In a city full of boutique spin studios, it’s hard for brands to distinguish themselves. Enter Swerve Fitness – a spin studio that takes a team-based approach to cycling. The bikes are broken out into 3 teams and, by tracking metrics such as RPM and gears/resistance, the teams compete against each other. The result is a competitive ride with team camaraderie.
Swerve has two locations (Flatiron and Midtown), and I took an evening class at their midtown location. This is probably the nicest spin studio I’ve ever been to (i.e., nicer than Soul Cycle or Flywheel). For a midtown studio, the space is HUGE – three floors! Upstairs, you’ll find the women’s locker room which has multiple showers, blow dryers, ample space to get ready, and even branded soap. On the main level, you’ll find the check in desk (obviously), self-locking lockers, and a juice bar (?!). Downstairs is the spin studio itself. The class I took was fairly empty (last class of the day during the week between Christmas and New Year’s), but even when crowded, it’s nice to see that clients probably won’t bump into each other. Studio rating: 10/10.
I took class with James, who had awesome energy despite a class of only about 12 students (side note: the team-based approach is kind of awkward in a class this small. It’s a lot of pressure to carry a team of only 3-5 people!). He was motivational (but not in a weird, zen-y way), cracked jokes, played awesome music, and encouraged teams to meet goals (both against other teams and among our own teams). I loved how he’d let us know how many more sprints/songs we have left towards the end of class, which really made me push myself. However, some of his instructions were a bit unclear–he had unclear countdowns to the sprints themselves, and some of the sprints were half in/half out of the saddle, which was difficult to both explain and understand. Regardless, I had a lot of fun in this class and definitely pushed myself. I’d take his class again.
Cutting to the chase, I think I have a new favorite spin studio. Swerve’s class combines the elements of rhythm-based rides and metrics-based rides, so there’s something for everyone. For example, you’re riding to the beat, but the instructor gives you a target RPM to meet that matches the beat, as well as a range of gears recommended to maintain the beat yet challenge yourself. As an infrequent spinner, I often found myself on the low end of that gear range, so I definitely have room for improvement! In addition to the rhythm-based “baseline” for riding, there were lots of sprints (both in and out of the saddle) to push yourself as hard and fast as you can go. That said, this isn’t a Soul Cycle-like approach where you just go as fast as you can–again, he’d give us a target RPM and tell us to go as hard as possible in that range (i.e., add on more resistance). During the sprints, the instructor would display out team scores on the board, which offered extra motivation. In addition to team scores, the board displays a team “captain,” the person on each team with the highest score. Sadly, my bike never made it there 🙁 but it’s not MY fault I was placed on a team with a bunch of super-jacked spinner dudes!
The class did have one armwork song with weights towards the end of class, but there was much less focus on armwork than at Cyc (which has multiple songs for arms) or Soul Cycle (where you’re basically dancing on the handlebars). There’s also no choreography here, so don’t expect to “tap it back,” as the kids say. As a dancer who enjoys the “party-on-a-bike” style rides, I was surprised by how much I liked this class. Maybe I’m more of a spinner and an athlete than I’d anticipated! Maybe after my next class I’ll even qualify for next year’s Tour de France–what, like it’s hard?
As noted, my class had relatively few students, so it was kind of hard to gauge the vibe of this place. However, as team-based workout, I can’t imagine the regulars are unfriendly. Clients were both male and female (about a 50/50 ratio) and seemed to be in their 20’s and 30’s. The staff was very welcoming and seemed happy to be there, too.
Rides are $34 each (same price as Soul Cycle and Flywheel), but newbies can buy one get one free. They’re also on Classpass.