cycling fitness london reviews

My first spin class left my head spinning

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Let me start from the beginning. Before I was a runner or a Crossfitter or a rock-climber, I was a cyclist. Moving to Australia and marrying a cyclist meant I soon got a road bike and all.the.lycra and padded shorts and shoes with clips and for 6 years I rode my bike to work every day, 20km round trip on cycle paths that allowed me to push my speed quite a bit.

On weekends I’d do 20km loops around a lake. Again – speed, hills, the whole shebang.

I raced a few times and my most memorable race was the 100km Tharwa Challenge that has all.the.hills (1660 metres of climbing and grades are up to 12%).

I loved cycling and I laughed at the very few runners I saw because running seemed extremely slow and time consuming.

Since we moved to London I haven’t been on my bike much. Just because cycling in London scares me. Once in a while I go to Richmond Park though and do 2-3 loops there. It’s pretty nice although the roads are not wide enough for all the cyclists there and all the cars as well.

But anyway, as I love cycling I thought I’d try out the new Psycle spin studio that just opened up a short walk from my office.

I booked my first class on the day after the tube strike. Bad timing as I had to wait for 15 minutes for a tube at 6am and was certain I was going to actually miss the class.

When I got to Canary Wharf though I saw that I had 10 minutes left so I ran over hoping they’d let me in even though they said newcomers needed to arrive 15 minutes before the class.

It took me a while to find the entrance to the studio as I haven’t been to the new Crossrail Place before but when I finally ran in huffing and puffing, they signed me in, handed me a pair of shoes and said I had 4 minutes to get to my studio.

I had said that it was my first spin class but no one showed me where the changing rooms were or how to use the locks on the lockers. Thankfully I’m a somewhat intelligent person so I figured it all out and clonk clonk clonked my way to the studio just in time.

So here’s what happened next:

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My bike was adjusted by a Psycle staff member but no other information was given as to what was going to happen.

I grabbed two little hand weights from the boxes that were lined up on the floor although no one told me what we’d be using them for or for how long so I had no idea what weight to pick. Everyone else had taken weights the size of mobile phones so I went a size up – just 2kg each :D

I clipped my shoes in and started ‘warming up’.

We were then told the instructor would be late. Which I’m not annoyed about because like I said – day after tube strike.

15 minutes later the instructor rushed in, plugged in her iPhone, turned up the music really loud and straight away started cheering and waving her arms around.

I guessed that that was the time to start pedaling a bit faster although it would have been nice to hear from her what was about to happen and what the upcoming instructions would mean.

The rest of the class passed by in a deafening blur, we were told to turn the resistance up or down at various times but the dial had no numbers on it so I had no idea what was going on – just how high or low my resistance was at any given time.

The bikes have no cadence indicator or speedometer either so again – nothing to guide me.

The music was extremely loud and I could not hear instructions, I kept looking around to see what everyone else was doing but movements kept changing at a frantic pace and I felt pretty ridiculous trying to follow it all.

To make my uncoordinated attempts at being able to cycle in a choreographed way even worse, I had a mirror in front of me so I saw all the time just HOW uncoordinated I was AND that I was twice the size of everyone else there.

The entire time wished I had not worn a tank top but a t-shirt that would have hidden my arms and shoulders that looked extremely muscular in the middle of the other body shapes there as we were leaning over the bikes in weird low lighting.

Someone said spinning is like Bikram, that the first class is horrible and you hate it. I’m not sure about that – my first Bikram class was hard but I got it. I understood why it’s good for me.

Spinning I don’t get. It’s not cycling the way I’m used to it because you stand up most of the time and do weird little push-ups on the handle bars or lean backwards and forwards (at which time my knees kept banging into the handlebars even though the bike had been adjusted for me).

Does spinning make you a better cyclist? How do you measure your progress?

In running you get faster, in Crossfit you get stronger, in Bikram you get deeper into poses. In spinning there is no indicator of speed or cadence so how do you know if you get “better”?

And if people just go for fun, which I get because sometimes you just need to sweat just for the heck/fun of it, then how do they have fun in a dark room with pink and blue lights, staring at themselves in the mirror and being deafened by music and the instructor’s yelling??

So – I didn’t get spinning at all. In fact I walked out and felt a bit traumatised by what had just happened. I tried to talk to the girl outside the door about my first experience but my hearing was seriously damaged and I felt like I was under water. Maybe I’m just too old for this stuff!?!?

Now the question is – do I use up my remaining 2 credits or do I not? What would you do?

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  • Petra Friday, 31 July 2015 at 12:53

    I’ve been doing spinning for over 2 years now and like you, when I did it for the first first time I was actually put off. A lot is to do with the instructor, some are great, some are not that great.
    Can you try another instructor to see if it would be the same?
    Also, I wrote some tips on spinning here: http://www.behealthynow.co.uk/fitness/top-9-tips-to-help-you-survive-a-spinning-class/ – I hope it helps you a bit!

  • When the first spin is out of control, spin again - mind over mattermind over matter Thursday, 30 July 2015 at 14:58

    […] wasn’t sure I was going to after my first (& horrendous) experience but many of you said to give it another go and I had 2 credits left so I went to a spin class again […]

  • ingrid Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 10:50

    I love love love my spinning classes. Seems to be so very different from yours though. Ever heard from Coach By Color cycling? Basically you enter your age, gender, weight and how many hours per week you train to get your training zones value. According to that you adjust the resistance up or down, monitoring the LED display of your bike (blue – light, green – moderate, yellow – hard, red – very hard).
    I must admit I tend to prefer male instructors for the same simple reason that they can actually be heard over the loud music.

  • PoweredbyPB Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 20:08

    I’ve never been to Psycle, but it sounds pretty dire. I really like Cyclebeat, they have bikes and a beatboard which has all the stats.

    • MrsB Friday, 24 July 2015 at 12:04

      Do they still have the rooms really dark though? And the mirrors??

  • Beki @MissWheezy Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 19:38

    I’d try a different studio/instructor – there are loads of venues in London and they’re all slightly different so it is worth giving another option a go, in case it suits you more. I love Spinning but the most important thing for me is that the class is choreographed to the beat of the music, I hate instructors who just ask you to cycle randomly!

    • MrsB Friday, 24 July 2015 at 12:05

      I think I might actually like cycling without having to match the beat of the music – I’m just not coordinated like that :) I can’t even run with music because it messes up my cadence :)

  • Noel Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 17:19

    I would give it a go again. Your experience sounds like my first trip to Japan. It left me dizzy and confused, but when I had to go back I at least knew what to expect and could try to embrace it a little more…

    • MrsB Friday, 24 July 2015 at 12:05

      Japan – I can imagine – the crazy colours and sounds and me being twice the size of everyone! :D

    • MrsB Friday, 24 July 2015 at 12:07

      I had my heart rate monitor on and it didn’t even burn that many calories. But I agree – fitness is so not just about calories in / calories out.