Trying Flywheel classes for the first time.
Don’t think you’re competitive? Neither did I—until my first Flywheel class. The bikes aren’t that much different from others I’ve ridden in Spinning classes, except for the addition of a lit-up display attached to the frame that tracks my RPM, torque (amount of resistance on the flywheel), speed, power (the amount of effort you’re expending) and distance. Wearing the bike shoes Flywheel lends riders, I struggled to clip in to the pedals when I first climbed atop the bike. Why? Because it’s as dark as post-Sandy Brooklyn in Flywheel classes, possibly to preserve your dignity while lip-syncing along to the songs (as I did, in every class I took) or to minimize the discomfort of being packed in like sweaty sardines, with classmates about one foot on each side of you.
Once I did manage to clip in, Flywheel quickly had me under its spell. Whether I was sprinting at such breakneck speeds my legs looked like the Roadrunner’s or grinding through a slow, torque-heavy climb, the music (mostly Top 40 hits) and the shouts of encouragement from the amped-up instructors kept me engaged. And, improbably, having fun. That fun turned to gritty determination the three times per class when a flat-screen lit up with everyone’s power score (you can choose not to display your score, but what’s the fun in that?). I never advanced beyond third place, but damn if I didn’t pedal within an inch of my life to catch the dynamo in the lead, which resulted in me burning nearly 1,000 calories in every 45-minute class (according to flywheelsports.com, whose calculations, however dubious, are said to be based on a 145–165 pound person). I became so competitive that even during the light weight–lifting portion of class, I kept pedaling like a maniac to add to my score. Am I an indoctrinated Flywheel follower now? Hell, yeah. How else am I going to ever beat that bitch in first place? 710 N State St (312-624-8485), 600 Central Ave, Highland Park (847-780-4320, flywheelsports.com). One ride $25; memberships and class packs available.