Heart pumping playlists, dim lighting and high tech bikes that display your RPMs are just a few ways Flywheel Sports is making indoor cycling one of the hottest new fitness trends.


Heart pumping playlists, dim lighting and bikes that display your RPMs are just a few ways Flywheel Sports is making indoor cycling one of the hottest new fitness trends.

Founder Ruth Zukerman is the pioneer of the indoor cycling phenomenon. An instructor for over 25 years, her Flywheel studios started in New York City in 2010, and have since expanded nationwide. Flywheel counts professional athletes like Mets thirds baseman David Wright and celebrities like Sofia Vergara among its fans. In fact, when Katie Couric visited the Northwest this summer, the devoted "flyer" took a class at Flywheel's Seattle studio.

While indoor cycling has been around for years, studios like Flywheel Sports are putting a new spin on this intense workout. Each cycling studio features bikes set up in stadium-style seating and theatre lighting that dims to help riders tune out their to-do list and focus on their workout.

Flywheel's technology allows riders to track workouts on and off the bikes. Each bike is equipped with a small screen that displays RPMs, resistance (Flywheel calls this Torq) and power. Instructors cue target numbers for these metrics during class so riders know when to back off or increase their intensity.

Competitive types can send that information to the Torqboards in the front of the room and see how they stack up against fellow riders. After class, these performance metrics, along with estimated calories burned, are sent to a private web account where riders can track their progress.

Instructors use popular music to craft each workout and, according to instructor Tommy McCarthy, take special care to create the most motivating playlists.

"Everything we do is driven off of the music so it makes it that much more fun and intense. It feels a lot like your dancing when you're on the bike."

Frequent Flywheeler Amy Weinstein says the music helps motivate her through the workout.

"I love the music," she said. "It's distracting from the hard work, so it makes the class go by really fast."

The energy in a Flywheel class is palpable; rider Vicky Bruner attributes this to the encouraging instructors.

"It feels like you're in a class with a motivational speaker."

Each class is different. Throughout the 45 minutes, riders complete a combination of sprints and hills totaling 20 to 30 miles. Two and four pound bars are used to tone the upper body with exercises like bicep curls and shoulder presses. While the weights might be light, riders work through a high number of repetitions to tax the muscles. Each class burns about 700 calories, increases cardiovascular fitness and provides a total body workout, sculpting muscles in the legs, arms and core.

While Flywheel classes are intense, instructor Tommy McCarthy says they are actually for every fitness level. Plus, inside the darkened room riders don't feel like they are on display, allowing everyone to exercise at their own intensity.

Indoor cycling is great for the mind and body, but according to McCarthy, it's the sense of fun and community that keeps people coming back to Flywheel.

"You get to see people not only change their lives but also change their attitudes about working out," said McCarthy. "I want people to succeed and I want people to have fun."

Weinstein says it's Flywheel's combination of energetic classes, encouraging instructors and motivating music that makes the workout so enjoyable.

"This is the best workout I've ever had," said Weinstein.

Your first Flywheel class is free and you can find Flywheel Sports studios in Seattle and Bellevue.

For more information:

Flywheel Sports website

224 Westlake Avenue North
Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98101

1032 106th Avenue
NE Suite 124
Bellevue, WA 98004

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