RealRyder bikes at PureRyde can lean, which forces core muscles to activate. (Teddy Wolff/For Express)

Your body is a vehicle, so your life is a ride, says Ingrid Nelson, community director of PureRyde, a cycling/Pilates studio in Bethesda. Her goal is to teach students that whether they’re pedaling, squatting or facing any other challenge, they have more gas in the tank than they realize. It’s hard to argue with Nelson’s reasoning, and even tougher to keep up with her classes.

What it is: The Bethesda studio that opened in May is the first area location for the PureRyde chain, which started in Michigan and has expanded with outposts in Austin, Texas, and Oxford, Miss.

Co-owner Laura Cronberger, who founded PureRyde with Kelle Ilitch, recently relocated to Washington and brought along their “athletic” approach to workouts.

“We give you an extra push,” Cronberger says. That shove comes from both the instructors and the equipment. The cycling room features only RealRyder Indoor Cycling bikes, which lean to the sides, forcing core muscles to constantly engage. Pilates happens on Allegro 2 Reformers, which boast a series of weighted springs that can be added to increase difficulty.

Dedicated exercisers can schedule back-to-back sessions of cycling and Pilates, but PureRyde doesn’t offer combo classes. “You wouldn’t get the full effect that way,” Cronberger says.

Moves: Every 50-minute class takes a different route, but they all start with a brief introduction to the equipment. For cycling, that means getting acclimated to the bike’s wobble and learning how to clip into the pedals. (Shoes are included in the price). For Pilates, that’s an explanation of the Reformer springs, straps and sliding carriage. Then the lights turn off and the music turns on.

No muscle is allowed to slack off during Pilates, says Nelson, who warmed up a recent class with a series of jumps — a board placed at one end of the Reformer makes it possible to lie down on the carriage, push off and glide horizontally. The lying down didn’t last long. Nelson’s zippy transitions soon had students standing with one leg on the ground and the other on the carriage for lunges. Then they were on their knees on the carriage with straps in their hands as they pretended to shoot arrows. And then they were holding plank position, pulling their feet in and out.

There isn’t quite as much variety in cycling, but the movement of the bikes allows for “turns” to the left and the right. Mix those in with sprints, standing on the pedals and optional hand weights and there are plenty of choices for instructors to play with, Nelson says. (Or, as Tracy Nagelbush, 35, of Capitol Hill, puts it: “She incorporates all of the kinds of crazy torture things you can incorporate.”)

PureRyde community director Ingrid Nelson lives up to the words on her tank top. (Teddy Wolff/For Express)

Workout: “Your abs are going to be sore. You’ll thank me tomorrow,” Nelson promised during a recent cycling class. No one seemed to doubt her, least of all Jolie Brown, 46, who’s been frequenting the new studio in her neighborhood. The first time she took cycling at PureRyde, “I felt like I’d done 200 situps,” Brown says.

The rest of her was pretty sore, too, thanks to the structure of the studio’s classes. Nelson explains it like this: “You think it’s over and then we up the intensity. It’s not over at all. We’re taking you through peaks and valleys.”

When it’s a peak, the coaching kicks in, and instructors rush around the room, offering encouragement and a watchful eye. So although Molly Buford, 40, wanted to cheat her lunges during that Pilates class, she didn’t. “I knew Ingrid would yell at me,” says Buford, who lives in Silver Spring.

Lingo: At some point along the way, every class includes “your ryde,” which is a chance to do whatever your body needs, at your own pace, without thinking about what anyone else in the room is doing.

“I like that two minutes to yourself,” Brown says. “I just gun it.”

Details: PureRyde (6910 Arlington Road, Bethesda; 240-743-4049, offers a single Pilates class for $35 or a single cycling class for $22. There are discounts for military, students and anyone buying multi-class passes. The facility has lockers and bathrooms (but no showers).


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