Hi folks! I’ve mentioned a few times on the blog that I am a fan of group fitness classes. I’m much less likely to give up and go home if I am shamed into staying just simply by being around people. I recently picked up a Groupon-like voucher for 5 indoor cycling classes at Sweat & Soul Yoga (SASY) in Brighton, Ma and gave it a try this week.
Unlike regular spinning classes, SASY utilizes Real Ryder bikes. Also unlike regular stationary spinning bikes, the Real Ryder bikes MOVE. So not only are you peddling during class, but you are also engaging your core to make “turns” and move from side to side. It is meant to more accurately reflect what riding a bike is like.
Here are a few of the Key Benefits of Real Ryder bikes according to the RealRyder International website:
- Increase core strength and stability
- Challenge balance, full-body coordination and proprioceptive skills
- Recruit more muscles during learning and steering movements to burn approximately 20% more calories compared to a conventional stationary bike (CSUN Study; Conducted by S. Loy, Ph.D. March 2009)
- Improve endurance, speed and agility for sport
- Identify and help correct muscle and joint imbalances.
- Benefit from greater joint mobility (especially, hips, back and knees) as the bike moves with your body’s natural pedaling motion
I got there about 10 minutes early to make sure I had plenty of time to set up my bike AND be in the back. I have to save some of my dignity when trying out these classes. Megan was already there and had the same idea so we were able to snag two of the bikes in the back.
My first impression…holy hell it is hot in there. I’m not sure if you have heard, but Boston is FREEZING (actually WAY past freezing) and when I arrived it was about 12 degrees outside. Inside it felt like I was in a bikram yoga session. SASY is a 2nd floor space that has two main rooms. One is for yoga and the other for spinning. There is a small space connecting them that was so cramped with coats and boots that I had a hard time getting around without tripping over someone’s junk.
When I walked into the spinning room there were already about 10 people there warming up. This place definitely has its regulars. I noticed that the room is tiny and a bit cramped. Yes, they have 14 bikes. Yes, you can easily touch the person on either side of you. The picture below is from their website and accurately reflects how big the room is.
There is a back room/office to the side of the studio to place your personal belongings, but no lockers or anything like that. Don’t bring anything that you don’t mind taking your eye off for a few minutes.
I have done spinning classes before. I was actually a pretty big devotee in college, but for some reason it just kind of fell of my radar. I knew how to set up my bike, which was good because I wasn’t really sure who I could ask for help. To be fair, it wasn’t that anyone wouldn’t help me (you can’t get answers if you don’t ask, right?!), but I have usually found that instructors walk around to make sure everyone is set up correctly before the class starts.
At 6 on the dot a woman who I thought was another rider took her spot on the instructor chair and introduced herself. She went over the basics of the class like hand positions, how to turn, what “jumps” meant and how to work the resistance. I was glad for the quick introduction to the bike and loved how her speech wasn’t rushed but also wouldn’t be like a lecture for someone who was a regular.
Then she dimmed the lights, which were actually wall chandeliers and way too cool, and turned the music up. Oh hey? Listening to Jay-Z? I can work with that. I have a tendency to really enjoy big beat music when I’m working out. My regular rotations for my workout playlist include things like Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People, Jessie J’s Do It Like a Dude, and most recently, Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger on repeat. I would probably stab myself in the eye if I had to listen to any 3 of those songs in my car.
We started off with a nice easy ride on about level 4 resistance for a warm-up. Note to SASY…no warm up needed. That room was already sweating. Literally. The walls were a bit sweaty behind me. The following songs were dedicated to turns (lean left/right), jumps, sprints, and all the basics of a spinning class. We kept our resistance between 6.5-8 for the majority of the ride.
