Last week, on a trip to London, I decided to “treat myself” (quite questionable if this really constitutes a treat or not…..) and booked in for a morning class at 1Rebel – one of the new boutique fitness studios that every fitness blogger under the sun seems to be raving about.
What is on offer?
1Rebel offers 2 classes: Ride & Reshape. Ride is the traditional spin class offering; although it does market itself a full-body workout due to the inclusion of a set of dumbbells hanging over the bike, while Reshape is the ever-so-slightly more intimidating version which uses intervals of treadmill work combined with weight training. If you’ve ever heard of the infamous Barry’s Bootcamp, the Reshape classes seem to be loosely based on the same idea, without being quite as expensive.
As a new spinning convert, I decide to give 1Rebel Ride a go as rolling out of bed at 6.30am seemed easier when it was following a familiar concept. I was keen to get my sweaty cycling fix & I was not left disappointed.
You can book classes easily online and are given the choice of 65 numbered bike stations on booking. As a result of 1Rebel’s no frills pay-as-you-go system, you won’t be tied to any contracts and are under no obligation to return if you decide it isn’t for you.
I am told that if you do make repeat bookings, the system will remember what height you set your bike seat at and do the same for you next time. I mean, it’s not difficult to change the height of the seat once you get there and I probably wouldn’t even notice that they had set it at the right height for me but apparently these little details make a difference for some (lazy) people.
So, how was my 1Rebel Ride experience?
After springing out of bed with excitement at 7am (fitness geek alert…..) I headed to 1Rebel armed with my citymapper app for directions & a print out of the email confirmation I had received.
I found 1Rebel quite easily (if you’re stuck just head for the Gherkin) although the outside of the building is quite unassuming.
On entrance I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who didn’t need the confirmation email, instead simply asking for my surname to check my booking. She then reminded me what bike I had booked onto and gave me a nice big fluffy towel for the showers, a smaller towel to take into class and a free bottle of water (gotta love the freebies). Personally I think the bottle of water is quite small for the class and would recommended bring your own larger water bottle if you, like me, like to guzzle a lot during the class.
The changing rooms follow the gritty industrial-chic vibe exerted by everything 1Rebel but with hairdryers, straighteners, beauty products and big lockers. You really don’t need to bring anything with you except your outfit for the day ahead.
1Rebel also provide cleats (special cycling shoes that clip onto the bike) which was a bit of a novelty for me as I had never used them before!
After we all moved into the dimly-lit, large studio, the instructor kindly helped to connect me to my spin bike as I was pretty clueless. The idea was similar enough to connecting yourself to a set of skis, but I’ve never been much good at that either so was bound to struggle.
I found the shoes to be helpful for technique, although not a necessity for the spin class beginner as ensuring the foot straps are well tightened on a normal spin bike is more than adequate and basically has the same effect.
The class was 45 minutes long which I personally think was he perfect length of time, long enough to give a well-rounded workout but short enough to be able to maintain the high intensity throughout. 1Rebel also offers 30 minute lunchtime sessions which I think would feel a bit short but are a great alternative for busy London workers.
We sweated our way through a routine incorporating hills and sprints as well as jumps in and out of the bike, which really got the glutes and quads burning. There was also a track using dumbbells for a variety of arm exercises including bicep curls and tricep dips: I didn’t feel like this track did a whole lot as I spent most of the time trying to maintain my balance and keep cycling at the same time but maybe if I used heavier dumbbells (my bike had been pre-set with 2kg weights) next time it may have more of an effect. It was still nice to mix it up in the middle of the workout.
The low lighting meant that you could really go for it without feeling like everyone was watching you – although it was so dark I sometimes struggled to even see to be able to turn up my resistance.
Furthermore, the lack of a clock annoyed me as I am one of those people who always likes to know how much time there is left to go. If you’re like me – bring a watch.
Despite these little niggles, I had a great experience & by the end of the workout, I felt really invigorated and ready to hit the day ahead. Our instructor had been great at throwing in a series of go-get-it taglines so I left the room really feeling full of sass.
After a high-5 from our instructor Melissa (@MelissaWeldonUK) and a well-needed cool down from the cold towels provided, we all headed off towards the changing rooms. The showers had quite a queue: if you were in a rush you would need to make sure you got out of the class pronto before the rush. Luckily, this was not too big an issue for me and with nothing but a morning coffee with some friends planned, I was able to enjoy a leisurely shower before heading out to face the day.
So, is it worth it?
In terms of workout benefits, I didn’t find the workout I got from 1Rebel Ride to be much more effective than from a standard run of the mill spin class. The layout was generally similar and the class didn’t contain any new revolutionary material.
With regards to the Ride class’ claim of a “full body workout,” the impact from the requirement of using my core to stabilise myself when running out of the saddle did much more to give the “all-over body” effect than the one track which did incorporate dumbbells. Despite 1Rebel’s claim, I still maintain that if you are looking for all-over body conditioning in a single session, spin class (1Rebel Ride included) isn’t the ideal choice.
However, if you struggle to motivate yourself to work harder and want a workout treat that will set your glutes and quads on fire – I think 1Rebel Ride is a great choice. The state of the art spin bikes and high-energy playlists packed with the latest tunes make this intensive class a lot more bearable and actually quite enjoyable. Moreover, the introductory offer of a £10 class means that, in London terms, it won’t completely obliterate your bank balance either.
Now I’m hoping to be able to return with renewed energy ready to give 1Rebel Reshape a go!
1Rebel, 63 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A. 020 3714 0710. Introductory sessions from £10.
NB. Photos courtesy of 1Rebel – I was too busy trying to figure out how to strap myself into the bike & mopping up my own sweat to take many photos of my own.