Cycle Circuit starts upstairs at Off Road, above, and then finishes up with strength training downstairs, below.
As Lance Armstrong can tell you, simply biking isn’t enough to win. You need to get out of the saddle to work on strength, too. So although riding is the focus of Off Road Indoor Cycling, the new studio on U Street also offers boxing, circuit training and other legal ways to build up your muscles.
What It Is: Co-owners Tammar Berger and Tali Wenger have been addicted to cycling for more than a decade and wanted to create a space for die-hards like them. But they’re trying just as hard to cater to total newbies.
“The most important thing for us is being welcoming. We’re for any fitness level, and we have a wide variety of classes,” says Wenger, who notes that folks just starting out can take advantage of the $10 half-hour intros that the pair teach each week in their 20-bike studio.
People more at home in their spandex can face the Sunday Sufferfest, a grueling two-hour training session that takes advantage of a large projection screen to show cycling videos shot around the world.
Why It’s Unusual: “We want to build everything around cycling. And what complements that? Strength training,” Berger says.
Many of the cycling studios that have opened up around Washington recently have added yoga and barre classes to their schedules to balance out the cardio component. With so many places to stretch near Off Road, Berger and Wenger decided to go in a different direction.
When it’s time for cross-training, there’s a second studio downstairs with mats, weights, punching bags and other equipment for classes such as TRX training, which forces students to take on their own body weight by using straps suspended from the ceiling.
Moves: What you do in class depends on the instructor at the front of it. In cycling classes, some teachers use the power meters attached to the bikes to get students to focus on their RPMs and wattage output. Others don’t. Some take a dance-party approach to their rides, and some are more geared to recreating the outdoor experience.
The latter describes the style of Ron Benedict, who describes the terrain he’s having students ride through by referencing local geography (“We’re on U Street, so it’s a flat road now”). In Benedict’s Cycle Circuit class, students spend 50 minutes on the bikes, and then head downstairs for a fast-paced 15-minute routine of mountain climbers, push-ups, jumping jacks and lunges.
Workout: There are towels everywhere — for good reason. “We expect people to sweat,” Berger says.
Jennifer Dunn, 32, certainly did on Thursday at Cycle Circuit. It’s up to each rider to decide exactly how much to turn up the resistance and pick up the pace, but Dunn felt she didn’t have any choice other than to push herself. “I didn’t want to slack off,” says Dunn, who liked the combo aspect of the class.
Same goes for 38-year-old Jeremy Klass, who was also at Cycle Circuit. “Once your legs are shot and can’t take any more, you work another muscle group,” says Klass, who thinks this kind of routine is for everyone. “There’s nothing feminine or masculine about it. It’s just hard work.”
Details: Off Road Indoor Cycling (905 U St. NW, 202-681-1319, Offroaddc.com) charges $20 for a single class. Multi-class passes are discounted. Cycling shoes aren’t required for the Schwinn bikes. There are two bathrooms but no showers.