A BEGINNER TRIES: SPINNING AT PSYCLE LONDON

Welcome back to my ‘beginner tries’ series, where this week on the agenda is an hour sweating my tits off at one of Psycle London‘s spinning classes!

If you missed it last week, I have started a new series on this blog, ‘a beginner tries’, which sees me, the beginner, trying (obviously) a whole load of new things. Last week I wrote about swimming in public pools – something I had always been too scared to do, and this week it’s spinning in one of London’s most popular locations: Psycle.

Although I have spun before, I’ve never done it anywhere other than my local Virgin Gym. I’ve been conscious of the fact that spinning clubs are popping up all over this once lazy city of mine, but I had never dared to ride before.

Normally if I’m heading into the city centre of an evening, it’s to get pissed.

I’ve heard a LOT about Psycle, honestly the way some of my friends talked about it you’d have been forgiven for thinking that they’d joined a cult, and so when I started this series I knew I had to be on the agenda.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a SPINNER. Not only do they all have fantastic bodies but the classes are always portrayed as being FUN. Loud music and a sick beat and a lot of high-fiving; although I’m inherently very awkward with no hint of an ab, which theoretically makes this my idea of hell, I’ve always wanted to get in on this action. So here I am, getting in on it.

Below I have documented the entire class, from booking it the night before to easing myself off the saddle right at the end. I’ve surmised the class and finish with my top-tips should you want to give it a go.

Class: Ride at Psycle London
Location: Mortimer Street
Time & Date: Wednesday 24th October, 7.45pm
Instructor: Veronique

A bit about Psycle according to their website:

“Psycle London is more than just a workout, it’s about people, connection, strength and community. We’re about feeling good, igniting your passion and finding fun in the movement. 
We set intentions before we sweat and give gratitude after. We challenge ourselves to strengthen not only our bodies but also our minds. We work hard because we want to be healthy and happy every day.
Our classes will push your boundaries, test your limits and show you how powerful you already are. Our unique classes are a place to free your mind, connect with your body and be part of our inspiring community”. 

As well as Ride, they also do Barre, Strength and Yoga and have studios in not only Mortimer Street (near Oxford Street) but Canary Warf, Shoreditch and Clapham (opening soon).

It’s £20 per class but as with all these things, there are packages available which make the classes cheaper in the long run.

There are over 45 instructors and as many as 20 classes per location, per day with ones starting every 30 minutes at peak times (before work, lunch time and early evening). Basically, there will always be a class you can make it to, so there goes that excuse.

The booking process: 

We decided to book (we being my flatmate Sarah and I), the night before we went – there were only a few classes not fully booked so we opted for the only evening class with availability at 7.45pm (the last class of the night).

You book your bike online and the process reminded me, ever so slightly, of checking in for a flight in that as part of the booking process, you must choose from an available bike. I was number 37, if you’re interested.

You also provide your shoe size so that you are able to borrow a pair of ‘cleats’ – these are the shoes that clip to your pedals, they make cycling a lot easier since you’re not just pushing down on the pedals but pulling them back up too. If you have your own you can take them, if not, much like bowling, you can borrow them.

First impressions upon arrival:

It was very busy with lots of hustle and bustle in the main reception/cafe area. Personally I liked this, it helped me feel like I was able to slip in unnoticed and fairly anonymous.

Incredibly welcoming girl at the reception desk gave the sort of life affirming smile that anyone about to embark on a terrifying gym class needs to set them at ease. They had made a note of the fact that it was my first time and she explained everything to me before giving me my borrowed shoes.

The shoes were a bit damp which was hopefully because they’d just been cleaned and not because they’d been filled with sweat by their previous occupant.

It smelt like a gym. Could be seen as a bad thing but I kind of loved that I was in a space so full of endorphin ridden bodies so it somehow didn’t gross me out that much.

The changing room was packed but since I was coming from home I was already dressed and didn’t need to go in. You have to find a locker but if you don’t fancy finding one in the noisy changing room, there are some downstairs so that’s where I headed and just changed my shoes outside the studio.

It was about 80% women and of those I’d say half were in sports bras. It felt very inclusive and even though I was a total stranger, like I was part of a community. There were women of all shapes and sizes there and I felt very comfortable which is unusual, because I normally find this shit threatening as hell.

The studio

There are about 50 bikes all squished into quite a small room which makes it look way too cramped to be comfortable – don’t let that fool you, somehow it works.

The walls and ceiling are all black and you sort of feel like you’re in a cool underground nightclub – the illusion is only shattered when you look down and everyone is wearing cycling shoes.

It smelt great which was entirely weird because it should have been gross but it somehow was not. 

There was a really helpful girl by the door who presumably smelled me out as fresh meat and helped me find the bike that I had booked and set it up to fit my body.
– if you need help and no one seeks you out, ASK for it.
– if you’re too awkward to ask for it then you can do it yourself – the saddle must sit at the same height as your hip.

You pick up two weights as you walk in, you can choose how heavy they are and there is a clever little shelf thing at the back of the bike for them to sit on – one on each side of the saddle just behind it.

I didn’t go round to ask everyone if they knew each other but if I had to guess I’d say it was made up of about 50% strangers and 50% pals. I think if you booked a ‘during the day’/’working hours’ class, it would have been majority strangers. It certainly didn’t feel like the sort of place you had to go to with a friend. 

The class:

We started by applauding Dan on his 200th class
– as I began pedalling I mentally calculated that Dan has spent near as damn it £4000 on this sport so it can’t possible be all bad.

