lifestyle

Spin studio Showdown: Absolute Cycle vs CruCycle vs RS Cycle

Last Updated: July 22, 2021

Written by Vera Leng

As Ed Sheeran eloquently puts it, “when your legs don’t work like they used to before”, what happens? For many, any mention of the terms ‘spinning’ and ‘indoor cycling’ immediately hurl them through wartime flashbacks of panting on a stationary bike, wordlessly gasping for sweet, sweet oxygen to get them through 45 minutes of torture. 

A collage of instructors & studios images

There’s that, and then there are also converts like me; avid riders who have once, too, been through hell and rebounded to emerge as regular studio visitors, always up for a good sweat on the Peloton. As a service that nobody asked for, I’ve visited, compared, and compiled spin experiences at three studios in Singapore, so you don’t have to. If you’re looking to burn off some of the calories from Circuit Breaker, Phase 1, Phase 2, or goodness knows Phase-whatever-we’re-on now, here’s your comprehensive guide.

Absolute Cycle

A top-down view of Zouk x Absolute Cycle Pop-Up

Absolute Cycle is a household name when it comes to rhythmic cycling. At the mention of spin, chances are, Absolute will probably be one of the first few studios to come to mind. But before I delve into Absolute Cycle, I must disclaim that we’re kind of touching on home ground territory here—I’m a regular Absolute member with a 100-class package—though I’ll try to remain as partial as I humanly can for the article’s sake.  

Hilariously, my first ever brush with spinning was in 2018, when a friend brought me to Lindsay Larkin’s class at Absolute Cycle and it left my thighs non-functioning for a week or two. I was leaving for my student exchange at the end of the week and my thighs were hurting so much I couldn’t bend my legs past a 90-degree angle. I spent the entire flight to Korea with my legs stretched out, occasionally clumsily plopping in and out of my seat to use the washroom. I vowed never to touch a spin bike again.

It wasn’t until I received a media invite for Absolute Cycle’s Zouk Pop-up last year that I recklessly RSVP-ed at the risk of my thighs malfunctioning again. Remember how I said I’d never touch a spin bike again? Well, today I’ve crossed my 50th ride with Absolute Cycle, and am also a proud owner of a Schwinn Carbon Blue bike which I use at home, on days when I’m not at the studio. It’s funny how tables turn—or should I say, situations spin. 

The instructor list at Absolute Cycle’s aplenty, but I’m unabashedly steadfast to Chantal, queen of my favourite routines and playlists. On-bike Choreography like ‘Triple Threats’ and ‘Around The World’ are moves that you’ll find only at Absolute—some hate it, others adore it. Regardless, it serves to keep things interesting on the bike while still keeping pace and working your core and obliques all at the same time. 

Apart from rhythm cycling, Absolute also has pilates classes, and while that may not be my workout of choice, more options never really hurt anyone. 

CruCycle

Stepping into CruCycle, I’m unexplainably a ball of nerves and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is I’m so anxious about. Well, getting caught in multiple traffic jams on the way and running the risk of barely making it to class definitely turned up the stress by a couple of notches, but not knowing what to expect from class was stressful in itself. 

You see, at Absolute Cycle, no matter how challenging it’d get, I’d still roughly know what to expect, regardless of the intensity or choreography. I’ve got it memorised almost like clockwork now—the first two songs are warm-ups, then it’s either a fast or medium job, a sprint, then it’s tapback pace with choreography, hill climb, peak double-time sprint, arms, an inspirational track, then our final sprint.  

And it’s comforting to fall back on what you know. But at Cru, it’s completely uncharted terrain. Suddenly sitting in the front row on an entirely unfamiliar bike made me feel so vulnerable—spinning, in that moment, was far from my usual happy place.  

Kenny, tonight’s instructor, is all smiles and just a burst of energy in general; you wouldn’t be able to tell he was already teaching his third class of the day. I’m in my seat, overwhelmed and swamped with unease, but Kenny’s enthusiasm helps to dispel that just a bit. 

Unlike Absolute’s fun warm-up songs, the folks at CruCycle seem to just jump right into the ride with a fierce medium jog track. But after two songs, I’m easing up into this new space and the feel of a Stages bike. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to keep up with the pace here, but one thing’s for sure—you’ll be pushed and prodded to get the best burnout you possibly can.

RS Cycle

I should probably preface this entry by saying that I actually work part-time at RS Cycle as the front-of-house staff, so if you’re intending to pay a visit you might just have me check you in. Say ‘hi’ if you do, though!

Head instructor, Jolyn, left her previous position as an instructor at another studio to start RS Cycle, and it’s been a ride (actually yes, pun intended). She now has a couple of new instructors under her and operates out of the signature black-and-pink facade in Kembangan. 

Classes at RS Cycle come in Starter and Standard, with the former being more suitable for beginner riders because it’s essentially a standard ride sans the fast jogs. I’ll be straight—if you’re looking for a breezy time or a Sunday cycle in the park, this isn’t it. Jolyn pushes you in the best way possible—ever resolute, ever encouraging.

But perhaps the best thing I love about the classes here at RS is Jolyn’s attention to detail. Regardless of class type, it always starts with a brief introduction of bike choreography, jargon, and also instructions on how to set up the bikes. On top of that, the front-of-house staff (in other words, people like me) are always there to assist and help riders clip on their cleats if they’re having any trouble. Comfort is imperative to the riding experience here at RS, and that might just be the best philosophy to have anywhere. 

Verdict

Home ground advantage aside, Absolute Cycle takes the cake for an all-rounded, approachable riding experience—and of course, clean studios and well-stocked shower areas always help. Each studio I visited presented an experience unique but enjoyable in its own way, which is part of what makes diversity so great. As cliche as it sounds, there truly is something for everyone. 

The enthused ones who enjoy “riding with the pack”, as CruCycle’s tagline so aptly sums up, will find a home out of their high energy, fast-paced routines. Riders who seek a good burnout but don’t mind the lack of shower areas will revel in RS Cycle’s more affordable-than-average pricing. But for me, Absolute Cycle’s strong sense of community, conveniently-located outlets, great soundtracks, and fun choreography still occupy the throne of my exercise-loving heart. Plus, we always stan a pride-proud organisation. 

Other articles you might like: 

Zouk Cinema Club + AbsoluteCycle Experience: Here’s how a nightclub fares at being an exercise arena /cinema

New in town: RS Cycle, Changi Rd — New spin studio opens in Kembangan for Eastie riders

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