Test Ride: Flywheel – Chicago / Gold Coast

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My recent visit to Chicago has prompted me to post this “review” of my first FLY with Flywheel, at their Gold Coast location in the windy city. I can tell you now it was worth the six-hour roundtrip commute!
After first dropping in at this location about 9 months ago, just to check it out and get a quick run through of the Flywheel package, I finally participated in my first class. It was the Noon class Saturday, January 4th. It was a 45 minute ride (Fly 45) with Kyla B.

Here’s the run down from start to finish…
Pre-class/ride planning
I started the process two days prior, with a visit to http://www.flywheelsports.com to verify address, hours, classes and availability. The web site is a great resource to educate and even reserve the exact bike you’ll be riding for your class. With your own secure user account you manage class credits, reservations, and prior class stats.
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There is a mobile optimized version for tablets and smart phones (not seeing any Apple product apps). I had to call the location about a reservation change and the employee taking the call was very helpful. The people at FLY nailed this part of the Flywheel experience! More on the technology: http://content5.catalog.video.msn.com/e2/ds/8fd232fa-d69c-42bb-8b7c-99bb819e1b7c.mp4

Arrival
My wife and I arrived about 20 minutes before our class to get registered, oriented and changed. We were quickly welcomed and directed to signing in at one of the five laptop PCs. Our cycling shoes (complementary) were waiting for us in a small cubbies below the registration counter. After that, we were given a complementary bottle of water, a tour and instructions for using the lockers and bathroom / changing rooms. Other than the cycling studio, the facility was small and simple floor plan: Reception desk, registration counter, waiting area with small merchandise display, two bathrooms, two changing rooms, lockers, space for boots/shoes, coats, and bench seating. The 5-10 minutes between classes is very busy, crowded and the worst part about the visit (good thing is only about 10 minutes of time). The first visit is great because not only do you have the complementary shoes, water, towel and lockers…the class is free.

Time to Ride
Once the prior class had cleared the studio and cleaning crew made their sweep, it was time for us to move from waiting area to cycle studio, everyone gets situated on their bike with help of instructor or other knowledgeable Flywheel staff (seems like there were about 4-5 staff on site, in addition to the instructor). Once everyone was situated, the instructor started with a quick intro of what to expect and how to use the technology…and then moved right into the warm up.

Kyla was GREAT. Her bio is impressive and what had prompted me to change a prior reservation to switch to her noon class. Her cuing, heads up tips, motivating…all right on. She took a few minutes to hop off the bike and walk through the studio. Great music (memorable ones include: Miss Jackson-Panic! At the Disco, Collide-Leona Lewis, Team-Lorde). She really has you focused on your numbers (rather than what you might be experiencing In terms of hills, flats, sprints). For the true Spinning® riders, I noted some contraindicated movements like hovers / isolations along with some arms work using 2½# / 5# weighted bars while pedaling easy in the saddle. I actually liked the 4-5 minute upper body work and break from standard cycling, just before the last 10 minutes of the ride. Kyla lead a good stretch in and out of the saddle at the end of the ride.

The flat screen monitors in the front of the studio were used to display performance metrics for the participants who agreed to have their stats shown (part of the registration process). These monitors, aka Torque boards, were not in display mode for the full class, but every so often displayed the performance details just often enough to keep people competitively engaged. This is a powerful component of the Flywheel experience.

Ready to go
After a quick wipe down and change of clothes (no showers!), my wife and I relaxed in the lounge/waiting area with a refill of water (filtered water available) and fresh fruit (yes, complementary). Immediately after class, I was able to log into my Flywheel user account and see a Dashboard with stats from my class performance and another view which showed my performance compared to others in the “region”.

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Summary
Overall, Flywheel offered a great class with added motivation via the Torque board. Customer service was top notch from start to finish. The only issue was due to the small space that quickly became cramped between classes…and lack of showers. The facility was clean and well organized…equipment was in good condition and working order. I would definitely go back for another class (at full price).

Pricing details are on their website and appear to be competitive with others in the downtown Chicago market (GoCycle, Real Ryder Revolution / R3…neither of which offers a complementary first class).

Other resources: reviews, media coverage
Find more about Flywheel via social networks, including: Facebook, Twitter and Yelp.

About Flywheel Sports: Flywheel Sports has revolutionized the indoor cycling experience. Since opening its flagship studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron district in February 2010, Flywheel Sports has expanded nationally and today can be found in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, South Florida, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle and more. Founded by a team passionate about cycling – including legendary instructor Ruth Zukerman, who has been widely credited as the driving force behind the indoor cycling phenomenon – Flywheel Sports is an intense, incredibly inspiring and empowering cardio experience. Led by top-notch instructors, each ride is a unique journey that takes fitness to an unmatched level. For more information, visit http://www.flywheelsports.com. (This text from a recent Flywheel press release)

(Lots of recent BUZZ in the media about Flywheel’s growth and business model…some included below)

Flywheel Sports and the National Football League today announce a month-long program, Ride for Super Bowl XLVIII, to benefit the NY/NJ Snowflake Youth Foundation and NFL PLAY 60:
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/03/6043892/flywheel-sports-nfl-debut-ride.html#storylink=cpy

Video clips with CEO interview:
http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?play=1&video=3000232987
http://www.bloomberg.com/video/inside-the-rapid-global-growth-of-flywheel-sports-h_v5OQBgRuq6tJAeEgNJqQ.html

Article about expansion plans:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/money/indoor-cycling-chain-flywheel-sports-speeding-national-expansion-takes-rival-soulcycle-article-1.1005779

Other media from Hallmark Channel, NBC, etc.
http://livewellnetwork.com/Mirror-Mirror/episodes/Flywheel-Sports/8577947
http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/howto/theflywheelworkouttipsinfo
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x198obh_nbc-today-show-no-gym-no-problem-specialized-fitness-classes-growing-in-popularity_news

Stock photos:
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