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!