Crash Course: ZenGo is a spin studio with a work-hard play-hard hardcore attitude. I have never been to Soul Cycle – the cycling studio in NYC with an enormous, cult-like following of sweaty spin devotees willing to shell out $35 per class – but from what I have heard of its intensely energetic, full sensory experience, ZenGo seems like it’s on the same wavelength. Loud music, use of upper body weights, lots of movement on the bike, all set in a mirrored, sweaty, candle-lit studio. Weekend classes sell out in less time than it takes to brew your morning cup of coffee, so be sure to plan this visit at least a week in advance. Click here to see the full schedule.
bring: bike shoes with clips if you have them
perks: shoe rental, fresh towels, showers, lockers, first class free
sweat score: 9 out of 10 [/left][right]wear: recommend spandex shorts and tank
cost: drop in rate is $21*[/right] [line]
Driving up to this quaint little Bethesda building on a sleepy Sunday morning, I spent a few moments bracing myself for impact. I had seen news stories about ZenGo and knew it was going to be a loud, sweaty, in your face experience. This seemed to be the pied-pipper of spin studios, where students flocked week after week to the feel-good sweat-party vibe. After crashing at each of the three spin studios in the District, I was interested to see what all the buzz was about and how ZenGo would compare.
The entrance to the studio sits below street level, so keep an eye out for it when you pass by. When you walk in, you are immediately greeted by bright colors and lots of energy. I attended what I thought was an “early morning” Sunday class at 8:45, and people buzzing about, chatting in corners, giving high-fives as if it were a Friday evening.
There is a big, bright lobby area lined with combination lockers for storing your gear. I love that the lock is already embedded into the locker and I don’t have to lug my own around. In the corner is a filtered water spout to fill your water bottles – believe me, you’ll want to bring at least one with you to class.
There is also a clean and lovely women’s locker room, complete with two showers, a changing area, and a few items to help you get ready (hairdryer lovers rejoice). With the amount of sweat spin classes create, this is an enormous perk when you’re on the go and want to freshen up after your workout.
I did not get a look at the barre studio, which is all the way in the back of the building. But here is what the spin studio looks like in an unusually tranquil, empty moment.
So what do you need to know about signing up for a ZenGo spin class?
- When you register for a class, you will be asked to register for a particular bike. Check out the seating chart and find a spot that’s comfortable for you. I sat in the back right corner and had no issues seeing the instructor.
- You must wear bike shoes to class with either LOOK or SPD clips. There are no cages for regular shoes. If you don’t own bike shoes, you can rent them from the front desk for $3.
- Weekend classes sometimes sell out in minutes. If you want to snag a spot, be sure to get online on Monday at 1 p.m. when reservations open for the week.
What do expect during a 45-minute class:
- The music is really loud, and some folks even brought ear plugs. I didn’t think it was any louder than other classes I had been to and was most on par with the decibel level of Biker Barre or Sculpt DC, but just know that it’s similar to being in a night club.
- Enormously energetic instructors. I was blown away by the intensity, passion, and sheer enthusiasm that showed up at 8:45 on a Sunday morning. It truly felt like a religious experience at some points, when instead of yelling out instructions, she yelled out motivational phrases and self-empowerment quips. At times, it felt like someone should have shouted back, “Amen!”
- There is an incredible amount of moving around on the bike. Every song contained some combination of standing, sitting, and pushups. All of these are done fast. If you are looking for a more traditional spin class focusing on cycling only, I wouldn’t recommend this class as your top pick.
- Each class uses free weights to complete a series of arm exercises toward the end of class.
- You will sweat….a lot.
I don’t think I’ll be making this class a part of my regular schedule because of the location and the price. I’m also not a huge fan of freeweights or pushups on the bike – call me a traditionalist. But it’s a great option for those in the Bethesda area who want to experience a “party” class on a spin bike. Let me know if you’ve tried it and what you thought.
After class, I made a pit stop at Puree Juice Bar. I have been hearing great things about this place, and since I was in the area, it was a perfect opportunity to check it out.
It is bright, clean, and absolutely adorable inside. They had an extensive menu of juices, smoothies, and some food items…but since I just sweat in a hot room for 45 minutes, I craved something cold and refreshing with lots ingredients to help me refuel.
I couldn’t decide because everything looked so good. While I stood in awe in front of the menu on the wall, the woman behind the counter offered me a sample of their home-made kombucha. I’ll take it! They had two kombucha flavors on tap, just like you would see at a bar – how cool is that? I tried the ginger flavor and it was really good.
After much hemming and hawing, I settled on a best-seller: the coconut greencicle. It had whole pieces of raw coconut in it, along with kale, orange, coconut water, and some other yummy and fresh ingredients. It wasn’t sweet and tasted very healthy. I don’t think I’d order this particular smoothie again – mostly because I realized I’m not a huge fan of coconut – but I will certainly look forward to going back to Puree to try something else. Cheers!
Be sure to check out my reviews of other spin studios in the area: