What We Tried: Swerve Fitness indoor cycling
Where: Swerve's brand-new studio in the Flatiron neighborhood of New York City
What We Did: Swerve Fitness prides itself upon being not just a cycling studio but a cycling community. The hill work, speed sessions and intervals we pedaled through aren't all that unique, but Swerve, unlike other studios, separates all the riders into teams. Each bike tracks the individual rider's performance and averages energy output for a team score projected on screens for all three teams to see, driving more than a little friendly competition.
For How Long: The class lasted about 45 minutes.
How'd It Feel:
Meredith's Take: I was a fan of Spinning back in its first iteration as a more-aggressive-than-usual class at my local Equinox gym, back in the early aughts. And so this new-fangled industry of techno-infused "boutique" spinning fills me with the specific kind of dread usually reserved for neighborhood gentrification. I realize this makes me grouchy and old, but it is so: I don't want special shoes or assorted gear and I definitely don't want a live DJ. So it was with some trepidation that I entered this basement studio, dark and velvety like a club, with relentlessly thumping remixes to match.
But I'm glad I did! I learned that the new class of spinning bikes have digital meters to precisely measure resistance (as opposed to those unhelpful knobs of the old stationary bikes). And, in the particular style of Swerve studios, we actually competed in blocks for who was fastest and strongest. I liked the energy of competition and, helpfully, focusing on my team's standing helped distract me from the exhaustion and pain of what is, frankly, a very intense workout. The 45-minute class flew by, though I'm not sure I performed any better than if my team hadn't been called out on a screen for my middling scores.
Sarah's Take: I've really grown to love indoor cycling in the past couple of years, and a big part of what I love about it is how easy it is to turn my brain off while I'm doing it. With an instructor deciding the resistance and cadence, I can lose myself in the workout, rather than constantly mulling over questions like, "Am I going fast enough? Should I stop and stretch?" like I am apt to do while running. I was a little hesitant about this team format because I knew it would take me out of this sort of inner sanctuary that indoor cycling has become. Even though I was paying more attention to the rest of the class, I found I didn't hate the competition. I couldn't help but smile at the infectious energy from the riders who were audibly rooting for their teams. Still, I'm not sure it did much for my performance. I liked viewing my personal energy output and Swerve score on my bike, but when it came time to beat the other teams, I didn't muster much of a fighting spirit. I couldn't really see how my personal effort was impacting my team's score on the overhead screens, and found it more rewarding to compare my personal score to the team average. Scores and screens aside, I loved it. The instructor was fun and encouraging (and had a killer playlist), and I was drenched in sweat and smiling ear to ear. Thank goodness it was dark in there.
What It Helps With: Indoor cycling in general will up your endurance, and pushing through heavy resistance on your bike can boost muscle strength. Swerve's unique competitive vibe may motivate you to push yourself even more, upping those benefits over time.
What Fitness Level Is Required: There were riders of all fitness backgrounds in our class -- even one very visibly pregnant woman. Indoor cycling requires some basic cardio fitness, but since you control your bike's resistance and your cadence, ultimately it's a highly-scalable workout.
What It Costs: One is class is $30. You can save with multi-class packages. Shoe rental is included.
Would We Go Back:
Meredith's Take: It was fun! I would definitely go back next time I need to get my butt into gear.
Sarah's Take: It's a little pricey, especially considering I can take Spinning classes at the gym where I'm a member, so probably not. But I'd recommend checking in out!
Check out the playlist from our class below:
Angel on My Shoulder (EDX's Belo Horizonte At Night remix) -- Kaskade
Q.U.E.E.N -- Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu
Flashlight -- Ellie Goulding (not available on Spotify)
Stay the Night -- Zedd feat. Hayley Williams
Earthquake -- DJ Fresh, Diplo, Dominique
Swine -- Lady Gaga
Love More -- Chris Brown feat. Nicki Minaj
Higher Ground -- TNGHT
This Is Love -- will.i.am feat. Eva Simons
For photos of Swerve, check out the slideshow below:
Follow Meredith Melnick on Twitter: www.twitter.com/meredithcm