Following my review of SoulCycle, I was asked to review some of the other exercise studios I’ve visited in the District, and having just taken a 45-minute class at Cyclebar yesterday, August 21st, it seemed fitting to write about my experiences there.
I’ve been going to Cyclebar on Delaware Ave (NoMa) since February, when I decided that I needed to incorporate more structured workouts into my schedule, as I was biking to work less because of a move to a different building. Cyclebar was the first spin class I had taken in DC, but not the first I had ever taken.
In the past six months, Cyclebar has become one of my favorite places to get a great workout, and I recommend it to a lot of friends, and I’ve even taken friends who visit from out of town. I’ll break it down:
First, the schedule offers a wealth of classes at different times with different instructors, and in many cases each ride has a musical theme, which I’m sure entices its millennial clientele and keeps them coming back for more. I use ClassPass to enroll and the process is easy.
Upon entering the location, the staff is warm and welcoming, the check-in process is a breeze, and the correct size shoes (European measurements) are placed in a cubbie corresponding to your bike number.
The locker rooms are small but ample, as is the waiting room, which can unfortunately become too cramped in between classes as the previous class is cooling off and the next class is waiting to get inside.
Once inside the studio, the bikes are easy to set up and intuitive, unlike the bikes at SoulCycle which required a bit more complexity than I felt was necessary. Each bike is outfitted with a personal screen, which displays RPM, resistance, time, miles, and average power generated during the workout. Having the display makes it easy to stay in rhythm with the class, gauge exactly how difficult you want to make your ride, and provides some motivation if you want to work even harder.
I’ve taken classes with several different instructors at Cyclebar and Lexi is by far my favorite instructor in the entire city. The genius behind Lexi’s workouts is that she doesn’t let you do one thing for more than 15 or 20 seconds. By constantly changing resistance, speed, body position, hand position, or body movements, you never know what to expect, and in my case, never get bored with doing the same thing ad nauseum or stay too long in something I don’t like.
Lexi’s use of interval training is also impressive. The speed at which she builds up each interval is spot-on, and she seems to know exactly when the class is at the point of exhaustion to offer a short break before going right back into it. Whether or not she does it on purpose, Lexi spends some time on the bike and other times off of it providing instruction and a good, but not overly done level of motivation for the class. To me, this balance allows her to maintain her focus on the class and keep everyone on track, while not becoming overly tired herself.
Aside from the technical aspects of the workout, Lexi also brings more fun to any exercise class I’ve been to. Her use of “man, that last push was hard af, but it’s okay because that’s why we’re here” makes me laugh every time, specifically because she says the letters “a” and “f” rather than “hard as ****.” She knows many people in her classes and calls them out by name (including me) during the class to provide support and motivation when necessary.
Cyclebar’s platform allows instructors to set up races for the class on an individual basis as well as pit one row of bikes against the others during a race or other short bursts. This is a usual tactic of Lexi and something I enjoy. Seeing the scores of each row displayed on screens in front of the class keeps the row motivated to work together and win…not that anybody wins anything other than pride.
The Cyclebar system’s race tracking is something I also enjoy. As a person who probably is more competitive than most, I enjoy being able to see my progress during a 30-second race against the others in the class. The system also keeps track of the overall power generated by each participant, which the instructor can display on screen at any time and leads to an overall ranking at the end of each class.
About 2/3 of the way through the class, we completed a short upper body workout before finishing the class with a few more songs. By the end of Lexi’s classes, I always feel like I’ve given my all and in many cases find it hard to move quickly because I’ve expended so much energy. My wife, Abby, feels the same way.
After class, they provide cold towels to help cool down, and in many cases, depending on the class, some snacks or even a mimosa or light beer.
Lexi’s classes fill up quickly, but if they do, there are several other instructors you can find with.
Here is how I would rate Cyclebar NoMa:
Instructor (Lexi): A
Maybe I’ll see you for one of Lexi’s Tuesday night 6 p.m. classes some time soon. Remember, they can be hard af!