Group cycling classes are having a renaissance with a heap of high tech spin studios offering new and exciting biking sessions in the Capital. The Healthista team sweated it out to review the best new spinning classes in London so you have the lowdown on which is the ride for you. Ready, set, sweat.
Where? Cyclebeat is based near Bank station so is great for city workers – before, during or after work, especially since there are classes ranging from 35 minutes, 45 minutes to an hour making it accessible and leaving no reason for you not to get your butts on those saddles.
What’s so different about it? Cyclebeat is the only spinning class that includes a Beatboard – a board that tells you exactly how you’re doing to motivate you to spin harder. Each bike is linked to a computer which measures your performance, from your average speed rate, to your average RPM and the amount of calories you’ve burned.
Cyclebeat is the only spinning class that includes a Beatboard – a board that measures your performance, from your average speed rate, to your average RPM and the amount of calories you’ve burned.
You can choose whether or not you’re progress is shown on the main screen with all the other bikes but don’t worry, you’re only identified by the bike number). Either way, Cyclebeat will be sending you an email at the end of the session letting you know how you’ve done. All your visits will be stored which is a brilliant way of seeing how much you’ve improved and motivates you to cycle faster and with more resistance next time.
The music: Music will vary depending on the trainer. You can find examples of each of their playlists here so you can even pick the class based on your music preference.
The people: A mixture of men and women of different sizes who I assume were city workers but considering everyone was in their gym gear, it was hard to tell. Either way, I felt comfortable.
No. of bikes: 50 bikes
We loved: If you’re going with friends and want to some fun competition then Beatboard is perfect. If you have a goal in mind or need motivation, the Beatboard will make you push harder. If you’re a bit shy of working out in front of others too then you’ll be happy to know that Cyclebeat takes place in the dark.
Didn’t love: I wasn’t keen on the music during my session which proves that you should check out the playlist of the instructor before you choose a class.
Healthista Spin Tip: Although you can hide your progress from the rest of the class, I would recommend that you don’t as it really did make me work harder. Even if you’re ranked last, the point is, you’re there and it will probably make you want to improve.
If you suffer from asthma, make sure you don’t drop your asthma spray on the floor at the start as it’s pretty difficult to lock your shoes into the pedals again – believe me.
Book it! Cyclebeat.co.uk
2. BOOM CYCLE
Where? Boom Cycle has four locations in Holborn, The Curtain Shoreditch, Hammersmith and Battersea Power Station. Classes on weekdays run as early as 6:30 in the morning to as late as 8:15 in the evening and most of them are 45 minutes long (they also run 30 minute express lunch time classes that include a complementary shake). Since both locations come complete with showers and ‘beauty bars,’ complete with well-lit mirrors, blow-dryers, dry shampoo and make-up applicators, they’re ideal for sneaking in high-intensity cardio just before or after work.
What’s so different about it? Boom Cycle is all about the music. Classes are set to very specific playlists, and the whole point of the class is to try to always pedal to the beat. Each instructor has playlists of their own, and you can read about each one’s preferred genres or even sample their playlists before signing up for one of their classes.
The music: The music in my class was a perfectly blended playlist of hip-hop and trance music. The pace of the class was set to the music, which switched often between upbeat and calm for an intense interval workout.
The people: Mostly women, but a couple of men as well. I felt like I was the only newbie in the room so it looked like a place for regulars.
No. of bikes: Each studio has a different amount of bikes but the biggest has 40.
We loved: The atmosphere. The only sources of light are scented candles so the atmosphere blocks out everything except you, your bike and the music. It’s really easy to lose yourself in the beat and let your body take control. The instructors at Boom Cycle are massively encouraging. If you can’t keep up with the instructor, you won’t feel terrible for setting a slower pace, but you’ll certainly feel inclined to pedal as fast as you can or turn up your resistance when someone’s screaming, ‘YOU ARE AMAZING’ at you.
Didn’t love: At certain points the music gets so loud, you’re focused more on the pounding in your head than on the workout.
Healthista Spin Tip: The harder you push yourself early on in the class, the quicker it will become easier for you. Until about halfway through the class, I was holding back in fear of exhausting myself for the rest of the day. Once I quieted my mind and really found the beat of the music, it became fun. By the end of the class, I felt like I could have kept going.
