First Look: This edgy new fitness studio comes with a parental advisory

At The Monster Cycle + Studio, every revolution of your flywheel matches the frame of a music video and leather straps are as ubiquitous as water bottles.
Monster Cycle
(Photos: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good/ The Monster Cycle)

Snoop Dogg was smoking a blunt in my spin class the other day. Okay, he wasn’t on the bike next to me. But he was on a huge flatscreen right in front, rapping about said blunt and drinking at a club—while I pedaled to the beat.

Welcome to The Monster Cycle + Studio, where every revolution of your flywheel matches the frame of a music video, a parental advisory displays at the start of class, and leather straps and outsize chandeliers are as ubiquitous as water bottles.

The studio officially opened on Lafayette Street in Soho on August 29, and it’s a concept the owners are billing as “workout destination meets nightclub meets art gallery.” One thing is for sure—it’s like nothing New York’s fitness scene has scene before.

We stopped by for a tour and a first ride with co-founder and class creator Michael Macneal to bring you this first look inside.

Monster Cycle
The view from outside. (Photo: Lisa Elaine Held)

The space

Macneal and his co-founders Demetre Daskalakis, MD (his husband) and Sarah LaBier designed the space with an edgy nightlife conceit that makes it feel sort of like a DavidBartonGym, just with more fashion cred (and more bondage undertones).

So instead of the whitewashed walls and benches you’re used to at other spin spots, you’ll get a lounge furnished with a black velvet chaise, a giant chandelier, and a huge graffiti-ed wall that reads “Monster.” There’s also an art installation created by leather-focused designer Zana Bayne in the form of a matte black spin bike, decked out in studs and straps, and suspended from the ceiling. Clothing for sale is displayed on a metal cage and in a mirrored chest, and neon signs hang in various spots. There’s also a wholesome little juice bar run by Salud.

Upstairs, a big, open studio (for yoga and strength classes) houses a DJ booth and a huge Pentagram sculpture that doubles as a light, created by Desi Santiago. Downstairs, you’ll find the cycling studio, stocked with black matte Schwinn bikes, flat-screen TVs, plus lockers, changing rooms, and two showers.

Monster Cycle
What you’ll see as you descend to the lower level to the cycling studio. (Photos: Lisa Elaine Held)

The classes 

The yoga program, led by The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers instructor Lindsey Valdez, kicks off this week, and the studio will continue to add strength and conditioning classes to the schedule.

The cycling experience, though, is where the real action is, and every class comes with a video playlist to rock out to. Ours had lots of hip-hop and a few pop hits (ahem, Pharrell and Miley), but don’t expect to dance around on your bike via tap-backs or jumps. Aside from one song of up-and-down high-intensity intervals, Macneal’s teaching style involves giving you a speed and resistance and keeping you in one spot (whether that’s in or out of the saddle) for each full song. It’s as if he’s acting as DJ rather than fitness instructor, setting up the audiovisual experience and then setting you free to move to it.

That’s not to say, however, that he doesn’t push you. Our class was really tough and left everyone in the room dripping with sweat, and he repeatedly told riders to “dig deeper” and “figure out how strong you are.” And class ended with a seize-the-day quote displayed on the screen, which will change daily.

Blunts and bondage-decor aside, it seems trainers just can’t help throwing in a little “transform yourself” inspiration. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit and check out more shots from inside, below

Monster Cycle
The art installation and a view of the check-in desk. (Photos: Lisa Elaine Held)


Monster Cycle
Retail displayed in creative ways. (Photos: Lisa Elaine Held)
Inside the yoga studio. (Photo: The Monster Cycle)
Inside the yoga studio. (Photo: The Monster Cycle)
Monster Cycle
Inside the cycling studio, where music videos are a constant fixture. (Photo: Lisa Elaine Held)

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