Stories from Spinning Workouts

A sneak peek inside Paris’ indoor cycling scene—which is just picking up speed

Lisa Elaine Held

Lisa Elaine HeldMarch 30, 2016

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(Photo: Let's Ride)
Parisians are not exactly known for hitting the gym hard and then sipping smoothies together in Spandex, and while that may never happen, a slice of New York City- and Los Angeles-style fitness culture has definitely arrived.

“Things are just now starting to catch fire, and Let’s Ride is strongly leading the movement,” says Stephanie Nieman, a popular spin instructor who formerly taught at studios like Flywheel and Peloton in Manhattan. “I think it’s a few years behind London, so there are some fitness boutiques but they’re really just now starting to become popular. People really want it, and everyone’s talking about it.”

Nieman left behind consulting (and the US) to join Frenchmen Jonathan Garret and Nicolas Chabrier in opening Let’s Ride in February, and the high-design space and rhythmic workout is already making waves. It follows the buzzed-about Dynamo cycling studio, plus plenty of yoga options and some barre (including a Dailey Method location).

We caught up with Nieman to find out more about Let’s Ride and what Parisians want from a spin class.

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Paris spinning
(Photo: Let’s Ride)

I know a lot went into the studio design. Why?

The culture here is…they’re really into the arts. Everyone goes to the galleries. We wanted to make something with a really cool vibe, so we opened in a neighborhood called Oberkampf, which is becoming like the Williamsburg of Paris.

Paris spinning
(Photo: Let’s Ride)

And we partnered with the architecture firm DAS Studio, with a 28-year-old architect, Felix de Montesquiou. They only do really cool stuff like exhibitions at the Louvre and luxury high-end jewelry shops. So when people walk in [to Let’s Ride], automatically their idea of a gym starts to change. Everything’s outlined with this concrete that’s raw, there’s funky green plants everywhere…

Paris spinning
(Photo: Let’s Ride)

And what’s the approach to cycling like in the actual classes? What do the French want?

They really like to move to the rhythm because it’s kind of sexy. There are no metrics. That works really well for the people here because they’re more into having a good time than a New Yorker “every man for himself” feel. Paris is a little more laid back. They enjoy letting go. The instructors are a lot like entertainers, getting off the bike, expressing themselves, making eye contact. We also have a meditative moment where we close our eyes and ride with the beat.

Paris spinning
(Photo: Let’s Ride)

And how has the city responded so far, in the first month you’ve been open?

We’ve done really well with clientele. We’re far above our projected estimate of where we thought we would be. Classes are more than half full across the board and on weekends we’re full. It’s really encouraging. And people are coming back. Most people will buy a five-pack after their first class.

Wait! Before you hop on a plane bound for a trip filled with post-cycling croissants, make sure you check out these 7 things you’re doing wrong in spin class (and how to fix them).

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