Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to sit down with indoor cycling guru and co-founder of RIDE DC (2217 14th St., N.W.; letsridedc.com), Zac Smith, to learn more about this hot new studio and why indoor cycling should be part of everyone’s fitness routine.
WASHINGTON BLADE: How did you get into indoor cycling?
ZAC SMITH: My passion for fitness began as a teen when I was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, which motivated me to adopt a fitness-centered lifestyle that would also maximize my cardiovascular strength. Nearly 15 years, and 12 triathlons later, I found indoor-cycling as a long-term solution to my health and fitness challenges.
BLADE: What is it about indoor cycling that you love so much? Why indoor cycling versus something else?
SMITH: I love indoor cycling because of the great music, amazing community and high-energy class dynamic. (And) I get a killer workout. The health benefits are as impressive as the class is fun. Indoor cycling offers a high-calorie burn workout, while being easy on your body and joints.
BLADE: What are the key elements in making an indoor cycling class successful?
SMITH: An engaging instructor and inspiring music. Without these two elements, people will lack motivation and the desire to push themselves to their limit and see results. And they won’t have fun.
BLADE: Do you prefer to do most of your classes in the seat or out of the seat? And why?
SMITH: I build in a mix of both elements to my classes. Variety is important to keep the class engaged. It’s important to focus on out-of-the-seat training for strength training while also spending time increasing your cardio strength through sprints.
BLADE: What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about taking indoor cycling classes?
SMITH: People who are intimidated by indoor cycling often have the misconception that you have to be super coordinated and in-shape to participate. … Sure, coordination helps, but it’s definitely not required. This isn’t zumba or hip-hop aerobics — just keep moving your legs and you’ll do great.
BLADE: What advice would give a novice indoor cyclist?
SMITH: Stay on the bike and have fun. Many people are intimidated and worried that they can’t keep up. Cycling is fun. Enjoy the music and enjoy the ride.
BLADE: What does a good spin instructor look like to you?
SMITH: A good instructor knows when to push and when to pull back. They know the challenges and goals of each of their participants. They have great music that is energetic and gets the class in the right mindset.
BLADE: What should participants look for in great instructors?
SMITH: At a baseline, participants should look for instructors who really care about their individual performance and push participants to their limits. Further, I’d encourage participants to find an instructor who matches their personal preference. Do you like the boot camp style of coaching? Or do you prefer to be challenged by softer, yogi type encouragement? Do you like blaring pop music or steady house music? Whatever your preference, there is an instructor for your style!
BLADE: What will people have to look forward to in your new spin studio?
SMITH: Most importantly, people can expect the city’s top instructors to lead them through fun, killer workouts that generate trackable results. We are also highly focused on providing the best guest experience through our emphasis on building a hospitable environment and customer-service centered staff. Classes are a mix between road- and rhythm-styled workouts. Rhythm rides match the pedal speed to the beat of top 40 music. Often they also incorporate push-ups and other upper body strengthening exercises. Road rides bring the outdoors in focusing on cycling fundamentals, intervals and climbs.
BLADE: What sets the RIDE DC cycling studio apart from the rest?
SMITH: RIDE DC will introduce D.C.’s first-ever indoor cycling performance tracking software. Each RIDE bike will be equipped to monitor clients pedaling speed, calories burned, heart rate, mileage and various other statistics. Nothing overwhelming, just a few numbers to help you maximize goal achievement and help you become fitter, faster and stronger. These performance metrics will be stored to clients’ private online profiles and riders will be automatically notified on their goal progress following each class. They can also self-select for their numbers to appear on the “RIDErboard” at the front of the class to compete with fellow riders.