You may have noticed that I eat a lot and, by some miracle, am not the size of a house (even if the chub rub struggle at this time of year is real). There are a few reasons for this; I’m not really a snacker, I don’t exclusively eat junk food, I love fruit and vegetables and I exercise… semi-regularly.
On the whole, my fitness level is pretty shocking. Considering I start to see double and come close to throwing up when I have to run for a train (I am never on time for trains), it’s peculiar that last summer I actually got heavily into spinning. After a taster session with the Time Out Tastemakers at Another Space in Covent Garden, I found that despite loathing every second of the 30-minute class, the endorphin rush I experienced afterwards was sensational. I was glowing, from both the sweat (it pours from your body like water from a sieve) and the elation that it was not just over, but that I hadn’t died in the process, and thus began my new found love of spin classes.
Now yes, like me just over a year ago, you might find the idea of high-intensity, unrelenting, hot, loud, painful, high-speed exercise to be Hell. And it is, it really is. But it is worth it, for the aforementioned reason above, and for the difference you see in your body after just a few classes a week. Yep, at first you might think you are legitimately dying but that will pass. I promise.
However, spinning is an expensive hobby, with most 45-minute classes costing around the £20 mark. That’s a lot of money, but I am yet to find a class that motivates me, pushes me and satisfies my cardio needs as much as a spin class does. But not all classes are the same, with different studios offering different styles of classes, equipment, instructors and even music, and it is important that before you commit to a big lump sum of cash (it’s usually more economical to buy in bulk), you find the right one for you first. Which is what I did.
So here is my round up of what you can expect from some of London’s best spin studios:
Where it all began…
What you can expect: This was where it all began for me. Another_Space is also a yoga and HIIT studio, so there is only one room for spinning so classes tend to be busy. They offer classes before and after work, lunchtimes and on weekends. Some lunchtime classes are 30 minutes so its easier to fit one in on your lunch break, and those tend to include a free smoothie from their smoothie bar which you pre-order before your class (always order the peanut butter one). There are also a few 60-minute classes but I think that might kill me. The classes are super high energy, and my favourite instructor is Rachele; she’s a gorgeous and super motivational red-head who has a good structure to her classes while always mixing them up a bit. The music can be a little hit and miss at the studio, sometimes with a bit too much monotonous dance music which makes the routines a bit of a struggle.
Location: Covent Garden & Bank
Price: £20 per class (use my referral code to buy credits here)
Intro Offer: 2 classes + buddy credit for £30
Music: A mix of dance, hip-hop and pop.
Amenities: The changing rooms are stocked with Cowshed hair and natural skin products (so you can remove your makeup prior to your class). Plus GHD straighteners, dryers, hair-ties and cotton pads, as well as fresh, fluffy towels so you really can pack light. Cleated shoes are also included and they come in half sizes which makes all the difference.
Good for beginners…
What you can expect: Much like the other spin classes in London, you’ll be working out to loud, rhythmic music, taken straight from the charts, with hill climbs, interval sprints, tap backs and steady rides for 45 minutes. I tried out this studio earlier this year and didn’t feel overly stretched so I’d say it’s a good place to start your spinning journey if you’re nervous or a little out of the swing of the exercise game. I found this studio a little on the unfinished side; there were a few ceiling tiles missing, and the air conditioning was provided by a fan, so if you were the other side of the studio you’d struggle to keep cool. But the UV lighting is pretty cool – make sure to wear your whitest gym kit to get the full benefit.
Location: Charing Cross & South Kensington
Price: £20 a class (book credits here)
Intro Offer: 2 classes for £20 (or you could try £40 for 2 weeks of unlimited rides at the South Ken studio, or unlimited off-peak rides at the Charing Cross studio)
Music: Chart pop and hip-hop
Amenities: As soon as you finish your class, you get a cold lavender face towel which is super refreshing and cooling. You can follow this with a ‘Best Blast shower’ which is a cold air blast located in both changing rooms. Think giant hair dryer but ice cold!! They also provide GHD appliances, hairdryers and high-end hair, beauty and skincare solutions. Cleated shoes are included, too.
