I have been waiting for WEEKS, LITERALLY, for the new CycleBar in South Lake Union to open. After a few hiccups, they opened their doors a little over a week ago. Luckily, one of my favorite  instructors, Darsenio, was teaching the 5:30 AM class on Monday so I decided to check it out. What's even better, my friend Emily was in town, and being the trooper she is, decided to get up at 4:30 AM to go with me!

CycleBar SLU is in one of the brand new condo buildings down the street from PlayDate SEA (if you're a parent, this is a well known landmark!) and We Work. Parking at 5:15 AM is super easy but I will say, I also took a 6:45 AM class and parking was nearly impossible at that hour (already!). 

The new space is gorgeous, definitely new and has a modern feel to it. When you first walk in, there are iPads set up to allow you to check in next to the front desk. The staff was super friendly and what I appreciated was, even at that hour, they had plenty of staff ready and available. There was someone ready to check you in and walk you through the facility, there was someone at the front desk and there were two team members in the studio (one to help you get settled on your bike and one to help the instructor with any technical issues). I definitely appreciated this, especially given the early hour. It meant everyone had a team member they could flag down if they had any questions or issues.

From the Front Desk area, you walk down a short hallway that contains a restroom and shower. When you turn the corner you enter a small open space that houses two benches and a bunch of lockers. It's the perfect size space for you to change into your cycling shoes and refill your water. They've also done a good job of setting up a small drinks and snack table that contains a water filtration system and fruit. They also bring in coffee in the morning (HUGE Plus after a 5:30 AM ride!).

The studio itself is gorgeous and set up with 4 rows of bikes, stadium style. There are about 50 bikes in the studio and I'd say there isn't a bad bike in the room. They have it set up in such a way where you can easily see the instructor from each bike and they are not so close together that you worry about sweating on your neighbor. 

What I appreciate anytime I visit a studio is the little things they do to make you feel comfortable and welcomed. As soon as I walked up to my bike, a CycleBar Team Member came over to ask if I needed any help. Fortunately, the bikes were the same ones they use at my Home Base (Community Fitness) so I was all set. Emily, however, was new to the cycling game so the Team Member helped her get fitted on her bike and even got down on the ground to make sure her shoes were perfectly clipped in. Now that's what I call service with a smile!

Darsenio starts every class the same way. Whether you're at Community Fitness or CycleBar, whether you're taking Boot Camp or Cycling, he starts with a motivation quote of the day. It's one of my favorite parts of the workout. It gives me a chance to shut out all the noise, reset my mind, set my intentions for the day and get ready to focus. That day, the quote was about getting ready to take on the Monday - mentally, physically, emotionally. It was exactly what I needed at 5:30 AM to get ready for my first ride with Darsenio.

Then, Darsenio did a quick overview of the stats on the computer screen. Like many other cycling studios, when you sign up for the class, you can choose to have your stats appear on the board or opt out of this. If you choose to have your stats on the board, they'll show up whenever the instructor chooses to show them. Darsenio was pretty good about not having this be the focus. Meaning he showed them periodically (I'd say 4 times total throughout the whole class). But I know each instructor is different.

Then, we were off! The class starts with two warm up songs and mid way through the second one, I was ready. I was already breaking out in a sweat, I was loving the music (Darsenio never disappoints in this category) and I had (somewhat) figured out the gears on the bike. NOTE: If you're a Community Fitness Rider, you'll quickly realize that the Power (on bikes at CityCyle, Fly Wheel and CycleBar) are not the equivalent of a gear on the bikes at Community Fitness. I was warming up with a Power of 6 - 8 which is normally a hill for me on the Community Fitness bikes.

From there, the class moved through various types of workouts. Everything from hills, to sprints to races. One of the coolest features at CycleBar is the ability to build teams through the computer system. So at any given time, Darsenio could select the race option and the computer system would randomly select bikes for each team. The screen then shows you which bike numbers fall under each team. As the race kicks off, the screen will show you how each team is doing based on Power and RPM. For someone who loves data (and is slightly competitive) it was SO FUN to watch my team try and keep up or pass all the other teams. It was definitely one of my favorite features. He also did this with rows (so we had 4 teams, each row being in its own team).  Darsenio also included push ups and tap backs along the way. Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT coordinated so I generally do not like this part of the class. Fortunately, Darsenio;s choice of music will make it fun!

The last third of class includes an arm series that lasts one song. It's generally a mix of biceps, triceps and shoulders. You can choose from 4 lb weights,6 lb weights or combine them to make 10 lb weights. There are different theories on whether this type of a workout is effective or even good for your body given you don't have the best form while sitting and pedaling on a bike. I don't necessarily think of it as a upper body workout but find it's a good way to take a break from riding and keep me engaged. We all know I have a short attention span so I like to do different things in a workout, rather than going through the same motions over and over again.

After the arm series is the connect song. This is my favorite, favorite part of the workout. I know it sounds crazy but it's what I need and wish I could incorporate into every workout. The connect song is generally a slower song on a higher power/gear. It gives me a moment to close my eyes, quiet my mind and clear my head. There's something about the forced stillness that allows me to mentally and emotionally let things go for a second - whether it's the exhaustion from the workout,  anxiety about something with the kids, stress about an upcoming meeting at work, it all disappears for those 3-4 minutes and I let myself get lost in the music. When it's over, I come out of it feeling mentally and emotionally stronger. I love, LOVE this part of the workout.

After that, we had 3 more songs before class ended. Darsenio had us stretch for a few minutes before he closed out class. As we headed out of class to the locker area, there was a CycleBar team member with cold, lavender scented towels. YES!! Such a nice touch!! 

One small note, if you plan to shower after class, give yourself extra time, or head out of class early to grab the shower first. I was the last to leave the studio and there was a line of people waiting for the shower (fortunately it was short, only 2 people long).

I highly recommend you check out CycleBar SLU. They're giving free rides through Sunday, 8/13 so get them while you can!!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 4/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5