SoulCycle, a studio devoted to spinning, has reached cult status in Manhattan. Hotfooting close behind is London’s first spin gym H2, which opened in Soho this year. ELLE investigates this fitness phenomenon...
Why the Obsession?
Spinning is a love-hate exercise: some are obsessed with its fast fat burning credentials (up to 1000 calories an hour), while others hate it for its ability to bulk out the legs (which many spin-addicts claim is an ‘urban fitness myth’) and the sheer exhaustion it can cause.
Today’s obsession can largely be attributed to SoulCycle. A spin studio that opened its first doors in Manhattan back in 2006 expanding to five doors in Manhattan, two in the Hamptons, and one in LA. It’s reached cult status over the pond with stars including Lady Gaga, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, Chelsea Clinton and Brooke Shields are all avid SoulCycle attendees. In fact, New York City native Gaga loves spinning so much she does it while on tour, recently tweeting ‘Exhausted after Hong Kong spin class! I love this city’ from Tokyo.
What makes spinning so addictive?
Dispelling the leg-bulking myth, at SoulCycle the emphasis is on full body workouts. ‘Not only do Riders burn calories, get an intense 45-minute cardio workout, but also using the SoulCycle Method, they simultaneously tone their upper bodies using hand weights and do core exercises,’ adds Cutler. Some of the classes utilise resistance bands anchored to tracks above each bike to make classes even more effective (read: gruelling). SoulCycle is so in demand it’s like a members-only club, but once you’re in Cutler promises ‘each of our riders feels important and connected to the brand’.
Set to launch in the UK next year, ELLE is already anticipating its arrival. But in the meantime what is there for us residing over here?
Next Generation Spin comes to London
SoulCycle has moved spinning on, pushed the boundaries and with that buoyed up Manhattan’s coolest inhabitants to join the ride. Building a clientele it hopes will be as devoted is the new H2 in Soho, London.
H2 is at its very basic a garage for bikes which gives it an instantly cool aesthetic unlike any other gym we’ve been to, the first thing you see when you’re making your way down the industrial, concrete, entrance is rack upon rack of bicycles.
‘We looked at our own office cyclist numbers and then researched offices in the area and discovered that at least 10% of people cycle or run to work. In reality this figure is closer to 20%. It was clear that there was a strong demand from the commuter market for something like this but that they also required facilities like a Spin studio, core gym and Sports Therapy to train when the weather is bad or when they cannot cycle,’ explains H2 founder Piers Slater.
Where SoulCycle is obsessed by body image, H2 is obsessed with cycling, ‘we see H2 Ride as a stepping stone to getting more people confident on the roads’.
Whether you cycle on the roads or not there is a dedicated spin studio with a programme similar to that established by Spin founder Johnny G. The programme includes a mix of 45-minute classes like Endurance (the biggest calorie burning class), Strength and Interval so you can blast fat fast. What’s more the team at H2 can recommended a tailored training plan from the programme of classes so you can get a well-rounded workout on the bikes. Want even more variety? H2 also offers Power Plates, TRX, Boxercise and Circuit classes.
Know your Progress
That’s not all that sets H2 apart from a standard gym, it’s affiliation with MYZONE is pretty unique too. Every member is given their own MYZONE monitor and account. The discreet band fits around your chest monitoring things like calories burned and the rate your heart is working at (from the Grey zone 50-60% = resting heart rate, right up to the Red zone 90-100% = red line zone). These zones are projected – during the class - as coloured boxes on a huge screen at the front so you can see exactly how you’re doing compared to the other spinners.
Sound daunting? Slater thought so too, ‘I have to confess it seemed a bit full on to me at first but whilst my focus is on ensuring H2 Ride is fun MYZONE allows you to understand what your heart is doing and ensures you maintain the right levels of effort which provides better results.’
ELLE tried it and found it pretty encouraging and as Slater put it ‘incredibly addictive’. Not only does it let you know if you’re behind or ahead of the rest of the spinners in your class (brilliant if you’re a competitive sort), it also works as a welcome distraction. You’re so busy watching your heart rate climb that you forget you’re actually doing all the hard work that’s making those numbers crank.
Give it a Spin
For some spinning may seem daunting and yes it is hard work but the only real side effect you’re likely to experience from Spin is a new streamlined figure without a bulky thigh in sight. There’s really no excuse, you don’t even need much kit ‘just shorts, a t-shirt and trainers and a change of clothes as you will sweat says Slater. With classes offered at almost every gym in the land, make like Gaga and give it a spin…