Associate Editor Melissa Puppo Learns Why This Indoor Cycling Program Is Called 'The Sufferfest'—And Why It's Worth Your Effort
Featuring real-time footage and a pro-level workout, this cycling class is worth a try.
Growing up, my friend Staci and I used to ride our bikes all around our neighborhood. We descended down a steep hill and casually roamed into our neighbors’ driveways. My bike was pink and blue, and I called her Pixie. That was the closest I ever came to experiencing some downhill adventure on a bike. Fast forward some 15 years, and I found myself agreeing to take on a new cycling adventure—this time with a twist at Top Step Cycling in Hollywood.
The door to the studio read “The Sufferfest,” a program David McQuillen founded in 2009 that uses effective training videos for cyclists.
Traditional spin bikes lined two outer sides of the room, while other equipment with circular pieces attached to the backs of bicycle wheels were at the back wall. (I later found out they were power trainers for the serious cyclists of the group.)
Luckily, Steve Mlujeak intercepted me before I took two steps back out the door. Mlujeak is an esteemed multi champion cyclist who has traveled across South America and Europe, and even qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in 2000 and 2004.
Today, he can be found training people of all ages and abilities as the owner of Top Step Cycling. He was also my coach at this Floridian Sufferfest location. I knew I would be in good hands.
Making a Move
After slipping on some sleek white and blue spinning shoes Mlujeak let me borrow, and strapping on a heart rate monitor, we adjusted the bike to match my height. Soon, people from triathletes to a young kid filled the room—most were dressed in tight-fitting cyclist gear. They were all encouraging, so my fear of being out of place quickly vanished.
I hopped on my bike and began pedaling as a warmup until the lights turned off, and things got real—fast. Licensed footage of Le Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the likes appeared on the jumbo screen, while music began pumping out of the speakers. One moment I was easing down a winding road and the next I was battling to stay ahead while climbing a mountain. Every so often, numbers appeared on the screen that determined my cadence and effort for that certain time period.
I’d either increase or lower the resistance, and would be told when to sit or stand. Anytime I felt like I couldn’t keep going, I’d imagine I was in the video cycling in real time.
By the end of the ride, the lights came on. We all dripped in sweat. It was quite the feat in my eyes. I can see how cycling becomes addicting—the music, your peers’ support and the desire to go at it again. I became a “Sufferlandrian”—a term coined by The Sufferfest team—and was proud to make that hour-long journey.
I gained the reassurance to get away from my comfort zone and try something new. Spinning is exciting and gets the adrenaline going, not to mention it’s a high intensity interval workout that can burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories in just an hour. And with The Sufferfest, you’ll never do the same cycle twice.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro, this workout is for everyone.
Top Step Cycling / 111 Grand Palms Drive, Hollywood / 586.604.7582 / topstepcycling.com
If you’re ready to make a move, check out one of these local indoor cycling joints:
Revolutions Cycling Studio; 155 Tony Penna Drive, Ste. 3, Jupiter; 561.734.5611; revolutionsspin.com
“A” Vicious Cycle; 1604 NW Courtyard Circle, Port St. Lucie; 772.267.8429; avcfit.com
Velocity Cycling Studio; 321 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561.247.2453; vcyclingstudio.com
Ride Delray; 101 SE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561.777.3277; ridedelray.com
Flywheel; 2200 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561.368.3246; flywheelsports.com
CycleWard; 6161 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954.616.8049; cyclewardstudio.com