I've never been into at-home workouts — I much prefer the atmosphere of a class. That said, with a new baby at home and Winter looming, it was time to change things up.
Being a Spin instructor myself (and married to a dedicated Flywheel enthusiast), deciding to buy one of the high-tech Spin bikes currently on the market was the easy part. We debated for weeks on whether to buy Flywheel's new Fly Anywhere bike or the more well-established Peloton option, ultimately choosing Fly Anywhere so that our workout data would sync easily with our existing Flywheel accounts, allowing us to seamlessly track our progress over time.
Like Peloton, Fly Anywhere allows riders to stream Spin classes right to the bike via a mounted screen, a smartphone, or a smart TV. Classes are offered on demand or riders can join classes that are streamed live. We opted to forgo the screen on the bike and project the classes from our phones onto a TV screen via HDMI (if you have an Apple TV, you can cut out the middleman and simply cast from your phone to the TV). All classes can be found in the Flywheel app, which is currently only available for iPhone, although the company promises that support for Android will be released in 2018.
At first glance, the bike is reminiscent of the Flywheel-branded bikes found at any of the studios worldwide, with clip-in pedals and canisters to hold the two- and four-pound bars used for the upper-body portion of the workout. When I hopped on for the first time, though, I was struck by how smooth the pedal strokes felt and how quiet the bike was. It should be noted that, unlike the studio bikes, Fly Anywhere pedals only accept Delta clips. Riders can purchase a pair of compatible cycling shoes with the bike if you don't own them already.
Calibrating the bike to my phone was surprisingly quick and easy. I simply clipped in, opened the Flywheel app, and began pedaling. My phone picked up the bike's signal and prompted me to turn the resistance knob all the way down, then all the way up. Seconds later, I was ready to ride.
For my first workout, I selected a 45-minute on-demand Method class with instructor Emily. My stats appeared on the left-hand side of the screen, similar to the individual monitors on Flywheel's in-studio bikes, but with the additional bonus of your heart rate if you choose to connect a heart rate monitor. On the right-hand side of the screen was the Torqboard, displaying my Power score against scores from other riders who'd taken this particular class in the past. A countdown clock also appeared on the screen, which is notable for two reasons. One, I noticed that it read 43 minutes, not 45, and two, I was struck with the dreaded realization that I would be watching my workout tick by, one torturous second at a time.
I was not amused by the presence of the countdown clock, but Emily wasn't about to let me stare at it. She wasted no time instructing me to crank up the Torq and power through accelerations. I quickly learned that the bike's Torq knob is VERY sensitive — a small nudge to the right seemed to put me on a mountain, not just a hill. After two songs, when Emily enthusiastically declared our warmup over, I had long since broken a sweat and "found breathless." If that was the warmup, I wasn't going to mourn the loss of those two minutes.
The rest of the workout went by relatively quickly, the distracting countdown clock less of a hindrance than I'd thought. Even without being surrounded by a crowd of fellow riders, Emily's energy and clear instruction kept me motivated, and the quality of the workout was similar to what I've experienced in Flywheel's brick-and-mortar studios. One unique aspect of the Fly Anywhere workout, however, was the ability to control the volume of the music and the instructor independently of each other. Just like a regular class, the workout ended with a cooldown and a stretch (ah, the missing two minutes!) and my workout stats were immediately available in the Flywheel app.
Fly Anywhere may not be a replacement for the atmosphere of a packed indoor cycling class, but as a new mom of an infant, I was grateful for the ability to get in a high-quality workout without having to leave home. I've since tried 45-minute classes from couple of different instructors, each one a little different, so I can decipher whose style works best for me. For days when my daughter is boycotting naptime, Fly Anywhere does offer 20- and 30-minute class options, but I have yet to try them out of fear that I'll never be able to go back to the 45-minute workout.
The only downside to my Fly Anywhere experience? The Power points from my workout don't count towards Flywheel's "Power Up" rewards program. Still, it's a small price to pay when I can get such a good sweat on my own and knock out these last few pounds of baby weight. Losing the baby inches, however, will be another story — guess I'll just have to keep at it.