As someone who firmly believes in the gym being a judgement-free zone (unless you're that guy who tries to impress your female companion by doing planks with the completely wrong form - no, I'm definitely judging you for that), one phenomenon has always puzzled me greatly: why on earth are there so many people on the treadmills and stationary bikes?
Isn't cardio bad enough as it is? Why are you on a futile cycle/run to nowhere? Are you really having fun? The last time I had to run on a treadmill, I got so bored so quickly, I was ready to quit three minutes in and just do 50 burpees. Yes, burpees are preferable over treadmills, there I said it.
It's with this long-held bias that I went for Virgin Active Raffles Place's newly launched The Trip spin class. Obviously, I've never been for a spin class on the account that I'd rather do burpees over literally going nowhere on a bike or treadmill. Still, this class was touting itself to be more than just your run-of-the-mill spin class, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for shiny new things (and workouts).
Created by fitness company Les Mills, The Trip, according to its PR spiel, is "a fully immersive workout experience that combines a 40-minute multi-peak cycling workout with a journey through digitally-created worlds". This is done in a darkened studio with a "cinema-scale screen and sound system", and claims to help you burn "serious calories" (one report says about 450 calories per class). Still, I had my reservations about how much fun or realistic the "digitally-created worlds" could be. I'm still going to be stuck indoors, am I not?
Right before the class starts, our very cheerful instructor reminds us to look away from the screen lest we get motion sickness. I snort a little inwardly as the studio darkens and the massive screen in front of the rows of bikes lights up. "How bad could it be WHOAAAAAA OKAY THAT'S TRIPPY."
Our "ride" starts off fairly easy through the flat planes of what looks to be New York City or some other major metropolis. Here, our instructor takes the chance to go through the basics of making the most of the class: turn up the gear when you see a slope; lean your body to the left and right on the bends; and pedal as hard as you can at all times. And then the fun really begins.
For the first 20 minutes of the class, we traverse through a multitude of incredible landscapes with relatively manageable slopes. I am breathing hard, but managing well (those burpees help!). As skeptical as I'd been at the start, the graphics are actually good enough that - so long you keep your eyes on the path - you get the surreal feeling of actually gliding along on futuristic roads. The thumping soundtrack of dance music matches the ebbs and flows of the path, and helps keep that adrenaline pumping.
Then, as the scenery becomes more and more Blade Runner-esque, the frequency and gradients of the slopes are amped up exponentially - as does my ability to keep up.
"I don't know about you, but I always feel really good after this!" enthuses the instructor as we complete a particularly brutal set of eight four-second circuits where we alternate between turning the gear up to the highest resistance and pedaling as first as we could.
I wheeze in response.
Soon enough though, we are "making our way" back to the cityscape we started off with. A couple of minutes of cool-down cycling, and we've come to the end of The Trip. I have worked up a sweat, and according to my Fitbit, have managed to keep my heart rate in the cardio zone for most of the class. But most importantly, I was thoroughly entertained, despite having traveled nowhere in the last 40 minutes, and the bikes not being able to bank left and right according to your body movement (a shame).
Would I, a staunch cardio hater, go for another The Trip class? Probably. There are apparently 11 "trips" and soundtracks in total, so every class feels and looks different, and burpees do get boring after awhile. But for the rest of you spin cycle fans, this is one class you definitely do not want to miss.
The Trip is available only at Virgin Active Raffles Place. Visit www.virginactive.com.sg for more information.
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