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How staff Flywheel nearly killed me

Extreme cycling workouts are all the rage, and London employees can get one free at Shoreditch House. But hungover House Four editor Emma Bartley found her first class a struggle…

Maybe if I hadn’t had the last glass of wine. The night before my first staff session at Flywheel, a hi-tech spinning class in Shoreditch House, I went out a quick drink. The laws of going out being what they are, I naturally ended up staggering home at 1am on the wrong side of a bottle of red.

Which was fun, but I’m regretting it when I find myself clipped onto a bike at 10.30am, listening to a pounding warm-up track with nine other Soho House people while the orb of a headache forms in my left temple. “Your torq (resistance) should be in the high teens or early 20s and your RPM in the 60s,” says our peppy instructor, Demi, the monochrome print on her leggings blurring into grey as she pedals. Whether it’s fear or merlot, my stomach starts to churn, but I turn the dial and speed up.

This being a warm-up, Demi keeps the speed constant, asking us to turn up our torq by a couple of notches every now and then – I immediately lose all concept of time – until it gets to about 30 and we move on to a climbing track. The resistance starts a little higher and we’re up off our seats, bouncing along to the music and turning up the dial again and again.

“I don’t want you walking out of here. I want you crawling!”

As the endorphins kick in (or am I still tipsy?) I find myself grinning at Demi as she shouts: “You guys are hardcore!” We work to the beat or the double beat, so I find I can just about keep up even when we launch into a bout of standing/sitting sprints: UP two three four five six seven eight DOWN two three four five six seven eight.

But I’m still pretty nervous. Flywheel has a reputation, even among fans of other hardcore spin classes like Psycle and SoulCycle, because the digital display makes it hard to get away with a good old “fake turning the dial” when the instructor asks you to turn up the resistance. “You get points for how hard you’re working, and everyone can see them
on a screen,” one regular at the Shoreditch class warned me beforehand. “People compete.”

That was the wrong thing to tell me, because I am HUGELY competitive. Cheating at Monopoly competitive. Staring at Alp from reception trying to work out if his legs are going faster than mine (even though he’s a regular so like, duh, yes) competitive. As it’s a staff class, our scores aren’t shown on the big screens but Demi has told us that we might get around 200, and as I near and then pass that I start to want to get to 300.

Sadly, I’m now struggling. “We can have it all,” go the vocals on the drum and bass track Demi’s using to get us into some long sprints. But my inner thigh muscles are singing a slightly different tune. “No we can’t,” they are saying. “We can have about another ten seconds of this before you have to get off your bike, leave the room and vomit. And don’t forget to allow extra time for the fact that your feet are clipped on to this torture device.”

“We can have it all,” go the vocals. “Only for another ten seconds,” sing my thigh muscles

In the event I don’t actually puke, but my heart rate is higher than it should be (in the 170s). The test of moderate exercise is that you can hold a conversation while doing it; this is so intense that I can’t even summon a whoop to encourage Demi, which is a shame because she is lovely. “I don’t want you walking out of here. I want you crawling!” she says at one point. What a character. Happily Jasmine, who’s on the bike behind mine, has a bit more energy left and comes back with a cheerful little “Yeah!”.

During the final few tracks I black out for a bit: there might have been some weight lifting on the bikes, but all I recall is the stiff pain in my thighs. By the time my consciousness kicks back in we’re stretching and sharing scores – Jasmine got 260, I got 262 and Alp over 300 – CURSE HIM. Will I be back next week? Absolutely. Demi is awesome, I am hardcore and Flywheel is my new hangover cure. See you there.

Soho House & Co offers a range of fitness classes for our staff around the world. To find one near you, email your HR rep.
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