An Insider’s Guide to Cycling at Equinox
Equinox offers a dozen—yes, literally 12—different indoor cycling classes. That makes choosing one tougher than a green juice at Organic Avenue.
And consider this: SoulCycle, which Equinox acquired last year and which focuses exclusively on cycling, has only one signature class. If the Mecca of indoor cycling can get by with one, why does Equinox need to spin it 12 ways?
It's all about the divas. All of the trademarked classes offered at Equinox are tied to a specific star instructor who created it, and whose method and charisma turns out tons of indoor cyclists. While this gives instructors the limelight and brings some variety to the bike, it also makes choosing a spin class needlessly confusing.
To further muddle matters, not all classes are offered at every Equinox; so it can be downright impossible find the one you want. Still confused? So were we, so we created a guide to the dense labyrinth that is studio cycling at Equinox. —Rosa Levitan
Tour de Force: Best known for her motivating personal training program, Amy Amato is a fitness pro and cycling instructor who's logged more than 20 years in the business. Her trademarked cycling class Amy’s A.R.M.Y. Cycling is based around her positive, goal-oriented coaching philosophy. The name riffs on the military but doesn't imitate it at all: It stands for Amy Really Motivates You.
The Ride: For all its alleged bells and whistles, Amy’s A.R.M.Y. Cycling is really just your average indoor cycling class. Expect to sprint, climb, and sweat to the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, and other pop divas. Amato isn’t a super talkative instructor, so if you need someone yelling at you to stay motivated, then this might not be your class.
Geared For: Great for the Zumba-loving beginner who wants to try something new, but also suitable for the more experienced rider who's not into competition.
Tour de Force: Kristen James is more than just a well-known fitness instructor; she's one of the go-to fitness experts for ABC News, CBS, and Fox 5, and has been featured in several national magazines. She's the creator of popular fitness classes Total Body Melt and Cycleology and currently serves as the New York Area manager for Equinox.
The Ride: Cycleology markets itself to those who want to train like professional athletes. James focuses on periodization training, a method that uses a variations on intensity, workout duration, frequency, and volume to keep you body from plateauing. Constantly clad in Lululemon, James looks the part of master instructor and keeps riders motivated during a grueling combination of sprints, hills, and endurance rides.
Geared For: Great for the intermediate cyclist and fitness junkies who want to ramp up their ride with new physical challenges. James makes sure you're not asleep at the wheel.
Tour de Force: Cycling addict, yoga junkie, and all-around sports fanatic Craig Hunter has managed to set himself apart in a city full of buff look-alike trainers. A certified instructor of multiple fitness schools, Hunter also wants you to focus on the mind-body connection and "combine energy, rhythm and force into rhythmic intervals or dances through indoor cycling." His unique philosophy has contributed to his popularity and made him a fixture on the New York cycling scene.
The Ride: Cycletherapy focuses on the mind and body, so expect a 45-minute class that fuses cycling, yoga, and motivational training. This intense ride emphasizes core work, as well as breathing techniques and visualization. "It allows us to awaken and tune in to our natural intuitive rhythms that bring a sense of balance," Hunter says.
Geared For: Perfect for the avid yogi or spiritual seeker with a thirst for some serious cardio. Serious competitive cyclists might not appreciate this unique take on biking.
Tour de Force: Competitive cyclist, trainer, and all around fitness guru Kristin Kenney brings the intensity of outdoor biking to the gym in her trademarked class. Known for her great cues, playlists, and the ability to motivate even the most reluctant rider, Kenney's High Gear is one of Equinox's most popular cycling classes.
The Ride: With rides based on actual mountain terrain, High Gear is designed to challenge a rider and make you dig deep mentally and physically. Expect to go from a steep hill right into a downward sprint with little recovery time. Even though you'll be soaking the floor with sweat, somehow Kenney keeps things fresh and fun all the way through.
Geared For: The spin junkie, the athlete, or the aspiring one. The mantra of High Gear is “I can, I will.” It's open to riders of all levels, but not for the faint of heart.
Tour de Force: Self dubbed “Master Monster” Michael Macneal is a major cycling enthusiast with a rock-star presence. At just 27 years old, he's managed to make his mark on cycling culture with his signature class that taps the power of music—and music videos—to motivate. Covered in tattoos, he's the perfect personal hybrid of the pop culture-cycling crossover, and a favorite in the local cycling community.
The Ride: This is Equinox's indoor cycling night club. You'll sprint, climb, and sweat to music videos projected at the front of the class. There’s nothing quite like the image of Beyonce’s abs to motivate you to push up the top of a hill, while Macneal cheers you on.
Geared For: It's an all-levels ride. A must for the fun-loving fitness junkie, who likes to rock out and heaping tablespoon of positive (not cheesy) affirmations. Great for the transitioning SoulCycle addict.
