Spice Up Your Cardio With Flywheel Indoor Cycling — Torch Calories, Compete, And Get Addicted In The Process
Image: Boston Magazine
Spinning is nothing new. It’s been a staple on every health club’s menu of classes for the past couple of decades. Many gym-goers are drawn to indoor cycling because of its promise to torch mega calories while simultaneously strengthening the legs and glutes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, others avoid spin classes like the plague. For some, an hour of spinning is equated with torturous boredom; thanks, in part, to less-than-motivating music and overly enthusiastic (read: extremely irritating) instructors.
How can spinning possibly be made enjoyable, you ask? That’s where Flywheel indoor cycling comes in — a VAST improvement over your average, repetitive spin class. Say goodbye to furiously pedaling on a bike that should have been discarded with the coming of the new millennium; Flywheel classes are high tech, high energy, and high on the calorie burn.
So, what makes it different? Here’s the full rundown on Flywheel.
Everyone who has experienced a traditional spin class is familiar with the set-up. The instructor is almost always stationed with his or her back to the mirror and faces rows and rows of stationary bikes. If you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have a view allowing you to see your reflection, you’ll notice that the bright overhead lighting could make even a supermodel look like a sweaty mess.
Thankfully, Flywheel takes a refreshingly different approach. Each studio provides stadium seating as well as lights that dim during the ride. While there is no doubt that every Flywheel instructor is unique, each one seems to double as a motivational speaker. Their words of encouragement before and during the ride will psych you up to push yourself harder than you could imagine. And if you aren’t pumped up enough, instructors select music that perfectly complements each section of class. Climbing a steep hill is much more manageable when pedaling to the beat of an awesomely energizing tune — trust me on this.
During each 45 or 60 minute ride, prepare to work extremely hard and “never coast” — you’ll find yourself huffing and puffing through the whole class without much of a break for your lungs…or legs. With alternating climbs and descents, you are constantly challenging your body and pushing yourself to get through each hill or sprint.
The one (sort of) saving grace is the arms sequence where you will do a series of exercises (while still pedaling) using 2 or 4 lb bars. This may seem like a break, but don’t underestimate the power of light weights just yet. I promise that your muscles will be flat-out fatigued by the end of the sequence. Classes typically wind down from there with a couple more songs, and expectedly: a hill and a sprint. Instructors then lead a final stretch on and off the bike and send you off wobbling as your legs try to recover from the mayhem.
Image: Chicago Now
No one can deny that enduring a 45 to 60 minute spin class is quite the workout. However, it’s often difficult to know how hard you’re supposed to be working when all you’re given is a number on a 1-10 scale. For example, teachers often instruct their students to “turn the resistance knob up to a 6” or some other arbitrary number depending on whether they’re aiming for a sprint, climb, or descent.
As you can imagine, this system makes it difficult for spinners to gauge exactly how much resistance they should be adding. Flywheel, on the other hand, leaves no room for interpretation thanks to the handy “tech-packs” attached to each bike. These tiny machines measure the following:
- Torq: Another word for resistance. You’ll now have no problem knowing exactly how “sticky” your pedaling should feel. Expect to aim for a Torq of up to 50 when climbing a hill.
- RPM: Revolutions per minute, or in layman’s terms, speed. Plan to stick to an RPM of 50 (or less) for steep hills and up to 110 for the fastest sprints.
- Current and Total Power: These numbers give you a rough estimate of how hard you’re working by taking both Torq and RPM into account. Total power also helps you estimate the total calories burned once your workout is over.
Note about Torq and RPM: the instructor will stress that these numbers are just suggestions, so take them with a grain of salt. Flywheel is designed for all fitness levels; so don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t maintain a Torq of 45 on a steep climb or hit 110 RPMs during the final sprint. You WILL see improvement if you make Flywheel a key part of your weekly fitness routine.
The Competitive Atmosphere
As much as your instructor will tell you that “you’re all in this together,” Flywheel’s Torq-Board brings out the inner-athlete in all of us.
If you choose to enter the battle royale and have your total power featured on the display at the front of the room, prepare to get competitive. The instructor may even conduct 30-second races to really push every spinner to reach his or her full potential.
Whether you’re a die-hard spinner or an exercise novice looking to measure progress, Flywheel’s got your back. By creating an account, you can log in at any time to review the stats and performance data from every class you’ve taken; including everything from calories burned to average RPM and Torq. This makes it super easy to check in with yourself and see where you’re at.
Signing up for classes is also a cinch; after purchasing credits on Flywheel’s site, you are able to reserve a specific bike in a class of your choosing up to a week in advance (cue sigh of relief). You no longer have to sprint straight from work to the studio in order to secure a spot in your favorite class.
Not all of us are so devoted to indoor cycling that we’re willing to run out and buy our own spin shoes. Luckily, flywheel provides you with a pair that easily hooks onto the bike pedals — free of charge.
If you sign up ahead of time through your online account, your shoes will conveniently be waiting for you in a cubby that corresponds to the number of the bike you selected for that day’s class. Towels are also complementary, so no need to lug your own around or cough up a dollar every time you’re down to sweat.
Calorie burn: if you’re trying your hardest to match the instructor’s suggested RPM and Torq numbers, expect to burn anywhere from 600-800 calories per 45 minute class. Not too shabby.
Cost: Price varies depending on location. Expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $35 for a single class. If you fall in love with your ride, buying class packs can save you serious cash.
Try it. Even if you loathed the last spin class you took, Flywheel just might become your go-to cardio workout. It’s hard to beat the calorie burn and refreshingly fun, encouraging, and highly addictive atmosphere.
Where Can I Fly? Flywheel has locations all across the country, and even one in Dubai. Check out their website and try your first ride FOR FREE. You can also download the mobile app to make signing up and checking stats even easier.
Marissa Gillis recently graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in psychology. She believes in a sound mind and body and is all for living a holistic lifestyle.
When it comes to exercise, she's always looking for new ways to stay fit. She loves to complement her runs and HIIT classes with barre workouts and yoga. In the fall, she will begin a graduate program to earn her Ed.S degree in school psychology.
Latest posts by Marissa Gillis (see all)
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter
for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.