I was invited to 1Rebel for the launch of Nakeid Sportswear founded by Elena Gromova. I'm always excited about new kit, but I was even more intrigued to see what the club has to offer.
Walking in I am very impressed with the fit out. Nice contemporary industrial looking space, high ceilings, quality materials, friendly people, convenient location and great music. Salad and fresh juice bar available packed with nutritious food, kit from Nakeid on display, and a great touch with the internal bike racks. I am immediately given a fresh white towel, some instructions and make my way into a changing room. On route I pass @Barber Blow hairdressers, which looks very busy, new hairstyle after the gym anyone? What a great idea.
Moody lights, Hollywood make up mirrors, make up removers, toners, shower gels, shampoos available, great looking copper lockers with a clever design that allows you to separate your dirty shoes from your clothes. This place is busy. It's a bit weird to see women putting make up before exercise class, but I love it.
I open my bag full of my own cycling kit and immediately realise I forgot my heart monitor. Bugger! I get changed, make my way up again where I am told I have to wear their shoes. Without even checking I am told they use a different system. Are these Keo's? I use Keo's! Anyway, I don't want to make a fuss. I am asked to choose shoes from under a bench. The shoes are damp and tired looking. I really hoped they have just been cleaned and are not covered in someone else's sweat. After digging a bit deeper I manage to find a dry pair.
The benches outside the ‘RIDE’ room are busy, loads of ladies had attended and the place is buzzing. There is still a little time before the session begins so I wander around a bit more. I am still excited about the class. I expect hard work. A sort of turbo training session with few extra bits.
The previous class ends, the staff goes in and very promptly tidies up, before we go in. I am then shown to my designated bike and set about adjusting it to fit, handle bars back and down a bit, saddle forward and up, fresh small towel available, I place my water bottle in its holder. All done, I get on, and start pedalling then make few more adjustments to the bike. A barefooted lady next to me looks puzzled and then askes me how to remove her shoe from the pedal. I get off and remove it whilst showing her how to do it. We laugh and she is happy.
The music is pumping. I liked it. Short instructions, the lights go off and we are ready to begin.
What 1Rebel promises on their website is a Ride not a Spin. It says: 'we don’t spin we Ride. Smash your way through a high energy 30 or 45 minute Ride session against a pioneering weekly set of themed rides by our Rockstar instructors, live music from our house musicians, or mix-up with a double shot, which incorporates Ride and kick ass Reshape. Ride is a full body workout incorporating hand weights, as well as immersive pyrotechnics never seen before in a fitness studio'.
Well, it is a spin. It is aerobics on a bicycle. It is great if it encourages people to exercise and get them on the bike. As a keen cyclist, gym junkie and HIIT fan myself I feel cycling is best with the hands still on the bars focusing on legs and lungs.
Being out of the saddle most of the time (in cycling world that's just a waste of energy) while doing hip and arm thrusting movements at high cadence seemed very unnatural and got me worried a bit. It could be a recipe for disaster. I can't afford an injury. Maybe I am too much of a purist?
Coming at it from a road cyclist point of view who is used to power meter, heart monitor, resistance and data rich angle, bikes at 1Rebel are very basic. There are no bike computers here. The instructor has a laptop next to her. All I have is a resistance dial, which is not very clear and impossible to accurately set. Tiny graphics, a room with low flashing light or no light at all, I have to adjust it to my feel. Quarter of a movement followed by a bit more. Is that enough? Does she want me to turn it up, or turn it down? A bit like trying to read 8pt type while dancing in the nightclub to a pumping soundtrack.
I decide to ride to the rhythm of the music while constantly adjusting the dial. I also take my cyclists hat off and try to enjoy the experience. It's not a bike ride, but it's exercise. It gets my heart pumping and sweat dripping off my body. This ride is not going to end up on Strava, I won't know the elevation of the hill we were pretending to climb, I will not know my power output or how I compare against the others.
I am struggling to see how this is pioneering, as the moves are very similar to FLYWHEEL that's been going for a few years now. 1Rebel got rid of the competitive aspect by removing the data where you can compare yourself and see your personal bests or compare yourself to other people’s performance and I am missing it.
It is not an Athlete Lab. Don't get me wrong. It is a cool place that to exercise. It is designed for people who have 1 hour to spare to get a full body aerobics class. It's great for people who may find cycling on the road dangerous and stay safe and away from traffic and that can never be a bad thing.
1Rebel also offers other non bike related classes and there is no membership fee, you just pay as you go. It that sense, it could be just what you're looking for in London.