Here’s a bit of a PSA for all of you. Strengthen your glutes! After my visit with the physiotherapist last week, she determined that my weak right lower glutes were not firing automatically. This caused my stability muscles on my legs and back to become strained. It’s amazing how something so small can be the cause of so many problems. I was told not to run for now so I decided to try some Vancouver spin classes. In one week, I visited 4 different spin studios in Downtown Vancouver. I had a unique experience in each one so I thought I’d blog about it.
Eastwood X in Gastown was the first spin studio I tried. They have a First Class price of $15 and the regular drop-in rate is $21. I was in the Sunday morning Hip Hop Wake Up (The Icon) class at a respectable time of 11:15 AM. Booking was easy. I just signed up online to reserve my bike and when I got to the studio, I paid for my class. They provided towels and shoes, which seems to be pretty standard nowadays.
This was my first time at a party-type of spin class. By that I mean, dark room, closed quarters, candlelight, and loud music. It’s essentially the hottest spin class trend. You spin to the rhythm of the music. While there was some direction, it was really hard to hear the instructor because her audio is so distorted. It’s all too loud. We were also constantly told to do bike push-ups. I remember reading articles like this back in the day about how push-ups on the bike were not the way to go. I still agree. We also used mini dumbbells halfway through the ride for some arm workouts, which killed after all those push-ups.
It wasn’t a bad workout, but it wasn’t great to me. The drop-in rate isn’t too bad so I would consider giving Eastwood another try sometime. Their “The Athlete” rides seem to be more focused on a regimented workout and less beat-oriented, something I am more interested in.
Ride Cycle Club
Next up is Ride Cycle Club in Yaletown. What gave me a great first impression is their availability of 7:30 PM classes from Monday to Thursday. That works so well with my schedule. The studio is clean and neutral, the front desk staff and instructor were friendly and made me feel welcome. Shoes, towels and lockers (no need to bring your lock) were provided. I also like that they set up and clean everything for you before and after class. We showed up and weights were set up on each bike. Booking was easy and their intro rate is cheap at 2 rides for $20. It seems you can also ride your first ride for free in North Van and Kits (why not at Hamilton?). Otherwise, their drop-in rate is $26.
Ride 1 – Hamilton 50
I signed up for the 50 minute ride. The studio was a lot smaller than Eastwood’s that I found it hard to navigate to my bike in the back. I even knocked a weight off someone’s bike. Did I mention it was also hard to see because it was dark? Beginners are encouraged to stick to the back as to not disrupt the “integrity of the class” and are “subject to be moved.” I guess if you can’t keep the rhythm, don’t be seen to confuse others? Whatever. It doesn’t bother me as I like to be in the back anyway, but it may rub people the wrong way.
I found it strange that there were no bike computers so I didn’t know what my numbers were (RPM’s, watts, elapsed time). They really want you to stick to the beat of the music. I found the workout a bit monotonous, using very little variety of moves. There was a little weight interlude halfway through the workout. I wasn’t a fan of the loud rave music and it was hard to hear the instructor at times. Am I sounding like a cranky granny yet? Maybe I should’ve worn the provided earplugs.
Ride 2 – Lady Gaga vs Beyoncé
To redeem my second ride, I reserved a spot at the Lady Gaga vs Beyoncé class. After this ride, I realized music choice plays a huge factor in what makes a workout enjoyable. While the intensity was similar to the 50 minute ride, I loved the music and it made the workout breeze by. There was another weight section and I noticed that if you’re sitting in the back row, the ceiling is quite low. So I may have punched the ceiling one or two times during the arm workout. Also, is it just me or do the instructors spend more time off the bike during a class? Is that a Ride thing? Again with the push-ups in this class. Since the room was so cramped, I knocked elbows with my neighbour. If I were to join another Ride class, it would have to be with a themed playlist like this. It was a lot more enjoyable for me. They also have Gwen Stefani/Eve, Throwback R&B, JLO, and Justin Bieber workouts on the schedule.
Robert Lee YMCA
Team CTV invited me along to their spin class hosted at the Robert Lee YMCA on Burrard. Their classes are pretty bare bones. We brought our own towels, water, and cycling shoes aren’t mandatory. The workout was exactly what I was looking for, though. The room was lit, the music was catchy, and the instructor had a variety of drills for us to do. She made us do hills, sprints, fartleks, and a painful tabata to end it all off. Interval training is the best and this was definitely more my style, more what I’m used to.
