You don't exactly expect technological prowess and interior design to go hand in hand. But that's the case at Peloton Cycle's first New York studio, where a basement livestream control center and production studio outfitted with camera-positioning joysticks shares space with a sprawling studio "lounge" that resembles a Design Within Reach store.
The studio, with famed instructor-entrepreneur Marion Roaman at its helm, launched its first classes for a "soft opening" this week, with an official open date of May 1, and it will serve as the new homebase for the ambitious cycling brand.
Last year, Peloton set out to transform the at-home cycling experience with the introduction of a custom bike it tricked-out with a Tablet for streaming live or recorded classes—all for the purpose of bringing the "can't-beat-it group cycling class experience into busy people's living rooms everywhere," says CEO John Foley. Since then, Peloton's opened several retail stores, and now the first in-person studio—and livestream command center—which is the next big step (or pedal) forward for the brand.
We stopped by for a sneak peek (and ride) to bring you the need-to-know details:
"The Soho House of fitness"
Riders enter through Peloton's 23rd Street retail store (where bikes and fitness fashion are sold), and a hallway leads to a minimalist check-in desk, then opens into a sprawling "lounge" outfitted with modern couches, cafe-style and communal tables, and a marble-topped coffee bar. "It's our Soho House of fitness," says Foley.
Behind the bar, Jack's Stir Brew will be serving a full menu (minus espresso) that includes coffee, vegan baked goods, and cold-pressed juices. Riders will also get a complimentary hydrating "Pelotonic" (coconut water with boosters like turmeric and cayenne) and a "Mighty Bite" muffin made with flax and chia after every class.
In one corner, four bikes are positioned for early birds who want to warm up and newbies who want to get a feel for pedaling. "If you're late for class, you could theoretically livestream it from a lounge bike, too," adds Foley. Inside the studio, 60 bikes are arranged on three stadium-style levels. Locker rooms are decent-sized and modern with key-code lockers and four showers for women, two for men.
The Class Experience
There are four classes—Pure Peloton, Peloton Endurance, Peloton Power, and Pelotone—and the general style leans more towards road riding than bike dancing. All include upper-body strengthening using one-, two-, or three-pound weights. "I approach every ride as a journey, and it’s a journey that we like to take our riders on and coach them through," Roaman says of her cycling style. "For some, it’s a technical journey where they're actually looking to make a precise difference in their training. At the same time, it’s a journey for people emotionally as well."
Roaman recruited familiar New York instructors such as Stephanie Nieman, Robin Arzon, and Ary Nunez, and she says that while every class has a framework, she's passionate about helping each develop his or her "personal style."
Pedaling on the bikes also feels silky smooth—and it's absolutely silent, because the bikes use a belt in place of a chain. "It’s much better for your body, you’re more balanced," Roaman says. "When you come up out of the saddle, you’re not being tugged forward by a chain, you’re just able to glide up and keep that belt going."
You'll have to get used to the resistance dial which multiplies your number quickly, with a slight delay in appearing on the screen (so you may accidentally turn your resistance from 20 to 60 instead of 20 to 30).
The Tech Factor
Each studio bike comes with a small touch screen that shows your resistance, cadence, and power, plus a leaderboard that allows you to see how you compare to other riders.
The biggest tech tricks, though, are happening around you. You'll notice the instructor is lit up more than at other studios, since he or she is being filmed, and you'll see un-manned cameras gliding towards and away from you as you pedal and pant. Downstairs, the tech team is literally moving them in real time, producing the live broadcast for those pedaling at home, using your sweaty forehead as inspiration.
Which is a huge deal, since this is what will allow Peloton to bring the group cycling experience to home riders in a brand-new, big way. But New Yorkers will get to keep the sweet lounge to themselves. —Lisa Elaine Held
Peloton, $30 per class (water, towel, and shoes included; healthy snack provided), 140 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., Flatiron, www.pelotoncycle.com
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