There's not much to this studio, but it's a gem in its own right.
The AMAZING (long story, not sorry):
One of the best customer service experiences of my life belongs to this place. I've never taken a class with legendary founder Ruth, but I had an impressive interaction with her worth pointing out that reflects well on both her and the Fly brand.
A little while back, I sent info@flywheel a message asking if they knew what classes wouldn't have Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" on the playlist. I'd taken a class at the Flatiron location where it was used, and the instructor, Holly (who was otherwise awesome), started screaming "I like the way it hurts" during one of the sprints. It brought up some stuff for me, and I left that class feeling, among other things, sad. It was upsetting enough for me to not want to pay $30 for the pleasure, but I wanted to keep enjoying Fly, because I love Fly - it's a regular part of my fitness routine.
I wasn't mad they'd played the song, just looking for a personal solution - everyone has songs that upset them I'm sure - pop songs speak to all of us differently, and that's not something that can be micromanaged too much. I'm sure there are folks in situations similar to mine who might find spinning to that song specifically empowering, and in other contexts, I actually really like the song.
Within a few hours of sending my e-mail, Ruth responded to me directly - from her smartphone at that, even though I hadn't addressed her directly. That means that whoever deals with the customer service e-mails 1. took me seriously and/or cared enough to contact Ruth (unnecessary, extremely unexpected, and extraordinarily nice) 2. Fly's customer service workings are functional enough for that to get to Ruth quite quickly and 3. Ruth saw it as urgent and important enough to not even wait to get to a computer to respond.
She asked if she could help, said she'd see what she could do even though there were no guarantees because of whatever internal way they set up the music. She asked what classes I frequented, perhaps they could try to figure something out, etc. My schedule is pretty irregular, so I expressed gratitude but said not to worry about it, since there wasn't really a way to know which classes I'd be in. I'd just take my chances.
Next time I went to Fly, she happened to be teaching the class after mine. I saw her in the hallway and introduced myself and thanked her. She was really nice and asked if I'd heard it since and said whenever she makes a playlist now she tries not to use that song on the off chance I'll be in the class.
Whether Fly's diligence was motivated by concern for me or concern that I might be an angry unruly customer in need of placation (not at all where I was coming from, but how could they know? If I was them, I'd wonder - that said, she exuded a certain warmth, I think there was real compassion there, and I appreciate it), that is simply truly superior above and beyond customer service. Additionally, it was at all levels, right to the top of the brand, to Ruth herself. That says a lot - it makes Fly itself feel very personal, and it speaks to their competence.
I feel specifically safe at Fly. For those of us (I'm guessing we're a sizable albeit somewhat invisible demographic...) who go to work out largely in to work through trauma, that sort of consideration and validation is especially meaningful. Not feeling "safe" while working out/when my body is in an extreme state (and cardio is an extreme state) is a huge chunk of why I didn't exercise for most of my life. I kicked into gear about a year ago, and now work out to overcome those mental blocks. However, when I exercise, I'm pushing my comfort zone in ways beyond the physical - a sense of support and respect from the places I chose to work out and the people that populate those places helps me push myself even harder to grow.
Pretty amazing that Fly could be exude that warmth while still balancing something else they're known for - integrating competition via metrics and the Torque Board. In many ways, Fly isn't that touchy feely of a place. Fantastic.
Moving on to the more standard content of a review:
- The hallway is quite narrow - which I actually find pretty stressful. It's a bit claustrophobic walking into the studio, and when I stumble back into it after class disoriented as I often am after cardio, navigating it and all the people pouring out can be complicated. Ha, oh NYC and your lack of space!
- No locks for your belongings, just cubbies. That said, I've never had a problem, and there's alway staff in the office sitting nearby. It's not a high trafficked part of the JCC (oh, yeah, the studio is in the JCC) - the only reason to be in that hallways is if you're there to spin. I personally don't really care, but FYI.
- No swag for sale. There aren't many fitness brands that inspire me to buy swag, but Fly is one of them. I don't have time to trek to Flatiron to buy t-shirts though... so, I miss out on awesome t-shirts, and they're missing out on my swag cash.
- I think other Fly locations offer free fruit? Not this one I don't think - it's just such a hole in the wall, there's no room for it I suppose. I don't really eat the free fruit, but again, FYI.
