Crash Course: Ride DC offers spin classes with live performance tracking technology – a feature that lets students monitor their progress throughout the class. Each bike is hooked up to a system that projects speed, power, and other stats onto a screen at the front of the room. Throughout the class, students are racked and stacked according to their output and overall performance. In other words, if you are a competitive person, this class will either fulfill your every raging desire or drive you raging mad as you watch yourself rise and fall within the pack. Accumulated performance stats are kept on the Ride DC website, so students can monitor their personal progress and overall standing. This technology is, of course, optional – but why not take your spin session to the next level and give it a whirl?[line] [left]where: 2217 14th Street, NW
bring: water, spin shoes
perks: great technology, had a local juice tasting after class
sweat score: 8 out of 10[/left][right]wear: spandex and spin shoes if you have them
cost: first class free; $22/class for drop-ins; $130 or $180 for an unlimited month[/right][line]
This weekend RideDC celebrates its one year anniversary, so we figured it was time for a Fit Crasher to get back in the studio and see how it’s doing one year later! To celebrate, the studio hosted a little party on Friday, December 5, featured a day of “fun” rides (think: 90’s ride, Tour de France ride, etc.) on Saturday, and lowered the price of the Sunday rides to just $12.
Since I’ve never been to the studio before, I decided to sign up for a normal ride on Friday morning and then a fun ride on Saturday. I focus here on the classic RhythmRIDE 45 on Friday because it featured the performance-tracking technology that makes the studio special.
On Friday morning, I showed up at the studio around 6:45 AM so I’d have plenty of time to put my things away and set up my bike. Also, don’t tell my husband, but I Ubered there. The studio is a few blocks from the U Street metro, but I’m not anywhere near access to the green or yellow line, and damn it 6:30 AM is too early for metro transfers and wandering around in the cold. So I Ubered.
I was greeted by a very nice woman at the front desk who showed me around the front room and the spin room so I’d be able to get myself set for class. Meaghan correctly noted in her original DC Fit Crasher post that the studio occupies a relatively small space at 14th and W. The studio isn’t as heavily branded as other boutiques around town and doesn’t sell workout gear or swag inside. But someone with a classic, masculine eye designed the interior space, and it made me feel at home. Picture dark woods, leather furniture, big Christmas ornaments for the holidays, and a nicely sized bathroom painted Restoration Hardware green with white moldings and wainscoting.
The bathroom is big enough to comfortably change your clothes, but there is only one and no shower. This was fine for me since I was the first one there and already dressed, but it’s something to consider if you’re rushing in just before or just after work.
RideDC has the same Schwinn bikes as Equinox, and I love them. I think they’re easy to set up and more comfortable than others. The most important aspect of the bikes and the class, however, is their tracking system.
I should tell you that this wasn’t my first experience with spiffy spin tech: while living in Chicago I regularly attended Flywheel, which also featured performance-tracking technology and displayed everyone’s numbers during class. In fact, the first time I did SoulCycle was after getting used to the numbers, and I felt totally desperate to know my RPM, power, and calorie burn while at Soul. Coming to RideDC marked the first time I’d done a spin class with metrics since living in Chi Town, and it certainly made me remember why knowing your, and everyone else’s, numbers is so addictive. I’ll explain.
Essentially, each bike features a small computer that tracks how fast each bike is going, and how hard you’re working to push it. Unless you opt out, those numbers are also projected onto a screen hanging behind the instructor at the front of the class. It’s the central focus of a RideDC class. While the display doesn’t give your name, it does give your bike number. Thus, not only do I know that Bike 9 is in the lead, I also know how fast Bike 9 is going at this very moment, and how hard she’s working.
Because you enter your age, gender, and weight before you sign up for class, these numbers are much more accurate than those you would see on the average cardio machine (or at Flywheel: they don’t take your stats into account). I find this accuracy pretty awesome: it not only allows you an opportunity to honestly evaluate how you’re training, but it also encourages you to push yourself to a number just a little higher than you got last time. And that’s all before taking into account seeing OTHER peoples’ accurate numbers.
Sure, it makes the class more competitive than many. But if you’ve ever played sports it will remind you of the thrill that comes from competition; from winning! On the same note, it could remind you of the frustration that comes from losing. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this class for two friends who haven’t seen each other in years and are meeting up for a fun day on the town. Because, all day, one of you will have won, and one of you will have lost (unless you opt out of the display, which you should totally feel free to do!).
But on Friday morning I had no long-lost friend’s feelings to consider and became obsessed with getting into position number 3. Once I got there, I really wanted to slip into position 2, but 2 spun with a fury that I could not overcome, so instead I focused on keeping the 4th bike, behind me, at bay. I also wanted to make my final numbers as high as possible.
Of course, it’s not just you and the computer. Our instructor, Ashley, called out clear, frequent, and difficult instructions. I thought the pace of the class and the mixture of sprints, hills, standing, and sitting was right on. She also occasionally offered encouragements to us, which weren’t over the top and kept me engaged on that early Friday morning. I definitely recommend catching her class if you go to Ride.
The one programming critique I would make is actually the same that Meaghan mentioned in her original review. I’ll say it with a bit more vigor: I really hate spin pushups. Not only do I find them ineffective as an upper body workout, I also think they get in the way of the great cardio workout that a spin class should be. So, you’re not getting any (in my opinion) muscular benefit, but you are slowing down. I get it in a really dance-like class such as Soul, but in the context of the RideDC ride, it just felt gratuitous. Every other studio is doing this, I guess we should too.
The arms section using the small weights (sitting on the front of your bike), on the other hand, was totally effective. I think we could have gone for just a big longer, but it was still worthwhile section amidst the spinsanity.
In the end, I held the third position and felt like I’d gotten in a great workout before work in just 45 minutes. For those who are pressed for time during the work week, it’s so important to have a few workouts that you KNOW will get you feeling good in a short amount of time. I’d say RideDC is just right for that. And just to remind you how awesome you are, Ride also sends you an email after class with your numbers for that day, and you can track your progress over time on their website.
As I alluded to above, my husband and I also attended a specialty “music video” class the next day to celebrate the studio’s anniversary. I won’t review the entire class here, but the music videos were equal parts fun and distracting. I said to the instructor (who is also one of the studio’s founders) after class that it felt like a healthier version of your Saturday morning cartoons as a kid! I mean, who am I kidding: it was a way healthier version of my Saturday morning Real Housewives and Girls as an adult 😉
I also spoke with Allison, another co-founder, who told me more about the studio’s goal to be part of the community and the ways the bike technology sets the studio apart. Everyone I spoke to at Ride adored the studio and took a lot of time to engage with me. I left with a very warm impression of the place.
To conclude, if you live near 14th and W, or you live near a metro, or you live anywhere in the DC region and really want to check out a spin class with metrics, then I wholeheartedly recommend RideDC. I definitely need go back some time in the near future, since Henry beat me on Saturday morning. And that just cannot stand.