September is 'back to school' month. The nights start to draw in, the gloves have come out for the morning cycle commute and summer holidays suddenly feel like distant memories. But it's not all doom and gloom! September is also a good time for fresh starts and we'll be embracing this 'give it a go' attitude with a series of 'beginner's guides' over the next few weeks.
Most of the Beeline team has never been spinning before so, first up, we headed for a team Peloton session! Taking the world by storm, this spinning startup has just blasted through the one million member mark, has raised $1 billion of investment, and counts the Obamas, David Beckham and Hugh Jackman among its fans. It has just opened its first London pop up event and is offering free spinning sessions to everyone for the next few weeks. Fancy trying out the next big thing? Just sign up here.
First things first, what is spinning?
Spinning has become more and more popular over the last few years as gyms worldwide have filled studios with stationary bikes and offered high intensity fitness workouts. Classes are generally 40-60 minutes long, are lead by a super-fit and enthusiastic instructor, and use varying resistance to intersperse max energy bursts with recovery periods. Perhaps the best comparison to the experience is being in a nightclub: the music is pumping, the lights are jumping, and there are sweaty people everywhere.
Spinning makes a great supplement to outdoor cycling (and help to make those hill climbs that little bit less brutal) or alternative to outdoor cycling when the weather gets a bit grim.
What is Peloton?
First launched on Kickstarter in 2013, Peloton is all about bringing studio spinning classes to the masses at home. Over the following four years they went from selling a fairly unremarkable 297 units in their initial campaign to passing the 100,000 mark in 2017. They have the cult following of SoulCycle, reviews on their website gush about the life-changing impact of the bikes, and a class library that has earned them the nickname 'the Netflix of bikes'.
The bike comes in at a punchy £1990 (plus a £39/month subscription to stream spinning classes) but, despite reservations at the beginning, we all left with a Peloton bike firmly on our 'one day' wish lists.
What is so amazing about it?
Well, the London experience definitely has something to do with it. Arrive for your session and you're greeted by a team of friendly Peloton staff who have an impressive amount of enthusiasm so early in the morning. You're assigned your team member and they take you to a 'private room' for the experience. We found ourselves in bedrooms, home offices, games rooms and living rooms.
After a quick bike fitting, the next step (and biggest of them all) is to choose a class. Believe us when we say that this is no easy feat: there are several thousand to choose from, all with their own soundtracks, tempos and workout aims. And then you're off.
With awesome audio on the headphones and cleverly filmed classes, it is easy to forget that you are not actually in the New York studio with your instructor. On the right hand side of your screen you can compete against everyone who has ever taken the class. In mere minutes our quads were burning and we dripped with sweat but couldn't help but follow the instruction to turn the resistance up - we couldn't possibly let pelotonfan1293 overtake us now, could we? Our power output, cadence, speed and distance were tracked and displayed in a large enough font that even briefly dropping below the rpm directed by our instructors was enough to send a pang of inadequacy pulsing through our veins.
We worked hard. There was a sense of commitment to the class that is so hard to muster alone. When there's no one to answer to but yourself it can feel so easy to take a quick breather, to rest your weary legs for 'just a few moments', but we had the whole Peloton community to answer to here. Above all, though, we had fun. Lots of fun! We mouthed along to the songs, we sent virtual 'high fives' to others in our classes, and we were totally immersed. So immersed, in fact, that Sam even lifted his hand to give a physical high five to the others in his class when it - sadly - came to an end.
But the London experience doesn't end when you hop off the bike: first, head to the showers and make the most of toiletries and cosmetics that make the ones you have at home look decidedly bargain basement. Then help yourself to a delicious freshly made smoothie, and sip on a coffee while you calculate just how you might be able to fit a Peloton bike within the constraints of your budget and your living room.
Our tips for spinning:
Sam (designer) - pace yourself! It might feel exhilarating to max out on the power and resistance when the class is just beginning but you'll find your energy drops off the chart by the middle of the class
Kate (community manager) - eat a snack before you start. Spinning is a good workout! I definitely wish that I had heeded Peloton's advice and put away some breakfast or a cereal bar before we got started. Serious post-class energy dip!
Sam (business development) - set a target. If you're competing against all class takers all-time, see where you are halfway through the class and try to stay there (or improve)
Tom (co-founder) - hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Think about the sweatiest you've got at the top of a hill. Times that by a few and hydrate in preparation for that