Where it’s all about the tunes…
Name: Boom Cycle
What you can expect: 45 minutes of extremely good music which helps you to really get into the class. Think about how much you are inspired to move when your favourite song comes on in a club (I assume this still happens, I haven’t stepped foot in a club for 4 years), that’s the effect a soundtrack like the Boom Cycle soundtrack has; you’re far more inspired to get into the routine and keep up with the beat. They also know how to start the weekends right, with Prosecco Fridays – the last class of the afternoon is followed by a free glass of bubbly. Potentially counterproductive for any health or weight loss regime you’re working on, but excellent for getting the party started.
Location: Holborn, Battersea, Monument & Hammersmith
Price: £18 per class (book credits here)
Intro Offer: 3 classes for £29
Music: Boom mostly plays a mix of pop and hip-hop, but if you have a favourite type of music you should check out their themed rides, like the upcoming 90’s Pop Princess ride, or the Michael Jackson ride.
Amenities: They supply REN toiletry products in the showers, as well as *those* £300 Dyson Hair Dryers, so if you have been wondering if they’re worth the hype and price tag, you can check them out for yourself (I’m not convinced yet… might need to book a few more classes.) Cleated shoes are also included.
Where your instructor is key…
What you can expect: This is one of those studios where your choice of instructor really affects the type of class you have. There are two studios (1 & 2) and I tend to favour classes in Studio 2 because it’s smaller, and ever so slightly cooler (there are so many sweaty bodies in studio 1 and the air conditioner isn’t all that strong) – my favourite class is run by Olive who is super inspirational and perceptive, she can see when you’re struggling and gives you a bit more attention to help you adapt to your own abilities, without being patronising or demotivating. Most classes are 45-minutes long, with a few pushing to the hour (no thanks!), and each happens to put on an incredible light show. The Oxford Circus studio (on Mortimer Street) is extremely popular after work so unless you’re super on the ball and able to book your class as soon as they become available to book each Monday at noon, expect to join the waitlists and hope for a last minute cancellation.
Location: Oxford Circus, Canary Wharf & Shoreditch
Price: £20 per class (use my referral code to buy credits here)
Intro Offer: 2 classes for £20
Music: Dance, hip-hop and pop
Amenities: Psycle offer changing rooms with free lockers and towels. The showers are stocked with Sachajuan products so you can revive after class. There are also hairdryers, straighteners and deodorant. No make-up remover though, which is annoying if you come straight from work with a full face and don’t want to have it sweat off and clog your pores. Cleated shoes are included, and they keep a record of your size so there’s no waiting when you arrive.
For a light show worthy of Ibiza…
Name: 1 Rebel
What you can expect: Banging music, a light show that you’d expect in Amnesia and some really top quality bikes – unlike most of the other studios, these bikes have an obvious indication of how much you have cranked up the resistence on your bike, which is great when it comes to measuring that you’re working at the level your instructor expects of you. It’s a small thing, but I really like being able to measure how much harder I’m pushing. The instructors are great, too – they’re motivational but know how to build intensity at a realistic level. It is a mixture of speed and resistance training, along wish weight exercises for arms and a lot of core work outs.
Location: Blackfriars (South Bank), Victoria (Brand New!), Broadgate, St Mary’s Axe & Bayswater
Price: £20 a class (use my referral code to book your sessions)
Intro Offer: 3 sessions for £39. Expires 7 days after the first session is booked.
Music: The music is really fun – in my first class we started with Britney’s ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time” and finished with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, with some extremely heavy drum & base in the middle with a drop so intense that it made my bones shake!
Amenities: As well as having one of the coolest and chicest set of changing facilities of any spin studio in London (think black and copper lockers, a cold towel fridge, GHDs and luxe shower products), three of the 1Rebel studios host Barber + Blow which is designed to allow you to leave looking better than when you walked in, with blow-drys and hair cutting services, as well as make-up and eyelash applications!
So there you have it. If you’re a spin virgin, I recommend you taking advantage of one of the intro sessions to see if it might just be for you. Some gyms include spin classes in their memberships (Virgin Active and Fitness First definitely do, but these are un-cleated classes, ie: you’re not clipped in) so if you have a membership and don’t wanna spend the money on a specialised studio just yet, give one of those a go. And before you know it you’ll be on track to look just like Ariana Grande… but I’d advise against the heels and the high-rise thongs.