Breaking Down Breakaway
July 1, 2022
A sweaty, post-class selfie with Coach Melora for proof! Pics or it didn’t happen.
Our Marketing Manager, Megan, takes Breakaway for the first time in a while and shows us what it’s really like inside this colorful, high-intensity, 100% fun cycling class.
7:00AM Grab cycling shoes
Since I have to get shoes, adjust my bike, etc. I got here super early! (Earlier than I usually arrive for a class, or a meeting… or anything.) Plus, it’s my first time taking this class in a while, so I wanted to get here with plenty of time just in case I had questions for the instructor.
There's a rack of shoes outside the breakaway studio in Brooklyn, or you can find them with the front desk staff in Chelsea. Brooklyn also has some behind the concierge desk, but those are usually used for Peloton cyclists. The club also has cages that can be clipped onto the bike so that you can wear your sneakers. But, it's safer, more comfortable, and a better workout to ride with cycling shoes.
7:05AM Adjust bike height and clip in
The instructor will be there to answer any of your questions, but if it’s your first time taking a Breakaway Cycling class, it’s good to come to class at least 15 minutes early to make sure you’re feeling prepared for your first ride!
I'm a middle-of-the-class kind of person, so I chose my bike spot when I booked in the app. I don’t necessarily want to be the center of attention in the front row, but I don’t want to blend into the background. When I’m in class I like the feeling of being surrounded by people, like I’m a part of a team.
7:10AM Set up Breakaway screen
Our instructor today is Melora, and I waved her over to help me set up my screen. It’s been a while since my last class, so I needed a little refresher on how to set everything up!
One of the things that makes Breakaway Cycling so great is the Coach by Color system. The instructor cues you during class on which “color zone” you should be in, and setting up your screen on the bike before class is important to ensure your ride is customized to your personal fitness level! On the screen, you enter your current fitness level (Melora recommended going with what I felt like was my current "cycling fitness level” - I went with moderate!) and your weight - that generates an approximate FTP (Functional Threshold Power - Learn more about what this is and how to get a more accurate FTP measurement here!)
Since everyone's fitness level is different, the color system equalizes the game! The color system gives everyone an equal type of "hard" - as in, even if a super fit triathlete was in class, we would both be able to work at the same intensity level, or hard feeling when we're in the yellow zone. All because we input different FTPs! So my red zone feels the same as anyone else's red zone, but we're all choosing our own adventure.
As more people start to set up their bikes, they begin populating on the big screens in the front of the studio. It’s anonymous, so you’ll just see your bike number pop up on the screen.
7:15AM Here we go!
The lights are down and the music is up. Class starts with a quick warm up to get our muscles warm and ready to ride! Today’s warm up was just jumping from the white zone (Level 1) into the blue zone (Level 2).
Melora gives great cues during class - she’s telling us what RPM (speed) we should be close to, and it always matches the beat of the music which definitely helps me keep tempo. Once we know the RPM, she tells us which color zone we should be in. Right now we’re supposed to be in the blue zone, so I keep adjusting the resistance until I’m in the blue zone at the current RPM. Sounds complicated, but it makes more sense when you're in the class!
7:20AM Sprint intervals
Our first push for class is a sprint interval, which just means we’re building up our speed to sprints. Sometimes the sprints are the same length as the “rest,” and sometimes they are longer or shorter. Your resistance will stay the same, but you’ll increase your RPM until you’re in whatever color zone the instructor specifies. This time we went from blue to green, blue to yellow, and finally blue to red to finish off the set.
My heart rate is definitely up right now and I’m feeling much more awake than I did when I walked in the club! It’s actually really fun to see everyone’s colors change on their bikes when we move into different zones. It felt pretty badass to watch everyone switch into the red zone at the same time, right when the beat drops.
7:25AM First hill climb
During a hill climb, the instructor will cue you to increase the resistance little by little until eventually your legs are working much harder to pedal (like you would feel biking up a hill!) I’ll be feeling this climb in my quads tomorrow for sure.
It is at this point I am starting to regret doing leg day, Run Club in Chelsea and Breakaway back to back to back. The colors and the different displays on the screen do keep me distracted though, which is fun!
7:35 Active recovery
After alternating between more sprints and hills, we have a 3-minute active recovery, which feels nice even though I’m spending most of the time sipping water and toweling off because I’m already dripping in sweat. Melora cued us to be in the blue zone around 75-80 RPM. We had two 3-minute active recoveries during class.
7:45 Sprint/hill combo
This interval was definitely tough since we were increasing our resistance and RPMs at the same time!
I get kind of competitive when everyone’s progress is displayed on the screen, and during this push, the bike numbers are displayed on the screen in order of total power output (a combination of your RPM and resistance). I get really motivated when my bike number moves up the ladder! Melora announced that we only have one final push after this, so I give it my all!
7:55AM Final push
When the instructor gives you a “warning” you know it’s going to be bad… Melora warns us that we have two 70 second pushes to end the class. She cues us to a certain RPM in the green zone, and then when it’s time to push we turn up the resistance and go as fast as we can for 70 seconds! This time the screen display changes to a horizontal “race” mode showing our bike numbers moving in real time racing against each other based on total power output.
Needless to say I am sweaty and happy when it’s time for the cool down!
7:58AM Cool down + stretch
Melora guides us through some breathing exercises and quick stretches, on and off the bike. My favorite one is when you lean your hips forward on the bike because it makes me feel like Ariel on the rock in that one scene from The Little Mermaid. #90sbaby
8:02AM That’s a wrap!
After class, I drop my cycling shoes in the “used” bin to be sanitized, wipe down my bike, and go to hit the showers. I also treated myself to a little time in the sauna because after those three days of back to back leg workouts I definitely needed it!
I always feel so ready to tackle the day after a tough morning workout. Maybe I should do this more often…