Text by Rachel Marlowe
Images by Cody James courtesy of Sunset Cycle
Sun, sea, sand, surf, and cycling. When it comes to the ultimate Santa Monica experience, Beach Cycle’s one-of-a-kind outdoor stationary bike workout definitely ticks all of the boxes.
Launched by Jef Holmes in October of 2020, Beach Cycle is the first and only outdoor cycle class on Santa Monica State Beach. “As far as I know it’s the first of its kind on any beach,” says Holmes, a Venice-based entrepreneur. Holmes had been toying with the idea for years, but when the stay-at-home order was implemented in Los Angeles County in March 2020, gyms and boutique fitness studios were forced to shutter indefinitely and the demand for other forms of socially distanced fitness offerings boomed.
While many cycling classes moved onto rooftops or parking lots, a beachfront class remained elusive. “We knew that people still wanted to work out in a safe and healthy environment,” he says. “I saw a big opportunity at that point to do something different but we had to really think outside the box—and studio—to figure out the logistics of bringing heavy, stationary bikes onto the sand, seven days a week.”
Located between lifeguard towers 28 and 29, Beach Cycle is just a 15 minute walk south along the beach path, from either Shutters on the Beach or Hotel Casa del Mar. on a broad stretch of white sand that has long been a go-to spot for open water swimmers and surfers. The 45-minute cycling classes, led by a team of professional instructors, combines high-intensity cardio, muscle sculpting, and strength training, and are suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced cyclists.
Riders are encouraged to go at their own pace and can wear either regular sneakers or cycling shoes that accommodate SPD or Delta pedals. Each bike sits on a heavy duty mat on top of the sand for stability, at a distance of six feet apart, facing the ocean. Riders are also given a pair of wireless, noise isolation headphones to create a “silent disco” style experience, allowing them to hear the instructor and custom playlists without interruption.
Depending on your weight and the amount of exertion, Holmes says the average each ride burns between 500 and 700 calories. It’s also a great way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Beach Cycle currently offers between one and three classes a day (check online for their daily schedule) with the morning and evening classes offering two entirely different experiences.
Morning sessions come with a side show of surfers catching waves and swimmers doing laps, but be warned, the glare off of the white sand can be strong so sunglasses and a liberal application of SPF are a good idea. Evening classes are scheduled to coincide with Southern California’s famous sunsets, time when locals flock to the shore with beach chairs and picnics to catch the spectacle.
Both times a day offer plenty of distractions from the exercise burn as sandpipers speed along the ocean’s edge, pelicans dive bomb for fish, and pods of dolphins crest the surf.
And while Beach Cycle may not have fancy add-ons like lockers, showers or a smoothie bar, a post workout dip in the ocean is an amenity few other classes can offer.
“What sets Beach Cycle apart is that it’s more than just a workout class,” says Holmes. “It engages all the senses. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.”
A single Beach Cycle class costs $35. Sign up at www.beachcycling.com.