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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)



If you're looking for bells and whistles in your indoor cycling class, you can find plenty of them at the recently opened CycleBar GreenGate in western Henrico County.

"It's a multisensory experience," said CycleBar instructor Danny Welsch after he finished leading a free promotional ride in mid-May.

First off, there are video screens, one on each side of the instructor and hung so that everyone in the 48-bike studio can see the music videos and rider statistics that flash up there. The bikes are lined up in rows on three raised tiers, so that the back-row riders can see the instructor as clearly as those in the front. This sets up what the franchise calls the "CycleTheatre."

Then, there are the lights, which change constantly in the darkened room. There might be a spotlight on the instructor in one song, then alternating, colored lights in the back of the room in the next.

Add in loud, pumping music and you've got a nightclub atmosphere with a sweat-fest vibe.

Instructors push riders to move, up and down, in and out of the seat, to engage different parts of the legs and core. Weighted bars, stored in tubes on the front side of the bikes, are used for upper-body exercises while the riders stay seated.

If you like a little competition, you'll be checking out the "CycleStats" that frequently rank riders on the screens. Your personal stats will be emailed to you after class, along with a link to the "CycleBeats" (songs) from your class.

There's no need to bring bike shoes. CycleBar provides clip-in biking shoes, as well as hand towels and water bottles.

The local CycleBar opened for regular business in late May. There are about 90 locations of the franchise across the country, with an additional 30-plus expected to open soon. The next closest CycleBar will be in Virginia Beach, and is expected to open in September.

Local owner Libbie Crane said she and partner Donna Suro are hoping to set up a reciprocal arrangement with the Virginia Beach location so that Richmonders who travel there regularly can use that facility, and vice versa.

Crane, who used to live in New York and took classes regularly at high-tech clubs there, said CycleBar is a combination of Flywheel and SoulCycle, both trendsetting indoor-cycling operations with roots in New York.

Many of the CycleBar elements - video screens, changing lights, free use of bike shoes, CycleStats and CycleBeats - are consistent throughout the franchise, Crane said.

"They all have slightly different layouts and their own pricing," she said.

The drop-in rate for one class at CycleBar Greengate is $22, but the per-class rate goes down with the purchase of multi-class packages.

The GreenGate development off Broad Street is about a half-mile west of Short Pump Town Center.

Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the University of Richmond Weinstein Center. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair.

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June 7, 2017


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