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Spinning brings out our inner competitor as we strain to match a pipe-cleaner-legged instructor's physique that, frankly, we'll never reach. Now a new exercise studio has changed all that with a low-competition, philanthropic vibe that makes spinning fun again.

The pleasure-not-pressure begins when you step off La Cienega Boulevard into Cycle House L.A.'s shady courtyard, where crisp lawn furniture and bowls of fruit encourage lounging. Shades drop as class begins and the music cranks up, so you're biking in near darkness. While initially unsettling, it helped us forget our self-consciousness and focus instead on our breathing, pacing and form while we climbed hills, sprinted and used light weights for a short upper-body routine.

After class, we appreciated that the reclaimed-wood-paneled locker room has clean towels and a shower. We felt doubly energized: Not only had we worked out, but we remembered that for every $26 class purchased, Cycle House L.A. donates two meals to someone in need through nonprofit Feeding America.

Cycle House is open every day--even on Thanksgiving. At last, the perfect excuse to take a little head-clearing ride away from all that food, family and tryptophan.

Cycle House L.A., 624 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-358-0888 or

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