Studio Review: Vital Cycle, Saugus, MA

I love spinning, but I’ve struggled with finding a studio that is conveniently located and close to home. For a few years I kept my membership at Boston Sports Club to take advantage of their spin classes, but I didn’t really love the instructors and over time I realized that I preferred small, locally owned studios instead of the large chain gym experience. I’ve bounced around to a few studios scattered across the North Shore of Massachusetts but either found that they were too far away to be convenient or that they were too expensive to stick with for the long term.

Luckily, I recently discovered Vital Cycle, located on Route 1 South in Saugus, MA. This location is super convenient to my house, and also only about 10 minutes away from my home-away-from-home, Studio Poise. The studio is tucked out of sight and doesn’t have prominent signage, so I didn’t notice it when it first opened. For locals, it’s in the same building as Roller World – you can’t really see the studio from the highway, but it’s very easy to spot once you pull into the parking lot.

Vital Cycle logo, from the Vital Cycle website

 

I’ve taken a handful of classes at the studio, so it felt like a good time to share a review.

The pros…

  • Large, roomy studio space. I cannot stand when spinning studios try to cram too many bikes into a small room. There’s nothing I hate more than being too close to my neighbors when I’m trying to get my sweat on – I really value my personal space! The spinning studio here is a large space and there’s plenty of room between bikes. I can stretch my arms out between rides without worrying that I’m going to smack a neighbor. There’s a mirror that runs the width of the room so you can check your form, which I appreciate, and the lighting is great – instructors have the ability to change the lighting levels through the class and there are specialty colored lights to help keep the energy levels up.
  • Ability to reserve a specific bike. When you go for your first ride, the instructor helps to get your bike set up for you and notes your settings on a small client card. For future visits, you reserve a specific bike and the Vital Cycle staff has the bike set up and ready to go when you get there for class. This is such a great perk! I like being able to reserve placement in the class (let’s be real, we all have our favorite spots!) and I appreciate that the bike is ready to go for me in case I hit traffic or am running late.
  • New bikes. Vital Cycle uses the Spinner Blade ION bikes. Each bike is outfitted with a monitor that tells your your RPM and your power, which brings me to my next point…
  • SpinPower system. Vital Cycle tracks SpinPower throughout the class and shows the group’s output on monitors at the front of the room. The instructors use these monitors throughout the class to make sure the group is hitting the appropriate RPM and pushing hard enough. The monitors can also show how each individual ranks against the rest of the class, a feature that I first experienced when I took a class at Flywheel. I’m a super competitive individual, so I love that extra incentive to push harder and beat the rest of the class. Vital Cycle also sends you an email at the end of each class with your stats, and you can log into your account on their website to track your progress over time.
  • Excellent promotional offerings. Vital Cycle currently offers the first week of rides free to new customers, which is a great way to try out the studio risk-free. The studio also offers free rides when you bring a friend to try a class, so I’ve been coaxing my friends into fit dates with me! They also are currently offering a Groupon deal, but I’m not sure how long that will last, so snap it up now – it’s an excellent price! I bought the 5 class option because I hadn’t yet tried the studio, and now I’m kicking myself for not getting the 10 class option instead.
  • Fun themed rides and special offerings. Periodically the studio offers special classes. I took a 90s themed ride which was a blast, and I also loved the Thanksgiving morning class offerings. It’s an extra little bonus that helps to keep customers engaged.

The cons…

  • Limited class options. There are anywhere from 2 to 4 classes offered on any given day. There aren’t a ton of early morning classes, so I haven’t been able to fit in a class before work. I’ve stuck mostly with evening classes, but I do wish there were more late evening options. At present, the latest class begins at 6:30. Since the studio is still so new, I’m hoping their class offerings expand as classes get busier.
  • Parking can be tricky in the evenings. As I mentioned, the studio shares a parking lot with the Roller World facility next door. Depending on what’s happening at the rink, parking can be a little bit nuts.
  • Water for purchase only. I have gotten really spoiled by studios that have water filters so that clients can refill their reusable water bottles with cold, filtered water. Vital Cycle does have water for purchase, but I try not to drink bottled water, so I’d love to see them invest in a filter at some point.
  • No monthly class options. At present, Vital Cycle only offers a pay-by-ride system. Since spinning is a supplementary workout for me, this isn’t really a huge negative for me, but the current pricing wouldn’t be sustainable for me personally if I wanted to make this studio my primary workout location.
  • Still working out the technology kinks. My first class at the studio, there were recurring problems with the SpinPower displays at the front of the class. The displays would periodically lose connection to our bikes and stop displaying statistics, and the owner ended up coming into the studio to try to sort out the issue while the instructor continued teaching the class. It was really distracting! Since then, the displays have faltered one or two other times, but not to the same extent as I experienced in my first class, so they do seem to be working out the problems.

Overall, I’m really glad I found Vital Cycle. It’s still a relatively new studio, so I can overlook some of the cons listed above – I trust that as this studio grows and more people learn about it, they’ll continue to make improvements. The location really can’t be beat, and I’m so grateful to finally have an affordable spinning option that’s conveniently located to both my home and my office. I hope more people discover this studio so that it can continue to succeed!

