- Photograph­y Markus Bidaux

Fitness in focus

Forget dull groups with people too concerned with how fast they are pedalling to notice — let alone talk — to the guy next to them. Matt Lister has found a social gay spin class...

My ethos toward health and fi tness is that it is for everyone. It’s just about fi nding a path that works for you. It shouldn’t have to be gruelling and tiresome, or intimidati­ng and off - putting. It should be fun and have a positive impact on your life — on a physical and mental level.

This summer I stumbled upon one of the fi ercest classes I have ever experience­d. Spinder is a friendly and enjoyable gay spinning group. I usually hate spin classes but feel this is the dawn of a new age for the LGBTQ health and fi tness industry. I loved it so much that I sat down for a chat with founder Rich Allsop.

What inspired you to set up Spinder?

I went to a few spin classes and fell in love with the buzz, the banter, the play lists and the potential for bringing people together. Back in 2016, just before Spinder launched, I was teaching a number of classes per week at large gym chains and I remember thinking how there were thousands of indoor cycle classes out there, but none that had an LGBTQ focus. I also recognised the need for better opportunit­ies for our community to connect offline thr ough simple, all- level fitness classes. Spinder officially started in January 2017 as a hobby but it’s now become my mission in life to make it fun for gay men to make new friends and get fit in a safe, positive and healthy environmen­t.

What can someone expect when they go to a class?

Spinder is the friendlies­t — and only — social gay spin class. We don’t have members, we have spinderell­as, and you only need to attend one class to connect with our entire community. You can expect 45 minutes of pure camp sing - along pop, with f un themed play lists such as Kylie v Madonna or Cher v Celine. Halfway through each class, we take a break to do a simple armography routine on the bikes. It’s an easy dance routine for your arms and a breather for your legs. We also feel it’s hugely important to support our community resources and services as much as possible, and have raised significan­t sums for 56 Dean Street during World Aids Day and The Albert Kennedy Trust during

Pride Month, through special f und- raising classes.

What is your ultimate goal for Spinder?

I want everyone from our community to feel welcome to try one of our classes, to sweat, sing along and even try the dance breaks with us on the bikes. We run several classes a week across Central London and Brighton.

I know it can be daunting to embark on a new venture but life is not lived in the mundane, it’s lived in the risk and reward! I honestly don’t think I could have had more fun at Spinder.

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