At first glance, the scene at Flywheel in Boca following a 60-minute cycling class looks like a casting call for "Papillon: The Musical." More than 50 people, soaked to the bone in sweat, are milling about the lobby and parking lot. They have left every bit of themselves in the main auditorium. But no matter how the competition shakes out, everyone, it seems, feels better for having taken the stage.
Flywheel, of course, has no real connection to Broadway outside of its New York roots. Still, there's no mistaking the theatrics that separates this highly charged indoor cycling workout from your garden-variety spin class. Especially as taught by Angela Lutin, Flywheel classes feel like a calorie-crunching symphony of sorts, with the Mississippi native channeling Lance Armstrong, Anthony Robbins and Paul Oakenfold from her conductor's seat. Adding to the performance vibe is a spotlight that shines dramatically on the instructor's bike, which overlooks rows of cycles that fan out amphitheater-style.
But make no mistake. Flywheel participants don't sit back and enjoy the show. They work - nonstop - for the duration of the 45- or 60-minute sessions.
After guests lock their cycling shoes onto the pedals of the computerized bike, Lutin pushes riders through a series of five- to eight-minute sets expertly choreographed so that the most demanding stretch of cycling coincides with the crescendo of her music selection (a mix of rock, pop and hip-hop). It's an intangible that sometimes makes those final punishing 30 seconds bearable. When I was starting to slide during a mid-session routine synced to "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills and Nash, it was the soaring lyrics - "I have been around the world ... lookin' for that woman-girl" - that helped me reach the finish line. Barely.
When she isn't impersonating the countdown engineer at mission control ("Sixty more seconds ... give me 30 seconds ... 10 seconds), Lutin is often pointing to the TorqBoard - an in-studio screen that allows riders to see how they stack up with others in the class. This competitive element distinguishes Flywheel and gives regulars added incentive to push themselves even harder the next time.
Interested in taking a class taught by Lutin or one of the other instructors at Flywheel (2200 Glades Road)? Call 561/368-3246 - and tell them that you read about it at bocamag.com.