February 2020

Bar Hopping: CycleBar blends the dance club experience with a pulse-pounding workout for the most fun you’ll ever have breaking a sweat.

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Celia G Photographie

OK, who’s ready to strap in?” bellows instructor Arleigh Thorp over her headpiece, her voice cutting through the ambient techno beat reverberating throughout the space at CycleBar. A chorus of “Whoo” responds, accompanied by the clicking of shoes into pedals on the array of exercise bikes encircling Thorp.

Thorp encourages the class as they start peddling, trading inside jokes with the many regulars peppered among the first-timers. This not the typical mix you imagine in a cycling class—young, old, male, female, they’re all represented among the rows. By the time Thorp is done with them, they’ll all be sweating just the same. With a “Here we go,” the lights change and the driving beat and dubstep rhythm of ZABO’s “Crusade” boom from the speakers. The class moves as one, feet coming down to the beat.

“It’s rhythmic based, so our instructors match the RPMs with the beats of the music,” said CycleBar Hilton Head Owner Katie Knowles. “It’s intimidating to do this high-intensity exercise, so what we do is very different than what you see in a gym.”

That difference is written across the dozen tracks hand-picked by Thorp that day: club bangers like DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over,” driving rock tunes like AWOLNATION’s “All I Need,” and even a smattering of radio classics like Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much.”

“To be honest, finding the playlist is the hardest part,” Thorp said. (Having taken one of Thorp’s classes, we would respectfully disagree. The hardest part is mediating the internal struggle between aching muscles and the urge to keep moving to the soundtrack.)

But that’s the point. It’s the shoes that keep you bolted to the bike, but it’s the music that keeps you moving. “Everything’s driven by the music,” Knowles said. Every instructor sets their own playlist, but regular theme nights will see everything from Ariana Grande hits to musical mash-ups, keeping feet pumping.

Like the club days many of us experienced in our youth, it’s a chance to lose yourself in the music—without the staggering bar tab at the end. Instead, the end of this extended club mix sees you reviewing your performance, emailed immediately after the last tune ends that lets you see exactly how you did. Beyond calories burned, you’ll see your average RPMs, average watts of output, power points (factored based on things like age and weight) and how you did relative to the rest of the class.

It’s a nice way to gauge how you did, while avoiding the intimidation factor that generally comes with those results. Alleviating that intimidation factor is a key part of what makes CycleBar work—everything from the low lighting to the music and positive reinforcement makes it so even first-timers will want to keep going.

They’re even rolling out (no pun intended) a special ride just for the first-timer, one where nearly 70 percent of the ride is spent in the saddle. That’s in addition to a 30-minute express ride, coming soon, that will give busy riders a chance to get some time in the club on a tight schedule. “That one is a real quick hit that’s going to give you the same calorie burn and high-intensity exercise,” Knowles said.

Memberships are available for multiple rides, and locals can enjoy a $10 drop-in ride for their first time. Plus, during February, you can get a package of three rides for $39.

It’s cheaper than going to an actual bar three times, plus the music’s better, and you’ll get the drive you need to keep that New Year’s resolution running strong. 

CycleBar Hilton Head Is located at 11 Palmetto Bay Rd., Suite 106B. For more information, visit www.cyclebar.com/location/hilton-head or call (843) 707-6961.

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