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With boutique spinning leading the race, Crunch is making a smart play for its loyal members' spin dollars. We investigate whether other gyms are making upgrades.
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Crunch members get their spin on

Joining the always-imaginative roster of Crunch fitness classes this fall are two new spin classes that will rev up the gym’s indoor cycling program.

iRide markets itself as a 60-minute high-tech journey that tracks your progress on a studio monitor. Your speed is clocked by an instructor wielding a highway patrol-style radar gun. And another class called Ethereal focuses on the spiritual, life-enhancement aspects of spinning. Sound familiar?

While these two classes sound a lot like a choice between a ride at Flywheel or SoulCycle, Marc Santa Maria, Crunch’s Group Fitness Regional Director, and the mastermind behind the classes, insists that’s not intentional. In fact, he’s never even been to either studio.

“More than the influence of boutique spin studios, we’ve been influenced by our members,” says Santa Maria. Many have been requesting differentiated spinning classes, and more of them, he says.

We test drove both Crunch spin classes and were surprisingly impressed by the quality of instruction that emphasized alignment and proper form. And while the classes are still no substitute for the boutique spin experience (killer playlists, state-of-the-art bikes, advanced choreography, and better ambiance), Crunch is offering a pretty stellar spin program as part of a $80 monthly gym membership (on average).

Are other gyms also heeding the call to ramp up their spin programs?

Asphalt Green, a nonprofit fitness center that’s trying to position itself more squarely in the New York gym market, launched its Super Spin classes last spring after building a new studio complete with brand-new bikes, all of them equipped with Flywheel-style tech gadgets.

Both New York Sports Club and New York Health & Racquet Club said they aren’t planning upgrades anytime soon. “We are not trying to compete with the smaller spin studios at this time,” says Jay Travis, a media rep at New York Health & Racquet. “We focus on a simple, classic program.”

Equinox, on the other hand, took the “if you can’t beat them, buy them” approach. The luxe gym’s own program is a snore, but its recent SoulCycle acquisition keeps it in the race. —Lisa Held

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