Reviews

Get into a spin with Chris Hoy: We review the new spinning boutique developed with the Olympian

17-03-2016

Spinning has been a popular pastime for a number of years and although my spinning mad dad has often raved about how much he loves attending his local spin classes, I have never tried the workout before. 

I prefer to keep fit by keeping my feet on the ground running instead of cycling but when the opportunity arose to try a spin class designed by, and alongside, Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, I couldn't turn it down.

I was invited to attend the launch of 'Pure Ride', a London spinning boutique offering a variety of spinning classes, some of them designed by Chris himself, which he says are suitable for all abilities.

Choreographer Kris, left, leads the signature class where participants have to keep pedalling while doing upper body dance moves

The signature class, pictured, is described as a dance class on wheels

The classes vary from focusing on endurance - with 20-minute sections of continuous uphill effort - to lactic acid inducing ones to improve speed. 

Chris, 39, explains in greater detail: 'Each session focuses on one of the following - power training, endurance training, lactate threshold training and a mixed ride which encompasses all three. 

'This is an athlete-inspired programme, however novice riders should not be put off. The class has been designed to be all inclusive so even if you are a total beginner you can still come to the sessions and reap the benefits.' 

The Pure Ride cycling boutique is located in The City close to Moorgate station, tucked away amongst the giant office blocks whose occupants will be their target clientele. 

They have aimed to ensure they can fit in a 45-minute class before or after work, or in their lunch hour, with classes running at these times, with towels and toiletries provided so you don't need to pack your own.

Chris said the classes are suitable for all abilities, including novices like Lucy, pictured with him here

I met Chris Hoy after the class, where he barely broke a sweat, unlike me!

Chris told me you don't need his fitness levels to enjoy spinning as it is an activity where you can choose how hard to push yourself. 

Changing the gears means you don't always need to push the pedals as hard to achieve speed and you can also choose to give tempo sections your all, or pedal more comfortably.

However, if you want to achieve maximum results to improve fitness and burn calories, Chris recommends giving it everything you've got. 

'You control the resistance and the effort, if you come out of the session and you are not that tired then it is your own responsibility,' he said. 'If you are on your knees then great, that's how it should be.'

I nervously saddled up for my first spin class alongside the Olympian with the Pure Ride staff on hand to ensure my bike was set up with the seat at the lowest level for my short legs and the handlebars adjusted to avoid back strain.

The gym provide professional cycling shoes that clip into the pedals (known as cleats) which make pedalling easier and ensure your foot don't slip off the pedal when you try and push the pace.

Despite retiring in 2013, Chris, pictured talking to Lucy, remains super fit with extraordinarily toned quads

Not so easy for me was unclipping again after the class and I was literally stuck on my bike while everyone got off to stretch. 

After an embarrassing few seconds failing to force my foot off the pedals, a member of staff came to my rescue explaining the key is to push back and to the side with your heel to unclip - a technique outdoor cyclists have to master quickly in case they ever topple of their bike.

Back to the class itself, the first I tried was the 'signature' session which is billed as a fun, all body workout.

Led by professional dancer and choreographer Kris, the class combines spinning with elements of Zumba and weightlifting and is described by Chris as a 'dance class on wheels'.

There are sections where you have to push for up to a minute at maximum effort and periods standing up out of the saddle - all standard spin fare, so I am told.

However Chris admitted after the class that the elements adding dance moves were something he doesn't usually add to his own training and he has to focus to stay in time.

A weights section in the signature class means the arms get worked as well as the legs

The sigature class includes a section with weights, pictured

As he followed along to Kris's moves, barely breaking a sweat unlike me, he said: 'The benefits of the dance moves are you are concentrating on them so much you don't realise how hard you are working on the bike, you get the the end of the session and you are exhausted.'

I found it difficult to coordinate the dance moves with my arms whilst still furiously pedalling with my legs but Chris is right in that it did prove a distraction from the pain.

This was also helped by Kris shouting encouragement to motivate the class, pumping dance tunes and flashing lights throughout the work out. 

A segment lifting dumbbells (also while still pedalling) also provided welcome distraction from focussing on RPM (rotations per minute).

Chris is also right that you can push as hard or as little as you like - and I admit at the start I did hold back as I was worried about making it to the end.

I did get through it - and I enjoyed it - and thanks to the weights section I felt like I had worked more than just my legs. 

However, after patting myself on the back for getting through a session devised by an Olympian, it was then Chris informed me that this wasn't one of the classes he had masterminded.

Instead, he developed the 'performance' classes - an example of which I tried the following week.

Chris said of these sessions: 'We created classes designed to build muscular endurance, power and improve cycling technique. I designed the sessions and then tested them personally time and time again to refine them. 

'I think the end product will challenge both beginners and experienced riders alike - the key element being that you control the intensity to match your level of fitness.' 

I tried the endurance class - led by personal trainer Leah - and it definitely had a different vibe to the 'signature' class.

While the latter felt more fun and a means to exercise without realising you were working hard, this one felt more serious and like a training session for cyclists targeting a race.

Sections replicate climbing up a long hill like professional cyclists would in an outdoor mountain race and sprint sections as if powering to a finish line.  

The sessions were focused on your RPM with Leah advising on the number you should be aiming to achieve - the higher the RPM target the harder you have to pedal for a set length of time.

We then had to up the gears on the bike to replicate cycling uphill, with RPM then going down as it became harder to maintain a pace whilst pushing against a higher resistance.

As before there was music and flashing lights to help you through but the time did seem to pass more slowly as I was constantly seeing the elapsed minutes on the bike display to ensure my RPM and gear was in line with Leah's instructions.

However, once again being a novice I didn't push myself to the max for fear of not being fit enough to finish so I didn't push my gear as high as I should have on the hill climb, and I didn't always achieve the desired RPM.

The beauty of the classes is you can get away with this as noone can see your bike screen and are too focused on their own session to worry about yours. 

Leah advised people to drop a gear if they were struggling as the session is about the effort you put in relative to your fitness - so in that sense anyone can give them a go.

At the end I did feel like I had worked hard but I didn't feel as euphoric as I had after the signature class. The performance class felt more like a means to an end - a training session to enhance endurance and fitness - whereas the signature class felt more like joyful exercise, getting fit without noticing the effort involved.

VERDICT ON PURE RIDE 


I enjoyed both the classes I tried at Pure Ride but the signature class was definitely a lot more fun than the performance one. 

People can attend the classes on a 'pay as you go basis' but the sessions aren't cheap with a 45 minute class costs £20 a time, although the price is reduced to £16 if bought in bulk.

These prices won't dent the bank balances of City workers in the area but if Pure Ride open other spinning boutiques across the country - which they hope to do if this one is a success - they may have to lower the rates.