Book it! BoomCycle.co.uk
Where? In the heart of the city, just off Bishopsgate near Liverpool Street station, 1Rebel has opened its doors to streams of stressed-out city workers. It stormed onto the London fitness scene only recently with a disruptive approach to the traditional fitness club model: there are no membership fees, classes can be booked up to 15 minutes ahead of start time, and towels, water and shoes are handed to you on arrival. There are two classes on offer, Ride (spinning) and Reshape (resistance intervals training). Co-founder is James Balfour whose father is the creator Fitness First gyms.
What’s so different about it? There’s a cool-factor about this place to rival any East London nightclub, from exposed brick walls and copper piping to metro-tiled heated seating and dressing mirrors bordered with lightbulbs. They also offer free water, towels and clip-in shoes.
And the spinning.. Well it was first class. An uplifting ensemble of beats with some of the best instructors in London. My instructor, Pierre, voiced over the music so perfectly to the beat he had everyone’s pedals riding impeccably in time – there’s literally no missing a beat here. As Pierre rides throughout the whole session you can constantly watch and follow his lead (pet hate: when instructors DON’T ride and you’re left wondering how to master the sequence with no one apart from the person in front of you to follow).
The music: The are several soundtracks but the one I had was slick, uplifting, vocal drum and bass. There’s also live music on a Friday night where different percussionists and ‘beat music’ groups are invited to come and play live to the spinners (I know, amazing, right?). The sound system is incredible too, again like a real club’s.
The people: City types from the surrounding offices as well as some Shoreditch crowd creeping in.
No.of bikes: 61 bikes in one studio
We loved: As well as the slick instructor styles and incredible sound system, all the added extras make for a really great experience at 1Rebel: refrigerated towels to help you cool down after the class; Roots & Bulbs juice bar to refresh and refuel, and the cheeky mailing list updates that celebrate playing hard as well as working out hard.
Didn’t love: The only thing I think of is the price tag; but the more you buy the cheaper it is, so it’s kind of a bonus as you end up going more!
Healthista Spin Tip: Pierre says: Focus and deal with that current song only. Give it your very best effort. It may well be 3-4 min long but don’t think about the time remaining or you’ll subconsciously always hold back a little. Give each moment your best effort.
Book it! 1rebel.co.uk
Where? GrooveCycle classes can be found in three London locations and are offered at least once a day. Energie Fitness – Fulham, Reebok Sports Club – Canary Wharf and Jubilee Hall Gym – Convent Garden. Introductory packages are available for new recruits – just check out the classes online here.
What’s so different about it? It’s not just your typical hour-long class of cycling. Sarah-Jane (SJ) Aboboto, GrooveCycle founder, creative director and instructor, used her passion of dancing and background as a professional dancer to create a fun, energetic way to get your heart (and fists) pumping. You can take a 45 or 60 minute class that starts and finishes with engaging music paired with SJ’s choreography. If you do the class right, your bum will never touch the cycle’s seat as you dance, sway and punch your way through routines.
The music: The latest party hits and dance mixes that will make you want to get your groove on.
The people: Fun, energetic and far from competitive.
No. of bikes: There are 90 bikes at Reebok Sports Club, Canary Wharf. It’s mega.
We loved: A lively change to your cardio routine. If the group energy won’t get you going, the music and irresistible beats will. GrooveCycle is anything but bland, and it keeps your mind constantly focusing on the next move in the dance sequence. Although your legs will be burning, you won’t want to stop until the music ends. Even those who have two left feet can get on board with GrooveCycle. SJ was super laid back in teaching the choreography and the moves were more fun that difficult – yet they still did the job of making you break into a sweat.
Didn’t love: Pricey classes (although Covent Garden and Fulham are slightly cheaper at £12) but as with most high end studios, the more you bulk buy the cheaper it is, which is a bonus in a way, as you get to go more. Also, as GrooveCycle is located at gyms not a private studio, you have to bring your own footwear.
Healthista Spin Tip: Lose yourself in the music. There will be moments where you might think your legs are going to fly off into space because they burn so much. Instead of focusing on your aching muscles, get caught up in the beat, the dropping of the bass and the lyrics of the song. After all, if you’re going to dance you might as well get into the music.
Book it! GrooveCycle.co.uk
Where? In central London, just off Great Portland Street and a few streets behind Topshop Oxford Circus, the word has definitely spread about Psycle, which opened its doors last year.
