Crash Course: PureRyde is a national franchise of boutique fitness studios that offer a unique blend of high-energy, calorie blasting pilates and spin workouts. Their signature PureRyde Cycling class puts students through 50-minutes of intervals, hills, twists, and turns on the Real Ryder bike, a state-of-the-art stationary two-wheeler that shifts laterally with the rider’s body movement. Lean right and the bike goes with you. Left and it does the same. The extra control needed to maneuver the Real Ryder bike helps create a more challenging spin experience, so get ready to kick your effort up a notch when you walk through the door. For a full schedule of classes at the new PureRyde location in Bethesda, click here.
where: 6910 Arlington Rd. // Bethesda, MD
bring: water bottle
perks: bike shoes included, free parking
sweat score: 9 out of 10
wear: recommend spandex bottoms
cost: $22 drop-in rate
I first encountered the topsy-turvy Real Ryder bikes in Ohio when I was home visiting my parents for Christmas last year. I ran into them again in Portland a few months ago, and was convinced this fad was either insane or genius. Stationary bikes that weren’t so stationary? Who would sign up for that? Well, it seems the fitness-loving folks of the DC area have spoken, and now we have our very own studio full of the craziest spin bikes you’ll ever sweat upon. Welcome to the neighborhood, PureRyde!
The Bethesda studio is located in a small shopping center about a half mile from the metro. I didn’t see any signage at first glance, so keep your eyes peeled for it in the middle of the strip. I was coming straight from work with my car, so luckily there was ample free parking right out front. For those of you who follow my frequent losing battles with DC traffic and parking on Twitter, you can imagine my relief.
The studio is beautiful, crisp, and very swanky inside. Think clean lines, lots of white cabinetry, and muted steel colors. There is a merchandise and reception area in the front where you can sign in, get spin shoes (they run small), and browse through PureRyde gear. Steve and V – the awesome duo behind Gouter tonics – had set up shop on this particular evening and were sampling some of their newest creations. I’m still a sucker for the original Stretch flavor (think sour patch kids meets turmeric), but always love sampling all of the crazy delicious new concepts that come out each season.
Down a long and narrow hallways, you’ll find a small cluster of lockers and two bathrooms. The studio does not have a shower or changing room, so plan accordingly. Luckily, the lockers are the fancy kind with built in locks that allow you to set your own combination. They’re not very spacious – I had to really pull out some Tetris skills to get my backpack and sneakers wedged in there – but they’ll do the trick in a pinch.
The pilates studio sits at the very back of the building. It has the same swanky feel, with slate black walls, bright lights, and plenty of mirrors. I would love to come back and check out one of their signature classes. I’m always interested to see what personalized twists and modifications studios incorporate to make their own pilates brand.
The first thing that struck me about the spin studio (other than the alluring smell of freshly-installed bikes) was how small it felt. Intimate would be a good way to describe it. While all spin studios have their bikes packed pretty close together, these bikes seemed especially cozy. And there weren’t many of them in the room, either. I’d say it held about 20 tops, with the instructor’s bike elevated on a dais in the middle of the studio.
When you sign up for class, you’ll be asked to sign up for a specific bike, so make sure you know which one that is and find it when you enter the room. The numbers are on the base of the bike and the front desk keeps a master list in case you forget. As soon as I found mine, a member of the PureRyde team came by to help set up my handlebars and seat. They also delivered a set of free weights we would be using later in the class. What service!
Ingrid wasted no time working our legs into a lather. I was huffing and puffing before the end of the first song, just as I began to remember how incredibly challenging these bikes are. If you don’t want to be swinging back and forth like a metronome all class long, you really have to focus on your core and controlling your legs. It’s tough. And if trying to stabilize the bike is tough, trying to synchronize your core, arms, back, and legs to keep the bike leaned to the left or right while “going around a turn” is even harder.
The class will also include tap backs, jumps, varying arm positions, and a free-weight arm segment. There’s a lot of movement on the bike. Trying to tap your bum back to the seat while standing on a swinging pendulum might not be for everyone, but I thought it was a good mix of maddening and fun.
Toward the end, we were given an entire song to do our own thing before Ingrid jumped in to finish us off with one more crazy left-right-up-down circuit. By that last song, I was toast. I can’t validate claims that this class burns more calories than a traditional spin class, but I can tell you this class is a more challenging version of the original. My entire body was sore for two days.
A huge thank you to Ingrid and the PureRyde team for giving me a sneak peek at DC’s newest spin sensation. Thank you also to Gouter for the post-workout refreshments. I was certainly in need of it after wobbling out of class.