We investigate the bizarre new workout mixing pedalling with club tunes
A mix of an indoor bicycle workout and a mash-up of club tracks, Mark Griffiths investigates Dubai’s latest fitness craze, Flywheel.
Changing rooms to rival any five-star hotel, disco lighting and state-of-the- art bikes displaying everything from RPM to torque resistance, Flywheel has plenty to draw you in. But it’s the heart-pumping playlists making the latest indoor cycling phenomenon one of the hottest new trends around. That, and the fact you can burn upwards of 1,300 calories a session.
If you thought it was just you against the bike, you were mistaken. With the centre’s new music series expect to hear Britney versus Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z versus Eminem, and what would a battle series be without the infamous Chris Brown versus Rihanna? Flywheel instructors are trained not only in cycling technique but also music selection and playlist production, enabling every ride to flow and push riders harder every time.
‘Music in general has the ability to change and adapt attitudes and outlooks,’ says Paul Watson, instructor and personal trainer at Dubai’s Burj Views centre. ‘Music in a workout environment is a recipe for success. Without music and specific music, riders would struggle to find a rhythm in the class and could lose motivation quickly. It’s the strong beat that gets your heart racing and when it comes to the fast-pace work, the drop of the beat sends riders into overdrive.’
Flywheel founder Ruth Zukerman, an instructor of more than 25 years, is the pioneer of the indoor cycling concept, opening her first club-like studio in NYC in 2010. While indoor cycling has been around for decades, studios like Flywheel Sports are putting a new spin on this workout.
The concept of the exercise bike fitness class was popularised in the 1980s when Lycra-clad gym bunnies hijacked the idea of taking on gruelling hills and sprint finishes without leaving the studio. 20 years later and indoor cycling is enjoying a comeback – with effortless style and a brand new beat.
‘Every playlist is carefully put together by the instructors,’ adds Watson. ‘Given the importance we attribute to music at Flywheel, we spend tonnes of time choosing and scouting music, remixes and unique mash-ups. I sometimes feel like a DJ, because in the end, our goal and that of a DJ is very similar: to bring joy, movement and energy to our riders.’
Each instructor makes their own playlist catering for the class attendees, and every playlist is unique depending on the class. ‘Some music selections have proven very popular, with riders even calling for mixes to take away with them,’ adds Watson.
With plenty of fresh towels, a chill-out lounge, online payment and stats system, Dubai’s Flywheel centre in Burj Views is fancy. Computerised bikes remove the ‘guess the torque’ element you sometimes feel at a Les Mills spinning class.
Having selected your bike online, you take your seat and the lights go out – it’s practically a fitness disco. You can pedal your heart out without feeling like you’re being watched by any of those ‘superfit freaks’.
Bikes sit in a tiered stadium-style arena, lights are dimmed and the tunes kick in. One side of the disco-feel room is given an exercise while those opposite concentrate on an alternative.
Each track begins and finishes and the idea is to feel the burn in one song against the other.
Who would you work harder for, Chris Brown or Rihanna? Actually, don’t answer that. Each class is Dh110, including bike and shoe hire. www.dubai.flywheelsports.com (04 423 2544).
Three new musical workouts
CXWORX A 30-minute workout to music that hones in on the torso muscles and is ideal for tightening your tummy and posterior. Aviation Club, Garhoud. (04 230 8560)
Tribal Step An energising step workout, which just wouldn’t work without music. Using a height-adjustable step, you get huge motivation from sing-a-long music and approachable instructors. Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina. (800 87423)
Pump track For a different kind of workout, take your bike to the pump track by Adventure HQ at Dubai Sports World and enjoy some pumping tunes too. Safe and fun for all ages and skill levels for all bicycles; children’s bikes, BMX and full-size mountain bikes can be ridden. Dubai Sports World, Dubai World Trade Centre. (04 306 4000)