An Honest Review Of Cyclebar Workouts

Here's what it's like to take a class at the studio.

An honest review of the of Cyclebar spin studio.
Husam Cakaloglu/E+/Getty Images

When you’re in the mood for a sweaty workout, nothing does the trick quite like a spin class. They’re known for being intense, high-energy, and super motivating. You know it's on once the lights go down and the music goes up — especially when you have a fun instructor and a perfect playlist.

This is the vibe at CycleBar, an indoor cycling studio with locations across the country. Like many spin classes, its studios have mirrored workout rooms full of bikes, clubby red lighting, big speakers, and peppy instructors. When you show up for a class, you know you’re in for 45 minutes of spinning, strength training, and speed work. The studio is popular for its low-impact, high-intensity workouts, but something definitely sets them apart from the pack.

When I booked my first ride, I showed up and was immediately swept up in the community vibes. This extra-welcoming energy is something CycleBar strives for; the studios are all about offering routines that feel doable and fun, no matter your fitness level. They also want it to feel like you’re working out with your besties — and not to be cheesy, but it really does feel that way.

Group fitness classes are said to be more fun and inspiring than solo routines, and that’s something I noticed before I even clipped into my bike. Keep reading for my honest review of CycleBar — aka my new fave hangout spot.

What Is CycleBar?

CycleBar is an indoor cycling studio equipped with smart bikes that show you data like your revolutions per minute (RPMs) and how hard you’re working. If you like, you can also see your stats on a screen alongside your classmates. From start to finish, the routine keeps you moving with upbeat playlists that match the pedaling speed for each phase of the workout, so you know how fast to spin.

When you sign up for a CycleBar session, you’ll have six different class types to choose from. Try Connect when you want to cycle without the stats; this class turns the studio into a sanctuary so you can pedal without any distractions or screens — just you and the tunes. There’s also Classic, which is a mix of strength and endurance training, as well as intervals to get your heart rate up. There’s an Empower class to help you up your game by focusing more on rhythm and less on choreography. The Xpress rides are ideal when you want a shorter, 30-minute routine. And then there’s the Foundations class, another rhythm-based ride that’s suitable for all levels and concentrates on the basics of indoor cycling.

After any class, you’ll be super sweaty — and you’ll also get to see your CycleStats, which show you different metrics from your rides including your class rank, max RPMs, average watts on your bike, and your power points or how hard you worked. These numbers pop up in an email so you can keep track of your goals.

Ride pricing and memberships vary by location, so contact your local studio to get more info. Most memberships range from $100 to $200 a month, with drop-in rides ranging from $20 to $30 — just note that there are the occasional bonus free ride offers.

My Experience

When I walked into the CycleBar studio in Philadelphia, I was instantly swept up by a group of super sweet instructors who started showing me the ropes. Since new workout classes are always a whirlwind, I was so happy (and secretly relieved) when they helped me get my shoes, adjust my bike, and clip into the pedals before the exercise began.

My first class was a Classic ride, which is a mix of challenging sprints, hill climbs, endurance training, and drills, as well as a quick dose of upper-body strength training. The playlist was early 2000s pop punk — think Yellowcard, Dashboard Confessional, and Paramore — and it yanked so hard on my millennial heartstrings. (It honestly felt like I was at a summer concert, especially when everyone was singing the lyrics and cheering for each new song.)

The workout started off with a warmup before diving into speedy sprints and heavy climbs. With a quick turn of a knob on the bike, I could add resistance or take it away. I kept it on the easier side to start so I wouldn’t overdo it, then eventually cranked it further until I had to stand up on my pedals. I loved how the beat of each song matched the recommended RPMs, so it was always easy to tell how fast I should be pedaling.

There was an upper body workout later in the class that included push-ups right there on the handlebars as well as bicep curls, chest presses, and overhead presses using a weighted bar found on the side of the bike. I wasn’t really expecting my arms to get a workout in a cycling class, so that was a nice treat.

Occasionally, throughout the workout, we’d get to see our name and stats up on a big screen, as well as the class’s combined RPMs. The instructor would push us to work together to reach a certain number — and when we did, everyone cheered. It was a fun dose of motivation and made it feel like we were all a team.

Forty-five minutes later we slowed down, hopped off our bikes, and did a few stretches. I was drenched in sweat — and also rippling with endorphins.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for an indoor cycling class, but have been too scared to try one, hit up CycleBar. Not only are the studios welcoming and community-oriented, but the workouts are fun and easy to tweak to your energy level. If you want to pedal hard and get up on the leadership board, you can. If you prefer to hang out in the dark and pedal at your own rate, that’s cool, too.

My workout was high-energy, engaging, and super effective. But my biggest takeaway was how great it felt to be there. It’s one of those gyms where you want to stay and hang out just as much as you want to work out — so I’ll definitely be back.

Studies referenced:

Graupensperger, S. (2019). Perceptions of groupness during fitness classes positively predict recalled perceptions of exertion, enjoyment, and affective valence: An intensive longitudinal investigation. Sport Exerc Perform Psychol. doi: 10.1037/spy0000157.