I never thought a cycling class could be meditative.
That is, until I took Gabriella Boston’s Revolution/Yoga class at Results Capitol Hill last Friday. The class, which starts with a 45-minute cycling session and ends with 45 minutes of yoga, combines the energy of cycling with the contemplative peace of yoga in a way that makes the sum greater than the two parts.
According to Yoga Journal, the spin-yoga combo trend started a few years ago, when a fitness and yoga instructor named Noll Daniel happened to teach back-to-back spinning and yoga classes at his New York City gym. Many students doubled up, touting the greater flexibility they felt after warming up on the bikes, leading the gym to create a single combo class. The class has since been replicated across the country, including in Washington, DC.
Boston’s class begins with an easy warmup on the bike, the first of several instances when she gives us cues about our effort level, gear level, and RPMs (revolutions per minute). After a few minutes of slow cycling in a low gear, we start the first of several hill and interval drills, set to a soundtrack of pop and hip-hop music.
Boston pairs each drill with a song that matches its ideal RPM pace, and instructs us to keep time with the beat. It gives the class the feeling of a cycling-themed dance party.
“Find your focus,” Boston says, head bobbing to the beat of a remix of Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player,” eyes partially closed. “Find the beat. Right-left-right-left.”
Boston also gives us cues for how hard we should be breathing during difficult drills—a precursor to the yoga class to come.
After a brief cool-down on the bikes to the tune of a song with a hip-hop beat and a sitar melody, we move to a yoga studio down the hall.
Boston says she tries to avoid making the yoga portion of the class “too pretzel-y,” gearing it instead toward cyclists who don’t typically spend their mornings mastering the crow pose and headstands.
“People who do a lot of cardio tend to be tight in their hamstrings and hips, so we do a lot of poses that open up the hips and stretch out the hamstrings,” she says.
That means various warrior poses, lunges, and forward bends, which my tired legs gladly submitted to.
In addition to lower-body stretching, Boston likes to focus on upper-body strength through various plank poses. I struggle to keep my breath slow and steady through a plank pose that is basically a slow pushup done in several incremental steps.
By the time we arrive at savasana, the pose of total relaxation that typically ends each yoga class, my body feels both exhausted and invigorated, having enjoyed the benefits of both a killer cardio workout and a centering yoga practice.
Results Capitol Hill is one of many area fitness centers to offer cycling-yoga classes. Boston’s class is $19 for nonmembers, a fee that will give you access to the entire gym and all fitness classes for the day. For more information, visit the Results website or www.gabriellaboston.com.
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Backpacker magazine, Runner’s World, and Women’s Running. She’s also a marathon runner, open-water swimmer, and ski patroller who blogs about her training adventures at amyreinink.com.