Tour de Force: Scott Katzenstein is an all around fitness master with roots in exercise science. His teaching philosophies are based on passion, perseverance, and goal setting, all of which are evident in his classes. He teaches several classes at Equinox such as Ride in 45 and TRX Max and is a favorite among many buff-and-fit New Yorkers.
The Ride: This class is a 4-week progression that's designed to improve cycling technique, form, and overall athletic conditioning. You’ll see the usual sprints, hills, and endurance rides, but classes get tougher with each ride. Katzenstein is a knowledgeable and encouraging instructor, who'll make sure you never fall out of form.
Geared For: Anatomy geeks and those needing some spin-posture perfecting. For the casual indoor cyclist, the benefits of this brainiac class may not outweigh a pure cardio ride.
Tour de Force: Equinox’s resident Lance Armstrong, Harlan Matusow is the real deal when it comes to cycling. He's the head cycling coach for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program and has whipped more than 1,000 athletes into shape.
The Ride: This class is a must for the serious cyclist. Matusow stresses correct form, breathing, and technique in his interval-based class that will be sure to get you sweating. You'll get cues in the studio for how to ride on the road.
Geared For: This class is definitely catered toward the more serious cyclist. Beginners are welcome, but those in search of a light-hearted endorphin high may leave overwhelmed.
Tour de Force: This 45-minute class may not have a fitness star attached to it, but that doesn’t mean the instructors aren’t up to par. All Equinox cycling instructors are required to get certified by the Schwinn Teaching Program and go through a grueling audition process to teach at the club. Some instructors not to miss are Wil Ashley, Rachel Buschert, Jay Dantzler, and Rebecca Alexander.
The Ride: This is the basic (and most common) cycling class offered by Equinox. Expect a mix of hill work, sprints, intervals, and endurance sections. Class style differs instructor to instructor, as does the play list.
Geared For: Great for beginners who want to enter the world of indoor cycling but are overwhelmed by the menu of options. Those who want to get in a no-fuss ride. Spin class speed-daters looking to try new instructors and find one that makes spinning inspiring and fun for them.
Tour de Force: Super-woman Laura Cozik is the founder and CEO of Team Lipstick, the largest all-female triathlon team in New York City. She also trained Dr. Sanjay Gupta, his CNN staff, to compete in the NYC Triathlon in 2010 and is popular among her fitness peers for the way she uses indoor cycling to work toward athletic goals and races outside the studio.
The Ride: Cozik created this class for serious fitness addicts. Tempo drills, sprints, and "threshold attacks" are all part of the ordinary routine. This is a tough ride, but Cozik’s upbeat music and inspiring coaching make it worth the pain.
Geared For: More advanced cyclists—especially those training for a race or who want to work on their level of athleticism.
Tour de Force: He may seem intimidating with his rock-hard abs and good looks (Equinox recently featured him in a popular Q Blog video), but Gregg Cook is a big fan of getting the most out of you and is probably the city's Fitness Motivator in Chief. Routinely awarded accolades like New York City’s best trainer, Cook has earned his reputation as one of the brightest fitness stars. He’s a high intensity interval training freak, Paleo-obsessed, and creator of popular Equinox classes Terracycle, Whipped, and Shockwave.
The Ride: Terracycle is heavily focused on high intensity interval training (HIIT), which revs your level of conditioning and metabolism. Be prepared to sweat; classes often involve cycling at 100 percent intensity for three minutes at a time. You'd think there'd be a ton of competitive testosterone in this class, but Cook bases his rides on outdoor cycling principles, and encourages cyclists to ride as a team.
Geared For: Determined beginners can muddle through, but it's better for fitness junkies and athletes of all stripes in search of a serious HIIT workout.
Tour de Force: Robert Pennino is not your run of the mill cycling instructor. He's a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and coach at Terrier Tri, a New York City-based triathlon and marathon training program. His classes are goal oriented, focus on technique, and draw from his experience of coaching for 12-plus years.
The Ride: You can expect a menu of hills, speed work, and endurance rides seasoned with Pennino’s professional athletic expertise. He also includes several more exotic techniques, such as intervals with only one leg clipped into the bike.
Geared For: This class is suitable for all riders, including those who want an outdoor cycling coach leading the way. But it caters to triathletes and hard-core cycling enthusiasts.
Tour de Force: Sought after professional astrologer and spinning instructor, Darryl Gaines brings an ethereal, motivational quality to his classes. (He also teaches Astrorev.) They blend his expertise in the workings of the cosmos with his passion for fitness. His classes are jam-packed with those peddling toward their own personal fitness destinies.
The Ride: Riders spend 45 minutes sweating to house and techno beats with a focus on speed intervals, while Gaines bounces around the room shouting affirmations of encouragement. The loud music and club-like vibe attract a wide variety of riders, so don’t be surprised if the person next to you starts to fist pump or another looks like she's seen angels manifesting.
Geared For: Those looking for something special from their fitness instructor fall hard for Gaines, who gives it all he's got. Beginners should make sure to review correct bike fit and cycling form beforehand, because the class leaves the world for the stars very quickly.
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