Best New York City Spin Classes

For That Class Couple, 2016 was a momentous year. We started our fitness blogging journey, completed both the NYRR Five-Borough Challenge and 9+1, tried a whole bunch of different classes, and, oh yeah, got engaged.

Throughout our journey though the crazy year that was 2016, we took notes on our favorite New York City workouts, instructors, gyms, and more, and wanted to share our thoughts with all of you (because, honestly, everyone else was creating “Best of 2016” lists, so we felt left out). We’ll start with our favorite spin classes (TCC started its fitness class journey with spin), and go from there. From That Class Couple to you, we wish you a happy–and healthy!–New Year!

Top Five Spin Classes

1) SWERVE (TCC review here)

The facilities are second to none (the newer midtown location is perfect for getting ready after class in the morning, and SWERVE’s original location in Flatiron is pretty nice as well), the instructors are energetic and play great music, and the smoothies are the bomb. Just like most of SWERVE’s team-based classes, this competition was a close race, but SWERVE takes the top prize! For those who aren’t familiar with SWERVE, classes are divided into three teams, which compete against one another as the class progresses. Classes are relatively straightforward, albeit with occasional sprint and “SWERVE to the beat” mini-competitions scattered throughout, and you can expect to hear a lot of EDM and top 40 as you ride. TCC also had one of its coolest experiences of the year when it went to a spin class (and post-class roundtable) with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and a bunch of retired NFL players, one of SWERVE’s “Speaker Series” events, which TCC thinks are really cool. 

SWERVE has two locations in NYC, Midtown and Flatiron. Classes are $34 each. swervefitness.com

2) Flywheel

Traditionally TCC’s favorite spin studio, Flywheel takes second place only because of inconsistency. Some of the studios are great (Astor Place, Chelsea, East 60th, UWS), but some are getting kind of gross (UES). Some of the city’s best spin instructors teach at Flywheel, but we’ve also had some less than stellar experiences with others. Flywheel is a strictly fitness-based spin studio…no dancing on a bike or zen candles, just sweat. While classes are all basically the same, each instructor is very unique, so don’t be surprised if you sprint to Billy Joel during one class, and don’t recognize a single EDM song the next. Despite its inconsistencies, Flywheel is still one of the most premium spin experiences in the city, and once you find an instructor you like, you’ll be wishing that you could afford to go back every day. 

Flywheel has 9 locations all over Manhattan. Classes are $34 each. flywheelsports.com

3) Peloton

Not for everyone, Peloton features amazing bikes, instructors who look like they should be on TV (because, well, they kind of are…), a lounge with coffee bar that is by FAR the nicest of any gym in New York (albeit extremely crowded on a normal day). The locker rooms are very nice (but extremely crowded…you may see a trend here…), and the location (23rd between 6th and 7th) is very convenient for many. But Peloton has a certain, shall we say, pretentiousness, that can turn some people off. Think lots of tech startup looking dudes in spandex bike singlets blowing away the competition (and instructors calling out riders on their 200th ride). Oh yeah, each ride is also filmed for Peloton’s riders at home, so if you think that you are imagining that there’s a camera zipping over your head, well, you’re not hallucinating. But at the end of the day, TCC has never had less than a fantastic workout at Peloton. TCC is also a big fan of Peloton’s theme rides, especially Jenn’s NFL Pregame Sunday ride, featuring lots of jock jams and football talk (but seriously, Jenn, please stop hating on the Jets so much…).

Peloton is located in Chelsea, on 23rd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. Classes are $32 each. pelotoncycle.com

4) Monster Cycle

Let’s just say Monster Cycle is…unique. If Monster Cycle was your high school classmate, it would be the popular kid who started hanging out with the goth crowd, dressing kind of weird, occasionally using illegal substances, but still beating up on everyone on the football field and dating the hot cheerleader. That kid now probably lives in Bushwick and works for a startup. But we digress. Monster Cycle is cool because it’s different, and because you watch music videos as you ride. Unlike the first three studios on this list, Monster Cycle doesn’t provide in-ride metrics, so the ride is more about feel and beat than about trying to top the competition. Monster Cycle’s themed classes are also really cool (if you find an artist who you like, you’ll be totally pumped up to spin to their music). TCC hasn’t checked out Monster Cycle’s original location in Soho, but the new spot in Chelsea (in the crypt of an old church…so cool) is totally different, and totally hip. Wear your trendiest clothes to Monster Cycle…you’ll have lots of competition.  

