London's Spin Studios: Boom Cycle vs. Psycle
I know this post is going to be controversial. I say this because I've been in the spinning game long enough to know that each studio develops an almost cult-like following. A die-hard spinner will shower their studio in Instagram likes, always reserve a place in the front row and maybe even get a special shout-out in the studio's e-newsletter.
However, if you've only got a few days in London and need some help deciding where to get your quick spin fix, here's my breakdown of two of the most popular spin studios in the city. I am by no means a spinning guru, but these are the things that have impressed - and depressed (ok, slight exaggeration) - me most about each:
In the right corner of the ring we have Boom Cycle:
This was the very first spin studio I tried in London. A friend dragged me along. I was very skeptical at first, but after two sessions, I was converted. The co-founder Hilary Rowland's positive energy permeates throughout the business and into every class, though each instructor of course brings their own personality to the sessions. I particularly like Bangs, who not only has an affinity for hip-hop (whoop, whoop!) but whose swag always keeps the energy up in the room, even when the mirrors are steamy from all the sweat.
The classes are intense, with lots of movement on and off the bike (through moves known as beatbacks, waybacks and surges) and your arms get a workout as well; you lift weights and box intermittently throughout the session. The music can be hit or miss; this largely depends on whether your musical preferences match those of the instructor. Regardless, Boom Cycle always makes exercise fun. The instructors are always buzzing and it's not about looking good but feeling good - which is a motto I'm very happy to live by. They even host "Girl's Night Spin," a Friday session with spinning + champagne as well as themed rides to the likes of Queen Bey.
However, I do think some of Boom's original studios (a few years old now) are due an upgrade. They recently shut down the Shoreditch branch (I think it's soon to be replaced) and it was about time. The showers had a tendency to go from extreme hot to cold and there was very little privacy. However, I haven't been to the recently opened studios in Battersea and Hammersmith, which I am sure don't disappoint. Boom Cycle have even partnered up with Grind coffeeshops to give riders a caffeine kick.
Boom also stock their showers with Ren, which is a natural beauty brand I adore. It's lovely to leave the building on a Saturday morning feeling detoxified and ready to conquer the day, and leave the scent of neroli and grapefruit in your wake. Every now and again, they also give away free samples of other Ren products, like face masks and face washes, which are a nice perk for you fellow beauty junkies out there.
And in the left corner we have Psycle:
I've been going to Psycle for the last few months. A friend mentioned a £20 intro offer (four classes in two weeks) and given that I'm always up for something new AND I'm penny-pinching ahead of some longterm travel, I decided to give it a go.
Now I don't know if I lucked out with my first few instructors (as they can certainly make or break your first impressions), but I was blown away immediately. This despite some initial scepticism when I arrived at the Mortimer Street studio (nearest tube station: Oxford Street) where I got the sense that the studio took itself much too seriously. But after entering the studio (which has killer lighting effects, might I add), getting lots of help setting up my bike and meeting the instructor, my perception changed.
And let me tell you - that first class nearly killed me. This despite exercising 3x per week and spinning regularly. Unlike Boom, you don't ever sit on the bike and the instructors work on very specific muscle groups throughout the session. That first session, we focused on obliques, abs and triceps and more. Arms are always reserved until the end of a Psycle session and movements tend to be a lot smaller, sharper and repetitive so I find it more difficult. There's also more emphasis on balance and moving in unison with the group in the room, which ties back nicely to company's mission of building connections and community.
There are also a few other subtle differences I prefer: you pick up dumbbells at the start of the class rather than having to swap them out if they're the wrong weight, you drop your shoes off in a basket as soon as you walk out (rather than having to leave them at the staff desk) and there's a water tap to refill your bottle when you need it most.
The bathrooms are pretty lush (and they have Psycle-branded plastic bags for you to dump your sweaty clothes into) and are stocked with Swedish brand Sachajuan. I can't say I prefer this to Ren though the shiny citrus body wash smells pretty good.
So, the verdict?
I'd have to say Psycle. I find the rides harder and more refined and I've literally seen a physical transformation from these sessions. Ultimately I'm after the workout that's going to push me hardest. If you're looking to shed that travel-belly, or indulge in desserts guilt-free, then it's probably the one for you too. However, the Boom atmosphere is (and always will be) second to none, so if you want to add some intense fun to your holiday, then consider Boom instead. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
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