The ClassPass diaries – Music Video at FRAME

IMG_0719When I left my last job in December, my truly lush colleagues got me the best leaving gift a fitness fanatic could ask for – a one-month ClassPass.

A ClassPass allows you to try out a whole range of crazy classes at gyms and studios across London, offering everything from barrecore and burlesque to kick boxing and krav maga.

Seeing as December is inevitably a month of indulgence, I decided to wait until January to activate my pass and am hoping that it will help me to kick start 2016 in style.

First up on my list was a visit to FRAME, a dance studio that’s made a name for itself by offering themed classes teaching you how to werk it like your favourite pop stars.

The Music Video class which promises to show you how to ‘move and groove like they do on MTV’ seemed like a good shout, and I wasn’t disappointed!

We learnt a routine to Blow by Beyonce and, although I know I definitely can’t dance like Queen B, I still FELT like I could by the end of the class.

Instructor Alexus teaches the same routine three weeks in a row, ramping up the difficulty level each time, and I’m pretty glad that the week I went happened to be a ‘beginner level’ week – otherwise I would have struggled to keep up!

No one took the class too seriously though – it was much more about having loads of fun. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves hugely while unleashing their inner sassiness. It was awesome – I’d definitely visit again!

Psycle London – review

At every other gym I’ve been to, spin class has been a collection of dodgy-looking bikes in one corner of a harshly-lit room, usually run by an unenthusiastic (and pretty unfit-looking) PT. At Psycle, it’s a borderline religious experience. And being the endorphin-worshiper than I am, I LOVED IT.

As soon as you arrive at Psycle you can hear music pumping up from the basement studios, and that’s part of the USP. Classes take place in rooms lit only with atmospheric multi-coloured strip lights, the idea being that this helps you lose yourself in the beat instead of focussing on how hard you’re working. The low level lighting also means you’re less aware of your neighbours and therefore less self conscious – although everyone in my class was really welcoming to newcomers, with the instructor giving a shout out to first-timers as well as bronze, silver and gold riders (i.e. people who had attended a milestone number of sessions) at the start.

Psycle’s other big selling point is that it provides cleated shoes for everyone. These increase the connection between the legs and the bike to really engage your hamstrings and glutes. Different movements in the saddle, including press-ups on the handlebars, and some hand weight exercises make this a truly full-body workout, proving that Psycle offers substance as well as style.

The instructor I had for my first class was A.D. and I thought he was completely awesome, although I should caveat that by saying it’s because I’m really into instructors who do the “Focus on your goal and imagine yourself achieving it and repeat after me ‘I CAN DO THIS!’ -type spiel. I just LOVE it. If someone says to me “Pedal double speed, close your eyes and say ‘I AM MY OWN MOUNTAIN'”, I’m like “YYEEEEEAAAAHHHHH!” because I find a tough workout a very cathartic and almost cleansing experience.

If, however, this isn’t your style, not to worry because there are lots of different instructors so you can try a few out until you find someone you jel with. All the instructors have bios on the website, listing their favourite workout tunes so you can choose a session by soundtrack too, which is pretty cool.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no competitive element regardless of the instructor – everyone’s encouraged to push themselves, but against their own maximum effort rather than someone else’s. As someone who came to love exercise as an adult, always thinking as a teen that I couldn’t do it at all just because I wasn’t good at team sports, this matters to me. All bodies are built differently, so unless you’re a professional athlete why pit yourself against someone else? 

But it’s not just the classes themselves that make Psycle so great – it’s the whole experience, from the wealth of info on the well-designed and attractive website to the friendly staff who will take you around on your first visit. I was shown how to use the lockers, given shoes to try and helped to set up my bike, and knowing in advance that this would happen put my mind at ease. I was really impressed by the whole thing, and can’t wait to go back.

Psycle has two London venues, at Mortimer Street (five mins from Oxford Circus) and the newly opened Canary Wharf studio. Sessions have to be booked in advance and don’t come cheap at £20 a go, but there’s a special intro offer where you can visit twice for that price – and in my experience that’s probably enough to get you hooked!

Half-hour bum-busting bedroom workout

So despite having been pretty active since moving to London, going running regularly and walking all over the city, I can tell that I’m not giving my body what it wants – which is weight training.

I’m still not sure if I can afford a gym membership, but I was in serious fear of my glutes turning to lard this evening, so I decided to do a body weight workout in my bedroom.

I thought I’d share it as this workout can be done literally anywhere (believe me, my room is teeny tiny). Each section should take about 3-4 mins so it’s probably a good idea to put together a half hour playlist of your favourite energising songs – that way, as you’re working through each one, you know you only have to make it to the end of the next tune!

Now I have to admit that I don’t know what all of these exercises are called so I’ve done my best to explain them instead – leave me a comment if I haven’t been clear enough! So…

SQUATS – 20 squats followed by 20 pulses in the squat sit position, then repeat three times (so four times altogether – no cheating!)

LUNGES – 20 backwards lunges followed by 20 pulses in the lunge sit position, alternating so you do this twice on each leg.

HIP RAISES – 20 regular, 10 single leg on each side, 10-second hold, then repeat once.

FOOT TO CEILING LEG PULSES – on all fours, bring one knee in to your chest and then take the foot of the same leg as high as you can to the ceiling. Do this 10 times, and on the tenth time do 20 pulses at the top. Alternate to do this twice on each side.

PARALLEL LEG PULSES – on all fours, stick one leg out straight behind you and parallel to the ground. Pulse it up and down 30 times, then take your leg and arc it over the other side as far as you can and back to centre ten times. Alternate to do this twice on each side.

CORE – 20 deadbugs followed by 20 crunches for the duration of a whole song(!)

FINALLY, SIDE BOOTY – lying on one side and propped up on your elbow, lift one leg and make 30 small circles with your ankle, then bring your knee to your chest ten times. Repeat, circling your ankle the opposite way, then do the same on the other side.

And you’re done! A quick half hour to get the heart racing, wherever you are.