Indoor Cycling? Find the right fit and do it with class.

I recently wrote a guest feature on GymBox’s website about indoor cycling. You can read it here:

It’s about the 3 types of cycling classes GymBox offers. And that got me thinking about all the gyms across London where I have been teaching for the past 3 years.


Well, you have boutique studios with the Soulcycle-type of classes advertised as a whole body workout (weights, resistance bands etc), then you have studios which go much more into the real cycling style like Cyclebeat ( which is a cycling only facility with Keiser bikes and integrated digital display which sends you your results by e-mail after each class.

H2 ( in SoHo offers indoor and outdoor classes where you ride your own bike in the park with the instructor leading the session.

The top end of this spectrum in the city is Athlete Lab ( – a state of the art cycling studio using actual road bikes and a mind blowing digital display (at a mind blowing prices). It’s a training facility. Not a place to take classes.

Venturing out of central London you have Cadence in Crystal Palace which is a great facility with a bike shop & workshop and training rooms where you can test your FTP, VO2 etc but also take a WattBike class (

That’s all great but what about all the gyms where an average Joe goes?


How do you know what’s behind that name on the timetable? “Spin”, “indoor cycling”, “V-Cycle”, “Tour de…”. How do you choose what is right for you? How do you know what to expect? Honestly? If the description is generic you can expect anything… It will all depend on the instructor. the only definitely consistent class would be Les Mills RPM.

Some gyms do the right thing and have different difficulty levels marked on the timetable: 2-3-4 stars but in real life do the instructors always know about what kind of level the class is supposed to be? Do they pay attention to it?

An average “spin” class can be very intimidating to someone who has never participated in one. And if your first one is really bad or well above your fitness level and you do not get guidance from the instructor, you may never be back.

I truly believe gyms should put on a couple of tailored classes to entice people in who would otherwise never be brave enough to try. Clearly described on the timetable and adhered to by the instructors.


Every gym would benefit from a beginners’ class. I have had the proof of that when I decided to put on a 30min cycling clinic at one of the studios I have worked for until recently. Targeting people who have never done cycling classes it involved bike set up, riding technique, resistance & cadence introduction and a little practice in and out of the saddle. I was doing it right before an actual class so people had an option to stay for the class or not and come when they were ready. It was great! Neither I nor the participants felt the pressure that we were rushed, they had time to ask questions and as we would have 2-4 people at a time it was a non-pressure environment.

There could be a beginners’ programme that would be delivered over 4 classes. Otherwise just a normal 45min novice class would be beneficial.


Certain gyms have quite a few kids attending. A Virgin gym where I have a couple of regular classes, has a Kidz programme with a couple of classes for 10-15 year olds. It does not include cycling.

Through instructor forums I have come across family indoor cycling classes or classes purely run for kids. I love the idea but I haven’t seen that in any of the gyms I teach at. I know they do have youth classes on offer on an actual track at Lee Valley (

Talking about special populations, classes for silver foxes are a great way to attract older generation. I think London gyms and leisure centres are missing a trick here.

Finally, as the outdoor season ends we have the outdoor cyclists who are not interested in exercise classes. They want to train over winter to keep their form up but they want clear goals, tests, a whole programme. Some gyms are halfway there since they have brought in great bikes like the MatrixIC7 with a console providing the all important data to track your progress. In my opinion in a few gyms I teach at, a specialist cycling class would work a treat.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not about excluding people as in “only outdoor cyclists wearing lycra allowed”.  All that would be needed is a clear indication – BEWARE: you need to know why you are here, you may have 30min in the saddle non-stop, it will be goal focused and as much as it still can be fun it is geared toward achieving specific results at the end of the programme.

So far one gym chain I have spoken to is excited about incorporating a few weeks’ specialised programme that would go along a challenge that they run.


I would love to hear from you if your gym runs any specialised indoor cycling classes. Whether you are a member or an instructor. If you created a programme and managed to get it approved, please share your story.

