ZenGo Offers an Escape From the Typical Cycling Class

The new Bethesda studio breaks out of the spinning mold to offer a relaxing but intense workout

By: Brooke McEwen

ZenGo Fitness in Bethesda puts a twist on the regular spinning class. Photographs courtesy of ZenGo Fitness

ZenGo Fitness’s indoor cycling class may be the closest exercise comes to a religious experience. No clock hangs on the wall to taunt riders through boring classes or to remind them of their busy schedules. Candles flicker in the center of the room, the lights dim as class begins, and instructors call the environment a sanctuary.

“We’re so scheduled,” Marc Caputo, one of ZenGo’s three founders, said. “Our workout becomes our downtime. A mental release comes out of this. Once the door closes, it’s an escape—a gift to yourself.”

Caputo’s idea for the Bethesda-based boutique indoor-cycling studio came after years spent at big-box fitness centers. He disliked going to the gym and hated waiting in line to use equipment. The idea for ZenGo resulted from his frustration. He dreamed of creating a more personal, convenient exercise experience that recharged the body as well as the mind.

Instead of the usual stationary bike interval routine, ZenGo crafted a full-body workout that has participants practically dancing on their bikes. Class commences with songs and exercises that raise the heart rate. As the pace quickens, instructors turn down the lights and ask riders to turn up the resistance on their bikes. Instructors orchestrate legs and arms to move with bumping beats that suit a variety of musical tastes, from U2 to Jay-Z. Riders seem as if they are part of a choreographed routine as they perform handlebar presses and pump one- to two-pound weights. They push through a high-intensity song, then turn their focus to weight training for a couple of numbers.  Instructors tell participants when they have two songs left in their workout and then finish up the class with stretches.

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The studio’s online reservation system allows class attendees to pick their bike, just like airline passengers reserve aisle or window seats. There’s no fighting for front-and-center positioning or arriving early to guard that comfortable spot in the back of the class. There are also no monthly membership fees. You pay as you go, and every class is the same price.

The cycling studio fits up to 45 people, and, truthfully, the bikes are a bit close together. But once the music starts bumping and the lights are turned low you forget about your classmates’ proximity pretty quickly. The inclusive, all-in-this-together attitude creates a positive, upbeat energy that is capable of motivating both cycling novices and old pros. This isn’t the kind of place to war over who’s cranking out more RPMs.

When class let out ZenGo’s opening weekend, riders left the studio in higher spirits than when they entered. Some said the class would become a weekly ritual—a time to refuel and reflect. One participant joked that it was kind of like church. In a way ZenGo does provide a service for the mind, body, and soul.

ZenGo Fitness is located at 4866 Cordell Ave., Bethesda. Classes are $21 per person and available daily. Monday ZenGo will introduce barre and mat Pilates to its class lineup to complement the intensity of its cycling program. The classes will focus on strengthening, lengthening, and toning muscles and are open to the first 20 people who sign up. Reserve a class online at zengofitness.com or stop by the store and sign up for a class.