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Originally published Friday, September 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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It's all sweat equity at Seattle's FlyWheel

Only New Yorkers would come up with this particular style of torture and export it to Seattle.

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Excellent. It's always exciting to see people exercising and taking care of themselves. MORE
In the dark? The entire reason for going to a spinning class is to find a good... MORE
Now if only all those bicyclists in Seattle who enjoy riding 50 miles an hour, weaving... MORE

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IF ANYTHING, "GiseleBundch" made me spin harder. We were in minute 28 of a 45-minute spin class at FlyWheel in Seattle, and the leaderboard had flashed up on the flat-screens above the mirrors. I glanced up to see where I was, but all I could see was her name.

GiseleBundch at first was just behind me in the rankings. We started to toggle back and forth between second and third. I was determined to stay ahead, but we also were sitting upright in the saddle and using weighted bars to work our arms.

I tried to pedal faster, but my shoulders were burning, and it turned into a choice between breathing or beating Gisele. I chose oxygen.

FlyWheel is a New York import. Only New Yorkers would come up with this particular style of torture and export it to Seattle. FlyWheel is opening a Bellevue branch, too.

People have been obsessed with spin for what feels like forever. I'm relatively new to it, having taken it up this year to get in cycling shape. Then I discovered the masochistic side of me kind of loves to spin and get yelled at (lovingly) by spin instructors.

The first time I went to FlyWheel, I found it a little off-putting. The place is slick, white with high ceilings and an intense amount of branding. The setup includes water stations and plastic bags for sweaty clothes. Towels and clip-in shoes also come as part of its highflying prices. The drop-in rate is $25, and the gym is definitely cheaper.

But at FlyWheel, the spin room is set up stadium style with the teacher visible on a little stage. The lights are shut off once class starts to help you stay focused on your workout, not the other people huffing and puffing on their bikes. The leaderboard occasionally flashes your stats when the teacher decides to motivate you for mini-bursts, providing light and distraction.

The music is so loud they offer ear plugs. The teacher is on a mike, and there's fist-pumping, and if you're with Tommy McCarthy, a lot of dancing, too. With McCarthy, at least, it's hugely fun, with perfectly timed beats, a lot of energy and motivation whenever I wanted to slow down. I like spinning in the dark, focused only on the leaderboard, Gisele and McCarthy shouting "Challenge is change!"

As far as the spin goes, FlyWheel is all about speed. Some spin classes take you through multiple climbs. FlyWheel pushes you to high levels of resistance, but there's also a lot of flat racing. My legs burned, but I never felt taxed in the knees like I have in some other classes. They do push you to go to insane RPMs (revolutions per minute), so if you're not into speed, this is not the place for you.

But the big reason FlyWheel is more ridiculous than other spin classes is the weights. Oh, the weights. There is a 2-pound bar and a 4-pound bar on each bike. Combine them to make it 6! I go light because by minute 28, my legs are burning, I'm dripping sweat and arm weights are the last thing I want to do.

But, of course, I do it.

Right after the weights, during the height of my Gisele fixation, McCarthy suddenly snapped off the leaderboard. I had a brief moment of panic, then decided I could catch up. I spun faster.

The next time the leaderboard flashed, her lead had grown. I gave up on catching up and focused instead on my own power ratings to see if I could break 300. I just missed, but next time I will do it.

Gisele, you better watch your back.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Ellen M. Banner is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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