Everyone’s exercising preferences are different. Some prefer running in the countryside, soundtracked only by the wind whistling in their ears, measuring their pace with their own breath. Some lean towards circuit reps on their tried-and-tested gym equipment, headphones plugged in, pushing themselves to the limit of what they can lift. Others like to be plunged into a dark room with flashing lights, pounding dance music and an exuberant, sweaty instructor yelling instructions at them over a set of handlebars.
Spin’s popularity is skyrocketing. What began as a static cycle class in larger, brightly lit gyms, has now spawned a wellness trend with thousands of dedicated studios and a devoted following of millions worldwide. Walking into a spin studio is more akin to entering a nightclub dance floor, though the drunken, dancing bodies are replaced with static bikes and sweating fitness addicts. The classes often include frenetic light displays of flashing LED strips and strobes, designed to intensify the overall fitness experience. Each class is called a ‘ride’ and has a carefully curated soundtrack to accompany the rising and falling cadence of the cyclist’s pedalling. Controlled by a dial in the centre of the bike, cyclists add and remove resistance to make their ride more challenging, as directed by the instructor. The instructors themselves are hyper-positive, enthusiastic and committed to powering you through their strenuous workout with smiles on their faces, and their general vibe and gung-ho attitude are synonymous with the spin wellness movement.
So what are the health benefits to this indoor cycling craze? The bursts of intense effort involved in a spin class have a positive cardiovascular impact, and improve the rider’s overall fitness. The activity also builds muscle and core strength, but its focus on pedal power can often neglect the upper body. Spin pioneer Peloton has come up with a solution for this in their at-home spin offering. They sell their static bikes and a subscription to classes so that customers can ‘ride’ live with thousands of others around the globe. Their non-cycling classes include floor exercises and meditation, so that their riders can flex other muscles beyond their quads and glutes. Having your own bike at home also suits those who would rather not be blinded by lights and deafened by music, and can instead enjoy the challenge of a spin ride from the comfort of their own home (and at decibels of their choosing.) Other studios, such as Psycle, which have their flagship studio in London, offer yoga and barre classes and at-home classes to keep their riders in full-body shape.
If you think your own indoor exercise bike and nightclub-style studio sessions sound costly, it’s because they are. Spin may be the shiny, sweaty, dance-party wellness craze sweeping the world, but it comes with a price tag that hopping on a Boris bike for a lap around the park does not. Classes in the studio can cost between £15 and £40, though many studios offer discounts for block bookings and yearly subscriptions. Sign up for a Peloton or Proform and your spin addiction could cost you £600+ for the bike itself, plus a monthly subscription on top.