GET PHYSICAL: Still Spinning Strong

Dec 16, 2013 0 comments
GET PHYSICAL: Still Spinning Strong

Originally Published In Magazine

Block for block, Manayunk may be the fittest neighborhood in Philadelphia. From straightforward fitness centers such as GoalsFit ( to sport-specific ones like Joltin’ Jabs (, a boxing gym, there’s a workout suited to your ambition (or flicker thereof). A breed of serious training centers catering to the immense cycling community that’s left out in the cold is entering the frame, too.

The freedom of the open road comprises a lot of the allure of cycling, which, in turn, makes riding an indoor trainer through the densest part of winter a daunting prospect. But when the alternative is hanging up the bike altogether, it’s at least digestible as a necessary evil. The following programs are making it more palatable still by setting up structured, intense workouts fueled by a healthy dose of competition.

If you refer to the next few months as the “off-season,” the Walton Endurance Training Studio at Human Zoom Bikes & Boards ( is holding a slot for you. There, you ride your own bike on a CompuTrainer, which delivers a relatively-realistic feel and feeds your need to constantly process numbers—don’t act like they don’t matter to you.

Pushing you through those pedal strokes are trainers with the kind of credentials that’ll make you want to go faster through simple eye contact. Brian Walton is a three-time Olympian. Dana Walton is a six-time masters world track champion. Mike Gibbons is an ex-pro mountain biker. And Bob Clowry is a certified-USA Triathlon coach. Sessions include “The Sustained Hour of Power,” Tuesdays, 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.; “High-Intensity Training,” Thursdays, 6:30 a.m.; and informal, indoor group rides Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. The rates are $60 per month for a weekly class, $100 for two weekly classes and $20 to drop in for a single class.

Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center ( offers a comprehensive approach that includes CompuTrainer rides too, as well as a smattering of sessions that focus on pulling you off the bike to improve your weaknesses on it, like “Yoga for Cyclists” (Fridays, 6:30 a.m.) and “Strength Circuit Training” (Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m.). The latter runs an hour and alternates between indoor riding and four strength exercise stations at a high-intensity pace. Basically, prepare to suffer.

If all of that feels a little too hard-core, there are a couple of sessions that are directed more toward the cyclist who’s interested, simply, in not morphing into a couch potato. Hone in on Colin Sandberg’s “Intermediate Cycling Class” (Mondays, 6:30 a.m.), which, in spite of its title (and time) is geared toward newcomers. And, every Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is “Open Trainer Night.” Grab a trainer and ride as slow and as long as you want.

The cost is $50 per month for a weekly class, $90 for unlimited access, $135 for a 10-session block and $15 to drop in on a class.

For those just beginning to explore their interest in riding, or even seasoned cyclists angling for a slight change of pace, take a long look at The Wall Cycling Studio (—and shake out of your head the ridiculous notion of spinning you’re probably carrying around.

“Spinning isn’t a bunch of crazy maniacs sitting in a dark room, listening to techno music, sweating up a storm,” says Juliet Sabella, The Wall’s owner and an instructor. “Spin is a workout that is solely in the hands of the rider. You’re in full control of your workout, your cadence and how much resistance you put on that bike.”

Sabella’s enthusiasm runs deeper than a sales pitch. She says she turned her own life around with spinning, and now she’s determined to prove to the masses how far relatively-little effort can go. “It’s an activity where you can unplug from reality for 45 minutes and push yourself past a threshold or comfort zone that you didn’t think you could conquer the day before,” she says.

“The Trail Riding Class,” which uses simulations to improve strength and stamina, and “Spin & Sculpt,” a high-intensity session that meshes interval riding and weight training, were designed with the hardened-but-homebound cyclist in mind. (Check the schedule on the Web site for times.)

Rates run $48 per month for a weekly class, $72 for two weekly classes, $98 for three, $110 for unlimited access and $15 to drop in on a single class. If you’re new to The Wall, the first class is on the house.

As depressing as the forecast is likely to be for the foreseeable future, clearly, there’s little reason not to keep those legs ticking over. Come April, you’ll be likely to strain your way to the top of The Wall with the kind of form that usually eludes you until mid-July.




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