Fitness Class Review: Rooftop Cycling at Vida Fitness

Vida Fitness U Street is the first gym to offer an outdoor spin class in DC.

Vida Fitness U Street is the only gym in Washington that offers rooftop cycling. Photographs by Melissa Romero.

Vida Fitness’s cycling class left me feeling like most spin classes do: sweaty and exhausted. But there were a couple major differences: It lacked the claustrophobic conditions typical of small cycling studios, and sunscreen application was just as important as hydration. The class, after all, takes place outdoors.

Vida Fitness on U Street is the first gym in the area to offer cycling classes on a rooftop. For those tired of riding in the dark, the outdoor stationary cycling class is a nice alternative just in time for summer in Washington.

While others lounged around the pool at Vida’s Penthouse Club and nearby restaurants bustled with Sunday brunch crowds, ten of us cycled on the gym’s umbrella-shaded sundeck to the tunes of Macklemore and Daft Punk. Instructor Hansen Mak, who subbed for the program’s founder, Alex Zamudio, shouted words of encouragement to us sans microphone from his seat at the head of the class.

“Don’t worry about your hair and makeup! You’re gonna look a hot mess after this, anyway,” he half-joked. (He was so right.)

Vida Fitness moves its bikes to its sun deck for the outdoor cycling class. 

For an hour and 15 minutes—by far the longest cycling class I’ve ever taken—we spun our wheels through multiple hills and sprint intervals as the smell of barbecue from neighboring backyards wafted up to us. The spacious setup allowed Mak to make his rounds to each cyclist during class, randomly selecting one of us to lead sprint intervals or decide whether the class should cycle in or out of the seat.

In the outdoor setting, staying hydrated was just as important as keeping time to the music; a woman in front of me went through two water bottles, and other riders hopped off their bikes mid-class to refill theirs. Interval after interval, hill after hill, I watched my bike monitor tick away my revolutions per minute and mileage. By mile 30, faces were beet red, shirts were soaked through, and water bottles were empty. Fittingly, Rihanna sang, “Just gonna stand there and watch me burn” as the sun peeked through the clouds and we rode into the last few minutes of class.

As at any class, we ended with stretches off the bike. But we did get one more unusual perk that would only happen at an outdoor class: the beginning of a steady rain to complement our cooldown.

Vida Fitness U Street. 1612 U St., NW; 202-939-2577. Rooftop cycling is open to nonmembers of Vida Fitness for $25. Call Vida Fitness U Street for the schedule and to sign up. 

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