Class review: FlyWheel Sports makes you work with Torq
There are two types of fitness fanatics in this world — those who love to cycle, and those who just aren’t that into it. Sadly, I fall into the second group of folks and have never been obsessed with the indoor bike. That being said, I make the perfect person to test out a swanky new fitness studio in my neighborhood, FlyWheel Sports of Walnut Creek, where the signature class is performed entirely on the bike.
If you’ve ever been to a studio before that specializes in cycling, you know that the scene, the music and the amenities can make or break it. And when it comes to FlyWheel, everything is on point. It’s more than a gym class — it’s a fitness experience.
What’s a FlyWheel class like?
It’s tough! Classes offered are typically 45 or 60 minutes in length, are cardio based and performed on the bike. The instructor chooses an awesome playlist and talks participants through a brief warm-up, followed by sprints, hill climbs and more sprints, in no particular order — with minimal breaks. There is also a short upper-body portion during the second half of the class utilizing two weighted bars — one is two pounds and the other is four (so you can hold both at one time for a six-pound weight, which is what I did). To finish up, there are a couple of final peak tracks, ending with a short stretching session both on and off the bike.
The music is great. The microphone and setting allow for the instructor to be seen and heard with ease. The pace of the class is pretty darn challenging, even for someone like me who works out a lot. However, there is no impact on your joints on the bike, so the effort is gentle, while still being effective. (And that’s part of the reason why I enjoyed FlyWheel so much and really want to start incorporating more cycle into my regular workout routine — it’s good for your body.)
Also, anyone can do a FlyWheel class, because you can work at your own pace on your bike and blend into the scene. The instructors provide plenty of information to keep you on track and focused during the workout, and there’s no need to be nervous. And as you’ll see below, the team members will even help you get on your bike to get started.
The Torq makes the workout
The biggest selling point to me of FlyWheel classes compared to other cycling experiences I’ve had is the Torq measurement. Each of the bikes has a digitized dial, showing your RPM, Torq and power points from the class. The instructor consistently tells participants where they should be in a range for both Torq (the resistance on the bike) and RPM (the speed at which you are pedaling). In most cycle classes elsewhere, while instructors tell you what to do, you don’t always have a digital reading to ensure you’re pushing hard enough. Yet at FlyWheel, there’s no question at all. I was instantly excited about this feature and don’t think I could go back to another cycle class that didn’t offer this helpful tool. You want to be validated that you’re on track, and the Torq dial does just that.
Also, there is a signature FlyWheel TorqBoard, a large TV monitor in the cycle studio listing participants names and rankings, which you can have the option of being part of during class. If you participate, your name (or alias) will appear on the screen, along with your bike number, giving your ranking in the class against people of your same sex.
While some people find this intimidating, I find it a great way to compete with yourself. If you know you want to place in class, you know you have to push hard. I can understand why some could feel nervous about having their name displayed on the screen, but the classes I went to only had the TorqBoard up every once in a while and for a purpose — it didn’t just run all class long. I found that I was in the top 10 for women in my classes, but never came close to claiming the top spot. I really liked how the instructors would keep the TorqBoard closed until we went into races, then once into the race, you could see a digital countdown on the screen and truly use it to motivate you to push harder.
What makes Flywheel stand out?
- Incredible space and equipment.
- The bikes are very comfortable and adjustable. The cycle shoes are comfortable. The room where Flywheel classes take place is a huge stadium with bikes packed in tightly, but not as tightly as in a SoulCycle class. The raised-up levels make it so that you can look down at the instructor in the center, who is totally visible to every participant in the room.
- The cycle room is totally dark during class, but the lights come on during set-up and once class is over. Also, there are FlyWheel team members walking around before class to help you set up your bike and get your feet locked into the pedals (a major perk!).
- The studio is very welcoming and well done.
- Fresh fruit and water in the lobby. Gorgeous retail available for purchase. Easy iPad self check-in. It’s like arriving at a hotel.
- Plenty of free lockers. Grooming equipment. Changing rooms. Showers. Bathrooms. You name it, it’s there.
- Free towels. Free shoe rentals. Flywheel takes its participants into account and doesn’t hold back with the amenities.
- It’s easy to sign up and track your progress.
- As far as the online booking, it’s seamless. Simple to sign up and choose your bike before class and search by instructor class time. Reminder emails are automatically sent out before class, and there’s an online dashboard where you can see your results after class and see how you performed (I burned an estimated 700 calories in one class!). Apparently there is an app as well, which I have not utilized.
- Perhaps the best part about the FlyWheel website is that you can use your ride credits to bring a friend with ease and sign them up as a guest. I absolutely love that.
- Torq measurements. They keep you honest.
- The ability to see the resistance you have on your bike as a digital number is incredibly helpful as a participant, so you know how hard you should be working, based on the instructors cues. Totally keeps you accountable.
