Crash Course:Ride DC is one of the newer spin studio additions to the U Street corridor, and the first in DC to offer live performance tracking technology – a feature that lets students monitor their progress throughout the class. Each bike is hooked up to a system that projects speed, power, and other handy stats onto a screen at the front of the room. Throughout the class, students are racked and stacked according to their output and overall performance. In other words, if you are a competitive person, this class will either fulfill your every raging desire or drive you raging mad as you watch yourself rise and fall within the pack. Accumulated performance stats are kept on the Ride DC website, so students can monitor their personal progress and overall standing in the pool of other studio spinsters. This technology is, of course, optional – but why not take your spin session to the next level and give it a whirl? A full list of class times can be found on the Ride DC website.
Ride DC is located on the busy fitness intersection of 14th Street and Florida, smack dab in the middle of Praxis Crossfit and the new Anthony Bowen YMCA on W Street. The space was formerly occupied by Peloton Cycling, and many of the same decorations (like the fantastic old-school cycling photo covering the front wall) are still being used in the new studio. It’s a very tiny nook without much fanfare, and would have a spartan feel if not for the beautifully-appointed lobby. Think rich mahogany and leather furniture, vintage lightbulbs, and a plush sitting area.
Even the tiny bathroom – which doubles as a changing room – has a Restoration Hardware feel. While the boutique attention to detail is lovely, having to use the bathroom to change while others are anxiously waiting to use it is a bit of a stresser. I came directly from work and had to bite the bullet, but if you can manage, I recommend coming ready to ride and save yourself the trouble.
The studio is dimly lit and tall candles illuminate the base of each bike. I’ve seen these battery-powered votives at other spin studios around town and even out in Portland, so I’m guessing this little detail is en vogue. The instructor sits on a raised platform with the interactive scoreboard behind them, and each bike has a fresh towel curled up in the handle bar.
One thing I really liked about Ride DC is that you can pick which bike you want to use when you go online to sign up for class. I tend to enjoy being toward the back, so I picked a spot in the third row. Truth is, I kind of like to pretend I’m chasing down everyone in front of me, so being in the back is a little trick to help motivate me through class.
Our instructor Rachel introduced herself and went from bike to bike making sure we were all adjusted and comfortable on the stationary Schwinn. She demonstrated how to activate the monitor on our own bikes, which in turn activated the sensor to animate the live stats on the screen. The music started pumping, the screen flickered on, and next thing I knew we were off and running.
The class was a 45 minute blast of sprints and hills, sprinkled with dumbbell arm exercises and pushups on the bike. I am personally not a fan of the bike push ups – mostly because I think they mess with my form, distract me from what’s going on with my legs, and really don’t ever leave me with a good upper body workout. I think they’re more of a dance than anything else and I feel awkward and clumsy doing them. But a lot of studios incorporate the bike pushups as part of their “full body” spin workout, so if nothing else, it’s a popular trend. Just know before you go and be prepared for some arm dancing.
As someone who tends to be a bit chronically competitive, having a screen in front of me with live feedback regarding my rank in the class was absolutely addictive. It was motivating, maddening, and pushed me to pedal my hardest throughout every song.
I felt my eyes darting about the room, searching for the bikes who were ranked ahead of me, wondering what I could do to eek past them on the board. More resistance? More speed? More enthusiasm? I see you over there on bike four…I will catch you! Oh wait, we’re on stationary bikes. This is a farce. But holy cow, is it making me hustle.
While other spin classes sometimes allow for a huge range of effort (turn that spin dial how many turns to the right? riiiiiight), the real-time feedback regarding my power output and speed allowed me to keep my effort in check throughout the entire workout.
That said, the class is paced in a way that allows for all speeds and ability levels, so don’t feel like this class is for Tour de France hopefuls only. I decided to hammer through the whole thing because I have a tendency (ahem) to be a tad competitive and raced bikes in a past life. Others may have a totally different outlook. If you’re a beginner, or just don’t want the pressure of having your stats broadcast for the entire class to see, you can opt out of being on the board. No questions asked.
I want to give a shout out to our instructor Rachel, who bopped around the room from time to time during the class to give individual motivational pick-me-ups, cheer us on during sprints, or just check in. It was a nice surprise to have her come off of the instructor platform and give us encouragement in person. There’s something about having the instructor in your face that really lights a spark to get moving. I’m not sure if every instructor does this, but it’s fun to see someone try something a little unorthodox in an effort to add a bit of spunk to the class.
All in all, I enjoyed my class and testing out the interactive tracking system. It sets Ride DC apart from the other spins studios in the city and really brings something neat to the experience. I left a sweaty mess and chomping at the bit for another chance to race, er, workout with another class full of cyclists soon.
[what I liked]
live feed stats during class
online leaderboard to see accumulative standings and progress
great music (they even played “Africa,” my favorite song in the universe)
[what I didn't like]
one bathroom/changing room
you can sometimes hear the rumble of barbells falling from Crossfit Praxis next door
What do you think of the live tracking bike system: distracting or motivating?
I crashed a fusion spin and yoga class at Sculpt DC back in October. This was right after the studio had opened and things were still settling into place. Because there were a few elements about Sculpt that piqued my interest – including the sweat till you drop cycling workout – I was excited to go back and see how things were going. If you are interested in seeing more photos of their beautiful Chinatown/Metro Center space, check out my original post here.
For my second crash, Sculpt invited me to test out their first-ever double team spin class featuring their “dynamic duo” of instructors, Zac and Gregg. It was 75 minutes of spinning with intervals of weighted arm exercises mixed in. But more importantly, it was 75 minutes of spinning. To help prepare for the occasion, I decided to reach deep into the abyss of my spandex drawer to resurrect these beauties.
