© Sarah Ballan 2018

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Riding Ritual

Eleven times per week I am greeted by the blue doors, a trademark of sorts. * Half-way down the block on 21st street between 5th and 6th avenues, only two short blocks from the NRW and F trains, and not too far from the 23rd street stop on the 6. Prime location, just minutes from Madison Square Park. Flywheel Flatiron. The studio of all studios: OG. Flywheel Sports opened its first set of blue doors in 2010, rivaling Soul-Cycle, another indoor cycling workout, arguably its antithesis. There are countless boutique fitness studios in the NYC market, but Flywheel is supreme. Despite the steep price of $37 per class, there never seems to be a lull.  

The tech pack in the center of each bike’s handlebars is loaded with metrics: speed, torque (resistance), current (power), and total points scored. Flywheel’s fiercely competitive atmosphere is addicting. Watching your name move up the ranks on the leaderboard during class is empowering. There’s nothing like setting a new PR (personal record) or simply “beating” the person next to you. It’s more than just a workout; there’s incentive to win.


I rush

straight to the back closet to store my stuff during the ride. The stench of bananas and feet inundate my nostrils; once revolting, it now brings relief. I’m home. I place my headset, sometimes - more often than not - wet from sweat, carefully over my head, tucking any loose strands of hair neatly behind my ears. Better to do so now because fidgeting is unprofessional.


I wrap


the wire diligently around the strap of my sports bra. I slip the black, rubber condom tightly over the mic pack and clip it onto my spandex. Time to fly.


I stand

at the doorway, right hand up, smile wide, and high-five each rider as they file in. My hand starts to sting, but I don’t flinch. My demeanor: Positive. Happy. Even if I’d been ghosted earlier that day by whatever douchebag guy I’d been seeing. Even if I’d just missed the cutoff number of riders for 3rd tier pay, costing me a significant decrease in my weekly salary. Even if this were my 3rd class of the day. Even if my legs felt like jello from cross-training, and I’d been up since 4:30am without proper time to rest and recover.


I take

a deep breath to center myself before going on the platform. I peer into the crowd and see 50 stationary bikes whirring up their single wheels. All 100 eyes on me, looking for inspiration. As the lights dim and the music blares, the hairs on my arm begin to push themselves out from the follicles; partly nerves, partly because the room is cold. I interlock eyes with my front row riders to confirm that their game faces are on. We’re all about to sweat. A lot.


I sip

a large gulp of water and savor the moment as the cool, crisp liquid slides down my throat. “Time to empty your minds and be present in this moment,” I instruct my class during the brief moment of calm before the fly-storm. Then my athletic prowess prevails. My voice deepens and I become an unstoppable force - like when Popeye eats his spinach. Once that timer starts, I become a coach. Time to unleash the beast.


I Fly.



*Note: I am also blessed to teach at NoMad, Chelsea, and Midtown East studios. Find my schedule below:


Monday 7:00am NoMad / 7:30pm Flatiron

Tuesday 6:30am Midtown East/ 5:15pm NoMad

Wednesday 6:30am Flatiron / 5:30pm Chelsea/ 7:30pm Flatiron

Thursday 5:15pm NoMad

Friday 6:30am Flatiron / 5:30pm Chelsea

Saturday ~Day Off~

Sunday 10:00am NoMad


See you on a bike :)

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