Spin Studio in Boston: The Handle Bar Cycling Review

September 18, 2013 · 3 comments

The fitness scene in Boston is changing! When I first moved here 7 years ago, you joined a big box gym. For me, that was Boston Sports Club or Gold’s Gym, the affordable options for new grads. Today, there are barre studios in most neighborhoods and cycling is the next trend to take over. Recycle Studio was the first cycling studio in Boston for the past 2 years and remained the only player in town (despite selling out classes 7 days in advance) up until a few months ago. The addition of Handle Bar is a sign that Bostonians are starting to be more like New Yorkers in their preference for exercise studios over big box gyms. In the next few months, three additional cycling studios are expected to pop up in downtown and Back Bay. I finally got a chance to check out the new studio and take an afternoon class.

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Handle Bar is located in South Boston aka Southie right near the Broadway T stop. They have classes before work and after. I went to the 12:30 pm class which had only 2 other students. The studio is selling out classes in the post work hours, but for those of you familiar with the area, there are no businesses near by for the lunch crowd sweat session. I was greeted at the front desk by Jess, the owner who I instantly recognized from a Racked article.

You can rent shoes for $2/pair or wear sneakers. You can also grab a hair elastic if you forgot one, ear plugs if you have sensitive ears, or a piece of gum at the front desk. I filled up my water bottle and headed into class. The room was pretty big and had light shining in from the large windows in the front. A year ago, I would have liked the light, I’m not sure how much I’m into it now but since most classes outside of summer season take place when the sun is not up, this room is probably dark for most other classes.

Tim was great. Asked if I needed help setting up my bike and then got ready to teach on the bike. His description online said he liked house music and that is exactly what we got. I usually like songs I have heard before to workout, but the songs he chose worked for his style.

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My previous male spin teachers have all taught class like road cycling, which I hate. Tim thankfully broke my stereotype! We did a good variation of 1st, 2nd and 3rd position, jumps, hills and sprints. There were no push ups or crunches in his class, but these elements usually vary per instructor at studios like Handle Bar. He rode his bike pretty much the entire time except to turn on the fans. He also put on some different colored lights from the ceiling at certain points during the class like red or blue. I wasn’t sure of the rhyme or reason but it took my mind off my heart rate that reached 176 bpm at one point.

We used a bar for the 2nd to last song to work on our arms and shoulders. The sequence was fairly easy but I think making a light weight bar feel challenging is a challenge itself for instructors. I tried to do it for Recycle at an event we did and it’s harder than it looks. Flywheel uses a similar bar. We finished class with 2 sprints and a hill.

The Good: Despite teaching 3 ladies, Tim did a great job. I burned about the same amount of calories that I usually do with my favorite instructors at Recycle. The bikes were new, plenty of mirrors and enough light that you can see yourself! Tim’s choreography was easy to follow (when I could hear him) and not predictable. I like when the instructor does the workout with you and he did! It’s very similar to that of Recycle Studio in Boston, SoulCycle, Flywheel, etc. I like this!

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Areas people may find frustrating: The volume levels between the music and the instructor were similar so it made the instructor hard to hear at times. I just had to watch Tim to know what we were doing. Not a big deal but in a big room with lots of new riders, this could get confusing. The light is also a bit brighter than other spin studios. This is a personal preference thing for sure and the evening/morning classes probably don’t have to deal with it. Some people may like the light! I didn’t see showers but many small studios do not have them either, which is why it’s good to live near by. If you like traditional spinning, this might not be for you.

One area that this studio differs from the other studio in Boston (or at least my instructor’s class) was the element of personal reflection. There are some instructors that may at Handle Bar, but in mine, it was all about the sweat and getting in a workout. The music was for a beat not a  personal moment.  Tim’s spin persona is upbeat, straight forward with plenty of variety. He’s in the top picture on the left!

One class is $20 but if you buy a package, it gets cheaper. Unlimited is $175 and for new members the unlimited is $100 for your 1st month. Shoes are $2 rental per class.

I love that more studios are opening up in Boston. I think this is beneficial to the small locally owned businesses. People are reluctant to quit their gym memberships out of convenience but the more options that open up, the more likely I think people will be to new routines.

Handle Bar Cycling, http://www.handlebarcycling.com/  141 Dorchester Ave, Boston MA 02127, 617-451-1270.

Don’t forget to sign up for Barry’s Bootcamp Boston mega sale going on right now. Get 25% off packages until end of day tomorrow. I am going to be teaching there during the week and I’m excited to meet many of you!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard Patrick Kairnes September 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

Sarah,
Yikes! I wouldn’t want to do a spin class with only 3 people. There should be a minimum number of attendees for the class to run.

Yikes!! No showers… Guess a guy like me (weekend visitor to Boston via mbta) is out of luck. I would agree many smaller studios don’t have showers.. :-/

The paragraph which contains the words “personal reflection” is missing a few words in one of the sentences and I couldn’t figure out what you meant, etc.

Either way… Thanks for sharing Sarah …. Toy are soo sexy and all powerful :D

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2 Sarah September 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Richard, some of your comments make me feel uncomfortable. While I appreciate the comments regarding my content, the repeated tone of the ones in reference to my appearance here, instagram, facebook and twitter, I do not. Would you mind bringing it down a notch? I don’t try to come across as “sexy.” My family reads my blog and I’d appreciate it. Thank you for understanding.

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3 Vanessa September 18, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Great review on this studio! I have only ever done spin at the Y and New York Sports Club, but Soul Cycle is next on my list (I’m in the New York area)

I have a question actually! I left it on a few blog posts back but it was days after you posted it so I think I was too late:
What do you recommend for good, affordable workout clothes to start off with for a college student? I was thinking of trying Old Navy, but wanted your opinion first. I also want to invest in one really good workout pant/capri (the Adidas ones look so good)…..help! Thanks Sarah.

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