by January 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From Melanie Hudson. Follow her at @champagne_me or Email her at melanie[AT] 


Off-Road at U Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By now we’ve all heard about New York’s Soul Cycle, the highly addictive, incredibly expensive, indoor cycling studio that has (allegedly) transformed the typical gym spinning class into a spiritual journey.

Some describe it as a destination exercise ritual, planned weeks in advance, done by candlelight to club music, and more akin to a new age experience than a sweaty 45 minutes on a stationary bike.

Avid Soul Cyclers equate their instructors with a life coach and are more than willing to shell out 35 bucks per class for the transformative experience.

Hearing of this insanity brought to mind meggings, an unfortunate trend we all hope doesn’t catch on with DC men anytime soon. Surely, I thought, DC’ers would be more financially practical and keep their spinning at WSC and their affirmations in the privacy of their iPods.

Of course, I was wrong. DC, never one to buck a trend, has caught the soul-ful cycle wave. We are all cycling aficionados now — albeit with slightly more affordable classes, a more playful attitude and a somewhat less cult-like following. In the last year we have seen an abundance of indoor cycling studios pop up all over the DMV, varying in atmosphere, size, and the level of spiritual intensity, but all promising an intense, full body workout in a fun, supportive setting.

Most classes go through a series of traditional cycling intervals led by an energetic instructor (instructors vary on the spectrum between Miley Cyrus-hyper and Richard Gere-Zen). Some have dim lighting, others have segments using 2-3 pound weights for upper body exercises. Fortunately, most rock out with a well-curated soundtrack. Several studios combine spinning with yoga or barre, giving you more bang for your buck with each ride. And all classes will get your heart racing, burn calories and likely include core work – and a good amount of sweat.

The good news is these intense and intimate classes, while not cheap, have moved beyond the basic spinning routine and may finally bring us closer to ditching those big-box gym memberships. Personalized boutique fitness lovers, rejoice!

Here’s the skinny on cycling studios in Borderstan and beyond. Let us know your favorites in the comments section below and check out this cool website for more detailed reviews of each.

DC-Area Options

  • Off Road, 905 U Street NW. Borderstan’s own cycling studio offers spinning as well as boxing and TRX. Fans of Off Road cite the personal attention from the instructors and the owners, as well as a generally excellent music selection, as reasons to keep going back. While the space is small, they have a very cool projection screen for virtual rides during classes. They also offer fun diversions like Friday happy hour rides and Sunday “sufferfests” to make things interesting. $20 for a single class.
  • Sculpt DC, 950 F Street NW. This large, upscale studio uses mood lighting and a top-notch sound system to get your body moving. They incorporate weights in most classes and also offer “fusion” classes that combine 30 minutes of spinning and 30 minutes of yoga. The studio itself is very Zen and peaceful, and the downtown location is very convenient.  Drop in rate $25.
  • Stroga, 1808 Adams Mill Road NW. The popular yoga and strength training studio will begin offering cycling classes in February.
  • Revolve, 1025 North Fillmore Street, Arlington. This one-year-old Arlington studio clearly resembles Soul Cycle in terms of the spiritual elements (instructors talk about warriors as inspiration). Classes are large and done in the dark, and the studio requires you to bring clip-in shoes or rent shoes from them. They also offer a combo barre-ride for something different.  $18 per class (ask for the first class free special!)
  • ZenGo Fitness, 4866 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda. Intense, energetic classes include lots of upper body work and a spiritual focus similar to Soul Cycle. Studio offers other classes including barre. Single class $21.
  • Biker Barre738 7th Street SE. Intimate studio offering candlelit, incredibly high-energy classes near Eastern Market. Studio has a distinct community feel, and they even pass out mimosas after classes on the weekends. Students love the friendly, supportive atmosphere and the excellent music. Single class $22.

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