Despite the popularity of spinning-only studios like Flywheel and Soul Cycle, Northern Virginia has been surprisingly slow to catch on to this budding fitness trend. Arlington’s Revolve and Leesburg’s Cycle Luv studios were the only two in the area. But as of November 15, Alexandria, Virginia’s Swet Ride makes three.
Situated in the heart of Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood on Mount Vernon Avenue, Swet Ride’s location is unbeatable. Park for free—a nice perk in the suburbs—behind the studio and head inside. The lobby is small, but light-filled and welcoming. Expect white walls decked out with charming black and white photos of Alexandria in the early part of the 20th century. A diamond shaped lobby window lets visitors look in to see what the class is doing without being intrusive. After you get your spinning shoes (they’re free to rent here, an added bonus), you step inside the studio. It’s dark gray with a wall-length mirror lining one side and a black book case for purses and jackets on the other.
After helping me get clicked into the bike—it’s tricky if you’re not used to it—co-owner Kat Zajac led me and a group of other media professionals in a trial class. Zajac had us pedaling to the beats of lively, fun songs while the lights were low and the speakers were turned up. Each bike was outfitted with a red console on the “dash” that measured RPMs and even your heart rate if you’re wearing a monitor—also complimentary for rent. I loved how the monitors told you just how fast you were pedaling too. Costumers will be able to keep track of their progress when they log into their accounts and check out how they’ve improved. Talk about taking fitness into the 21st century.
Zajac proved to be upbeat and encouraging—a good quality to have when you’re pumping up weary spinners. I appreciated each routine we had to follow, like sprinting for 20 seconds and resting for 10 or coming up and down out of the saddle. Zajac explained the more technical terms at the very beginning of class and encouraged the class to take breaks as needed. It’s also nice to have a sympathetic instructor. After class, we were all given cold, scented-with-eucalyptus towels—a refreshing way to end class.
My only complaint with spinning is that all the classes are pretty much the same. But the details here make all the difference. Swet Ride is the brainchild of co-owners Zajac and Alexandria and Arlington’s Barre Tech studio owner Amy Barnes. Before class, Zajac and Barnes explained the concept behind the name. It refers to both sweat and sweet life. Since working up a sweat is part of any sweet life, it only makes sense to combine the two. I loved this idea. I’m tired of hearing instructors discuss how women “glisten and don’t sweat,” which is such B.S. since I sweat and you do too.
I also appreciated the feminine touches at Swet Ride. The fake candles on top of the bookshelf and on the front corners of the instructor’s slightly elevated platform gave the room some soft lighting that contrasted nicely with the harsher studio lights. I loved how the bathroom came complete with hair towels – soft and fluffy towels that smelled great. Those are tiny details, but they make the environment feel more comfortable and welcoming.
Overall, Swet Ride provides visitors with a warm atmosphere to really sweat in, and the spot will probably flourish in Northern Virginia’s growing spinning market.
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Which spinning studio is your favorite?