What could Flywheel improve on?
Based on the classes that I took, the instructors could perhaps do a better job of providing first-timer set-up cues on the bike, as well as reminders of form. It would be pretty tough for a beginner who has never ridden an indoor bike, nor learned how to “hover over the seat” or change their hand position to do all of this so quickly during the transitions in class. Yet, overall, the instructors I experienced were all awesome and didn’t totally gloss over set up, just didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked, being that I’m an instructor myself and am always on the lookout for that type of thing. (“Always teach the class like there is someone brand new in front of you,” is something I’ve always preached.)
Also, the upper-body portion during class is super brief and could stand to be a bit more challenging. (And from what I experienced, there is no bobbing up and down like you do in SoulCycle, so overall, there is less focus on the upper body.) While FlyWheel is primarily a cardio class, I always like to see a more complete workout, and a little bit more action for the arms would be nice, but not mandatory.
Great scene, great studio space, great instructors, great music and a tough workout in less than an hour is a win to me. Overall, I’ve definitely become a fan of FlyWheel and hope to claim the top spot on the TorqBoard in a class one day soon.
FlyWheel class details …
- Duration: 45 minutes (some classes are 60)
- Format: On the bike for the entire time, consisting of a warm-up ride, sprints, climbs, intervals, a short upper-body portion using small weighted bars, more riding and stretching on and off the bike.
- Equipment needed: Cycle shoes. (Can be rented for free from the studio). Towel and water.
- Attire: Wear tight capris or long pants, which cover your thighs. Tank tops and head-bands to wick sweat are highly encouraged. Also wear socks, because you’ll change into cycle shoes before class.
- Difficulty level: 8, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super hard. But of course, you’ve got to push yourself and stay accountable.
By the way, FlyWheel is growing, and there are about 35 locations in 10 several states across the county, and you can find out if there is a Flywheel near you here. Some of the locations also offer FlyBarre, which is a barre class performed in a separate studio, giving you the opportunity to work the entire body with resistance bands, balls and weights. I’ve taken a couple of those classes as well and will share details on that soon!What's Torq? Read about @Flywheel in this class review. #fitness #NeverCoast Click To Tweet
Interested in reading more? Check out my other class reviews here.
*This post is not sponsored. While I did receive a few complimentary ride credits to experience the studio, all opinions are completely my own. I hope you enjoyed this review of FlyWheel Sports.
Questions of the day
Have you ever taken a FlyWheel class before? What did you think?
What’s something you look for in a studio or gym?
i laughed a bit when i read your opening sentence about 2 types of fitness fanatics. i’m definitely in the second camp, too. i get bored so easily in a cycling class! even if you add some upper body stuff, in the end, you’re still sitting on a bike, spinning your legs around and around… lol!
that being said, it’s a great way to cross train, for all the reasons you mentioned, and i still do it, often at least once a week. i love that, without fail, i’m dripping in sweat after any kind of cycling class. have you tried RPM (as in, the les mills version)? i really like it (although to be honest, i’m glad it’s only 45 minutes, so i’m not quite as bored by the end)!
Hi Jen! We’re on the same page! Yes! I actually used to take RPM twice-a-week for cardio before I taught BODYATTACK, and I tried so hard to love it. What I do love about RPM is that you KNOW the format, even if you don’t know exactly what is ahead, you know the second song is a race, third is a climb, etc. so you can always decide how much effort you need to get through. But of course, torq is WAY more important to me now that I’ve seen it on the bike. 🙂 Keep up the cycling, even if you don’t love it. It’s SAFE!
I’m in the first camp and love cycle. I used a spin bike at the gym frequently to do circuit training. I find doing intervals on them makes the biking experience not boring. I could never be one of those who can bike casually for some time. Too boring! I did Flywheel a ew years ago in Miami at Sweat USA and loved it. It would be something I would absolutely do again!
Yes, intervals and climbing on the bike are my favorite part of the class for sure. Keeps it interesting! Glad you’re experienced FlyWheel, Megan! 🙂
All about Flywheel–so much so that I wrote a post myself about why I was a fan of it over some of the other offerings! A lot of people can get intimidated by it or feel like they are getting too competitive, but I also offered suggestions for dealing with that.
Good to know, Susie! YES! Loving the FlyWheel! And I’ll be sure to check out your post. Thanks! 🙂
Sounds like it’s right up my alley, I used to be a spin fanatic back in the day 😉 Walnut creek sounds like it’s a pretty fun place to live, you’re always sharing some awesome places to go! 🙂
Hi lady! Yes, Walnut Creek is home to a TON of people who moved out from San Francisco, so there’s still a lot to do and we have a lot of big name gyms already! Love it! 🙂 Hope you can visit one day!
