On a warm fall afternoon there’s no place I’d rather be than in the saddle of my bike on the South County Bike Path; pretty much the opposite is true on days when it’s cold, rainy, and windy. But the sun is always shining at So Co Cycle in the form of ebullient owner Kara Pereira, who sees the mission of her Narragansett spin studio as equal parts social and fitness.
“I love to motivate people, and my greatest joy is when people come in with a friend,” she says. “For some people, it’s all about calorie burn and weight loss; for others, it’s more community-based and a chance to socialize.”
Opened in April at Mariner Square on Point Judith Road, So Co Cycle has 20 state-of-the-art bikes arranged in rows in a spacious, 2,400-square-foot studio, with daily classes led by Pereira and her team of eight instructors. A pair of leaderboards keep track of metrics like distance, speed, calories burned, and, for those so inclined, who is the leader of the pack in each 45-minute class.
Participants can even sign up to receive an email with their stats after each session — something that appeals to Pereira’s competitive nature even as she tries to avoid the spotlight when she’s leading classes. “I don’t want to be that teacher in the front of the room trying to beat everyone in class,” she says. For those who do want to race, however, the system is set up for sprint and power challenges, a nice option for serious cyclists in training as well as groups interested in a team-building exercise that’s a bit off the beaten track.
On the other hand, the low lighting in the studio is ideal for those who want to tune out the rest of the class and just focus on their own workout. “People work harder when it’s dark,” says So Co instructor Stephanie Nedamlensky, who added that while most class attendees are women, men who give spin a turn also find the workout pretty challenging.
Difficulty, in the form of incline, can be adjusted to individual preference, and unlike with a road bike there’s the option of doing pushups on the handlebars and doing some light weights as you pedal. “I think it’s the best cardio you can do, and you also get a full-body workout,” says Pereira.
A trained yoga instructor as well as a dedicated cyclist who has completed both the Tour de Cure and the long-distance Pan Mass Challenge, Pereira builds stretching into her classes alongside cardio and strength training. Clients can mix things up by attending sessions with extra off-bike workouts, extended stretching led by a local physical therapist, or a “wine down” event geared toward building a sense of community among cyclists.
Other social events are for a good cause, like DJ-led “glow rides” that clients can pay for with a donation to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
The relatively intense workouts are fueled by enthusiastic and encouraging instructors and powered by high-energy music. Pereira says the classes especially appeal to people who have “outgrown the gym a little bit and are more into beat-based activity.”
During So Co Cycle’s first few months in business, that included a lot of summer visitors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who had been “bitten by the indoor cycling bug” back home and wanted to keep up with their fitness routine, said Pereira.
Drop-in rates are $15 per class; buying a 10-pack reduces the rate to $12 per class. Newcomers are welcome to come in and try a class for free.
“It’s not that intimidating once you get the first class under your belt,” Pereira promises.
The studio is steadily growing a local clientele that includes a group of South County Hospital nurses who start their day with a 6am spin, and regulars like Diane Paolino and Jill Dockray, who hung around to chat after a Thursday morning Beats class led by Nedamlensky.
“I like the music and the atmosphere,” said Paolino. “I feel much more motivated coming here where I can get feedback as opposed to the gym, where it felt like nobody knew who I was.” Added Dockray, who is taking her first-ever spin classes: “Even if you’re not in the mood, the music gets you in the mood.”
So Co Cycle
140 Point Judith Road Unit A14, Narragansett