P2P Picks: Zengo Cycle

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Welcome to the inaugural installment of P2P Picks! This weekly feature will be my way of showing a little love to local businesses and vendors getting it right, whether it be a bakery, restaurant, boutique, product, event, or – as in this case – fitness studio. For the P2P Picks premiere, I decided to shine the spotlight on DC’s newest workout craze: Zengo Cycle. If you live in DC, you’ve probably heard about it, and – let me tell you – this place totally lives up to the hype.

I have always hated spinning. Like HATED. I tried it once in undergrad and not only was it hard, it was just plain boring. Unfortunately, that sole experience tainted spin for me, and I never did it again. Never again, that is, until Jamie and a couple other girlfriends started raving about this new place that just opened in Logan Circle called Zengo Cycle. Being that they all know how much I LOVE music (this girl is all about a good beat, and I constantly obsess over finding the best new jams for my Spotify playlists), they swore that there was no way I wouldn’t get hooked on this class. They repeatedly insisted that it was different than the other trendy spin studios that have opened in the city, and described Zengo as a sort of dance party on a bike that even incorporated free weights. Plus they let you try a class for free – shoes and all. I had actually started to hit a little plateau with my cardio workout and was getting bored with just running, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Even if I hated it or couldn’t really keep up, it would be a workout regardless, right? And, I mean, it was free. Win – win.

I signed up for a Saturday morning class with Jamie and headed to 14th Street to see what all the fuss was about, admittedly still a tad apprehensive. From the moment I walked into the lobby, I l-o-v-e-d the vibe. The sign-in and set-up were seamless and simple, and the staff was super friendly. The studio itself was dark with fun neon lights lining the walls, and the jams were already blasting (which, as you know by now, put me right at ease). Then there was the instructor, Gregg. There are no words – he is just fantastic (ok, so I guess there’s one). My friend Jeannie (who is a Zengo rockstar btw) had reached out to let him know that I’d be attending his class and that I was a newbie. He immediately made the connection and helped me get all set up and “locked in” on the bike (their spin shoes actually lock into the pedals, so you don’t have to think about your feet slipping), and made me feel super comfortable. Then the lights dropped even darker and the music started – it was go-time. Locked in, blacked out, bass bumpin’. I was immediately hooked. 

To give you an idea of exactly what it entails, Zengo’s own website describes the experience as:

 [A] 50 minute cycling class that pushes you to your physical limits and beyond. Our master instructors will have you almost “dancing” on your bike so your mind and body remain engaged. Unlike traditional cycling classes these movements ignite your core, obliques and triceps. One or two pound weights will be used to tone your upper body all while your lower body continuously cycles for the ultimate full body workout.

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When they say “dancing on the bike,” they’re not kidding. Gregg immediately had us on and off the bike, pedaling, pressing, and “jumping” – all to the beat of the music! I used to cheer competitively back in the day, and all of the synchronized movements with the entire group were really reminiscent of that. Seeing everyone in the class moving in unison to the beat for the first time gave me a huge burst of energy and completely put me in the zone. There’s nothing better than actually losing yourself in the music during a workout – it gives you an unparalleled rush and allows you push so much harder than you normally would. Zengo totally does this. Guaranteed. I had that experience just 5 minutes in and it alleviated any anxiety I was having about the class, or life in general for that matter.

Each successive song focused on a different sequence of techniques on the bike. You’ll be “jumping” during one song; “jogging,” “tapping back” and “pressing” the next; “sprinting” in another; and combining all of those in yet another. The signature “zen” segment slowed the intensity for a few minutes, during which the room turned completely black, allowing you to channel your energy and free ride for a song. Then came the weights, and let me tell you, they were no joke. Don’t let those baby weights fool you – by the time you’re done your arms will be burning so badly that you’ll be begging to be back up on the bike doing super tough “up-downs” to a high tempo beat. As rigorous as this workout was, though, it was FUN. Now don’t get me wrong, there were points in time when I was struggling to breathe and didn’t think I’d be able to finish a particular sequence, but when you have a great instructor bouncing around the room dancing, encouraging you, getting you into the music and making you laugh, you’re able to forget about how hard it is and push through. Jamie and I left that place on a high and feeling like we could literally take on the world (super hokey, I know, but try it and you’ll stop questioning my sanity).

Since that first class just over a month ago, I’ve gotten 5 more under my belt and have become more addicted each time. While I know all the instructors are wonderful, I’ll admit that I’m partial to Gregg. He has an energy that I just vibe with and he plays the absolute best music (I always leave there with one or two new songs to add to my playlist, like this new gem). He’s so good that I even started trying out his 6am Wednesday class, including one yesterday morning. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not alone. Yesterday I walked in and it was like social hour in the lobby. I unexpectedly ran into 4 people I knew and was being introduced to new friends – at 5:45 in the morning. It was pretty comical, I mean this has to be literally the only thing that will get a bunch of yuppies out of bed and being social on their own volition before 6AM. And the no makeup, bed head and faint signs of pillow lines still on your face make it all the more entertaining. But Gregg will start your day off with an a-maz-ing workout, and it’s totally worth it.

As you can tell, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Zengo Cycle. Ever since my first class, I have been gushing about it to everyone I know. I work out fairly often and always love the way I feel afterwards, but this is the first workout that I legitimately look forward to and get excited about beforehand. Plus, the high you’re on after you leave is way better than the one you get after even the best runs. All that being said, Zengo Cycle was the obvious choice for the first “P2P Picks” feature!

So you can get a better idea of what I’ve been going on and on about for the last long-winded 1300 words (brevity is not my strong suit), read this articlewatch this news story, check out Zengo’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, and listen to one of Gregg’s oh-so-legit workout playlists below. Get all up to speed, then head to Zengo Cycle’s website to sign up. Just don’t snag my spot in Gregg’s Saturday morning class, and we can still be friends (kidding! Kind of.).

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