Ready to Ride

Cycle studio Revolve offers three signature classes geared toward different objectives

December 13, 2011
Revolve’s Complete Ride class, developed by instructor Christianne Phillips, above, includes a strength-training segment, so you pedal while lifting light dumbbells.

The resistance on their Schwinns was cranked way up, but that didn’t stop the students at Revolve, a new Clarendon cycling studio, from pumping their legs faster and faster last Friday. “Don’t let me catch you,” instructor Angel Stone warned as she quickened her pace. “I like catching people.”

So does Revolve’s president, Sylvan Garfunkel, who believes the studio will attract customers looking to get more out of their cycling classes than what larger gyms can offer. “Yoga has been its own stand-alone thing. It was just a matter of time for people to do that with other kinds of group fitness,” says Garfunkel, who’s seen New York become inundated with boutique cycling gyms.

It’s still a relatively new phenomenon in the Washington area. And although other cycle-centric studios have opened recently in the region, both Cycle Studio in Alexandria and ZenGo in Bethesda also offer off-the-bike classes. “I think I could make the argument that you want to pick one thing and do it the best you can,” Garfunkel says.

Revolve is all about the ride. Instructor Christianne Phillips has developed three kinds of classes designed to appeal to cyclists of all stripes. Real Ride mimics outdoor cycling. Complete Ride takes a cue from the New York studios that introduced strength training by adding upper-body movements with light dumbbells. Barre Ride is split into two sections, half in the saddle and half using the handlebars to balance as the class performs plies, leg lifts and other dance-inspired toning exercises on the floor space between the bikes.

The barre segment is done just in socks, but everything else requires cycling shoes, which boosts the power of one’s pedal stroke. Students can bring their own, rent them for $2 per class or buy a pair ($130) from Revolve.

Once the shoes are on, there’s nothing to think about other than cycling, Garfunkel hopes. Lockers have built-in locks, so students can feel secure leaving everything inside, particularly cell phones, which aren’t permitted in the cycling room. Towels are waiting on each of the 40 bikes when students enter, and there’s no question who should sit where, because students reserve seats when registering for class. After they’ve sweated and stretched, they can skedaddle immediately. The staff takes care of cleaning the room. (There are no showers, so students are responsible for cleaning themselves at home.)

Soon, Revolve will implement a check-in system using three iPads near the entrance. Tap on your class and then your name, and type in your PIN to register. That’ll also bring up your personalized bike settings, which will make it simpler to get your ride set up.

Efficiency was certainly a draw for students at Stone’s Complete Ride on Friday. “Everyone’s so busy,” said Anne Sharp, 25, who came with two of her fellow Lululemon employees also looking to get a quick butt kick. “And I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing in the weight room.”

Vicki Price regularly rides her bike, but this was the first cycling class she’d taken. Although she adores being outdoors, she decided to give Revolve a whirl. “This is so close — and it’s so cold right now,” explained the 54-year-old, who also appreciated that she was able to get in and out (but still manage a whole lot of interval training).

The feedback is encouraging to Garfunkel, who plans to open additional locations in D.C. and New York. Like the Clarendon studio, they’ll be built with recycled wood and rubber flooring. The goal is to go even greener and get bikes that generate electricity.

It’s already in the room — they just need to send it to the power grid.

Wheel Deal: Revolve (1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington; 703-567-4516) is offering a 30 percent discount on all rates throughout December. So one class is $14 instead of $20, and packages allow you to come for as little as $12 per visit. More classes are being added.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Katherine Boyle · December 13, 2011