Monster Cycle is located in SoHo and Chelsea. Classes are $33 each. themonstercycle.com

5) Crank

Jon’s neighborhood spin studio before TCC moved in together, Crank is a fantastic option for those living on the UES (or in Long Island City, though TCC hasn’t been to the LIC location yet). Totally not pretentious, great neighborhood vibe, excellent amenities for a small studio (complementary shoes!), and awesome instructors (many of whom have moved onto better known studios like Flywheel). Crank is generally more about movement on the bike than sprinting, but it’s a fantastic workout nonetheless, and a great option in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a whole lot going on spin-wise. 

Crank is located on the Upper East Side and in Long Island City. Classes are $28 each. cranknyc.com

Next up–best barre in NYC!

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Switch Playground Review

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After SWITCHing out of our workout gear into brunch attire

The last few months have been very exciting for That Class Couple. We got engaged (!!!) and are now planning our wedding! So, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to keep up with our blog as much as we would have liked.

But fear not, because we are back! TCC is committed to trying new classes this winter, and expanding our NYC fitness horizons.

For our first class together as an engaged couple, we decided to go way outside of our comfort zone, and try a new studio called Switch Playground. Caroline’s review is in italics; Jon’s is in bold:

For the past 3 months, due to injury, I have taken a break from bootcamp and most spin classes and have focused on toning classes, such as barre, and some light running. But when we were given the chance to try out Switch, I decided to cave and look at this as more of a couples activity then a bootcamp class. Doing research on Switch, I found that it was brand new and in a great NYC location (Union Square), originated from South Africa (huh? pretty cool!), and was a bootcamp style HIIT class that you do with a partner. I was intrigued and excited. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

So I’m coming from the different extreme here. I’ve been taking three or four bootcamp classes a week for the past couple of months, and think that I am, slowly but surely, starting to make progress. It’s always fun to try out a new studio, so I was really excited when Caroline told me that we had the opportunity to try out Switch.

I think this class is great for couples and pairs of friends who want to challenge each other and workout together. When Jon and I walked in, the front desk assigned us to station 6 together (um, who said I wanted to be his partner? Jk jk) When the doors open to the “playground”, you feel like you are going through the tunnel onto the field (or in this case- through the field onto the nightclub), high-fiving all of the 10 instructors as you run in. There was fog, strobe lights, loud music, and even a live DJ. The class started off with a 5 minute yoga warmup, and then each pair went to their respective stations. You spend 2 minutes at each of the 20 stations, doing two different exercises at each. There is every type of station you can imagine- treadmill, TRX, weights, ropes, bench presses, spinning, stairmaster, the list goes on- and even a barre section!

I couldn’t agree more; this class is built for couples/friends who want to work out together, as Switch really provides something for everyone. So while I probably couldn’t convince Caroline to come to a strict bootcamp class, like Brick B|X, with me, Switch is a great couples option.

So let’s talk about the start of class. I’ve never been a member of a cult, but I imagine initiation into one feeling a bit like this. I appreciated the positive energy as we entered the room, and I suppose the yoga intro was unique and somewhat cathartic, but I’m not going to lie, I felt a little awkward as the class “leader” started the countdown to pain.

The whole experience was sort of surreal, part workout class, part club, part performance art. As you arrive at your next station, an instructor runs over, quickly demonstrates how to perform the first exercise, and moves on to the next station. After the first interval, the instructor runs back, demonstrates the second exercise, and moves right along. The whole thing is really kind of bizarre for anyone used to a more traditional bootcamp class. Which isn’t to say that it was bad–just very different.

By the way, the DJ was amazing. We’ve all been in classes where the instructor might as well have just put on Spotify’s “most popular workout songs” playlist and hit play, but the music at Switch was legitimately great (think: a quality mix of EDM, remixes, and hip hop), which always helps a lot with an intense workout.

One of the reasons why I loved this class so much was the number of instructors. There were probably about 8 instructors in our class, and about 30 people- what a ratio! Unheard of in NYC! I felt as though I was always being watched and if I wasn’t doing something correctly, which tends to happen with me at bootcamp classes, I was being instructed on how to improve. The instructors were great with modifications (hell no, I was NOT doing TRX single-leg pistol squats). In addition, I loved the format of the class because you are always switching up the exercises and never doing the same thing for more than 30 seconds. I feel like this helps reduce the risk of injury, and in addition, when we left, I felt pleasantly sore but not limping in pain like I do with most bootcamp classes. An hour after class, I was ready for a nap and a massage- that was such an intense workout!

I completely agree with Caroline–Switch is truly a full-body workout. You hit every major muscle group, and every conceivable genre of exercise, from free weights to bodyweight exercises, to steady cardio, to plyometrics. It’s guaranteed that you will do something new at Switch, whether it’s box jumps, barre exercises (those leg weights are legit), boxing, etc. In addition to ensuring that you’ll feel sore the next morning, this also means that the class goes really fast. It did not feel like the workout lasted an hour, and I actually wondered afterwards if I had even gotten a good workout. That’s until I had to grab the bench in the locker room to keep from passing out after standing up. So…yeah, that was a good workout.

