Spinning is the new running

Lights, music, and dancing equal more than a party; it creates a healthy lifestyle.

Prismatic lights flicker and fluctuate to thumping beats from the speakers above. Thick air inside the crowded room lingers with a tropic, sweaty sweetness. The towering energy is enough to make a pack of attendees get up and dance. But this isn’t a nightclub: This is The Madison, an ultra-hip spin studio inside the Farmer Arts District that offers a modernistic way to burn calories, and they’re celebrating one year in Tempe.

Andrew Varela, co-owner of The Madison along with Mary Swanson, envisioned a studio that embraced a party atmosphere over the average run-of-the-mill cardio session. “When we were building the business plan, we wanted something outside of spin that represented us,” Varela says. The concept of Party On a Bike was born.

“Who doesn’t like to party?” Varela asks, rhetorically. “Oops, I just burned 900 calories, and I feel really good.”

#PartyOnABike, as The Madison promotes it, takes riders beyond a basic spin class with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, spectacular remixes of familiar jams, live DJs and theme rides.

The Madison’s class schedule is sprinkled with variation. Two house DJs add an extra element of fun and unpredictability. DJ Tommy Roberts plays at several clubs throughout Scottsdale and Tempe, while DJ T-Last teams up with Todd, aka Black Steel, another Madison instructor, to form a class they call “The Grind.” Cailey Hale, general manager, says the live music serves up an elevated atmosphere. “Having a DJ brings another kind of energy to the class by controlling the environment we’re in,” she adds. “And you can’t buy better sound and lights.”

Brittny Golding, program director, says she hopes well-known DJs will make appearances soon. “It would basically be like a private show,” she says.

Leading a class with a live DJ also adds a tier of complexity for instructors. “You fly by the seat of your pants,” Golding adds. “It’s actually harder for the DJ to figure out the ebbs and flows of a class.” While most DJs like short edits and deep drops, it doesn’t always necessarily work in a spin class. Riders are none the wiser though, and Golding says people are obsessed with the DJ classes.

“The classes, especially through teaching, are an opportunity to share our passion for music,” Varela says. “The music always speaks to something.” Hours of preparation are put into a playlist, which instructors meticulously assemble to produce fluidity and boost endorphins.

“Half of the time, you can’t even get the music that we’re playing,” Varela adds.

“What sets us apart from other spin studios, or even gyms, is that we’re focused on the music,” Golding says. “A lot of other studios have good music, but there’s no real rhyme or reason to it and you’re just moving really fast. Our classes are about movement through music.”

Some of The Madison’s most popular classes are themed rides, which run the gamut of “Guilty Pleasures” (think N’Sync and Backstreet Boys) to “Straight Outta Compton” to “Taylor Swift versus Calvin Harris”. Golding says the guilty pleasure tunes and rap get riders amped up most. Skrillex and Diplo are in regular rotation as well.

“We can’t put the music into a box because we have so many different students and tastes,” Hale says.

Each instructor at The Madison brings something fresh to the table. Whether it’s their love of getting lost in music, an ability to ride with unmatched enthusiasm, or the rewarding job of turning someone’s day around, everyone involved with The Madison shares the passion for what they do.

Varela credits the positive impact on others as one of the best parts of the gig. “It’s such a blessing to be able to go into a class and do that for people,” he says. “And it’s not just for others, it’s for ourselves, too. There’s days where we come in and we’re not feeling tip-top, but I’ve never left a class not feeling energized.”

The all-encompassing theme of “the Madison vibe” touches on community service as well. Projects with Habitat for Humanity and Halo offer up ways for instructors and students to collaborate outside the studio for a great cause.

Through December, volunteers are working on building a home for a family in need, from the ground up. “The turnout for the Habitat project has been humbling,” Hale says.

From the front desk, to their classes and beyond, the crew at The Madison wants to make riders feel special. “All of our instructors share something in common, and that’s a passion for what we do here,” Hale says. “Everyone stands behind it and believes in it.”

The Madison clientele is far-reaching and includes ASU students and working types. “One of the cool things about the Madison is that we don’t have a demographic,” Varela says. “We think anyone and everyone deserves to be healthy, happy and to have a good time.”

This mindset is evident on the lower level of The Madison, inside the merchandise shop. T-shirts proclaiming “Do Epic Sh*t”, “Good Karma” and “Puppies Make Me Happy”, as well as water bottles promising “Not Vodka Water” cast yet another facet of fun. “We try not to take things too seriously,” Varela says. “There’s enough going on in the world that makes us stressed.”

At an affordable $12 per session, The Madison doesn’t break the bank either.

Varela wants the good vibes and good times to keep rolling. “Everyone come join the party, we’ve got a lot of love to give,” he says.


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