Spin has become extremely popular in the last few years. The overwhelming choice of studios in London makes it virtually impossible to pick one to start at, or to simply try out. This article covers some of the best London studios to help you out on the mission to find the perfect spin class for you
Spin is a great passion of mine. I have been to many studios with and worked with a number of different instructors, each with their own style. The spin I am talking about is not your classic chain-gym spin, no! This spin is full of music, energy and emotional riding. The best way to explain it is like spinning on a bike in a nightclub. The loud dance music makes you feel limitless and makes you release the energy within you, which you never even thought you possessed.
My preference in spin studios goes to the ones that involve engaging emotions in the rides and are based on rhythm riding. To me, there is nothing worse than a class with no mind-body connection, where it is simply exercise-based and focused on burning calories. This has obviously affected my rating, but it may not be the same for you.
It is worth bearing in mind, that every instructor is different, and it is unfair to make a judgement about the whole studio based on a single-class experience. I have attempted to give an overview of the ride style and studio experience at each spot. I rated the studios based on the class energy, the music choice, the ability to enjoy the workout, and the mind-body connection. Usually, the instructors at each chain have been through the same training, and therefore the structure and type of spin will be very similar across the whole chain.
To give you a bit of context, the studios featured in this review were all tried and tested on ONE DAY! In honour of JDRF UK (a charity for Type 1 Diabetes), I decided to challenge myself by doing 6 spin classes in one day in the best studios of London and raise money for Type 1. On the 22nd of November 2019, I completed 4.5 hours of intense spin classes across some of the best London studios.
Without further ado, I present to you the Top 5 London Spin Studios and 1 bonus studio review
Instructor: Melissa (Instagram: @melissaweldonuk )
Class Time (How Packed): 10.30 am (class was full, despite the non-peak time).
Calories Burnt: 370 cal
SoulCycle was the best, most energy-booming class of them all. Melissa was awesome: her music was great. She got the body moving to the beat, and the energy in the room was incredible. The level of riders in the class varied from beginners to experienced, but all of them moved as one to the great tracks. The choreography wasn’t complicated, but just enough to keep the mind entertained and focused on the movement to the beat. The class was all about the mind-body connection, which helped put all energy possible into the movement, made an enjoyable workout and left me on a high note.
The whole concept of SoulCycle, both in the UK and in US (its home), is the focus on your soul, on what you feel, hence the name. The classes are designed to make you push yourself because you feel like giving it your all. This energy is driven by the music, the great instructors, who are often from a music or dance background, and reaffirmation phrases shouted out during class. These rides are absolutely perfect for any level and are an enjoyable experience for everybody. In addition, the lovely receptionists and staff help you sign in, choose the correct shoe size, set up on the bike, and just make you feel welcome, which is super-important to create positive studio vibe and help you connect your mind with your body and soul.
Instructor: Duncan (Instagram: @duncan_does )
Class Time (How Packed): 8.15am (not a full class, but very out-of-busy-hours)
Calories Burnt: 299 Kcal
Absolutely insane class!!! I loved it! Did not expect much from it at all, as I went to Boom Cycle in Hammersmith a number of times, and every time it was not much enjoyable. The choreography in the classes felt like they weren’t to the music, and the trainers seemed very proud of themselves, as if they were a celebrity on stage, not an instructor in front of a class. But the class in Waterloo was awesome!
Duncan was really motivational and had a heap of energy! He fully gave everything to every track, really connecting with the class participants and engaging them in the ride. He even did push ups from the floor during one track at a high speed, which we were doing push ups on the bike. Quite inspirational for the riders! He also engaged with us and encouraged “wohoo’s” and cheers throughout, which, in my opinion always creates a community feeling in the studio. His choice of music was THE BEST: he had great beats that really made me go all out. This class had both the emotional satisfaction and also got all the sweat out! Many thanks to the superb instructor Duncan, I was very impressed!
The actual studio wasn’t anything special, it also offered Lagree (reformer pilates), as they were just next door to them. I am generally not an admirer of Boom Cycle, as I know that most of their instructors teach in multiple studios, and my experience in Hammersmith was not the best. I guess, I can say that this chain is a hit or miss, as the instructor styles are pretty inconsistent across the board, and you never know who you will get.
The class level at Boom is more shifted towards an intermediate-advanced rider, however, some of the classes in Hammersmith were more for beginner-intermediate level, as there wasn’t any complex choreography.
Instructor: Nina (Instagram: @nina.shadi )
Class Time (How Packed): 6.30 am (quite a quiet class)
Calories Burnt: 350 Kcal
1Rebel is usually really good, especially, the one in Victoria, however, this class did not impress me much. Nina was very nice and a great instructor: she explained the movements of the choreography clearly, and it was easy to follow. Maybe a bit too easy. Her music choice was good: energetic, good beats, but nothing special. I did not find that any tracks gave me a boost or really connected with me, which I would always prefer to have in a class. There was nothing bad about the ride, but for a 6.30 am one everyone would love some motivational tracks, and energetic, but easy-to-follow choreography for an early-morning boost.
For me, it was not quite enough to push me to my limits. I guess, motivation was pretty low due to the early hours, but that could have been corrected with some music hits. The class was more suited towards a beginner, rather than a more experienced rider. So, if you are trying out spin for the first time, this is one that would be great for you!
