SoulCycle is so 2016. At IMAX Shift, the spinning trend goes to the big screen.
I’m a runner who takes the occasional yoga class, but when I heard about a new workout pairing indoor cycling with IMAX, I was too curious not to try it out.
On a recent Monday night, I headed to IMAXShift, a gym in DUMBO which is currently offering a "pay the day" promotion for the month of January—$9 for a class on Jan. 9, $10 on Jan. 10, and so on.
Themed rides range from “Drake vs. the Weeknd” dueling music videos, to a signature class of aerial flyovers and sunset beach views. I took the “Music Video Ride”, which had us cycling through jams from Diplo to Canadian rapper PARTYNEXTDOOR.
Our instructor, Emma, kicked off the 45-minute session with a rallying cry: “It’s music video Monday, we’re about to get lit!”
She wasn’t wrong. The dark theater, packed with riders sweatin’ to bumpin’ hip-hop beats, quickly conjured a nightclub vibe. The concept: you’re so immersed in what’s happening on the big screen, you won’t dwell on the fact that your legs are burning.
“You’re able to get people to focus outside of the workout itself,” explains CEO Bryan Marcovici. “They’re not thinking about their day, or if [the workout] is painful; they’re able to focus on the distractive effect of ‘What am I watching, what comes next.’”
Yes and no, in my experience. When Beyonce emerged in “Hold Up”, she appeared as a kind of larger-than-life fairy godmother, easing my strained glutes (at least psychologically); but when she bashes open that fire hydrant with her baseball bat, it pained me that I couldn’t douse my sweaty head in the gushing stream of water.
Similarly, it seemed unfair that Diplo was generously pouring maple syrup on a stack of pancakes in “Set Me Free (featuring LIZ)” when I hadn’t even had dinner yet.
And when Rae Sremmurd hit the screen with “Black Beatles”, nobody stopped to do the Mannequin Challenge.
But the beauty of the workout is that you can make it as challenging or breezy as you want it to be. If you feel like pedaling at a resistance of “3” while lip syncing along to Chainsmokers, like a lazy teenager on a stationary bike in her parents’ basement, go for it. Or, if you want to stand-up cycle at a breakneck pace, sweating profusely and matching Drake beat for beat when he turns it up in “Hotline Bling”, that works too. (For the record, I was somewhere in between the two).
You can monitor your progress by opting to have a stat report emailed to you, detailing your average RPM—revolutions per minute—calories burned, average resistance, and more.
While I'll likely stick to my current yoga/running exercise regime, the spinning sesh did show me that I could stand to build up my leg muscles—and I should probably listen to more Top 40 jams.
As I walked to the train, DUMBO’s picturesque waterfront behind me, my endorphins were buzzing, and I had decided that Drake is actually pretty cute. Not bad for a Monday night.