Just keep Spinning.
JUST KEEP SPINNING.
Classes can be quite intimidating. For me, they remind me of PE lessons at school, which I was awful at. I was that kid who got picked last during any sport lesson. Yeah, that ol’ sob story. It wasn’t because I was unpopular; I just sucked so much at sport and exercise while I was at school. I used to have a real dread about going to those lessons. I actually used to bunk off and hide from my teachers or fake notes from my mum. My teachers weren’t stupid, they actually just decided to ‘let that happen’ until I got to the year when I could pick any lesson but PE. Funny that now I try weird and wonderful fitness classes for Gay Times.
After speaking to a lot of people, it seems the exercise intimidation stays with many of us after our time at school. I started thinking while at college that I needed to start getting in shape. As I was influenced so heavily by the male image around me in advertising, and other guys my age around me, I taught myself how to get in some kind of shape.
I started weight training on and off for the next billion years and only recently I started attending classes. And that PE dread? The nervous tummy? They’re back.
As an adult it’s very silly and different. I’ve had nerves as an adult, sure, like being on a first date or presenting work in front of more than a few people, but pre-PE class nerves are a bit different. You literally think, “Oh, God, what if I die in this class.”
Recently, I’ve tried circuits on a farm and city strong man training down at The Foundry in Vauxhall, South London. I loved them – I felt they played to some of my strengths. But then a few female friends of mine turned to me one evening and uttered, almost in slow-mo and with the voice of Satan coursing through them, “Hey Chris. Have you ever tried… spin?”
OH GOD, I AM GOING TO DIE.
On a whim, we book into a spin class. I think to myself, “What the hell am I doing? This isn’t me? I don’t go to spin classes.” And then a tiny sexist part of my brain awakens and thinks that spin classes are just for activewear loving mum’s during the day. So I obviously slap that awful
thought out of my head and sign up to the class with my… activewear loving female friends.
The nearest spin class was in Holborn, at a place called Boom Cycle. We book through their site and take advantage of their introductory deal – which is £29 for three… spins?! – and I notice there’s a lot of male instructors on the site! We book in a selection of classes between two instructors, Jack and Haydn. They’re both beautiful, so you know, not intimidating in the slightest.
Boom Cycle is one of those boutique studio-type places. Somewhere that you think might be too good for you, if you know what I mean. But upon entering I was met by a chirpy receptionist and our first instructor, Jack.
Jack is basically Mr Muscle. And beautiful. So, handy for staring at for 30 minutes during my first class. I was more surprised by his size than anything. I was under the impression that spinning was for really super skinny guys, but here was a Men’s Health cover model strapping me into the bike for my first ‘ride’.
I was still nervous, as Jack helped me adjust the bike for my body height before helping the other people in the class. There was a handful of us, so he gave everyone attention before he jumped on his bike. The music started, and Jack started to get everyone in the frame of mind – which is being PUMPED. So spin basically creates the most positive and healthy looking people ever, it seems.
And do you know what? After the first few minutes of thinking, “When will I die during this?” I started to really like it. The way the spin bikes are designed is that your momentum from the first rotation aides you in your next one, so it feels at first as if you’re not doing anything until you turn up some of the resistance – and your feet are magnetically attached to the pedals as you don’t take your own shoes, so you’re locked in and forced to move!
Jack’s session was 30 minutes and was a rollercoaster of a highintensity training workout – and it went so quickly. I didn’t really have time to notice how much my thighs were burning, or how my weak core couldn’t allow me to keep up with Jack’s pace – yes, he throws some choreography into the mix, but staring at his biceps and thighs really gets you through it. I will put my hands up and say, I’ve never produced so much sweat from a workout.
Speaking to Jack afterwards, he mentioned the endorphin rush from spin is different to one from weight lighting. “You feel great,” he said. I don’t know if I had entered the cult, but I did feel great! I felt so amazing after my session. I’m not a cardio person, but I wasn’t out of breath, yet I was covered in sweat and I felt so incredible. My legs felt the size of tree trunks and Jack mentioned also that he finds spin: “A great addition to weight training, and spin does not make a guy ‘lose gains’.
“Spin can help maintain muscle gains and isn’t just for skinny guys. Men of any size – if you want to shift weight and add muscle, you can do it here.”
I loved how positive I felt after my session, and with a free shake after, it’s safe to say that I’m a convert. It’s a good addition for cardio haters to schedule in a class alongside an existing routine.
“Spin isn’t just for skinny guys. Men of any size – if you want to shift weight and add muscle, you can do it at spin.”
Thank you to Boom Cycle, who have a new studio opening up in Battersea Power Station, but also have studios in Holborn, Shoreditch and Hammersmith, boomcycle.co.uk, boom_cycle