Regular readers will of course know that exercise is not “my favourite”. In the likes and dislikes field of a personality questionnaire I wouldn’t exactly be professing my love for sweat and lactic acid. My interest in sport – as a participator – rarely stretches beyond pool swimming, open water swimming and maybe a step class if I can find a particularly 90s instructor. Sport on the telly? YES! Love it. Feed me more. Sport when it’s me? No thanks, do you not know about books and sofas and box sets?
But as you’ll know if you watched last week’s vlog (yep, I’m on YouTube now, subscribe to my channel here) I went to my first spinning class last week. If I’m honest with myself, I have always wanted to try spinning…I’ve just been too scared. It’s been a huge craze and I’ve always wanted to know what all the fuss was about, but I was also well aware of all the fashion mags claiming that spinning could burn 700 calories in an hour. And I’m smart enough to know that anything which can burn 700 calories in an hour is going to be exceptionally hard work.
So whilst the impressive cardio benefits and calorie burn estimates attracted me, I think it was also what put me off. It just seemed HARD. Like, really hard.
But when my friend Anna Sinclair qualified as a spinning instructor at Boom Cycle, I knew I couldn’t really put off trying it for much longer. If I was going to try spinning, Boom had always been where I wanted to try it. Famed for its kickass instructors, fiercer than fierce attitude, dark lights and pumping music (you’ll know if you’ve walked past Boom, you can hear it from the other side of the street), a class at Boom is promised to be more like an intense hour on the dance floor of your favourite club than another boring sesh at the local leisure centre.
I really was in a panic about going though (again, the vlog makes this very clear!) and I couldn’t stop Googling “how much does spinning hurt?” and “can unfit people do spinning?” and “can my mum write me a letter so I don’t have to go spinning?”. The fact that some forum posters seemed to be serious when they suggested wearing two sanitary towels to protect your arse from the seat didn’t exactly give me much hope.
But I trundled along anyway, making sure I was early so that I could chat to Anna about setting up my bike and ensure I could sit as far away as possible from everyone else. During the booking process you can choose which bike you want (assuming you get in quick enough, classes regularly sell out) which I liked, as some people will naturally want to be closer to the instructor or further away. I thought I was maybe getting extra attention as I knew Anna, but once the rest of the class arrived I realised she went around to every bike individually to make sure everyone was happy with their bike positioning. She also checked in with everyone for any injuries, pregnancies, medical conditions and so on, which I found really reassuring.
You wear your own trainers or borrow special shoes when you get there to ‘clip in’ to the bike, I opted to keep my trainers on as I didn’t want anything extra to worry about. Other than that you only need to remember to wear leggings/shorts/fitted trousers (to avoid loose fabric getting caught up in the bike) and to bring a big bottle of water (and you will need water, you sweat like crazy!). Padlocks for lockers are provided and the showers have all the products you need – REN products, no less!
The studio really was dark as you’ll know if you’ve seen the vlog, the pic above was taken before the class started and the lights went down! And as promised the music was super loud and brilliant. It’s the type of music you’d want to dance to on a night out, which definitely helps keep you motivated once the spinning gets hard (which in my case, was pretty immediately).
But how hard was it?
I’ll be honest, as an unfit spinning virgin I couldn’t do what the other folk could do. I was always cycling and I never stopped pedalling to rest completely, but I couldn’t do the standing sections for the length of time everyone else was and the more co-ordinated stuff where you sit up a bit, back a bit, forward a bit (not the technical terms for the positions, I’m sure) were often too tricky for me….but I could feel myself getting the hang of it more towards the end. I’m sure my resistance wasn’t set as high as everyone else’s, but I always turned it up and turned it down when told to so I was still getting a good workout “for me”. I knew I was pushing myself and I guess it must have been working too as I was sweating buckets.
Anna was superbly motivating, constantly reminding us that the ride would only be what we put into it. She made a point of saying she wasn’t going to be coming round and checking what resistance we were riding on, but that it was up to us not to cheat ourselves. I loved that, as every time I wanted to slack she seemed to come on the mic right on cue to say that it was up to us as individuals to have a good workout that morning. I really liked that and it definitely made me work harder.
There wasn’t a clock – or if there was, it was too dark for me to spy it – which I really liked as I’m normally a hideously bad clock watcher when exercising. I had to just let it go and do what Anna said really, not knowing if a particularly upbeat song was coming or a slightly more relaxed one. I’m sure I worked harder because of that too, as I wasn’t in control of the routine.
My favourite bit? When Anna turned the lights completely down and we cycled to Rihanna’s Diamonds in pitch black. The only hint of light was the flickering of a candle at the front. It was a bizarre but electric feeling…and I realised I was beginning to understand why Boom has such a cult following.
It was a week ago today that I went and as I’m writing this, I’ve surprised myself by actually feeling like I want to go back sooner rather than later. It’s not the most convenient location for me (there are studios in Holborn and Shoreditch at the moment, I went to Holborn) but I still think there’s perhaps a place in my schedule for heading into town early once a week and having a session despite the fact I could go to regular ol’ boring spinning at my local gym more easily. I’m sure there are loads of people who go to Boom who have memberships elsewhere, just because spinning in a strip lit gym is never going to compare to the type of experience you’re getting at Boom.
Cost-wise, they use a credit system which is explained here. 30 minute rides and early morning rides work out to be less credits and if you bulk buy credits then they’re cheaper, but the most you’ll pay is £16 for a full session and a half hour session max price would be £8. There seem to be lots of offers too, new users can get three full sessions for £20, which is hard to argue with.
If you’re new to it then I’d definitely give yourself ten minutes to get there a bit early and chat through any questions with the instructors, they’re there to help you and assuming they’re like Anna, you’ll be very well looked after.
You can find timetables, studio details, instructor profiles and all that other good stuff on Boom’s website here. Oh and I should point out that Anna is a PT too, so if you’re after personal training advice in London then her personal website is here 🙂
I’m glad I faced my fears and tried spinning because – as always – it wasn’t as horrendous as I predicted it would be and I actually quite enjoyed myself. I can’t believe I enjoyed it but hey, I did!