High-intensity | Low-impact | Cardio | Full body | Sweaty
Class - Ride 45
Instructor - A.D
Suitable for - Everyone, though more suited to those who have spinning experience
Fitness/Workout level - Beginner/Intermediate
Length - 45 minutes
Equipment - All provided
Perks - Great music and a high energy class
Drawbacks - Very hard to gauge the intensity and level of resistance on the bike. Not much bang for your buck
Cost - £20
Location - 76 Mortimer Street, London W1W 7SA
Website - https://psyclelondon.com/
Taken a weekend off drinking and feeling blue about missing a night out? Fear not, Psycle is on hand to provide your clubbing fix whilst clamped to an exercise bike by your shoes.
A less than avid spinner, I was surprised to find myself at the Marylebone studio one Sunday with a good friend in tow. The beautiful monochrome interiors, parquet flooring and exposed white brick walls are nearly as inviting as the friendly reception staff, who clocked that I was a newbie and offered to come down to the studio before class to help me and my friend set up our bikes. I was handed a pair of special cycling shoes (or, so Google informs me, cleats), much to the bewilderment of my friend who couldn’t understand why they were asking for her shoe size as she already had her trainers on.
It quickly became apparent that we were new to the Psycle scene, as we shuffled our way downstairs to the studio in our cleats like a pair of geese, towels in hand, ready for a sweaty spin. As we edged around the other Psycle-ists who were crouched by their bikes fitting their shoes (the easiest way to do things), we spotted sweat towels already laid out and attempted, unsuccessfully, to discretely conceal our gigantic bath towels. If we hadn’t managed to identify ourselves as complete amateurs, yelling after the helpful receptionist seconds before the class started, to ask, quite simply, how to “get off” the bike might have done the trick. For the record, you kick your heels out to detach your cleats from the pedals.
Our instructor, A.D, was wasting no time at all as he began the first of ten bass-heavy tracks; cycling frantically to the beat whilst fiddling with the dials on his mini DJ deck attached to his bike. Each of the ten tracks are completely different in speed, style and resistance; fast-paced, explosive cardio sections are broken up with balance and core stability routines – a welcome interlude from furious pedalling.
A professional dancer, singer/songwriter, producer and Psycle instructor, according to his online profile, A.D took us through sprints, jogs and climbs; cycling in time with the beat so the whole class moved in unison. Bellowing words of encouragement over the mic as I dragged my leaden legs; “We are all climbing our own personal mountains. Feel the energy in the room and use it”, I considered that he might add motivational speaker to his already extensive repertoire.
The benefit of wearing cleats (despite the initial perplexity) is to increase the engagement of your hamstrings and glutes. Not only will you feel your legs burn at a temperature hotter than the sun, you also get an intense upper body workout from the hand-weight tracks and handlebar press-ups. Your instructor will advise when to bump up the resistance or loosen off into sprints, but ultimately how hard you work is in your hands. I particularly enjoyed the free cycling track where you’re at liberty to choose your own pace. If you’ve got fuel left in the tank, feel free to channel your inner Bradley Wiggins and pedal at a rate of knots (the front row spinning fanatics), or take it down a level and pray that the darkness conceals you (the preferred choice amongst the back row).
The amenities at Psycle are first-rate. The energy kitchen offers an array of healthy, nutritious post-workout fuel in the form of cold pressed juices and superfood smoothies while the changing rooms are complete with organic Ila shower products, Bumble & Bumble shampoo and fluffy white towels. They also offer complimentary deodorant, hair ties and body lotion – is there anything they haven’t thought of?
Conclusion: While I admire Psycle’s attempt to create a workout whose benefits are threefold; part spinning, part body conditioning and part mindfulness, there’s an awful lot going on. If you’re new to spinning you might prefer to opt for a class that is less complex in structure, at least until you’ve got the hang of things. My biggest criticism is that it’s tricky to gauge whether you’re working at the correct intensity. The instructors give guidelines, such as “you should be now at around 60% of your maximum resistance”, but for the spinning novice this means very little, and I found myself turning the dial back and forth endlessly, trying to keep up with the beat but also push myself to a level appropriate to my fitness - a major distraction. On a more positive note, you'll get a thorough head-to-toe workout which, unlike many spinning classes, is by no means monotonous. The varied tracks keep you mentally engaged (if you’re not too busy twiddling the resistance dial) while the isometric hand-weight exercises add a strength and toning benefit.
Details: Psycle is the brainchild of Olympic athlete and Third Space founder, Tim Weeks, and is partially inspired by the American ‘Soul Cycle’, which combines hardcore spinning with body conditioning choreography and mindfulness. Team this with flashing neon lights and club music, and it’s easy to see how this phenomenon took the London fitness scene by storm back in 2014. They’ve even gone as far as to consult exercise psychologists to select the best tracks to optimise beat-per-minute rhythms.
They have three London studios: Marylebone, Canary Wharf and Shoreditch. Classes run throughout the day from around 6:30am until 7:30pm depending on the studio and are mostly 45 minutes in length, though 60 and 90-minute rides are also available, as are themed rides. Credits are £20 per class, or you can book blocks in multiples of 5 or 10 for a decent saving. There’s also an introductory offer for 2 class credits + 1 buddy credit for £20.
Picture Credits: Psycle