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DSB Review: Revolve NYC – The Real Deal in Indoor Cycling

Posted Jan 22 2013 10:21am

I’ve tried indoor cycling classes in many places: Meadows Spa , The Gym (where I used to see Kyle McLaughlin), Crunch , The Sports Club/LA , New York Sports Club, Soul Cycle , FlyWheel Sports , Work It Out (review coming next week), Equinox and Revolve .

That’s a lot of spinning.

My memories of the first few places are fuzzy, but I can tell you that it wasn’t until The Sports Club/LA classes that I “got it.” The instructors there were really great – most were cyclists themselves and the classes were meant to resemble actual cycling more than they were meant to be just a cardio workout.

Before then, I thought I didn’t like spinning. Then I realized what type of indoor cycling classes I liked. Knowing that helped me choose classes that I would be more likely to enjoy.

The other thing holding me back was the same problem I had when I tried running the first few times – I tried to do way too much. I’d turn my resistance so high (thinking that’s what they were telling us to do – what does “3 turns” mean anyway?) and then feel like death during the class. I was miserable.

Last week when I was getting certified to teach indoor cycling through Schwinn (yes, I am an official instructor now and trying to pick up sub jobs in my area!) I learned something really important – when the instructor tells you what your speed should be first (ie, cycle to this beat or ride at 70 RPMs) you can THEN adjust the resistance to make it the right level of challenging.

My entire spinning world changed with this revelation. It also changed with many of the other really fascinating things I learned during instructor training.

At the same time, I’d been coincidentally dabbling in Revolve NYC over these last few weeks. Revolve is the newest boutique indoor cycling studio to hit New York City. This is their second studio, the first is in Washington, DC and has a hugely loyal fan base. In NYC, they are located in Union Square, which is very convenient for me traveling in from Jersey City and it is very convenient for most New Yorkers, since the majority of subway lines go to the general area.

Revolve NYC Studio Hallway

I knew I liked Revolve far better than my gym spin classes and the other boutique studios in New York City, but I couldn’t verbalize exactly why – until now.

  • I like classes that are meant to resemble a “real” cycling experience more than those meant to just be a good workout. A particularly grueling 20-minute climb I did at The Sports Club/LA always comes to mind when I think about some of my favorite spinning memories.
  • I like classes that have monitors to display RPMs. I like knowing what I should be reaching for or I feel lost. If there’s no monitor, I’d like for the instructor to suggest cycling to the beat or to match her own leg speed.
  • I like classes where the instructor clearly sets the stage for all aspects of the class – how many hills we will do, how long they will be, how many seconds more in the sprint, how many minutes did we cover in this hill and how many are left – give me the info so I can push myself without worrying about what’s coming next. Otherwise, I might hold back. Knowledge is power, kids.
  • I like spin classes that have motivational instructors. I can’t push myself to work hard on my own; that’s the reason I travel great distances for Refine over the gym next door to my apartment. I need to be pushed by someone else.
  • I like classes with great music.
  • I like classes that at times incorporate a weights element (obviously not like a real bike ride but well, this isn’t one).
  • I like classes where the instructor asks if anyone needs help adjusting their bikes beforehand.
  • I like classes that are challenging because riding up hills and sprinting is challenging; I don’t need anything more than these basic aspects of riding a bike.
  • I like classes where the instructor will get off her bike every now and then, approach me and push me to work even harder.

Classes at Revolve incorporate all these things.

I remember taking a spin class at NYSC with Missy that was a good workout but felt very “excerise class-y.” Each song was it’s own mini experience. “This song is jumps! This song is a hill!” I prefer the entire class to be its own experience.

These ‘likes’ also made it very clear about my indoor cycling dislikes.

  • I dislike gimmicky classes. I want to work hard because the class is hard, not because it relies on gimmicks to make you think it’s hard.
  • I dislike being forced to ride to the beat/instructors who yell at me for not riding to the beat or doing “bike dances” in sync.
  • I dislike gimmicks that force my resistance to be easy because that is the only way to keep up with the dancing or bike pushups or swaying back and forth.
  • I dislike instructors who just stand next to their bike and call out commands, never riding along with us. Share the experience!
  • I dislike instructors who stay on their bike and call out commands. Calling out commands does not a spin class make.

In a nutshell, I want to be motivated, I want my experience to be as close to a real bike ride as possible, I want an instructor who can push me to work a hell of a lot harder than I would on my own. Say the right words. Motivate me. Inspire me. Make me think. Make me zone out.

I found this at Revolve, the newest boutique indoor cycling studio in New York City.

I’ve taken three classes there so far, with three different instructors.

