In most fitness classes, glaring at the instructor is frowned upon. But at Ride DC, this behavior is accepted, even encouraged.
Although it wasn’t really Richard, my instructor, on whom I fixated throughout class—it was the screen behind him tracking my energy expenditure number. Earlier this month Ride DC became the first indoor cycling studio in DC to offer live-time tracking classes. Each bike in the 14th Street studio is outfitted with a cycling power meter that measures users’ average revolutions per minute (RPM), power (a combination of RPM and bike resistance), and energy output.
During the 45- to 60-minute class, riders’ stats are projected on the screen in the front of the room, ranking each rider based on total energy output. Britney beats and ’90s music blared through the speakers as I closely monitored my numbers while tackling rolling hills, climbs, and sprints.
The live ranking meant there’d be no hiding if I slacked off during a particularly tough climb—it would decrease my total energy, thus dropping my rank on the board. I’m not the most competitive person, but the knowledge that everyone in the class could see one another’s effort certainly motivated me to push myself.
And it’s not just the sweaty cyclists who benefit from the energy-tracking system. The instructor, Richard, explained to me how the computer helps him personalize his class. If he notices lower average energy levels among the cyclists, he might pump up the music, while higher levels might call for tougher climbs. The effect: I left class energized rather than exhausted (my normal post-cycle mood).
At the conclusion of the class, a leaderboard projected the names of the cyclists with the highest average energy of the 45-minute session. With the hope of building friendly competition among repeat guests, Ride DC keeps an updated communal leader board of riders with the best average energy of the month.
The tracking didn’t stop at the studio. At home, I received an e-mail giving me a rundown of my ride. Users can create an online profile though Ride DC’s website, where past class performance is neatly charted—nifty for all those resolution-minded athletes looking to improve with each ride.
I’m not normally one for crunching figures when it comes to my fitness regimen, but after experiencing the enthusiasm those onscreen stats infused into my ride, I might become a convert.
Let’s Ride DC. 2217 14th St., NW; 202-558-9307. $22 per drop-in class.
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