The last time I took a cycling class was in 2002. Group cycling was just catching on as a fitness trend, and I was pumped to try a class.
I was sorely disappointed.
For one, the instruction on how to manage intensity was not explained well. As someone who always thinks she can do more than she can actually do, I’m pretty sure I was completely skunked by about song three.
For another, the class was just straight-up boring.
Even though I knew in my head how beneficial cycling could be, I just couldn’t force myself to take another class.
Flash forward 11 years, and I was offered the chance to try out a class at CYC Fitness in Austin. Always game for a challenge, I said yes and scheduled a class for a Wednesday morning.
My first CYC ride
You know how there’s good customer service, great customer service, and then the kind of customer service that’s so above-and-beyond that you just think, “Woah, what happened there?!?”
You can put CYC’s customer service into that last category.
I accidentally parked in the wrong parking garage and had to run up six flights of stairs and re-park shortly before class. I knew I was almost late as I walked in, but one of the owners, Alex, was standing there waiting for me, introduced herself and explained that I could join her in class once I’d switched out my shoes.
Apparently CYC provides cycling shoes for everyone attending class so they can get the full effect.
I quickly switched out my shoes and popped into class where a CYC employee fitted me for the bike.
Abby, this petite firecracker of a woman, was the instructor (or as CYC calls them, the cycologist), and quickly explained the various positions we’d be using during the class.
And just like that, we got started!
I can’t say enough good things about Abby’s instruction. Her movements were crisp and easy to follow, her cueing was amazing and the song choices were perfect. I pretty much felt like I was going to die during each song, but the choreography kept me moving so I didn’t have the time to think about how much my muscles were screaming. It didn’t take long for sweat to pour off me in streams, but luckily the CYC staff had provided me with a towel and bottle of water, too.
Apart from the awesome instruction, there were a couple things that stood out to me about CYC:
- The movements were almost like dancing. Like I said, the choreography of the class was great, and the attention to the rhythm of the songs lent itself to dance-like movements from side-to-side and front to back. It was really a lot of fun to allow your whole body to get into the music instead of just focusing on pedaling.
- They incorporated upper body exercises with the use of hand weights. Every bike had a set of 1-, 2-, or 3-pound hand weights sitting in one of the water bottle holders. Unlike dumbbells, these are custom-made, sand-filled sleeves. They’re easy to grip, but if one gets away from you and goes flying across the room, it’s not going to hurt anyone else. Several of the songs featured rowing and boxing movements and even some more traditional upper-body strength training exercises like biceps curls and shoulder presses.
- They keep the studio dark. And if you think about it, that’s a good thing! You’re not paying attention to anyone or anything else, you’re just focusing on the music, the instructor and your own workout.
- They offer theme rides. While the class I took with Abby wasn’t themed, one of the first things I noticed on their schedule is that they had themes like “Boy Bands,” where all the music for the session is set to boy band music. How fun is that?
At any rate, my 45-minute class was over before I knew it and there wasn’t a dry spot left on my body. Seriously, I was drenched.
I made my way out of class, where Alex and Abby showed me around (the facility and amenities are great!) and filled me in a little bit about the company and how it got started. Plus, they gave me a (totally unexpected!) goody bag of stuff. Who doesn’t love that?
CYC: Coming soon to your city… you hope
The founding partners of CYC are all actually based in New York City; but, interestingly, they don’t actually have a facility there! Their two CYC Fitness studios are based in Madison, Wisconsin (launched in October 2012) and Austin, Texas (launched in November 2012). With the success of their first two facilities, they hope to open studios in major cities across the country within the next few years.
If you want one in your area, send them a note and let them know!
A keen focus on community
CYC and its employees are all about community. They’ve specifically chosen to open their studios in proximity to college campuses in an effort to cater to college students and young professionals. They partner with other local fitness organizations, like yoga and barre studios, in an effort to offer fun opportunities to members. For instance, they occasionally offer post-ride yoga classes in their lobby or they’ll head over to the lake for a paddleboard yoga class during the summer. They encourage riders to come at the same time for several weeks in a row so they can get to know their classmates.
As Alex was sharing these opportunities, she said, “Oh! We’re having an Electric Ride tomorrow night, you should come!” Come to find out, an Electric Ride is a one-hour cycling class featuring a live DJ with post-ride cocktails provided to riders.
Count me in!
The Electric Ride
I arrived about 15 minutes before the 7:30 pm start time and walked into the lobby milling with people wearing neon colors and decked out in a variety of glow bracelets and rings. I checked in, got my cycling shoes and was also given a set of four bracelets and two rings. Woohoo, I was glowin’!
At 7:30 we all filed into the cycling studio where the instructor, Jess T., was sportin’ a glowing tutu and was already jamming out the the DJ’s music.
It took a few minutes for everyone to get locked and loaded, but once we were set, we were off!
The studio was glowing, the energy was high and like before, it took no time to start sweating.
I will say that it was harder to hear and see the cues from where I was sitting, so I had a little bit harder time following along, but the hour-long ride was over in a flash, which meant we were ready for cocktails!
We filed out, switched back into cycling shoes and enjoyed the social atmosphere of drinks, sweaty bodies and laughter.
I had to leave a little bit early because my husband was waiting for me in the car (long story… my fault), but I still got to enjoy the time and experience the camaraderie of the event.
Girls Gone Sporty will get CYC’d soon
In addition to having a great studio, great instructors and super-helpful owners, Alex went above-and-beyond again. She has offered to host a Girls Gone Sporty private ride! We have to work out the details, but essentially we’ll be able to flood the CYC studio with Girls Gone Sporty readers and ambassadors to enjoy a group ride. Following the ride, we can hang out for snacks and bonding in the CYC lobby. How great is that? I haven’t confirmed dates or times, but if you’re in the Austin area, definitely be on the lookout for more information soon!
There’s a lot more to CYC than your standard ride. They have an active online community and they offer technology that allows you to track distances, send and accept challenges and monitor progress over time. You can join their community and learn more by visiting their website.