The studio at 1Rebel is very large, and they even do live streaming. This takes a bit of the community spirit away from the classes, as the instructor cannot really see you, as they are on a stage, and no one can hear you, as the music is very loud. It is more like a show, than a spin class. The lighting is beautiful and the instructors can even give out vapour into the studio, which is really awesome and creates a terrific effect. When you get an instructor that fully uses all the features of the studio, and combines them with great music and choreography, the experience becomes truly beautiful and your ride gets a touch of magic.
Another Space (Covent Garden)
Instructor: Elliot (Instagram: @elliotjpowell )
Class Time (How Packed): 6.30 pm (pretty quiet class, but it was Friday night)
Calories Burnt: 305 Kcal
The class at Another_Space was very good, and Elliot had a great choice of music, his class was an awesome workout. However, it fell into the category of spin classes that are focused more on working out, not the mind-body connection. I, personally, enjoy these classes slightly less, hence it was not exactly for me. The music chosen by Elliot was well-chosen and motivational, and the drills (don’t want to call them routines or choreographies, as that is not what they were) were challenging and kept the mind focused on the workout. Elliot was savage in terms of getting the most out of your legs, and his choice of music did help that goal.
This class is perfect, if you prefer a more structured approach, and a higher focus on leg work: there were a lot of endurance and hill-climb tracks. It is a great ride if you prefer a more exercise-type spin, and don’t really need the mind-body connection to drive you through. It is designed for more experienced riders, as the drills are challenging and the resistance on the bike goes up quite quickly (and not by %, but by turns).
The studio was nice and the class design was very structured. Elliot told me that each instructor in the studio has a different approach to teaching the class, however, I assume that in comparison to SoulCycle, Another_Space is a more exercise-oriented spin studio than a place to calm your mind and tune in with how your body feels. Less mindfulness, more hard work here.
Class Time (How Packed): 4.30 pm (class was waaay too packed)
Calories Burnt: 347 Kcal
I had really high expectations for this studio, which, unfortunately, were not fulfilled. There is a huge hype in the spin world about Psycle. Everyone keeps raving about how good it is, how the classes really emphasise the mind-body connection and how the workouts are excellent. To me, Sunny’s ride did not hit the spot. The class was overcrowded, way too many people for the room and no air conditioning on. It got steaming in the studio in seconds, and Sunny did not turn on the air con. for over half the class, so everyone was dripping in sweat and it was much harder to breathe.
The music choice was good, but extraordinary, a bit psychedelic, I would say. It was very energetic and the class did have a booming vibe, however, in the sweatiness of it all it was kind of hard to enjoy it fully (I still did to a degree). Sunny focused on the mind-body connection, but more with inspirational phrases, than with her own energy. She had enough choreographies and variety in the workout to keep the mind busy, and the music really supported that.
Something that threw me off most, was that she was not on the bike much at all!!! The class was really led by the people in the first row. The instructor should be on the bike, with the participants! It brings the most energy to the studio! Honestly, a bit of a disappointment, but it is due more to the instructor’s style than the studio vibe!
I really do not want to make a generalisation based on this one class, but seems like Psycle is just one of those overrated studios that everyone on Instagram posts about, but actually it isn’t that special. The class level would suit anyone, and the routines allowed for adaptations for different levels of riding experience.
!Bonus! Digme (Rathbone Square)
Class Time (How Packed): 12.10 pm (a few free bikes, but mostly full)
Calories Burnt: 347 Kcal
My least favourite one, but not to say it was bad. The class was very exercise-oriented, with no choreography whatsoever. My mind needs to be challenged in spin with some choreographies, limb and core movement. The bikes here displayed your statistics on little screens fixed to the handle-bars, which were displayed on a leader board at the end of the class, and could be viewed on your Digme account. Not a lot of people deal ok with constantly seeing their statistics, and for some it may even decrease performance. Seeing the statistics definitely focuses your mind on numbers, and rather than giving it your all and your soul, you keep chasing numbers during the whole class. I don’t think this is a good way to exercise, as you may get obsessed by trying to hit the same number or beat your last score every time you come. These monitors are quite inaccurate and obsessing over the number can take the joy out of your workouts.
The instructor gave a range of levels to work with, for example 10-12 or 14-16. This means that the intensity levels where the same for everyone, and you could not adjust to your own max level to get the most out of your legs. The level structure can be good, if you like precision and tend to worry about not hitting the right range on your own. The workout had absolutely zero emotional aspect to it. The instructor did not exert much energy or do much to motivate us, so for me it was just a bit boring.
The studio was not very welcoming all together, the instructor and receptionist were very cold. It felt a bit like you are on a conveyer, as they even had shoes for the next rider stood near the bikes, as if to say: “Get out when you’re done.” This studio and class design is perfect if you are numbers-driven, are motivated by specific target and competition, and don’t really care about the studio vibe.
These all, of course, are just my own opinions, every person will have their own preferences, favourite styles and instructors. By no means, a studio can be judged only by one class, but it can give you a good sense of what to expect.
Trying out a few studios, several different instructors is the best way to get an understanding of what you like and what you would want from a spin class. We are all so unique and individual, we have our own tastes and needs, hence there are so many studios for each one of us to find the spin we truly love.
If you have tried any of these studios or other ones in London, let us know about your experience!
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank all the studios for kindly sponsoring my challenge and giving me class passes to the rides. I would also like to thank anyone who supported me with donations for JDRF UK and words of encouragement. If you would like to see a vlog of the day (with more studio insights), the video is available here.