If you haven't yet heard about New York's Soul Cycle, don't worry. They're planning their first international foray to London in the New Year so you're bound to read and see more about them in the news in the coming months. In the meantime, though, you won't have to have FOMO as London has a homegrown version--Psycle--which, by the sounds of things is almost identical and already open and thriving just north of Oxford Circus.
The concept behind Psycle (and Soul Cycle) is a spin class on speed, essentially. Or set at a rave, maybe a bit more accurately. The difference between this and your bog standard gym spin class is the setting in a dark room with pulsing lights, incredible choice of tracks specifically designed to keep your heart rate up for the full workout and added upper body work with weights, all completely coordinated to the tunes.
I've been to Psycle twice now as the colleague I first went with advised that the class we attended (mid-morning on a Wednesday, lead by Tammy) wasn't the ultimate Psycle experience and swore that I needed to try Rhian's classes to get the full feel for it. She wasn't wrong. It's a little hard to fully describe the difference in style between the two instructors but I just felt that Rhian's class was more coordinated between the arm and leg movements, giving it a dancier but smoother feel, and she was more motivating, but without too much extra talking. I actually ran into another old colleague before Rhian's class and he said that when he first started Psycling, combining the upper and lower body moves with the beat and the changes was like learning to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time -- it's a good analogy and part of the reason that less extra talking from the instructor lets you focus on the workout and getting the most out of it.
That all makes it sound like a fun little dancy cycle class. That's definitely underselling it. For your £20 per class (less if you buy a pack of credits and they also have an intro deal for you to bring a friend) you will SWEAT. During my first class, the floor around the guy's bike next to me was a pool of water (no comment on what mine looked like!). This is not a class where you want to forget your water bottle.
Aside from the water bottle, though, everything is provided for you (and even water can be bought on site if you happen to forget). Towels on the handlebars of the bike when you arrive, cleated shoes for the bikes (to help develop lean, balanced muscles through the legs and not giant cyclist-hamstrings, apparently), fluffy towels for the showers, gorgeous Ila Spa and Bumble & Bumble wash products and hair dryers, straighteners, elastics and pretty much everything you could want for post-workout freshening up.
Psycle also has an on-site cafe, curated by Rhian (who is a nutritionist as well as Psycle instructor--what a multi-talented lady!) and supplied with all sorts of healthy foods and juices for pre- or post-workout nutrition.
I really did enjoy these classes and found myself sore but able to function and walk normally afterwards (always a plus), although stairs were a little more painful. There was also a bit of a runners-high type feeling from the adrenaline, intensity and fun. Add to the great workout the fab studio & changerooms and awesome staff who are SO lovely and helpful and it all makes it a place I want to spend a lot more time!
I would definitely put this on any list of must-do classes in London but I'm also really curious to sample the goods at Soul Cycle to see how different/similar they are. Sadly I don't have any plans to be in NYC any time soon so I'll just have to hang tight -- if you've been, drop me a line and let me know what you thought!