Get Fit

Just Like Riding a Bike

A thumping soundtrack and a full body workout push riders to the limit at CycleBar


Four days before I took a class at the new CycleBar at Providence Place, I had gone out for a 33.5-mile bike ride. So, when faced with the prospect of pedaling for 45 minutes on a stationary bike, I had a grossly misplaced sense of confidence. “I got this,” I told myself.

I most certainly did not.

CycleBar opened at the end of April, adding a state of the art cycling gym to the mall. Forty-five bikes line the three-tiered CycleTheater, all facing the instructor, as well as two HD TV screens that will display stats occasionally throughout the class. I had signed up online, inputting my vital stats (sex, height, weight, shoe-size) and selecting which bike I wanted to ride (back row, dead center). CycleBar provides shoes with cleats for riders to clip into their pedals. Our instructor, Kateri, gave the class a quick tutorial on how to get in and out of the pedals, as well as how to shift gears on the bike, in order to adjust resistance. Then we were off.

The room was mostly dark, except for a spotlight of Kateri and a moody, red glow. Pop music blasted out of the speakers, setting the pace for the next 45 minutes. In addition to matching our RPMs to a given track’s beats per minute, we were alternating reps of sitting and standing, push ups off of our handlebars, and light weightlifting exercises (four-and six-pound bars were provided, and believe me, I opted for the four).

I managed to hold my own for a couple of tracks, but by the time the early ‘00s hit “Kryptonite” started to play, I started to feel like Superman must when he’s too close to the stuff. My legs screamed, sweat poured. By the time we got to the weight lifting portion of the class – descending reps of lifts, curls, and holds – it was pretty obvious I hadn’t worked out so hard in years, if ever. Luckily the low light of the room allowed me to hide my struggle under the cover of darkness, slow down when I needed to, and try to catch a bit of breath before rallying to get back into the zone.

Kateri’s constant stream of motivational rallying calls helped me push on to the end of class. On CycleBar’s website, instructors are described as “Equal parts educator, DJ, drill sergeant, motivator, and friend.” Don’t let that “drill sergeant” part make you think you’re about to get shamed into shape. Kateri was always pushing the class to go harder and faster, but she was just as encouraging for those who might be struggling to keep pace (this guy) and offered suggestions on which gears might be easier to handle for any given song.

After class we were all treated to cool, damp towels spiked with essential oils for a bit of post-cycle refreshment and were given cards that noted the positioning of seats and handlebars so we could quickly get set up on our next visit. What was most surprising was the way I hurt afterward. By mid-class, I was pretty sure my gelatin legs would be useless in the days to follow, but once we were done I felt great. Definitely sore, but a good sore that comes from a healthy workout. A couple of days later I was out on my bike, and without realizing it I was trying to keep pace with the song in my head. I coasted less, and pushed myself harder than usual. No handlebar push-ups or weights, but overall a better ride than I may have had otherwise.

Cyclebar Providence
23 Providence Place • 680-0228