Home > Gear Reviews

I tried the most exclusive indoor cycling option in town

Stages bikes and cold eucalyptus towels at Equinox

This series explores class-based indoor training options. If you don’t have the space at home for a dedicated trainer setup or enjoy the motivation you get from pedalling with others, classes can be a great option for getting in some winter mileage.There are many indoor classes for cyclists, some are better than others. Here I dissect these options by testing and evaluating them based on the standards of an outdoor cyclist.

Photo: Equinox

At upwards of $200 a month for membership, Equinox is the most expensive gym I’m aware of, so naturally I was curious about how its spin classes would compare with the cheaper gyms around the city. Its website lists classes as “road,” “beats” and “competition” rides. For my trial, I was signed up for one of the competition rides, called The Pursuit: Build. The classes are all free with an Equinox membership and members sign up for them using the Equinox app, which will also send you a detailed report of your ride post-workout.

I arrived at the Yorkville Equinox location in full winter commuting gear. Everything at the gym was immaculately clean, tastefully lit, and not at all smelly. The same can be said of the members—somehow everyone looked as if they had just purchased their expensive exercise clothing that day. I would not be surprised if they had. Kaylene, a super friendly membership advisor, showed me around the gym while I discreetly tried to wipe the road grime off my leggings. As I wondered if you can dry clean spandex, Kaylene led me through the large multi-level gym areas and into the cycling studio. Forty Stages bikes were lined up facing a wall that would later have our stats projected onto it. The bikes impressed me. With drops and long “hoods”, the cockpit felt familiar. The saddle and cockpit were fully adjustable; I was able to easily fit the bike to my specifications. The pedals could be used with regular shoes, SPDs and Look Delta cleats.

After using some complimentary expensive moisturizer and changing into an old university T-shirt and leggings (what I figured would be appropriate for a spin class), I clomped over to the classroom in my slightly dirty CX shoes with SPD cleats. The class started to fill up as I played around with the computer attached to the bike. The potential to use power data in a classic spin class really intrigued me.

Photo: Stages

I looked up from the computer and realized that a number of the class participants were wearing bibs. Some were even wearing jerseys. As more people filed into the room, I noticed a number of them were wearing road shoes. Men with Maap, Assos and Castelli bibs were lining up in the front row. The class was, in fact, the most gender balanced spin class I’d ever seen. Kaylene told me these classes are very popular at the gym and fill up quickly.

The class was broken into three 10-minute segments with active rest in-between. Each bike had a number. Throughout the class various games would involve a little circle that had my number inside it. Every 10-minute segment was different, pitting the cyclists against each other, dividing them into two teams and finally doing three sets of three minutes against our own previous times. I could see my power (in watts), cadence, speed and distance on the screen attached to my bike, which was very helpful as I knew from experience approximately how hard I could go for a specified amount of time. That being said, I found myself getting shockingly competitive. The top men and women were displayed at the end of each segment and somehow being able to look around and see your adversaries made it feel more competitive than any Zwift race.

The class was similar to the one in this video but the bikes are now Stages bikes.

By the end of the ride, I was completely drenched in sweat and felt as if I had gotten a good workout. The fans were not turned up to a level I was happy with but that may be because I was in my amateur spin class outfit. Before I left the gym, I snuck over to the massive cardio area where there were more Stages spin bikes. I fussed around a bit with my phone and was able to connect the Stages bike to the Zwift mobile app. Doodling around for a little in Watopia, I was excited by the potential of Zwifting at random gyms. On my way out, I recognized a local cyclist. He told me he was visiting with a friend, but found the class very engaging and would definitely consider coming again.

The Equinox app has the user’s weight information, which connects to the Stages system when you sign up for a class. Rankings based on watts/kg were very briefly displayed for the riders at the end of the class but never used during the activities. Montreal studio b.cycle uses Stages bikes with a similar gamified program, but it also uses watts/kg data, which, in my opinion, is a much better measure of a rider’s performance.

You should consider Equinox spin classes if:
You also plan on doing strength training during the winter and want a premium gym with other perks (massages, cold eucalyptus towels, personal training options, etc.)
You’re curious about power data but don’t obsess over the details.
You’re motivated by competition.

Equinox spin classes aren’t for you if:
You have a strict budget.
You prefer to train based on FTP or with specific power targets.
You have specific training goals.

Equinox West Georgia Street
1131 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, V6E 4G2
(604) 449-3002

Equinox Yorkville
55 Avenue Road
(416) 961-8400

Equinox Bay Street
199 Bay Street, Commerce Court West
(647) 497-5158

b.cycle Centre-Ville
2000 McGill College Ave #140.
(514) 379-6649

b.cycle Westmount
1500 Atwater Avenue
(514) 379-4331

b.cycle Vieux-Port
601 de la Gauchetière West
(514) 393-1001