Getting my cycle on at Leaside’s CycleBar

Karli, instructor Cydney and operating owner, Doug.
Karli, instructor Cydney and operating owner, Doug. Photo by Karli Vezina.

CycleBar is an indoor cycling gym with over 100 locations across the U.S., but Leaside holds the first franchise outside America. Naturally, this new “bar” at 1866 Bayview had us all curious so off I went to investigate.

What makes CycleBar unique compared to other indoor cycling options (or “spinning,” as it’s often called) is the technology used in the studio. Every class is planned around the music, and the playlists are new every time. Riders have a console secured between the handlebars of their bike. This box allows you to track your time, speed, endurance, averages and how many RPM (revolutions per minute) you’re doing. There are monitors in the front of the room that show stats of your classmates and you, based on what your console reads. With such personalized technology, beginners and advanced students can cycle side by side and still enjoy the community environment while giving their personal best.

By incorporating RPM into the songs, the music actually moves you. Operating owner Doug Lennox explained how the instructors are always on the beat of the music. Instructors use an app that shows how many beats per minute are in any song, so if one is 45 beats per minute, that’s 45 RPM on the bikes.

“Knowing the song is going to moderate at 45 RPM and your metric system (console) is showing that you’re only at 40, you know you need to increase your speed,” he said. If you stay on the beat of the music you tend to zone out and get a better result. It almost becomes involuntary because you’re naturally staying on beat with the rhythm.

I tried a Classic Ride first, to get the basics on what an indoor cycling class entailed.

My first impression was that the studio looked like a movie theatre…sans popcorn. The bikes are placed in an auditorium-like setting, all facing a front wall of floor to ceiling mirrors. I was relieved to learn that the lighting stays pretty dim, with the spotlight on the instructor. My next impression was: awesome sound system! The music sounds absolutely amazing and it feels like it’s pumping right through you.

Cyclebar’s lobby. Photo by Karli Vezina.
Cyclebar’s lobby. Photo by Karli Vezina.

Halfway through my first class, my derrière was a little stiff, but the rest of me was doing just fine. At some points we were asked to cycle standing up and I feared my bull-in-a-china-shop ways might tip the bike over. Thankfully, I remained in place. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, instructor Cydney told us to reach down and grab a body bar, used to tone and stretch.

Uh oh. Aside from trying to keep my lower half in order (thankful for those clip-in shoes), my upper body now had a 4 lb. bar to balance as well. I got clumsy, but I hung in there.

There are three types of classes at CycleBar Leaside: The Classic Ride is your regular cycle class, with a variety of endurance drills where you can track your progress on the monitors. The Connect Ride is different because they don’t use the monitors for your stats – they use it to play music videos! This class is more focused on getting in the zone and enjoying the music. The Performance Ride gives patrons full use of the CycleStats technology that tracks your progress, as well as group and individual competitions.

As someone who doesn’t enjoy cycling as a form of exercise, I found the classes extremely engaging and actually fun. My backside hurt for days, but overall it was a cool experience. I had no idea that working out could be so high-tech. The ’80s-themed Connect Ride was my favourite as I didn’t care much for tracking my performance. There is something for everyone at CycleBar in Leaside, so check it out and get your cycle on! For more information:

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Until next time…for science!

About Karli Vezina 22 Articles
Karli Vezina earned her Journalism Diploma at Humber College and then a BA in Communications at Athabasca University, Alberta. She taught English as a second language in South Korea for 3 years. Karli has been a contributing writer for Chart Attack Magazine, Playback Magazine, OhMyNews International and is a founding member of the Weekly Wanderer online.