Technology puts new spin on indoor cycling

Reform Cycling and Strength Studio spinning
Reform Cycling and Strength Studio spinning class in session. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

At Reform Cycling and Strength Studio, located in Westlands, Nairobi, 20 indoor bikes are linked to a central assessment point from which the gym instructor tracks each rider’s performance.

The riders can also see their performance on a different display screen— a reform board— and compare their progress with the rest of the group. Most people are pretty competitive; when you see your score and how you’re doing compared to the rest of the class that drives results.

Before starting an indoor cycling session, one is taken through the basics; setting up the bike according to one’s height, the range within which one should ride, interpreting the numbers on the bike’s screen and the reform board.

Many gyms have integrated technologies in workouts that help people keep track of calories burnt, heart rate, energy used and pace.

For the Westlands cycling studio, it offers focused fitness concepts that deviate from the usual equipment-laden gyms with charges per session starting at Sh1,500.

The gym instructors also use the technology to organise high-intensity group competitions to keep the spinning sessions interesting.

“With people in Nairobi being extremely busy, we found that there was a need for a dedicated class-based studio, where they could have efficient workouts tailored to their bodies and fitness levels,” said Saloni Kantaria, the Studio's founder.

Different workouts

The studio has different sessions tailored for fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes. The ‘Beat Ride’ is offered in two sessions of 45 and 75 minutes, with the longest session targeting professional athletes, outdoor cyclists or fitness teams.

“This class is sequenced to the beat of the music and is intended to focus on cardio conditioning,” she said.

The ‘Reform Beat Ride’ is a vigorous session lasting 45 minutes and focuses on the lower part of the body, said Emmanuel Killy, an instructor at the studio.

Pedalling works out the muscles around the hips, thighs and the shins. It has a number of cardio benefits too, including helping the heart become more efficient at pumping blood.

The class starts off with an easy ride and resistance is built incrementally. One can also use light weights (dumbbells) for upper body exercises while pedalling.

To enjoy the class and avoid backaches, Mr Killy advises that the bike is set according to someone’s height.

People attending a class at the studio have to first book in advance. This allows the trainers to key in the participant’s information into the machines, and later send a summary of the session via e-mail.

Body shredder

It also has ‘Body Shredder’ session where participants do 30 minutes of cycling and strength exercises for body toning, flexibility and weight loss.

In this studio, Moses Wanyoike the instructor, said people can also do bosu exercises and barre-based exercises.

The barre class is a ladies class that integrates ballet concepts, pilates and functional training. During the session, weights and an elastic ball are also used to work out muscles with an aim of making them more elastic, while also toning the body.

“This (bosu) is one of the most versatile piece of fitness equipment I have come across as you can do cardio-focused exercises, strength-focused exercises, pilates and balance workouts on it,” Ms Kantaria said.

Strength Studio

The gym also has a strength studio which can accommodate up to 15 people.

“The strength studio is about muscle definition, toning the body and holistic body fitness,’’ said Mr Wanyoike, adding that people who participate in these sessions at least three times a week for at least six weeks will see more muscle definition in their bodies.

During the session, people exercising wear a heart rate strap which displays data on the reform board giving details of the energy used and cardio activity.