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Fitness Favorites – 2014 Gift Guide

It’s time for me to face facts. Christmas is one month from today, and that means I need to start seriously thinking about gift strategy for my friends and family. I’m planning to make a lot of my gifts this year – I like the more personal touch and hope the recipients value the gifts that much more since they were handmade.

With all that said, I’m definitely no stranger to consumerism, and I’m guilty of being a bit of a compulsive shopper. I wanted to share some of my favorite purchases from the past year – the fitness lover in your life would be glad to receive any of these! In anticipation of this weekend’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I wanted to put this gift guide together – scout around and I bet you can find some awesome sales on some of these items! Don’t forget to sign up for an Ebates account before you start your online Christmas shopping; their new browser button lets you know when there are cash back rewards available while you’re surfing through online shops, so you never miss a deal.

Fitness Favorites Gift Ideas

Women’s UA ColdGear Infrared Crew
I can’t imagine surviving ski season without UnderArmour’s ColdGear line. The infrared technology reflects your body heat to help keep you warm. I have a few of these basic crews and they are fantastic!

Shimano black velcro shoes
For the spin junkie in your life, a set of cycling shoes is well worth the investment. If you aren’t sure of sizing, give a gift card to a local bike shop – they’ll ensure proper fit and make sure the cleats are positioned correctly.

Ugg dakota slipper
I am a basic bitch and I am totally fine with that. I couldn’t survive winter barre and yoga classes without these slippers waiting for me at the end of the session!

Garmin watch
This is the basic Garmin model, and it’s well suited to novice or casual runners. I had previously used my cell phone to track my runs and I appreciate being able to see my stats with a quick glance at my wrist. I especially love the interval training option.

Lululemon circle scarf
The basic Vinyasa scarf is a staple from Lululemon for good reason. It can be worn so many different ways! I love having it to throw on after class, and it’s also a staple when I’m traveling.

lululemon The Mat
This yoga mat is worth every penny. I don’t love the texture that you find in many yoga mats – the smooth surface of this mat doesn’t irritate my skin, and I never slip even in the hottest classes.

bliss ‘Bathing Brilliance’ Set
I’m obsessed with Bliss products. This lemon + sage shower gel lives in my gym bag, and their body butter combats even the worst winter dry skin.

Trigger Point Performance the Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller
Foam rolling has totally changed my life – I feel so much better when I take the time to roll out my muscles after a challenging class or a long run. I love the bright color of this model!

Polar FT4F
This is the go-to heart rate monitor that all of the girls at the studio use to track their burn. It’s a basic model but it gets the job done! I find both the watch and the chest strap very comfortable to wear during class.

If you’re still looking for more ideas, check out Amanda’s post at Run to the Finish – she’s hosting a fitness gift guide link up where other wellness bloggers are sharing their ideas for this holiday season of giving.

What health or fitness related gifts would you love to find under your tree this year? Let me know in the comments – maybe it will become a favorite worth including on my 2015 gift list!

Time to Focus

Okay, time for me to come clean: October was a really difficult month for me. I had my first serious backslide, and I ended up gaining about 5 pounds over the course of the month. I can blame a lot of things – I was giving in to stress-eating cravings, I skipped workouts, and family issues took center stage. I could beat myself up over this, but I’m being honest and trying to keep a positive perspective. My efforts at fitness and weight loss aren’t a temporary change; they’re habits that I’m building for a healthier life in the long term. Realistically, things aren’t going to be smooth sailing for the rest of my life, and learning to recover from difficult periods is an important part of this journey.

I’m embracing a few strategies to help me regain my footing. I know that as we head into the holidays, this isn’t something I can do alone. So, I’ve created a group on Facebook where friends can turn to each other for inspiration and support. This isn’t a challenge group; there aren’t any points and the only prize at the end will be how we feel about ourselves. I really just wanted someplace where I could honestly say, “I’m struggling today and I’m really craving a bag of Doritos,” and there would be support to help me through it. If you’re interested in joining, leave a comment below and I’ll happily add you to the group!

I’m also excited to participate in another Six Weeks to Chic program at Studio Poise. I’ve done #6W2C twice before and have had really fantastic results both times. It helps to remind me about ideal habits and get back into a routine, and I think doing this over the holidays will help me to avoid the normal holiday weight creep. Best of all, this time around there’s a challenge built in – and you know how I love me some healthy competition!

I’m really excited about the ladies on my team – they’re great friends and will be excellent motivation to help keep me on track. Being able to text them when I’m struggling or schedule classes with them for extra accountability will definitely help me past this bumpy point!

Finally, I’m trying to mix it up more. I love my at-home workouts (shout out to Body Pump, which I am LOVING!) and I am still loyal to my Poise classes, but I think I need to have greater variety to help jump start my weight loss again. I’m trying a new spin class this weekend at Sweat Cycling Studio in Wakefield, MA, and if I like it, I’ll probably buy a class pack to make spinning a regular part of my fitness routine again. I’ve also started scheduling lunch workout dates with coworkers. We have a great new gym that’s free for employees, but I never take advantage of it. Having someone else committed with me will make sure I leave my desk and get in an extra workout! Today we’re trying this resistance band workout from Lean it UP. I’ve got this pinned on my Pinterest page, and I’ll report back on how it goes!