Rainy Day Itinerary: Tampa Bay

Florida is well known for sudden changes in weather and stormy days, which often leaves residents and travelers stuck indoors wondering what to do. Here is my favorite rainy day itinerary for the Tampa Bay area:

  1. Take a tour through the Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art has an excellent display of pottery and art from the Classical World. My personal favorite displays in the museum were the sports photography and Alex Katz pieces, both of which will be on display throughout April. The Tampa Museum of Art is a great rainy day stop since admission is only $15 a person and free for college students. It also has a parking garage next door for easy parking, which is not always easy to find in Downtown Tampa.

2. Grab Lunch at Oxford Exchange

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Courtesy of Oxford Exchange on Instagram // @oxfordexchange

Rainy days call for a good cappuccino and refreshing lunch. Luckily, OE has mastered the art of both with their Buddy Brew coffee stand and seasonal fresh menu. Grab a book in their book shop and a comfortable seat to enjoy a delicious hand made coffee. Then, take a seat in their exquisite bright dining area to enjoy a great lunch. The clean bright interiors matched with the cozy coffee area make for the perfect rainy day lunch treat.

3. Spend the afternoon at Top Golf

Top Golf is great but also pretty crowded most of the time, which makes it the perfect rainy day activity. Three stories of golfing into color coded holes, great music, and a delicious menu of dishes and desserts makes Top Golf the ultimate outing for friends and families. It is completely covered overhead and each bay has comfortable seating, which allows you to stay dry and away from the rain without being cooped up inside. Top Golf is least crowded mid day and early afternoon, so make sure to golf before prices increase and things get busy in the evening.

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CycleBar: Not the Average Spin Class

Let me preface this article by saying I HATE running for my cardio. Somehow I survived three years of the cross country team, and now ask myself what I was ever thinking? Anyway, cardio is pretty hard to come by in my workout routine. A few years ago I went to one spin class to try out the new hip cardio workout everyone was going crazy over, and I hated that too. I have this rule in life though, never dismiss something until you have given it two chances.

Years later I find myself in the summer of 2016 trying to avoid the heat and my worst enemy, running. At the beginning of summer I decided to give spin class that second try before totally dissing it… Of course, I fell in love with it. If you have been to a spin class you did not enjoy I highly recommend you try a different instructor, every class is very different and you often find instructors you love and others you can pass on. The music, cool temperature, energetic teachers, and team work feeling hooked me and became my new cardio go-to. After taking classes at my local gym and sticking with it, I became curious as to what the newest upscale spin destination in Tampa may be like. I had heard of boutique spin locations in NYC, and that same concept spread to my city in the form of CycleBar.

I signed myself up for a Saturday 9:30am class with Lauren B. and prepared for the CycleBar experience. The typical local gym spin class is pretty simple, you walk in choose a bike and start peddling. The CycleBar spin experience is different before you even walk in the door. You have to sign up online and reserve the class best for your schedule, then select a seat so there is no guessing if the class will fill up before you get there. You then select if you need spin shoes (one of my favorite features of the CycleBar experience) and mark your size. Once you walk in the door you sign in on the iPads and grab your shoes. A locker area allows seats to change into your spin shoes, store your belongings in a locker, and grab a bottle with fresh water (that you can keep, woohoo). Some of these features are what create the top of the line experience, but none of them mean much if the class is not special too.

When you enter the spin room you can automatically tell that it will be different. The lights are low and the bikes are backlit, making you feel like you are about to be in for the ride of your life. The bikes are equipped with top of the line tracking devices that show your RPMs and gear selection, as well as other stats. They also come with a four pound bar weight for arm exercises.

Once going to my selected bike I clicked in and prepared for the 50 minute ride. The music playlist is selected by the instructor and also available to listen to on their website. The class I chose was filled with pop and house hits, some CB classes boast mashups and throwback themes to motivate your ride. Lauren, the cycle instructor, was well experienced and very friendly to everyone. She personally introduced herself before the class and knew the regulars by name, making the experience feel more like a weekly team ride than a random spin class. She was extremely energetic during the class and motivated every person to do their best and think about progress, not competition. Her motivation made the class feel like a fun experience, not a grueling exercise. The class consisted of sprints and climbs, and about 30 minutes in you pick up your weight and do some arms while maintaining a steady spin speed. This was something I had never experienced in a spin class, but I loved incorporating arms, which can often be forgotten about. Throughout the class Lauren turned the overhead monitors on to display the rankings for everyone in the class (this is optional, a choice when signing up online). Again, she stressed the importance of letting the rankings motivate you.

One of my favorite features of the experience was that they emailed me my personal results at the end of the class, that way I can track my progress for the day and over time. Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.57.23 PMCycleStats are sent to you after each class so you can track your progress. My only dislikes about the experience were that I rode less than half the amount of miles as I usually do, and I did not burn as many calories as normal. However, I blame that on the fact that this was my first class in a very different setting and with a different teaching style. Trust me, I still got one heck of a work out and am returning for my second class this week!

So, my final review: CycleBar is a great place for a spin class and is an experience like no other. You cannot find this at your local gym, and the statistics tracking and upscale details will keep you motivated and coming back for more. This is the place for you if you are looking for the top of the line experience with upscale amenities. You can find all of their information on their website: https://southtampa.cyclebar.com. A free 30 minute introductory class is offered Saturday mornings for first time riders. Classes are cheaper in bulk quantities and offered various times every day for any skill level. Make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for promotions and free class deals! Maybe I’ll see you in the next class…

Special thanks to Alie and CycleBar instructor Lauren for sponsoring this post with my free ride.