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The revolutions per minute that bikers aim for during class matches the beats per minute of the song selected by the class instructor.
East County Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016 4 years ago

University Parkway's CycleBar puts pedal to the mettle

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Reporter puts her spin on new cycling studio on University Parkway.
by: Jessica Salmond Staff Writer

Within the small but aesthetically pleasing locker area of CycleBar, I noticed a wall painted with different inspirational motifs and challenges that caught my eye.

One phrase in particular held true. “Come to class fresh, because you will be sweating.”

My assignment: check out the new CycleBar indoor cycling facility at 5275 University Parkway in Sarasota. Sweating definitely would be involved.

Seeing my name up on a big screen that was going to compare my statistics to the other 15 riders in the session, I was glad I used a little extra deodorant.

CycleBar opened its doors officially March 28, but offered 10 days of free classes in the days leading up to the opening. Similar to other boutique fitness clubs such as Pure Barre, CrossFit and OrangeTheory, it offers class packages rather than monthly or yearly

memberships.

Even before I decided to work out for a story, I had heard rumors about the class. It was hard, it was fun and I was going to be sore the next day.

Annie Bernstein and Michelle Bennett of Ciclo Management, an Osprey-based company that brought CycleBar to Sarasota.
Annie Bernstein and Michelle Bennett of Ciclo Management, an Osprey-based company that brought CycleBar to Sarasota.

When I entered the fitness club on University Parkway, Barbara Nonell was working the front desk and she was ready to help me pick out my specialized shoes that clip into the bike pedals. She also handed me a complimentary water bottle and helped me adjust my bike to fit my short stature.

She even pointed out the handy jars of hair ties and bobby pins in case I had forgotten mine.

When you walk into the studio, with its 47 sleek Schwinn stationary bikes and cool, quality-controlled air system, you are certain it’s going to be an interesting experience. Annie Berstein, the vice president of operations and marketing for CycleBar’s management company, Ciclo, had told me I would feel that way a day earlier.

She was right.

It was time for my workout.

Kristen Horler, my instructor or “CycleStar,” cued up her playlist before we began pedaling in the darkened room. Horler has taught cycling 17 years, and said she was disappointed when she moved to Sarasota 10 years ago and found a lack of cycling options. She had heard of the CycleBar franchise before, so she tried out with the company to be an instructor when it announced its arrival in Sarasota. One of her favorite things about the concept is the music relationship with the rate of the workout.

She had changed the typical modern song list that night for a “Throwback Thursday” class featuring 1980s music.

“We might have to watch every music video,” she said, and we all chuckled at the notion of watching an ’80s video such as “Billie Jean” or “Eye of the Tiger” on the studio’s giant screen TVs.

Soon we were off, with Horler calling out our instructions for the RPM, which matches the beat of the song. Somehow in the midst of doing a series of seated and standing pedaling, I forgot I was working out and felt myself bopping along to the song.

“We’ve got some karaoke going on back there,” Horler said, as another cyclist could be heard singing “take my hand, I’ll take it I swear, oOH, livin’ on a prayer!”

The bopping can give way to a person’s competitive spirit.

CycleStar Kristen Carson guides her class through a workout. Some instructors incorporate the use of a bar or even the bike handles to make the exercise a full-body workout.
CycleStar Kristen Carson guides her class through a workout. Some instructors incorporate the use of a bar or even the bike handles to make the exercise a full-body workout.

I looked up at a screen and saw where I stood in relation to the other 15 cyclists. First, I was determined to finish in the top five. Then, CycleBar has these in-class sprint races which teams up riders and pits them against opponents. I was suddenly invested in a race. When it came time for the sprint, I forgot I was in a class and felt I needed to help pedal my “team” to victory.

That will get your heart pumping.

“It’s a break in your day and it has a community feel,” Bernstein said about the class, its music and the in-class competitions.

I’m not sure I’d call it a break, exactly.

About the 40-minute mark, I wasn’t dying, but I definitely was feeling the burn. I work out regularly, but I’m not a cyclist, so I was working hard on my balance when Horler would tell us to alternate standing and sitting while we pedaled. As Berstein had explained to me about the music’s relationship to the RPM, I really did forget that I was working out.

“You just have to focus on the song,” Horler told me.

I was focused on the song, and the competitions, and the burn.

The chilled, damp, lemon-scented cotton wipes Nonell handed out after the class were awesome, too.

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