- I'm the person in class that does warrior cries and screams and takes the this is actually a dance party and I'm going to lose all my inhibitions mentality very seriously. I think part of it may be the UWS demographic and that I usually go in the morning, but sometimes the classes feel too all business. I want more crazies like me...
- Not as many class times/instructor options as other locations.
- No showers, although you apparently can sneak into the ones for JCC members. However, I am a total square, and I feel conflicted about doing that...
- Sometimes the bikes are improperly calibrated and don't accurately track your stats, and that can be quite frustrating. That said, most places don't even track your stats in the first place. Every time I get frustrated with a poorly calibrated bike, I stop myself and think of this: http://comedians.jokes.com/louis-c-k-/videos/uncensored---louis-c-k----the-miracle-of-flight
I'm going to assume folks are familiar with Fly and/or I don't want to rehash other reviews, so I won't go into too much detail on some points but
- Shoes and bottled water included in the price, making this cheaper (and less pretentious) than SoulCycle. (I still love you though Soul, but you do feel more Westchester than Fly... not in a good way either. Also, is that a thing? Does anyone else know what I mean when I use Westchester as an adjective? Not sure.)
- High tech, brand new bikes that track your data both in the class and over time. Online, you can access your account and see how you've improved on various metrics, how your performance varies by instructor, how you match up against other FlyWheelers percentile wise.
- Torque Board, if you want it. You can see your performance versus others in the class in real time on a public screen at the front of the room. It's opt in, so you don't need to have your data displayed, but some folks find it motivating to race other class members.
- In my amateur assessment, a safer method than Soul. Less acrobatics. Sometimes that's less fun, but when I go here, I feel more secure. And I have injuries/biomechanics problems, so I care a lot about safety and form...
- This location is less busy than the others I think. Getting your favorite spot is often easier.
- Self-check-in on computers by the elevator. Very efficient.
- Stadium seating. I still like the front row the best, but it's true - there really aren't bad spots. You can see the instructor no matter where you sit, and they have a clear view of you.
- Awesome staff. They're always polite, they often show you to your bike, they're in their cleaning the equipment the moment we leave, etc. It feels a touch luxurious, but not in an overly pampered way. (I don't like feeling overly pampered when I work out... I'm there to get sweaty and dirty and revel in my autonomy.)
Fly is my spin locale of choice at this point.
When I started spinning, I found Soul more up my alley. As someone new to exercise, getting lost in what I was doing to take my mind off the foreign experience of exercise, throwing myself into some sort of spiritual interpretation of what I was doing was helpful. The metrics at Fly worked against me in the beginning - it was like watching the clock during a boring class. I didn't want to see the numbers, I wanted to lose myself. Soul helped teach me that exercise could be fun. For that I am forever grateful. Sometimes Fly is still too dry...
However, now that I've gained a baseline of fitness - both physically and psychologically (I have mental routines/know myself in terms of dealing with the burn, etc. I don't need to be entirely disoriented in order to get through it) - and am more focused on specific results, I prefer Fly. I don't like that I can't know for sure at Soul exactly how much resistance I'm working with. I like tracking my progress over time. I like looking at the metrics during the class. I like... a little bit, eh, racing people on the Torque board. I like conquering a new part of myself psychologically - I'm learning now how to stare at metrics so I can track myself in real time and finding mental tricks to not have it take me out of the zone. To me exercise is just as much about exercising my mind as it is my body. Also, now that I'm learning more about safety, the method of Fly stands out to me (although, honestly, is it safe to do weights on a bike? Honest question, I've heard mixed things...) I'm scared to go to Soul because of all the bike acrobatics. I over-ran earlier this year, suffering my first overuse injuries, and it appropriately humbled me. The exhilaration in the moment of extreme exercise my body is not yet ready for is not worth the aftermath of being grounded from exercise...
In order to take this spot to the next level, I'd love to see more hours, more instructors (my favorites don't do enough classes here... I often look at the schedule for the next day and think, eh, I'll just stop by the sub par cheaper spin place near my apartment instead, since I'm lukewarm on whoever's listed,) and not that narrow hallway haha.
I love you, Fly, you're one of the core components of my fitness routine. A few finishing touches, and I might give you 5 stars.