Veronique, our instructor, then asks the newbies to raise their hands. 
– I do, but yank it back down again when she hops off her stage, gets the other new comers’ names and invites us all to cheer them. Of course I pretended I’d been coming for years.

The lights go right down and the music goes up. I don’t frequent nightclubs anymore, because apparently I’m a spinner now, but that’s what it most reminded me of.
– Veronique had a spotlight on her bike which was on a stage at the front  – it showed off how ridiculously incredibly beautiful and strong she was and was the best incentive to push myself.

It took me a few songs to feel ‘balanced’. This was my first time using proper spinning shoes and there were moments when Veronique asked us to switch hang positions or take our hands off the bars and I clung on for dear life, I felt as if I was going to do a Bridget Jones and topple off the side. By about half way through I was a bit more confident with it.

You spend most the class out of the saddle – this means that if you’re worried about spinning because it normally makes your vag hurt, there’s one less thing to panic about.

The music was very motivating and made me feel like I was in a flash mob which has always been my dream.

You will probably get a shout out. Veronquie has a list of names in front of her and shouts them out at different moments, at least, that’s what I assumed she was doing – otherwise she just had a specific form of Tourettes. I’m very British and awkward and so obviously pretended I was called Martha.

There are two or three tracks dedicated to working your ARMS. This is where those weights you picked up at the beginning come in. Your legs keep spinning (slowly with very little resistance) so you can feel your abs kick in a bit too. You lift the weights out in front of you and your arms and shoulders, arguably, burnt more than my legs and arse did, which I loved.

It didn’t get too hot at all and they were pumping out a very nice smell into the room which was appreciated. 

Every so often the lights would get turned up. I thought I’d lose my shit about this but I was pretty much in my own little world by then.

After 15 minutes my sweat was dripping onto the floor. Big ugly droplets all over the floor. I loved it. 

IT WAS EMPOWERING AS FUCK.
– About half way through Veronique starting asking us if we were supported by the people in our lives, telling us we deserved the best, that we must demand respect from those around us. She asked if the people in our lives built us up.
– I really felt that I was part of a COMMUNITY.
– It properly empowered me, I wanted to punch the air and do a Braveheart type cry.
– This was a recurring theme and honestly, honestly made me feel properly amazing about myself.

Some of the routines and workouts were a little bit hard to follow and keep up with for a beginner. Thankfully I was surrounded by a lot of very inspiring women that seemed to know what they were doing and I could copy them. By about half way through into every song I was able to pick it up.

By the time the final song, Thriller, came on, I felt like I do when it comes on as the last one in a nightclub. I didn’t want the class to end, I was throwing every shape I had, I was grinning ear to ear and absolutely didn’t give a shit about anything. It was the biggest endorphin rush of my bloody life.

Hello I look revolting but do you get the idea of HOW SWEATY I WAS?!?!

Thoughts by the end:

  • It took me a while to get into it properly and I didn’t want to give it my all because I had no concept of time in there and I was a bit scared to ‘peak too early’.
  • I did feel like a bit of a gooseberry at times because I didn’t always know what I was meant to be doing. When will I learn that this is a normal part of life?
  • I never felt even slightly judged. It helped that it was in the dark but I felt like everyone was trying their best, that no one cared what I was doing, that I was part of a great community.
  • I sweated like a beast – my polar heart rate monitor (which I swear by for all exercise) showed that I had burnt 675 calories in the 60 minute class so hell yes yes please can someone get me a cupcake please.
  • I left feeling absolutely wired. Excited to be alive. Positive. Sort of like I had been out clubbing for hours, I was SO full of endorphins.
  • It’s only as hard as you make it, since you have full control of the resistance, no one knows what your bike is set to and no one is watching you (I love these facts so very very much). It did take me a little while to get used to the swizzle controller but it was my first time!
  • Crucially I left feeling very inspired and empowered. I can totally understand how people that frequent these classes have a lot of positivity in their lives. It makes you want to do work harder and be better and live life more it really does.

Top Tips:

  • If you can, book your first class for an evening or weekend so you have a bit more time to play with, don’t get to that panic level of confusion that I live in.
  • If you don’t like the spotlight book a bike in the back left corner of the room (least accessible for the instructor), behind the pillar.
  • Ask for shoes half a size bigger, my socks were too thick and I started getting really bad cramp, you’re there to make your arse hurt, not your toes.
  • Give it all you’ve got, your don’t want to leave feeling as if you could have done more (I had a bit of this).
  • Identify a ‘key player’ when you first arrive so that when you inevitably find yourself unable to work out what you’re meant to be doing, there is someone there to copy.
  • Take a litre of water, you will need it.
  • Don’t worry about bringing your own  “sweat towel”, they will provide you with one.
  • Don’t wear too much – it’s really hot – over half the people in there with in sports bras.
  • Go with an open mind, wanting to have fun and expel stress.

10/10 would go again and will give it more when I do.

My mate Soph has just done her one hundredth class; she has completely changed her body and is basically rocking a six pack these days. Basically, I’ll have what she’s having. And she’s having Psycle.

It’s not just a great workout for the bod but great for the brain too and I didn’t even feel awkward, useless or judged once so YES PLEASE I’M GOING AGAIN ON THURSDAY.

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1 Comment

  1. Nicci
    October 30, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    It sounds so wonderful. I’m overseas and want to go now. Not sure we have such a spinning class here.

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