Crash Course: The Monster Cycle + Studio is an edgy Soho-based spin and yoga studio with a flair for the dramatic. Spin classes are set to music videos, creating a unique beat-focused multimedia experience. Yoga classes are vinyasa-based and focused on flowing through those tight areas every athlete encounters. Come for one or double-up for both. Check out The Monster Cycle + Studio website for a full schedule of classes. [line] [left]where: 182 Lafayette Street | Soho
bring: water bottle, bike shoes
perks: showers, towels, small class size, music videos
sweat score: 8 out of 10[/left][right]wear: black is better
instructor: Michael Macneal (spin) Lindsey Valdez (yoga)
cost: first time $13 | $30 drop-in [/right][line]
There are a lot of spin studios in this city. Each has their schtick, each has their quirks. Some are communal dance parties with hugs and mantras, others throw you into the Hunger Games with competitive stats. But when you stand back and really assess what’s going on in that dark spin room, it’s safe to say that every spin studio out there is a little bit weird.
The Monster Cycle + Studio, however, blows them all out of the water.
Think Halloween meets Lady Gaga meets TRL meets art installation. This place is a freakshow and that’s exactly the whole point. I mean, just look at this promo photo of the instructors. Have I piqued your interest? Let’s get started.
The Monster Cycle + Studio currently offers both spin and yoga classes. I decided that if I was going to experience this place, really experience it, I should crash both classes in one go. So that’s exactly what I did! Armed with my yoga mat and a snack (two hours is a lot of sweating), I arrived a few minutes early, signed in at the front desk, and made my way downstairs to change.
When you sign up for a spin class, you will be assigned a bike number – this is also your locker number. They do not have embedded locks, so if you want to keep your things extra secure, remember to bring your own.
Also: bring your own bike shoes if you have them and want them. Monster does not rent bike shoes, but offers the option to spin in your sneakers, which is exactly what I did and didn’t feel like I was missing out at all.
I popped into one of the individual shower rooms to change and was so impressed by what was available. The space is huge, with plenty of room and lots of tools to do whatever primping rituals you need. They have fresh towels, a blowdryer, shower products, face wash, a magnifying mirror, and plastic bags for your sweaty unmentionables. Yes, the entire room is painted black, but I’m hoping you’re catching on to the theme by now.
The spin studio’s main feature are the two bright and shiny high-definition screens beaming at the front of the room. This is where the magic happens, people. Here’s how it works.
The spin class at The Monster Cycle + Studio is 45 minutes of audio-visual rhythmic cardio. In plain English: the instructor plays music videos, and you move your legs to the beat.
Now, here’s the thing: Monster prides itself on having playlists that aren’t pulled straight from the Top 40 list. The whole point is to pick songs with strong beats that also have wildly-visual music videos. You know, to keep us entertained while we’re sweating it out in the dark basement of this strange new studio.
When I first met our instructor Michael, I jokingly warned him that I would be the one singing along to Taylor Swift from the back row. He smiled and assured me that that wouldn’t be happening. Not because he wouldn’t enjoy my melodious voice, but because he would be surprised if I recognized more than two songs the entire ride. He was right. I recognized exactly two songs.
The music videos Michael plays are wild, artsy, and edgy. Be prepared to be entertained. Be prepared to be distracted from the burn in your quads. Be prepared to be a little uncomfortable. Let’s just say this isn’t a spin class I’d take my mom to (unless your mom loves Nicki Minaj’s latest video. No judgement there.). I don’t watch
a lot of music videos any more, and my preferred genre is bluegrass. So you can imagine how out of touch I am with the music scene. Let’s just say it was definitely a learning experience and the 45 minutes flew by as I stared, mouth agape, at what was going on on the screen.
Despite the scary photos, Michael couldn’t be nicer or more personable. He will help you set up your bike, warmly welcome you to the studio, and answer any questions you have before class. The concept of “The Monster Cycle” grew out of a spin class he taught in a previous position, so he really has perfected the art of mixing audio + visual + physical. His cues are precisely timed to key points in the song, he’ll clap loudly to get you on the beat, and has just the right amount of encouragement without being overbearing. The entire class is an experience.
The most refreshing thing about the class – aside from the incredible audio-visual experience – was that the environment was decidedly non-competitive and non-judgmental. Bring whatever you’ve got to the class and that’s entirely enough. Michael guides you through suggested reps-per-minute for each song, telling you that this should be a seven-out-of-ten, but that’s really the extent of the coaching. How hard you push yourself is up to you. The most important thing is that you enjoy the experience, do your best, and…oh yeah…make sure to yell a few “hell yeah’s.”
Emerging from the dark and flashy spin studio, I made my way upstairs to the pentagram room for yoga class. Yoga after spin class is always a fantastic idea, especially because my hip flexors and hamstrings tend to be supernaturally inflexible. However, coming down off of the beat-driven high into a quiet flowy vinyassa was going to be a tough task.
The Monster Cycle + Studio yoga class is geared more towards cyclists and athletes, focusing on those key areas that we all need a little extra help with. Oh hello hip flexors and hamstrings, nice to see you again. Our instructor Lindsey Valdez taught a very accessible class and was wonderful with providing modifications for those who needed them. Like the spin class, there was an air of non-judgement and “you do you” in the studio.
While the class wasn’t particularly athletic in the sense that it was fast-paced or challenging, it was the perfect compliment to spin. I emerged from savasana feeling like Lindsey had just treated me to a full-body massage. If you have the time to do both classes back-to-back, I highly recommend it.
After the energetic high of a flashy spin class followed by the mellow lull of yoga under the glow of a pentagram, I was absolutely ready to crawl into bed. If only they had a room with hammocks. They do, however, have a snazzy lounge area where you can hang out after class and grab a fresh smoothie, and so that’s exactly what I did. The Salud juice and smoothie bar whipped up a special tropical treat to send me off into the night. Spin, yoga, smoothie. Could a Monday night get any better? I was one happy crasher.
Special thanks to The Monster Cycle + Studio for inviting me to come check out their new space – I can’t wait to come back soon! In closing: #hellyeah.
The Monster Cycle + Studio provided this class free of charge in exchange for my honest review – all opinions in this post come directly from my very sweaty personal experience. Thanks for reading!