It’s Friday night in a basement close to London’s Oxford Street. Around me beautiful people are waving their arms in the air, the guy next to me is whooping, there’s flashing lights, a seriously loud bass and a man in lycra up the front controlling the music, arms in the air, telling the crowd to move from side to side – erm, while pedalling on a spinning bike. Welcome to Psycle – London’s newest indoor-cycling class.
If God is a DJ, Psycle workout creator Tim Weeks is his/her trainer – see unlike most exercise classes where the moves come first and the music is tacked on to fit it, at Psycle, the music is everything. Your revolutions are synched to it, they read the room and the time of day and choose the tracks accordingly. It’s turned up LOUD. And it is, quite frankly, awesome.
The theory of Psycle – as if the Psyc bit of the name didn’t give it away a little bit is that how much you want to do exercise is dependent on how much you enjoy the experience. They’re aiming to make the class the most enjoyable experience out there – addictive almost. I admit it’s working. I’m desperate to go back – and I wasn’t even the person in the room most into it.
These things I loved
* Matching your revolutions to the music: It’s a brilliant way to vary the rate at which you pedal – and it helps build the sense of everyone being in it together. I hate it when classes don’t quite match – or go far slower than I want them to – during a song.
* The workout: It’s the first class I’ve been to in a very long time where I actually felt like I got a better workout than I would have done spending that time on the treadmill. If I do spinning, I want to spin fast – I got to spin fast. I know at one point I was red in the face. I was out of breath during the intervals. I still need to work on altering resistance to ensure I get a good workout during the slower bits. There’s also weights and core moves to ensure it’s not just your legs that are getting toned.
* The bike: Readers of my past reviews of spinning (see my experience in the Victoria Pendleton class here) will know that spinning bikes make my butt hurt – a lot. These ones didn’t so much – I don’t know why, maybe I spent more time out of the seat than normal, but they seemed a little more comfortable. I only got a bit of an ache the next day. I did also notice gel seats on the floor for those who wanted them – nice touch.
* The studio and atmosphere. It really is unlike any other class I’ve tried – or studio I’ve been in. Forget a big cold expanse of wood with mirrors, this is like working out in a club. My favourite workout ever was the night I turned up at my gym to find they had a DJ and flashing lights – this was the closest thing to it I’ve done in a long time.
These things, not so much
* The exact choice of music the night I was there: I follow Psycle on twitter and have been overly excited by the tweets of classes with cheesy music like Olly Murs and One Direction. As I say though, they read the crowd and time. I was there on Friday night, most of the crowd was very young, very beautiful – and, if the way they were stretching, legs over their heads like the cast of FAME afterwards was anything to go by, they were dancers. This meant the music was young and clubby – John Newman, – I Wanna Know Now, RizzleKicks – Skip to the Good Bit, Rudimental etc etc. Excellent music, but all the tracks I normally run to! I had been looking forward to something a bit different and more fun.
* There’s a lot of hands in the air movements. The idea of this is to help work your core a bit more – you have to balance – but as someone who’s a bit nervous of spinning bikes (they’re so high) I was too scared to actually take my hands off the handlebars. I tried it for the first move, had my resistance a bit too low, suffered leg spin and a bit of a wobble, at this point instead of saying ‘it’s only a bike’ my overly neurotic brain is yelling ‘I’m going to fall off, hit my head and die in a freak spinning accident.’ I spent the whole class gripping my seat! I need to build my confidence more a bit- and maybe put up the resistance to stop the freewheeling legs that make me wobble.
*It’s a bit happy clappy. As soon as the class started we were having to clap along. a) this required me to remove my hands from the handlebars (see above) b) I’m too British for that within a minute of starting. You need to woo clapping Helen. Next time I go I’ll be a bit more prepared – I am planning on channeling Karaoke Helen who will happily sing first – and without any alcohol! This is the only bit I’m still not sure about.
* My feet: After about 30 minutes they really hurt. I asked Weeks afterwards why this might be and he said I’m pushing too much with my forefoot and need to balance my push a bit. I shall work on that when I go back this week. Yes, I am already returning. This sentence alone tells you everything you need to know. Its only the second class I’ve tested that I’ve actually tried to do more than once (and the other one, Gear 3D still hasn’t made it to my gym!).
So, would I recommend it?
Hell yeh! Even with my slight reservations above (most of which would disappear with practise) it’s a great workout and a beautiful setting. Admittedly at £20.00 a class it’s pricey, although you don’t have to pay an upfront joining fee. You do have to register though – and book the classes in advance. The schedule for the week is released on a Sunday evening. To do that, and see more visit psyclelondon.com. Oh, and Mr Weeks, if you’re reading this, can you do Psycle Treadmill next please. The same thing but let me run during it. Now that would be the best workout, in the world, ever!