It's dark inside the studio, but the instructor turned on the lights and shut off the music, so we could see and hear how hard we were working. I was limp, resting my forehead on the handlebar of my bike with my arms outstretched like I was in Child's Pose, praying this would be over soon. This was not how I remembered SoulCycle.
Spin classes have gone from trend to bonafide staple in the workout world. In fact, they've become more than just a workout, they're a lifestyle. Take the branded clothing: It marks you as a devotee. SoulCyclers are so devoted, in fact, that the studio recently launched an exclusive collaboration with cool-girl brand Ultracor that allows riders to customize leggings to their exact specifications (seriously, there's even a gradient color scale that makes virtually any hue possible) in-studio at a kiosk. What I'm trying to say is: People are devoted to their studios. So it's no surprise that boutique studios like SoulCycle and Flywheel are catering to even more of our fitness needs than ever. These days, they're upping the ante even more via high-intensity interval training, aka HIIT.
These classes are meant to be added into regular spin routines a couple of times a week to help build endurance and burn more fat. HIIT training incorporates short periods of high intensity movements followed by rest/low-intensity excercises. This style of training has been shown to be more effective than long, moderate periods of exercise in terms of muscle-building and fat reduction.
At SoulCycle, this translates into 60 minutes of high-intensity interval training during their SoulActivate class, which launched in February. They estimate that riders burn, on average, 150-300 more calories than they would in a regular class. The class builds endurance by accelerating and decelerating your heart rate, and really pushing you to turn up the resistance. (Seriously, it's no joke: I did Tabata-style sprint intervals at a heavy resistance, which made me want to die. And I do CrossFit, so I'm no stranger to intense workouts.) You'll also use heavier weights than the typical three-pounders you pick up in a regular class.
Flywheel offers their Tempo class in-studio at locations in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle as 45 or 60-minute classes. You can also access it on their at-home system, FLY Anywhere, as a 30-minute class. At Flywheel, the Tempo classes involve pedaling to the beat of music at a heavy resistance, with core-strengthening movements. Instructors also encourage riders to all spin in tandem. (Side note: We bet this synchronized movement would make an awesome boomerang. We're always thinking about #content.)
"I'd recommend riders complement their regular riding program with Tempo one-to-two times a week. This would enhance an overall riding program of approximately four classes per week which I recommend depending on what other cardio fitness they are doing," says Victor Self, West Coast creative director and master instructor at Flywheel.
His ideal schedule:
Monday - Method (their signature class)
Wednesday - Tempo
Friday - Method or Power (a more challenging version of their signature class)
Weekend Day - Method or Tempo