Good Sweat

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Riding at Revolve, New York’s third-party spin studio

Revolve Spin studio

Revolve, the new spin studio that recently opened in Union Square, fits somewhere in between SoulCycle’s inner-life dance party and Flywheel’s athletic, high-tech varsity scrimmage. We checked it out—a handful of times—to bring you this ride report.

Variety of classes

Revolve’s big point of difference, which we reported back in June, is the variety of rides. Instead of a schedule filled with signature 45-minute classes that only really vary with instructor personality, Revolve has three very different rides.

It’ll be interesting to see if Revolve can make a success of the different spin class types. (Soulbands, the SoulCycle class that uses resistance bands, never lived up the ambitions that Soul had for it. And Flywheel’s never really modified its class except to offer an hour-long version.)

Talented instructor base

Revolve’s other big asset is their impressively talented and well-known instructor base. The studio recruited Kristin Kenney (a competitive racer and founder of the High Gear indoor cycling method) from Equinox, uber-athlete Kira Stokes, and celeb trainer Ary Nunez. Christianne Phillips, who with Kenney co-directs Revolve’s program, comes from the cycling cognoscenti in Washington, DC, where Revolve has another location.

Revolve New York entrance

The entrance feels like reception at the Ace Hotel, and there’s lots of gushing over the Revolve-branded Splits59 and super-soft Alternative Apparel items.

The facility and bikes

The entrance oozes cool, but the facility probably won’t woo Soul or Fly fans. The actual classroom feels nondescript and cramped. It holds 50 bikes, and could stand to lose 5 or 10. [Note: The studio has since removed three bikes.] Downstairs, the communal changing room is confusing and claustrophobic to navigate.

Two small curtained showers in the women’s-only area barely separate the wet from the dry. A nice touch for riders: the bottle butler (my name) that automatically fills your bottle with filtered H20 (albeit slowly).

As for the bikes, the Schwinn technology allows you to see your RPM for two seconds only, and the switch is tucked below your handlebars, so it can be hard to reach in a pinch or when the instructor cues you to rev up or slow down.

Revolve ride with Christianne Phillips

A ride with the spirited Christianne Phillips.

“That’s just how Schwinn bikes are,” says Revolve president Sylvan Garfunkel, a 31-year-old corporate lawyer turned entrepreneur, when I asked about it. “We are not about the data. The goal is to learn what 75 RPM feels like or what 100 RPM feels like early in the class, and to know how to get yourself there later on, so you’re not dependent on checking it more than 6 or 8 times.”

Now for what’s on the menu:

Real Ride This is a 45-min class with a trajectory of hills and valleys, and the route mapped out on the mirror behind the instructor. On a recent Saturday, Kristin Kenney’s 9:30 class did a tour through Southern France, while her 11:45 class rode about 14 miles through Porto (with no stops for wine-tasting). There’s no weight sequence. Flywheel and SoulCycle riders may be flustered when they see half the class move into the flat-back arrow position of outdoor cyclists.

Body Ride Both Body Ride (45 minutes) and the RIP Ride (60 minutes) use weights. “For the first move you position your upper body correctly on the bike, with rolled back shoulders, and the weights [3 or 5 pounds] are meant to counter the cycling slouch and weak transverse abdominals,” says Kenney.

RIP Ride This 60-minute ride is offered daily. There are two weight sequences, totaling about 12-15 minutes of upper body work, and you may stop the bike to do moves correctly.

Revolve Union Square spin class

I rode with Christianne Phillips and again with Kira Stokes. These instructors kill it. Phillips is a serious instructor and an amazing DJ. When she’s off the bike, it’s to dance around the studio, shouting positive encouragement, and girl’s got moves. My fave: drop it like it’s hot.

Riding with the ripped Kira Stokes feels like you’re cycling with an Olympian. She dispenses a ton of intel about what your body should be doing on the bike (hips, knees, grip, etc.) while driving you to fly up your fiftieth hill with the same force of the one you did 50 minutes earlier. She’ll woo the Flywheel people.

What does all this mean for Revolve on the SoulCycle-Flywheel–dominated landscape? Garfunkel, who thinks there’s still plenty of room for growth on the New York spin scene, has borrowed from the Yankees’ playbook by loading the Revolve roster with top-dollar talent. With just one location in Manhattan, it won’t bring a pennant, but these seasoned athletes should help get the new studio into the race. —Melisse Gelula

Revolve, 52 E. 13th St., between Broadway and University, Union Square, $28 a class, www.revolvefitness.com

 

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