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?