What It Is: Pursuit classes at Equinox are 45-minute indoor cycling workouts billed as “hardcore” on the club chain’s website, and it’s no exaggeration. After the interval-based The Pursuit: Burn class, my Apple Watch calculated close to 500 calories burned.
I also tried The Pursuit: Build, with more of an endurance spin. Thanks to the immersive, big-screen tech in both classes, the workouts are incredibly motivating and fun.
What You Might Not Know: Not everyone was happy with Equinox earlier this year when news broke that one of its investors had political leanings that grossly contradict the brand’s public-facing marketing messages, such as diversity, inclusivity and equality.
Watching from the sidelines, I chose to postpone this review of classes I’d taken before all that went public. Now that I’ve heard from inside sources that some members who quit the club over the incident have returned, I decided to go ahead and hit publish.
Feelin’ the Love: The indoor-cycling room at Equinox’s downtown Vancouver location, where I attended classes, is pretty posh, with soundproofing for superior acoustics, dimmed mood lighting and bikes positioned on theatre-style tiers for a great vantage point from anywhere in the room.
That alone would have been enough of an experience to revel in. But The Pursuit: Burn and The Pursuit: Build also offer high-tech activity tracking that spurs you on during the ride then pings personalized data to you via the Equinox mobile app.
Connected Cycling: How It Works
Once you start pedalling, you’re able to see your effort—represented as a spinning graphic wheel with an assigned number—on an expansive screen at the front of the room.
The faster you pedal, the faster your avatar-wheel spins; the more you crank up resistance, the brighter it appears. I thought I’d be more shy about everyone seeing which “wheels” were the best. What if people noticed I wasn’t the fastest? Ha.
Get-over-yourself reality check: I was far from the fastest. I didn’t care, either, because I knew I was working as hard as I could. Besides, there’s more to it than speed. The technology tracks the relationship between how fast you pedal and how much you ratchet up resistance. The two together spell out your overall output, which translates to how “on fire” your spinning wheel looks.
Overall, I found the tech-driven competition motivating. And for the most part, I was too busy feeling like my legs were on fire to care much about what anyone else was doing. The room is dark and everything’s semi-anonymous anyway in Pursuit indoor cycling so no one (except the instructor) knows whose wheel is doing what until names are revealed at the end of each drill. More on that in a minute.
Gamification in Real Time
Classes consist of rapid-fire, immersive games—some you do as individual challenges, some in pairs and some as a team working toward a common goal. Completed challenges appear in the screen’s corner so you can mentally cross them off your list and take note of how many still remain. Your data is projected on the screen in real time.
Considering I’m a control freak, it surprised me that I found the group gamification in Pursuit indoor cycling even more motivating than individual drills. And even though I didn’t know who else was on my team, I enjoyed the spirit of camaraderie.
Halfway through a gruelling group game in The Pursuit: Build, where collective effort was key to winning, I was questioning how much more I could take. Just then, our instructor Jennifer called out the top two performers in each multi-person team—and I heard my name! I got a second wind and was back in the game, spinning stronger than ever. It’s this kind of tech-connected, instructor-delivered feedback that really helps you stay motivated when intensity increases.
If I Could Change One Thing: While you can join the class with no obligation to hook up the tracker, you might as well go tech. I think it’s half the appeal of these indoor cycling classes.
I just wish it was easier to go incognito. After each drill, when the leaderboard results are revealed, the name assigned to you in the member app is what shows up on the big screen. However, it is actually possible to switch to a nickname or alias before you reserve a bike: Just go to account settings via the membership app or on desktop.
Should You Try It? Yes! These cycling classes are a lot of fun, but be prepared to sweat buckets and dig deep.
Pursuit classes are available at dozens of Equinox locations across the U.S. and Canada. Find a Pursuit indoor cycling class at an Equinox near you: equinox.com/groupfitness