Great review! I would love to try one of these classes, but I really can’t justify paying that much. My gym offers spinning classes, and while they’re not a luxurious experience like this, it’s free with my membership! For now that’s good enough for me 🙂
Hi Gretchen! Yes, if you’re already a member of a gym with classes there isn’t as much of a need to come here. But a lot of people out here in the Bay Area do NOT have corporate gym memberships and just buy packages for individual studios. In which case, FlyWheel’s great for the cardio.
Do you have any thoughts on how this (or SoulCycle) compares to RPM from Les Mills? Obviously it sounds like FlyWheel is an overall experience, moreso than RPM but just curious on your thoughts about the layout of the class, difficulty, etc.
Hi Rebecca! I like the fact that you always know what to expect in Les Mills RPM, because there is a method to the track number and focus. That being said, it’s up to the individual to MAKE themself work hard during RPM, which many people do. But in FlyWheel because of the technology and torq numbers, you are more forced to stay with the range. I found it tougher than RPM. But I like RPM as far as cycle classes go.
Wow, a level 8? That sounds hard. I think I like running better than cycling, because it’s not as hard, but I think I should probably start challenging myself more. 🙂
Hi Emily! Yes, cycling is good because it doesn’t cause impact on the joints like running does, so it’s a great complement. 🙂
I would really like that dial that tells me my torq and RPM. That’s the one struggle I have with spin classes is that I can’t ever see myself getting better. I like having that data.
Totally agreed, Jen! Now that I’ve seen the data, I couldn’t take a cycling class without it. heheh We are so spoiled with technology these days … 🙂
I love indoor cycling (former Spinning instructor) and tried FlyWheel once last year when I was back home in NJ. I enjoyed the format of the class and like a dummy, signed up for the Torq board thinking everyone did it — but nope! It was really challenging but I liked the pace and the time flew by. I feel like FlyWheel is geared more toward intermediate riders and up because the fun of the class is to push yourself and if you’re just getting started it can be hard to take full advantage of what the class offers. Unlike Soul Cycle which is notorious for contraindicated movements, FlyWheel was much better in that department. I’d definitely go back!
Hi Diane! I didn’t know you taught indoor cycling! That’s awesome! So cleary you’re a fan. As far as FlyWheel being a smarter workout, perhaps yes. But I actually enjoy the bobbing and push-ups on the bike of SoulCycle, even though it’s not the safest type of movement heheh! 🙂
GREAT review! I actually became obsessed with FlyWheel just over 3 years ago (looked at my account… time flies), and have found it to be a WONDERFUL workout. Though I ended up dropping my unlimited class pass ~6 months to a year into it exactly for the point you mention. The upper body portion is essentially an after-thought. When I’m debating about using a 3 lb or 6 lb bar and am still racing my TORQ in my legs, the upper body section is, at least for me, essentially non-existent.
Some studios now also offer a FlyBarre class, which offers a bit more of a well-rounded workout studio. I haven’t tried them (not available in my location), but they may be worth checking out. 🙂
Hi Jessica! Yes, I will be reviewing my time at FlyBarre in a post one day soon — also a very different barre experience. And yes, these studios can be pricey, but it’s awesome you enjoyed it for a long time as an unlimited! 🙂 Good work!
Oh awesome – I’m so excited you tried out Fly Barre! Can’t wait to read your review. 🙂
No FlyWheels in my area, but I do enjoy a good cycle class! That Torq thing sounds awesome, it is so easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re working harder than you are (I’m guilty occasionally !) . I just use the gym at my work because it’s free and I love it, but I would look for a variety of classes offered at times that were convenient for me, and good instructors of course!
A free gym at work is WAY awesome, Jessie. So use it! And yes, the torq measurement is totally helpful! No cheating allowed! 🙂
I love this review so much! I couldn’t agree more! I Love the torq board it motivates me to push harder through every class!! Also, let’s talk about the shoes, water, towels and fruit!! 🙂
Seriously, Ashley! FlyWheel is totally like a nice hotel — I could hang out there all day after class heheh! 🙂
I’ve never been a HUGE fan of cycle classes, but I’ve tried to get more into it through the years. My favorite spinning class to date was at IDEA in 2014! I’d love to pick up a gym membership that offers regular spinning classes I enjoy. Great review!
Thanks, Heather! I’m not super into the cycling thing — but of course, I did enjoy FlyWheel as well as SoulCycle somewhat. It takes a GREAT instructor to keep you interested in a class totally on a bike, you know?
I love love love the idea of flywheel! We are just starting to have similar concepts here in Ottawa and looks so fun! I love the idea of the torq because I find often when I’m spinning I know how hard I can work but I like to know where the instructor is at so I know okay am I ACTUALLY working hard enough or could I push myself a little more! Looks like a great time!
Hi Fiona! Exactly — it’s hard to know if you’re doing it right sometimes in cycling, so the torq MAKES it! 🙂