Off-bike experience

The staff is very friendly. Shoe rentals are $2, or you can bring your own. There is a water filter so you can refill your bottle. The locker area is coed so don’t nude yourself there! There are spacious lockers and less-spacious lockers, and I’ve never had trouble getting a spacious one. The women’s bathroom/shower area has two showers stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. By the sinks you’ll find ponytail holders, deodorant, organic tampons and maxi-pads, Q-Tips and a blow dryer. It can get crowded in there after a class. The crowd seems low-key and cool. After class, the instructor is happy to chat.

Revolve locker area

On-bike experience

Awesome.The instructor or a Revolve employee will offer to help with bike setup, and they even give you a little card with your settings so you can remember it for the next class! The Schwinn bikes are smooth, with many places to put your hands during your ride for maximum comfort. The class itself has been fantastic every time.

The first time, the instructor Kristin Kenney based the ride off a real ride she did in France. She made us feel like we were there! She explained the terrain so we knew what to expect. And the music was awesome. The second time I had Heidi Jones , and I was especially in love with her music. I need that entire playlist. She pushed me so hard I actually cried out after one tough hill sprint. This morning I tried Jade Alexis and the highlight of the class was when we had 10 seconds left of really hard work, she came over to my bike and motioned with her hands for me to push harder, cycle faster, leave my comfort zone. It was her encouragement that made me work harder in those last 10 seconds than I would have on my own, made me see I had a little more push left in me.

Revolve NYC bike studio

In the classes I’ve taken, the other students in the room seem engaged and working hard, which always makes me want to work harder too. I haven’t had a chance to try the classes that use weights yet, but I am looking forward to taking one next week. The weights they use are like long thin sandbags. I picked one up today and found it very easy to hold, and I can see why these are great weights to use while riding a bike.

The class I missed yesterday was a Body Mashup Ride with Dyan Tsiumis , and it seemed awesome. And today on Twitter, everyone is telling me I MUST try a Kira Stokes class as soon as possible. I’ve heard of her, she’s kind of a legend, so I signed up for her Rip Ride class next week. I’ll finally get to use the weights!

Speaking of that, Revolve offers three types of classes in their New York City studio:

  • Real Ride – Cycling class meant to replicate a real cycling experience, no weights. Usually 45 minutes.
  • Body Ride – Similar to Real Ride but with a weights element while on the bike. Usually 45 minutes.
  • Rip Ride - Alternates cycling with upper body weights segments. 60 or 75 minutes.

The other thing I really love about Revolve right now might change (I’m not helping with my glowing review) and that is this: I can get into any class I want at any time I want. While it is no secret I don’t like Soul Cycle, I actually do like FlyWheel but it’s impossible to get into any classes!

Also, I can spin for free at the gym next door to my apartment, but I choose to pay right now and go to Revolve in the city. I choose a train ride and I choose earlier wake-ups or later arrive-homes (is that a thing?). That says a lot about my experience! And since taking the free classes at my gym often barely feels like a workout… Choosing Revolve is a no-brainer for me right now.


Less than the competitors!

One class is $28 (Soul Cycle is $34 and FlyWheel is $32). Each class package brings down the price of the individual class. There are also a number of unlimited class options, which come with priority seat booking.

Their best deal right now is the Intro Month, which I am currently taking advantage of right now: Unlimited rides for 30 days for just $99!

You only need to take four classes (or one a week) to get your money’s worth. Any classes you take over that is extra icing on the cake. Because of my schedule I probably won’t make it to more than four this month, but I’m so glad I signed up for this offer and can experience a number of instructors at Revolve. I’m trying not to take the same one twice.

They also offer student, teacher and military discounts.


Nothing’s perfect, right? I’m not a big fan of the locker room situation. While it’s no different from the other cycling studios, I do find it annoying in general to have to take my clothes and makeup out of a locker in the coed area and bring it all into another area to actually get ready while it all sits on a bench in a mess. That being said, I’ve showered after class twice and it’s been fine. Once I had to wait a few minutes for a shower and today there was no wait at all. It was a very easy experience. If it is ever crowded I have no problem “showering” with wipes (I do it all the time after Refine).

My only suggestion for the shower/changing/getting ready area would be to add shelves to put makeup bags on. I was balancing mine by the sink, trying not to drop things in.

Revolve NYC locker area

The bikes in the room aren’t too close together, although the rows are packed in tight. It hasn’t bothered me at all but some people might find it tight. Again, it is really no different from most other studios and gym indoor cycling rooms.

Final Thoughts

I know that many of you adore the exact type of classes I don’t like. That’s good! I don’t think less of you or hate you, I just prefer a different type of cycling experience.

Having so much variety and studios that cater to different tastes is a really great thing! I’m really glad Revolve came to NYC because their classes satisfy the people like me who crave something different.

What type of indoor cycling classes are your favorite?


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