Innovative gear and fun new cycling routines that will make you a lean, mean fitness machine

By Lisa Jones
June 04, 2011

Group indoor cycling classes have been popular for two decades, and new variations on Spin workouts are only getting hotter. "Due largely to better equipment and seamless technology integration, class attendance and interest in group cycling has increased," says Kara Shemin, public relations coordinator for International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). And hip boutique fitness studios are popping up in major cities, ushering in fun new indoor cycling workout trends that are pushing these classes-often referred to as spinning-beyond just pedaling. Check out these cutting-edge advancements to become a cycling-master:

Leaning bikes

An innovative new bike called the RealRyder has a frame that tilts side to side in response to your body movements, simulating banking on an outdoor road bike. To keep the bike steady, you have to engage your core muscle groups and upper body. "You burn more calories because you're working harder," says Marion Roaman, creator of Ride the Zone, three cycling studios in New York that offer RealRyder. Use RealRyder's facility search tool to find the bike at other locations nationwide.

High-tech training

Indoor cyclists are increasingly interested in measuring and calibrating their group cycling workouts, and new technology is making it easier, according to Shemin. At New York City's Flywheel Sports, for example, each bike has a small digital display showing the rider's real time stats like exact resistance level and RPMs. "The instructor calls out exactly what the resistance and speed should be, and if the rider is matching that, it's pretty much a slam dunk in terms of getting the workout and the results they want," says co-founder Ruth Zukerman. The bikes are also wired to a large digital screen in the front of the classroom where riders can opt to display their stats and compete virtually with classmates.

Full body (and mind) workouts

Celebrities like Kelly Ripa and Kyra Sedgwick flock to SoulCycle, the studio that sparked NYC's boutique cycling craze and turned the indoor cycling workout into a full-body sculpting program. The studio's signature class incorporates core and arm exercises (lifting light weights of 1 to 2 lbs. for high reps) as your legs are pedaling. And in SoulCycle's new "Bands" class, riders grip resistance bands that are attached to a sliding track on the ceiling above the bikes to tone their arms, abs, back and chest while they pedal. The studios' dim lighting, candles and eclectic music set the mood for body-mind connection. "It's also an active meditation-similar to yoga," explains Janet Fitzgerald, master instructor at SoulCycle, which expects to open locations outside of NYC within the next year. And speaking of the yoga vibe...

Fusion classes

SoulCycle and Flywheel-as well as other boutiques cropping up nationwide like The Spinning Yogi in Lakewood, Colo.-now offer hybrid classes that take riders from the bike straight to the mat for a yoga class. "It's a great idea to combine cycling with yoga," says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise and cycling instructor in San Diego. "You're already warm from cycling, so it's a good time for stretching-especially doing some hip openers." If your gym doesn't offer the combo, just sign up for a cycling and yoga class (but not Bikram) back-to-back, he suggests.

Green Rides

At The Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon, watts are more important than RPMs. The gym's visCycle bikes (from, $1,199) convert the energy created from the bike's motion into electricity that in turn powers the gym. A computer display shows how many watts users in the class are creating. "It is really cool to see everybody pedaling as hard as they possibly can to help the group achieve its goal," says gym owner Adam Boesel. On the East Coast, eco-minded cyclists are recycling their energy at Go Green Fitness in Orange, Conn.