Now here is where my review of a Real Ryder class might differ from another. When we went to do the jumps or running, which is basically standing up on the bike while pedaling, I had the hardest time! I was able to stand just fine, but because the bike sways from side to side the seat hit me in the butt over and over and over and over. I looked around and noticed that most of the Lululemon girls did not have a booty like I do and were not having the same problem. I started to laugh and leaned over to tell Meg what was going on. Unfortunately I forgot that the bike is meant for leaning and ended up almost swinging myself right off the bike. Big booty girl injury possibility?! I spent a lot of the time during the jumps and running back on the seat instead, which still provided a great workout but I would rather be doing the same as the instructor.
At the beginning of the class we were told to grab a set of dumbbells that ranged from 1 lb- 3lbs. I was a bit slow so Megan and I ended up with 1 pounders. About 10 minutes from the end of class we sat up straight on our bikes, while still pedaling, and did a weight routine for arms. *Pathetic upper body strength alert!* Thank God we had those 1 lb weights. My arms were burning by the end of the song!
After a cool down song it was time to stretch and get back on solid ground. And here is where I had the most awkward moment of the class. We were pushing our butts back towards the back of the bike seat and leaning over, to really stretch out the back and the hamstrings. The girl in front of me was apparently quite flexible so while my face is stretched forward looking at the instructor the girl directly in front of me smacked me in the face with her butt. I’m not sure if butt on face or the fact that she didn’t seem to notice (or care) was worse. Folks…this wasn’t a tap on the forehead. She smushed her butt into my face. *Shudder*
I was a hot mess after the class and so was everyone else. The bikes and the floor were soaked with sweat. We used wipes to clean off the bikes, but Megan did manage to slip in her own sweat puddle. Is that a badge of honor? Back in the room to get our personal items it got a bit crowded with our class leaving and the following class coming in. I was so hot and the room was so hot that I just wanted to get out of there.
My final verdict…
I LOVED IT!
A few highlights:
-The Real Ryder bikes. This bike makes the class not only entertaining, but also a really good workout. I could feel the burn in my legs, arms and core by the end of the class. I engaged muscles that I wouldn’t typically be forced to in a typical spinning class.
-The instructor. Kelly was fantastic during the class. She was motivating and encouraging without being irritating. Her routine matched the music perfectly and she really made the class time fly by.
-The weights song. I appreciate the addition of the strength training for a change in the class. It wasn’t much but enough to work some muscles and feel the burn.
-Location. The studio is right on Comm Ave in Brighton so it is right on my way home from work.
-Class times. I love that they start right after work and don’t require me to hang out at work until 7. That said, it should be noted that there are currently NO morning classes. This is not a place you would come for a before work/school workout.
-Cushioned Seats. This was the first time that a spinning seat did not completely wreck my butt bones. I was able to sit on the toilet the next day with no side effects.
-Online scheduling. It was so easy to book, change or cancel a class.
-Social Media. I know this seems a bit strange to be a highlight, but I appreciate a place that not only has an active Twitter and Facebook, but also interacts with their followers.
-The atmosphere. I liked the darker mood lighting and the booming music. It wasn’t so loud that I couldn’t hear Kelly, but it was also loud enough that it drowned out my own thoughts.
Room for improvement:
-Turn on the fans. Holy moly it was hot in there. I’m sweating buckets in there. I don’t need the wall sweating on me to make it even better.
-Price $$$. Right now I am using a voucher for 5 classes that cost $9/class. Once that is done the class price doubles and comes in at $18/class. Whoa. That is $2 away from my gym membership cost for the whole month.
I have four more classes to use so I’m going to stick to a once-a-week routine for the next few weeks. Next time I am going to lower my handlebars a bit more to see if that helps me in making the bike sway less when I’m standing so I can reduce the amount of saddle-butt slapping that happened.There is a sub for next week so I will also get a chance to try out another instructor!
SASY also offers a variety of yoga classes for $10/class and I’m thinking of trying out the Hip Hop yoga. This sounds just right for my limited attention span.
Are you a spinning fan? Have you ever tried Real Ryder indoor cycling?
*Any requests for other workout reviews?! Email me, tweet me, or leave me a comment.*