We had a bit of a tour of the large YMCA facility on the way to the spin studio. There were lots of classes happening, so we detoured through the fitness centre and several other rooms to get to the studio. I don’t know if this is a constant problem but it’s certainly not the most convenient. The YMCA rates are based on membership but they do offer single day passes for $14.99, which is a great price for Vancouver spin classes. Another drawback for me is their lack of classes past 6:30 PM. I’d only be able to attend a Saturday morning class.
I used to be a Cyklus regular back when they first opened 5 years ago so I couldn’t take advantage of their intro rates. They do offer a free Intro class/FTP assessment on certain days. I should probably go to one of them so I can get a current FTP assessment. Otherwise, they charge $15 for the first ride or $24 drop-in. I was able to get into the 8 AM Endurance Ride last Saturday. At 1 hour and 15 minutes, it’s my longest class of the week. My sore sit bones really felt it that day. Shelley was a great instructor and incorporated extended interval training into the plan. My only complaint was that each drill lasted 6 to 7 minutes, longer than I’m used to. Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, right?
On the screens, you can see how you’re doing compared to other people in the class. This is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because it brings out your competitive nature and forces you to keep up or exceed expectations. It’s bad because the instructor can see if you’re slacking and call you out (in a positive manner). I was caught slowing down and she said “you’re doing great, Jeannine!” After that, my RPM’s and watts didn’t go lower than the minimum. The Spivi output on the screen also shows your avatar in the peloton. Very Zwift-y but again it gives you a good visual of how you’re doing.
Shoes and towels were provided and I also loved their bottle service during the class. An assistant gathered water bottles and refilled them with water about halfway through. I guess they don’t want anyone passing out 😛 I don’t know if they do this for the shorter classes, but either way that’s pretty awesome. They also offer TRX classes built-into their spin programs if you are so inclined to try them. Long story short, I love the improvements Cyklus implemented in the 5 years I was absent. I look forward to trying out more of their classes soon.
(Updated Sunday, April 21, 2019)
After posting my Tour de Spin blog, I got messages saying, “you have to try Method.” Talking with friends about it, it seems right up my alley. Method Cycling has 3 locations: Kitsilano, South Surrey and West Vancouver. Their location on W 4th and Arbutus is the most convenient for me so I looked at their schedule. They have some 6:45 PM classes during the week but I went to a Saturday morning class (9 AM). Upon entering the studio, I already liked it because of the big bright windows. I felt like I wasn’t in a box. The massive fans around the room were also a plus. I was brought in as a guest by my friend who had an unlimited pass. Otherwise, a class ranges from $26-$32. You can check their full pricing here. You can reserve specific bikes and $2 shoe rentals are available. The bikes take SPD compatible cycling shoes so if you have some bring them. You can also just wear your runners (which I did). Complimentary towels for the workout and showering are provided.
The workout was HARD but SO GOOD. You know it’s going to be serious when most of the people who show up look like or are serious cyclists. I showed up for an interval session and the details (duration, reps, gear) were clearly shown on the monitors at the front. The instructor was great and walked around to check on everybody’s form. Another thing I thought was cool was water bottle refills. Just raise your bottle and an attendant will grab it and fill it up for you. After the class, your performance details are emailed to you to see how you did. It’s a good way to keep a record of how you’re improving each class (or to see if you’ve been slacking). I left with jelly legs and the day after was still able to climb up Grouse. I will definitely be back for another class.
So What Did I Draw From This?
- I prefer a regimented, interval-based spin program, using a playlist of songs I love to listen to.
- An inspiring instructor is what makes a spin class so successful.
- There is no shortage of Vancouver spin classes. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
- The price can add up, which is definitely why I would only consider this while injured or once a week for cross training.
- Sometimes simple is better. Just give me an ass-kicking, otherwise I feel like I just wasted an hour.
- If you love… the party atmosphere and prefer to hang with the cool kids, go to Eastwood X or Ride Cycle Club.
- … to see stats and do a proper workout program, go to Method Cycling or Cyklus.
- … no frills just hills, go to the Robert Lee YMCA.
- I need stronger glutes.
Do you spin? If you do, where do you love to go? Where should I hit up next?
Disclaimer: Prices are accurate to the date posted and are subject to change. All my entries were paid for by me. This is not a sponsored post.