Les Mills ONELIVE – One Tribe

You have probably heard about Les Mills. Failing that I bet you have seen a Bodypump, Bodybalance or RPM class on your gym’s timetable. These are some of the classes they offer across most gyms.

I have been so busy with my full time job and teaching indoor cycling that I have never had a chance to try them. Well actually I did take an RPM once, which is their take on indoor cycling.

As a freelance instructor what put me off adding a Les Mills instructor qualification to my toolbox were two things: choreography and music.

You get given a choreography that you have to learn and follow so the programme is unified across the board and there are new releases every few months. You are also given the music that you have to use which means paying a licence fee that covers the CDs, workshops etc.

The music was my main thing: I have to feel the music I teach to otherwise it just doesn’t work. I have used other people’s class profiles found on websites or at workshops but in 99% of the cases I had to change the music completely.

When it comes to teaching indoor cycling I am trying to keep it real so not every class I teach involves intervals or HIIT. Sometimes we do races or 40 min climbs or pure cadence drills so I found the RPM programme very restrictive. Plus I enjoy creating profiles, sometimes adding a little presentation on a DVD to it way too much to give it up. And the music? Yes, it costs a lot too and it sometimes takes hours to find the right songs but when it all comes together the feeling is great.

The one RPM class that I took had all rocky tracks – the kind of music I simply hate so that was just a confirmation: this was not for me.

But today at Alexandra Palace Les Mills held their big ONELIVE event with tens of classes you could try. It was a bit pricey at £75 but you could do 7 x 55min classes between 8:30am and late afternoon. I booked 6 and then last week a disaster struck resulting in a hand injury so today I could not try the Bodypump but I watched two classes.

What’s my verdict? I loved it! The music was great – at least for this release. The workout was really challenging and as soon as I am better I will definitely take a class or two. I loved the clear options for various fitness levels. Apart from the main presenters on stage they also had instructors working the floor and correcting form and giving directions to those who needed it. People wooping and cheering giving into the feeling of being “one tribe” which is Les Mills motto. Great!

I was hoping to watch Bodybalance and RPM too but cycling was booked up and you couldn’t watch it as it was in a closed room. The same went for Bodybalance and everything else. That was disappointing.

But I didn’t despair as I also booked Bodystep. This class followed the Bodypump on the main floor. I must say to see all 1,200 people do the same choreography was a proper spectacle. Unless you are like me and your brain cannot understand what to do when faced with someone you have to copy: when they lift right leg up do I lift right leg up or left? (This is the reason I don’t drive: when I look in the mirrors I no longer know what’s left or right).

I followed people in front of me – who clearly have done that before – for as long as I could but then we stepped it up and started incorporating TURNS?! That’s where the car crash feeling became too overwhelming and I left. Thankfully I was realistic about my chances and my step was the closest to the exit so I sneaked out unnoticed… Verdict? Great class, great energy. Could I teach it ever? Hell no!

Overall a good event. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, even a few toddlers perched on their Les Mills instructor parents’ hips. It was a really good feeling to see thousands of people (there were 3 classes happening at the same time with 1,200 people on the main floor and at least 1,000 across the other studios) who got up way before 7am on a miserable Saturday morning to spend a few hours exercising.

There was a sense of community in the air. Even when I was waiting for W3 bus to take me down the hill to Wood Green station it was omnipresent. There was another girl in Les Mills gear waiting for the same bus. A few minutes later we were joined by an incredibly hunky guy in a Bodypump T-shirt who asked me in his sexy Kiwi accent: “How much is a single ticket these days?”. “I am not sure. £2 something… Oh., wait, actually London buses don’t take cash anymore. Have you got a contactless bank card?”. “Oh, no, I don’t… I may have to try and bribe the driver with cash…”. At this point the girl said: “Don’t worry! I have a contactless card and an oyster so you can use one of mine”. “Are you sure? Thank you so much!” responded the Nice Eyes With Sexy Body. Damn! I should have offered that, I thought. Instead I just smiled at them and said: “One Tribe!”.