Both Jon and I were pooped, but felt so accomplished after class. This class is a tough workout. I’d put this as in the same ballpark as Barry’s, Tone House, or Trooper FItness. The locker room situation is great (about 5 showers in each), and the staff was so welcoming and friendly. My only complaint was regarding the cleanliness of some of the props. We used foot weights at two of the stations, and since those stations happened to be towards the end of my rotations, they were all sweaty when I put them on- yuck! If you are looking for a tough workout with either a boyfriend/girlfriend, or workout buddy, or maybe even a first date if you are feeling adventurous (jk- she won’t show up for date #2) this is a great new studio for you.

We walked across town to Chelsea Market after class for lunch and holiday shopping (TCC recommendation: check out Dizengoff for the best hummus outside of Tel Aviv…seriously) and, as we walked, each of us couldn’t stop talking about how sore we were getting. It kept getting worse and worse as the day went on. Like that “WOW what the heck did I do to get this sore” soreness.

Switch Playground is a fantastic option for those of us who tend to get bored with our normal exercise routines in New York. I’m sure that it’s possible to make Switch a part of your normal workout schedule–we chatted with two of the trainers after class, and the exercises are constantly changing, so I don’t think the class would ever become boring. My only possible concern is that, without an explanation of the workout before launching into the madness that is Switch, it’s impossible to prepare for the next exercise (i.e. when I know that my next interval is a minute of jump squats, I’m probably going to take it easy on the rower beforehand. But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing; sometimes, our heads get in the way of our bodies.

 

New York City Marathon Route Guide

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Jon running the New York City Marathon in 2014

By Jon

This year, That Class Couple chose to sit the NYC Marathon out, but lots of Friends of TCC are running, so we thought that we would share the email outlining the marathon course that we sent to our friends running the NYC Marathon for the first time. To all of you running–GOOD LUCK, run fast, run safe, and, most importantly, have a blast!

 The marathon itself is an incredible experience, but the New York CityMarathon is especially incredible. I’d be shocked to find another city that treats the marathon with so much respect and awe. You’re going to see New Yorkers and visitors of all types out on the course to cheer you on. There are spectators for roughly 95% of the race (with two notable exceptions that I’ll discuss in a bit), and most of them are going to make you feel like you’re Mariano Rivera running into Yankee Stadium.
Here’s what marathon day is going to look like:

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2016 Staten Island Half Recap

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Jon really needed a beer after this one

By Jon

This year, TCC set two running goals, first, to complete the “9+1” necessary to qualify for the 2017 New York City Marathon, and second, to complete four of the “Five-Borough Series” races necessary to qualify for the 2017 New York City Half. Since Caroline ran the NYC Half earlier this year, and the two of us ran the Brooklyn Half, Queens 10-K, and Bronx 10-Miler together, the only thing standing in our way of completing both goals was my running the Staten Island Half.

Ugh.

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Thoughts on ClassPass

As summer turns a corner and we approach Labor Day, we thought that it would be reflective to think about ClassPass, the fitness craze that garners such a wide variety of opinions. Each of us wrote a piece about how we feel about ClassPass, as we enter our ninth month of membership. Caroline’s review can be found here, and Jon’s here.

Let us know how you feel about ClassPass!

Should I join ClassPass?

By Jon

Since my freshman year of college, I have been a runner. For me, running was always synonymous with physical fitness. My freshman year of college, I lost 30 pounds by running on the treadmill each day. After graduating, running became my way of maintaining my weight, and then, in law school, became my escape. I started running further and further until, one day, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon. And then, ten days before the race, my IT band blew up (stupid me still ran the race, and still, somehow, finished).

Since then, I have run two New York City Marathons, countless half marathons, and even more short to medium distance races. During those years of racing, I ran almost every day, developing sciatica and left hip/leg weakness in the process, My mom, who knows a thing or two about physical fitness and wellness, constantly urged me to cross-train, but I ignored her, telling myself that a runner had to run every day, no matter what. Finally I “relented”, and started to go to Flywheel classes every Sunday, after my Saturday long run. Cross training indeed.

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ClassPass vs. Gym Membership

By Caroline

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So I’m going to be honest, it took me a while to be a ClassPass subscriber. Being a committed and loyal Crunch member, my feeling was “why should I pay for ClassPass to get unlimited classes (at that time, only the unlimited membership was offered–at just $90–how times have changed…) when Crunch has all the classes I need. And if I replace Crunch with ClassPass, then I won’t have anywhere to just go run on a treadmill or use machines on my own (also, at that time I was running about six miles a day, training for the NYC marathon)”.

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