What’s so different about it? There’s a distinctly club-like atmosphere in the spin room, from the moment you walk in to set up, the music is already pumping and everyone is buzzing about to get seated and settled. As space is a little tight you might have to shimmy your way to your bike. The instructor was definitely up for a good time as she was totally absorbed in the music, dancing and getting everyone going (lots of whoops and air-fist punches). She (finally!) got on the bike a few tracks in and even though I couldn’t really see or hear her instructions clearly (the music is super loud), there seemed to be some method in the madness as by track three I was sweating buckets.
The music: A loud and pumping mixture of house and gutsy R&B.
The people: Fashion and PR girls looking for their next endorphin hit.
No. of bikes: 49 bikes in main studio; 29 bikes in smaller one. The new Psycle studio opens at Canary Wharf Crossrail Centre early June, with two studios of 50 and 35 bikes. Book your place now.
We loved: Getting a quick (45 minute) workout that’s guaranteed to shed the calories and leave you in puddles of sweat, all without having to leave central London. It’s als a double-wammy workout as the hand-weights session half way through was an absolute killer (I found this harder than the spin!).
Didn’t love: How crammed in the bikes were, and the music and microphone sounds were loud but not clear.
Healthista Spin Tip: Don’t forget your water – it’s £1 for a bottle here.
Book it! psyclelondon.com
Where? Cycle is available in most Nuffield Fitness and Wellbeing Gyms throughout the UK. I attended the new spin studio at Nuffield Gym, an ideal location for city workers as it’s a five minute walk from Bank station and two minutes from Cannon Street Station.
What’s different about it? This spinning class has a high tech video screen that projects different landscapes so you feel as if you’re riding through forests, up mountains and down country lanes. The views are all extremely scenic and calming making it possible for you to lose yourself and feel like you’re riding outside rather than being in a stationary position in a gym.
The only thing that would have worked better for me is if the whole studio was a complete blackout (apart from the screen of course) but there was still some light projected. It definitely didn’t ruin my ride though.
The music: A mixture of new and old chart toppers with pump fuelled remixes.
The people: It’s hard to say if there were more men or women but the class was full of people who looked between their late twenties and late forties with a range of fitness levels.
No. of bikes: There are roughly 63 bikes in the studio at the Nuffield gym near Bank but this might be different depending on location.
We loved: If you love the outdoors but it’s pouring or freezing outside, (hey, we live in England), Cycle enables you to ride and feel like you’re outside – just without nature’s elements affecting you. The combination of the music and the high tech screen. Having the various cycle lanes to ride along to made me push harder as I got caught up in the scenery. Not once did I look at the time and I wasn’t constantly checking my RPM rate.
Didn’t love: It was a shame that it wasn’t completely pitch black as I think this would have helped me stay more ‘in the zone’.
Healthista Spin Tip: Try to get a bike at the front – that way there aren’t any bopping heads in front of you.
Book it! nuffieldhealth.com
7. VICTORIA PENDLETON PRO CYCLE CLASS
Where? Developed in partnership with world champion and Olympic gold medalist, Victoria Pendleton, there are three types of classes – Individual Sprint, Team Sprint, and Keirin – at Fitnes First clubs nationwide. We tried the Team Sprint at Fitness First High Holborn.
What’s different about it? These are short but intense 30 minutes classes designed to give club members a taster of Victoria’s Olympic training. The three different classes mimic the way she would split her own training. A session on power and enduarance (Team), speed intervals (Spring) andlong distance cardio (Keirin).
The music: A variety of fast dance and R&B, using some of Victoria’s favourite tracks.
The people: Fitness First club members so there’s a balanced male/female ratio and a wide variety of ages.
No. of bikes: 22 bikes.
We loved: We loved the precision of the instructor’s as he made sure everyone had the right posture, style, speed and resistance and was giving really great tips throughout every track. In fact, he had me hanging off his every word, as I couldn’t wait to hear what new nugget of spin tip I would hear.
Didn’t love: The sound quality of the music and microphone was unfortunately not great, and if you’re at the back it might be difficult to see the instructor.
Healthista Spin Tip: If you’re working on a long distance and speed track, don’t put your resistance up too high. You need to feel like you’re spinning the pedals and not spending too much energy on pushing against resistance.
Book it! You need to be a Fitness First club member to attend classes but you can trial one for free here: fitnessfirst.co.uk