Virtual cycling - the future of spinning

At Places Leisure, we aim to invest in state-of-the-art fitness equipment and classes, so you – our members – will have the best experience. However, before we release the new equipment or classes to you, we test everything first – just to make sure you’re going to reach your full potential.

When we chose to introduce virtual cycling classes in our gyms, of course we needed a guinea-pig. Regional Marketing Manager Suzie volunteered to take part in a virtual cycling course with Les Mills, the leading provider of virtual fitness classes across the world.

And obviously, we made sure Suzie shared her entire experience with us – so here it is!

“I haven’t participated in studio cycling in years, I’m more into running, but following a hip injury I have had to cut back on that and needed to try something lower impact. The RPM virtual class was just the thing, high intensity cardio but low impact.

I was shattered at the end but enjoyed it. I’m not going to lie though; I did have butt-ache the next day but apparently you get used to that! So, I have already scheduled my next session.

Indoor cycling is the UK’s most popular group exercise and is still on the rise. For anyone that works in the fitness industry this will come as no surprise but for those that don’t here is why:

  • it’s easily accessible
  • there is more class availability
  • it’s a known entity – most people have cycled at some point
  • it’s trendy thanks to the likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott
  • it’s a great calorie burner
  • it’s easy
  • it’s fun, and
  • our instructors provide an excellent class experience

Knowing all of this I was interested to find out how the Virtual version compared to the instructor led classes.

First on the agenda was a 30-minute Virtual RPM. To give us the full experience Lucy from Les Mills took us up to the cycling studio and then said nothing. Quite odd at first but the point was to experience exactly what the customers do – and in a Virtual class that means no instructor.

You set up your own bike, jump on and start pedalling.

The screen bursts into life at the class start time and you just follow the instructions on the screen. If you’re not sure about how to set up the bikes there is a quick demo at the start, then it’s straight into the warm-up.

There is a team of instructors to follow on the screen, each taking it in turn to take you through the tracks. The music is upbeat and motivating and they encourage you to pedal in time with the beat which makes it easier. Just like a traditional instructor led class they will guide you through changing the resistance to make it easier/harder to pedal and take you through a variety of hill climbs and sprints on your journey.

Top tip – they mention increasing/decreasing a gear, this just means adjusting the resistance. If in doubt turn the dial until you reach a resistance where you can pedal at the same speed as the instructors you are following. You’ll soon pick it up.

30 minutes flew by and before I knew it, we had crossed the finish line. I was exhausted but happy I’d made it. Next came the theory bit. Lucy explained the theory behind virtual cycling and why it was the perfect addition to our programme.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not there to replace the instructor led classes and save costs. In fact, it’s the perfect entry into virtual cycling. It’s great for beginners for many reasons including:

  • smaller class sizes
  • no pressure to go fast, you can take it at your own speed
  • you can cycle as long as you like, start with 10 minutes and then build it up. Just stop when you want to
  • less intimidating environment
  • it will give you the confidence to move into the instructor led classes further down the line.
  • wide choice of times available every day

There are 2 virtual class options. RPM is probably the best for beginners it’s a fitness-based product designed to build calories and build stamina. Sprint is a more intense experience, HIIT on a bike, designed to push you to fatigue and not for the feint hearted.

So, in summary we all enjoyed the class and are ready to share our experiences with our members. Big thanks to Lucy from Les Mills for coming down and sharing her knowledge, much appreciated.”