructor: The instructor, Muri, was familiar with most of the students and generally very nice. When I explained that I was new, he came over to adjust my bike and checked on me during the class. He came across to me as someone who could have been an Olympic coach, but decided that clubbing was more fun. He warned me that the bike seats can be uncomfortable at first but you get used to it, which was true. I think it helped that he had us do a fair amount of pedaling while standing, so I wasn't actually in the saddle very often.
The Music: The soundtrack to the class was pulsing dance music, most of it unrecognizable to me and while I longed for some popular tunes at first, I soon appreciated the strong beats and didn't care that I didn't know the songs.
The Space: As though my nerves about the class weren't enough, I had no idea what to expect from the facilities. David Barton Gyms are known for being nightclubby, with minimal lighting and live DJs, which seemed like it might be a lot to handle at a bleary 7 a.m. Add that to the fact that I always think of Chelsea as the epicenter of buff-yet-lean gym rats who are infinitely cooler than I will ever be and you can imagine my state of mind as I pulled open the skull shaped handles with more than a bit of trepidation. The gym was dark, the locker rooms were kind of rustic-industrial-chic (but fully equipped with everything a girl could need to prep and pamper, including disposable razors) and the yoga studio looked small but serene. I loved the huge white staircase leading up to the locker room area with "Change Here" stenciled above it. I'm only checking out the Chelsea location but DBG has two more NYC locations as well as locations in Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Unlike other dedicated spinning studios I've looked into, where members are required to reserve bikes ahead of time and wear special shoes that clip into the bike, the requirements for Extreme Cycle were minimal. "Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, show up about 5, maybe 10 mins early and throw your towel over a bike," I was advised when I called ahead for instructions. Sure enough, there were plenty of bikes available and I had no problem getting myself situated in the back. The room was dimly lit with frosted skylights and I thought it created a great environment for a morning workout, when the harsh fluorescent lights of my regular gym usually highlight how tired I feel and keep me self-conscious about my appearance. At DBG, the club-like atmosphere did what I imagine club-like atmospheres are intended to do, making me feel somewhat anonymous, perhaps even mysterious, and therefore much less aware of my flaws and able to focus on the workout.
The Results: We started with slow pedaling and stretches on the bike and them moved into the full ride. During the many intervals where Muri would countdown and then exhort us to push ourselves for 30 or 60 seconds I focused on the beat and let it move me as fast as my legs could pedal. As we pushed up invisible hills, I definitely broke a serious sweat, even though I didn't adjust my resistance very much. I liked that I was able to keep my head down and focus on my own burn instead of getting distracted by my classmates whizzing along next to me. Although the pedals have stirrups to keep your feet in place, there were a few times when I excitedly got ahead of myself and almost fell off the bike- yes a stationary bike. This might explain why I don't know how to ride a real bicycle. Regardless, it was a good ride and I made it the whole 45 minutes without stopping, although I did slow down a few times. Afterwards we did standing stretches and it felt great, although I didn't really feel any burn walking out. Later in the day I felt some soreness in my thighs, but nothing crazy. Maybe tomorrow?
The Cost: The website doesn't state the gym rates but a quick Google search reveals that as of last May a two month membership to any of the NYC locations was valued at $318. The website is currently advertising "3 days on us" so you can inquire about a guest pass here if you want to check it out for yourself. Since I was a first-time guest I was mentally preparing myself to fight off the hard membership sell but other than checking me in, nobody administrative seemed to notice or bother with me. This was great since I'm not looking to join DBG, but if I'd actually been considering membership, I'd probably feel a bit slighted. **shrugs**
I've got one more visit at DBG left and I hope to make it back to Friday morning's class!
Here's an interesting article on the man behind the movement if you're interested in learning more about David Barton.
Have you been to a David Barton Gym or something with a similar vibe? Thoughts?