I haven’t worn padded bike shorts since my days on the Georgetown triathlon team. And let me tell you, that was ages ago. I’m astonished I held on to these shorts, but I guess somehow I knew I’d need to rely on them for the Gregg and Zach spin bonanza.
Zac led the first class I attended at Sculpt and I knew he was going to deliver a high-energy ride. I had also been hearing positive things about Gregg’s classes, so before I even stepped into the room my expectations were high for the next 75 minutes to be a challenge. Then again, with the crazy disco lights and trapped-in-a-soundsystem noise level, I was also expecting it to be a lot of fun.
Gregg and Zac alternated leading the group and switched off every song. They kept things interesting by incorporating on the bike pushups, freeweights, intervals, and standing climbs. We did something different every few minutes, which really kept me on my toes. If you’re looking for a challenge, this would be it.
As far as the music goes, I thought the playlist was really good, but I realize that’s entirely subjective. I must say, however, it’s hard to go wrong with One Direction remixes and throwbacks like No Scrubs. I was absolutely dripping in sweat, singing my heart out in the back row. Whatever your music taste, you won’t have a problem feeling motivated by the tempo. I was so entertained slash distracted, in fact, that I didn’t look at my watch until 60 minutes had passed.
While 75 minutes of sweaty spinning packed into a loud room with two instructors isn’t everyone’s ideal Friday night activity, I thought it was an awesomely good time. Thanks to Zac and Gregg for hosting the party. I suggest checking Sculpt’s schedule to see when the next double-trouble class will be and plan a girls or guys night out. There are so many bars and restaurants nearby, and they have two beautiful showers at the studio – so you don’t have any excuses for not making the most of it!
Being just a few blocks away, I walked over to 7th street to feast at the new health-food sensation, Protein Bar. Admittedly, I had already tried Protein Bar during a trip to Chicago over the summer, and was instantly smitten. When word started to spread that one would be opening in DC, I couldn’t wait to make my way over and welcome them to the neighborhood. Tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity – although my apologies to the Protein Bar staff for introducing myself in sweat-ridden spandex. Classy.
I was famished and ordered their greenberry juice, a pesto and spinach quinoa bowl, and grabbed some pumpkin walnut chocolate chip protein cookies to go. They were made with protein powder instead of flower – cool, right? They tasted a lot more like bread than cookies, but I’m not complaining. The entire meal was just what I needed to refuel after such a crazy workout. Needless to say, it also sent me straight into a food coma and I ended up “crashing” in bed by 10 p.m. The excitement never ends over at Fit Crasher HQ, my friends!
Crash Course: This is a 45-minute dance party masquerading as a spin class. I kid you not, the music was so loud and the energy so intense I almost forgot about the sweat pouring off of my face or the burn in my legs. If you’re used to ye olde spin class with muzak and a few boring intervals, this is the wake up call you’ve been praying for. It’s a challenge for any fitness level and, most importantly, a guaranteed good time. Click here to check out the schedule.
Want to know what the Biker Barre studio looks like? Click here for a photo tour and to read about my crash experience at the barre class. I liked it so much I decided to come back and try their signature spin workout with owner Katie Fouts.
I’m not sure where to start with this post other than to say that I had an awesome time crashing Biker Barre’s 9:15 class on Saturday morning. I was sore from the previous night’s overzealous attempts at creating my own bootcamp session, and wasn’t sure I had the mental fortitude or quad strength to make it through 45 minutes of indoor spinning.
But I walked into the studio on that grey, cold morning with great expectations. I have been hearing a lot of buzz about Biker Barre’s spin classes, and was really hoping that my experience would live up to the hype. To say that it surpassed my expectations would be an understatement. Here are a few reasons why:
The energy in the room was off the charts from start to finish. Everyone there was ready to sweat, work hard, and have fun.
Katie’s verbal cues were spot on. She knew her playlist backwards and forwards, and walked us seamlessly through multiple body positions and various intervals. She worked the class like a preacher on Sunday morning, pacing back and forth, sweating like crazy with her hands in the air, as if she was trying to evoke the spirit of spinning to join us for the party.
The music selection. When Mumford and Sons transitioned into Kesha which faded into En Vogue, I knew I was in the right place. The entire 45 minutes was full of dance-inducing hits that made me wish I had a karaoke machine attached to my bike. (I can assure you, those around me were thankful this was not the case.)
If you arrived in a bad mood, there’s no way you’ll leave in one. I finished the class in a pool of my own sweat with an enormous smile on my face.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
Also, I was delighted to see that the cold lavender mint towels I liked so much from my barre crash made a reappearance at the end of spin class. These are awesome for wiping away the sweat and totally count as rinsing off before brunch. At least it does in my book, because that’s exactly what I did.
I enjoyed a complimentary Biker Barre mimosa while changing into some dry clothes and then headed off to Matchbox to meet my friend Jenny for brunch. She had originally intended to join me for the spin workout, but Biker Barre classes have become so popular you need to reserve your spot a few days in advance. So she did a running workout and we met in sweaty solidarity for some banana-bread french toast and a veggie omlette. We were so busy catching up and scarfing down our food that I didn’t remember to take a photo until the end. Oops!
And because a visit to Capitol Hill isn’t complete without a stroll through Eastern Market, I happily obliged. It’s one of my favorite spots in DC and on Saturday it was particularly cheery with lots of holiday decorations on display. There were at least four different Christmas tree vendors, a few street musicians playing holiday music, and glasses of mulled apple cider to top it off. Bring on the holidays!