Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.


This morning the last thing I wanted to do was drag my body out of bed at 7am and walk the ~10 blocks to Flywheel for an 8am spin class. I didn't sleep well last night - I think I may have clocked 5 hours - and I was feeling like a total grump, thanks in part to this dreary Philadelphia weather that's been hanging around for the last 10 days.

Thankfully, I had two things motivating me to not be a lazy bum: 1) The $15 "late cancel" ClassPass fee I'd incur if I canceled at the last minute and 2) The fact that my favorite Flywheel instructor, Nicole, was going to entertain my ridiculous fantasy of flying (that's fancy Flywheel lingo for spinning) to the Star Wars theme song.

I got up, donned my R2D2 socks and Star Wars tank, and although I may not have performed to the best of my ability in the class, I'm glad I went.

A year ago I was convinced that I hated cycling. I mean, truthfully, a year ago I was convinced that I hated all forms of exercise, but I particularly thought indoor cycling was lame. Granted most of my experience was based on miserable rides on the stationary bike at the gym, but I did attend one cycling class at another studio in Philly about a year ago and just wasn't feeling it.

Something about Flywheel changed my mind.

Let's start with the environment. You fly in a stadium-style room with bikes lined up in a semi-circle around an instructor who is elevated on a small stage. When the ride begins, that stadium becomes pitch black dark, save for a few subtle blue lights illuminating the tech pack (I'll get to that momentarily) on your bike. This environment feels almost like you're in a submarine, where the lights, sounds and distractions of the outside world fade away. I find that I'm able to really tune in to my body when I'm in the stadium and focus on what I'm there to do: sweat.

That's the next great thing: Flywheel workouts are amazing, and they're great for fitness enthusiasts of all levels, because 1) you can pace yourself, and 2) the pitch black workout environment means there's no way other riders are looking at you and "judging" you on your relative performance. Sure the instructors yell out torq (or resistance) and RPM (or speed) numbers as a guide, but if you're feeling tired, you just do you. (The one caveat to this is the torq board, which is totally optional, but if you're looking for an extra competitive push, you can opt to have your class rank displayed on a big screen at the front of the room. I've been flying for 6 months now and haven't done this yet.)

Next there's the instructors. There's a million of them, and they each have their own unique style, not only in terms of music choice, but also in how they structure the ride. I went to a class with a woman named Jordana last week, and while I loved her music, she threw in a bunch of fancy, bouncy moves that were more uncomfortable for me than anything else. That said, I have a friend who loves stuff like that, so Jordana's class is perfect for her. As I mentioned, Nicole's my favorite (I also love Utley), because she keeps it simple -- that doesn't mean easy, by any means, but I don't have to worry about keeping up with intricate up-down choreography or incorporating overhead claps into my routine to get a good workout. Ultimately, my point here is that there are enough Flywheel instructors that you can try a bunch of them and figure out whose style gels with what you like from your workout.

The last point I'll make about this studio is that they're really on the up and up in terms of technology. The tech pack that I mentioned earlier is a little tracking do-dad (yeah, that's really the best descriptor I could come up with) that not only measures your speed and resistance, but also how much "power" you're working out at in a given moment and your overall "score" for the ride (I'm pretty sure the power metric contributes to your score). After your ride, you can go onto your handy dandy Flywheel app and see all sorts of stats about your ride - your max speed, how many miles you rode, how many calories you burned, etc. And you can track and compare your scores over time to see how you're improving as you increase your level of fitness. That's another reason why I love Nicole's classes - for some reason, I almost always earn my highest scores when she's teaching. And yes, as a type-A, accomplishment-driven individual, getting a high score definitely makes a difference.

It's all these things put together that really makes for a quality exercise experience in my book. An environment conducive to focus, an awesome instructor, killer music and an embedded motivational tool that makes you want to come back again and again.

On this rainy Tuesday, dragging my tired ass to class was worth it, because riding to the Star Wars theme song was as fabulous as I imagined it'd be. Not to mention, I snagged this amazingly awesome Flywheel / Star Wars t-shirt on my way out. Score.

If you're interested in giving Flywheel a shot, they have locations in 12 states and they'll let you take your first class for free to try it out. My best advice for a newbie is to go easy on yourself. Pedal at your own pace and enjoy the experience for what it is. If you're anything like me, you'll be addicted to flying in no time.

Flywheel isn't paying me to write this blog post, in fact, they have no idea that I've even penned it. All opinions expressed are my own, and no affiliate links have been used.

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