Class Review: Swerve Fitness

Happy Monday! My thought of the day: Did watching the debate count as cardio? My heart was definitely up. But enough of that, let's talk about actual fitness. This past weekend I mixed things up and took my first class at SWERVE. What prompted this? Two things: 1) I've been curious to try Swerve and its team take on cycling since the first studio opened in Flatiron in 2013 (there is now a second Midtown location which opened in 2015) and 2) The lovely Erin Nelson who is part of my extended #fitfam is an instructor there.

Booking: You book directly through Swerve's website (i.e. not MindBody); it's very easy to use. After buying a class/package, you select your class and bike which in this case also entails picking your team (red, blue, or green). Erin assured me that riders are re-distributed in case the teams are really uneven. I booked a bike on the red team (*Spoiler*: We came in second.)

Studio: The lobby area is gorgeous; clean, all white color scheme, with tables and a smoothie bar- similar to the Fuel Bar at Barry's you can order before class and have your drink waiting when you finish. You give your name at the front desk and they handle check-in. Shoes are available free of charge though water is $2/bottle. There are complimentary ear plugs, hair ties, and gum (I have never understood the gum thing at workouts- I think I would maybe choke?). The staff was lovely and told me to flag someone down when I got into the studio (downstairs) to help me with bike set up and explain their technology. Easy peasy.

 All clean and shiny. The tables against the wall were in the middle when I was there. Back right is the smoothie bar and down the hallway you see are bathrooms, locker rooms, and the stairs down to the studio. [ Source ]

All clean and shiny. The tables against the wall were in the middle when I was there. Back right is the smoothie bar and down the hallway you see are bathrooms, locker rooms, and the stairs down to the studio. [Source]

Bathroom/Locker Room: It was day one post-horrible head cold and I just plain forgot to check these out. They have them though and if what I saw in the rest of the space is any indication, I imagine they have all the basics. The website shows photos with towels and L'Occitane soap so I think you'll be all set.

Bikes/Swerve Tech: The bikes were different than other cycling bikes I have recently ridden, with thicker handlebars. I wasn't necessarily bothered by this, it was just different. I'm not sure my settings were quite right but I'm also so used to the feel of a Flywheel bike that it might just be like putting on your other pair of sneakers, still fit, still work, just a different feel (maybe this is only me)? Towels were waiting for you on the bike as were weights- they have the same little under the seat basket-y things that SoulCycle uses. Note: Check your weights ahead of time and make sure you really want what you have. I had 3s and boy do I regret not swapping out for 2s, although I made it so go me! The tech pack was a mix of what I used when doing Cycle for Survival at Equinox and what Flywheel uses. You have Watts, RPMs, a wheel which displays your resistance inside (3/4 is a flat road, 5/6 is a jog, and 7+ is a hill), and your Swerve score. There was a little lag time between turning up my resistance and the display on the screen changing so sometimes I would be turning and turning and then suddenly OMFG I'm in tar. Not sure if this is true of all the bikes or just mine but either way, nbd. After class your stats are emailed to you (see photo below). I'm not sure what a "good score" is but Erin told me a new rider should aim for 300-500.

Music/Lights & Erin: (I feel that lights and music are so instructor-dependent that it's part of each instructor's style.)The music was spot on! A solid playlist, of songs that perfectly matched what we were doing on the bike. Sadly I can't tell you what any of them were, but trust, they were good. Erin made good use of the lights and board. We were mostly in the dark with the lights along the floor on, but at times she would turn up the podium light and then of course flash the light of the winning team- not totally sold on that but it didn't bother me, maybe if we were winning I would have felt differently #IHateLosing. Erin was motivational and achieved a balance of speaking/silence that really worked for me- I know some people prefer one over the other, I like a mix and I felt like she was pretty 50/50 so A+ in my book! Like Flywheel, Swerve has 2 boards at the front of class. For the most of the class they displayed each team's average Swerve Score and which bike was the leader of each team, however the instructor can also do pushes where you will see a countdown clock and the average points of each team (winning team gets 2 bonus points), put up the Swerve logo (Note: There is a green bar under it which I figured out indicates where you are in class, i.e. halfway, etc. The bar gets longer/approaches the other side of the screen as class goes on. Sorry not sorry for always needing to know "are we there yet."), and have you "Swerve to the beat" which is when the teams try to keep their average at the RPM called out (Ex: If Erin said the RPM is 77, then the board shows where each team's average is and the team that can hit it and hold for a set amount of time gets bonus points. I couldn't figure out what that time was but noticed it happening at times.)

 The board in action. Go Red Team! At least we came in second. [ Source ]

The board in action. Go Red Team! At least we came in second. [Source]

The Workout: Overall, I really enjoyed this class! You will definitely sweat, though the temperature in the room is perfect; there are tons of fans that rotate so you never get that "omg I'm dripping, I think I've taken a detour into Satan's armpit" feeling. Your typical mix of sprints, jogs, hills, out of the saddle (third position) and seated work. There isn't a second position like at Flywheel and you won't find any tap backs or choreography (or maybe that was just this particular class). There is an arms song about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through and then 2-3 songs after. 

Team Cycling: Going in, I wasn't sure if the team aspect would feel gimmicky or not. What made me first fall in love with indoor cycling over 8 years ago (wow) was that it combined the solo, in my head aspect of running with the team, we're all in this together mentality that I missed from my days as a high school field hockey player. Would Swerve neglect the solo in favor of the team? Short answer: No, at least not for me. I actually felt more solo than part of a team but I think that is because 1) I didn't know anyone else in class the way I do at Flywheel and 2) My team was losing and I felt like come on guys, I'm killing myself here, step it up. I don't feel good about the latter, I'm sure they were all trying. I think Swerve would be really fun in a group (team building, party, client event, etc.). 

 The colored lights are only on when the instructor flashes them. Green is the wings, Red and Blue are in the middle separated by the aisle... and now we've come full circle to the start of this post. [ Source ]

The colored lights are only on when the instructor flashes them. Green is the wings, Red and Blue are in the middle separated by the aisle... and now we've come full circle to the start of this post. [Source]

Bottom line: I'm really glad I swerved from my routine and gave this studio a spin. (I know that isn't really grammatically correct but come on, the puns.) The following day I received a kind email which had a survey link for feedback- a smart and nice touch IMO.

 Considering the man next to me had on an oxygen performance tracking mask, I'll gladly take a 6/17. 

Considering the man next to me had on an oxygen performance tracking mask, I'll gladly take a 6/17. 

Have you tried Swerve? What's your favorite NYC cycling studio?