With a class description which states that the "classes are recommended for intermediate to advanced fitness levels", and which explicitly states that "they are not recommended for beginners", you know that Pro Cycling™ caters to a very specific audience. Who am I talking about? I'm talking about those who see themselves as having reached some fitness benchmark, and who want to challenge themselves further.
As Julian Toh, Senior Group Exercise Manager at Fitness First tells us, the class is "targeted specifically at cycling enthusiasts and people with intermediate to advanced fitness levels with prior experience with cycling outdoors or cycling classes." These are the people you see sweating their pores dry while on the bike in the gym, followed by a run on the treadmill, and a cool-down on the elliptical, constantly blinking away the all-too-frequent drop of sweat which trickles into their eyes.
So it was, that I approached Pro Cycling™ with nervous apprehension. I've done more than a fair share of Spinning classes, and I consider those to be "painful" workouts.
You might say – "these classes are own-time-own-target; why bother pushing yourself so hard?" That's entirely true. You could go in, and lightly pedal with minimal resistance throughout the 50 – 60 minutes of the class, and emerge "champion", as "least tired of the lot". But COME ON – with the music, and everyone around you, why hold back? So yes, indoor cycling classes require some mental preparation, and careful reminders not to go too hard in the beginning.
Pro Cycling™ is a "30-minute high-intensity interval cycling session" (saying that alone needs a breath), and, on first impression, seems to be one of those "get fit and look good fast" workouts that are popular these days. After all, another description is that "people with busy schedules who need an effective and efficient workout" should try the class. As someone who does endurance races, my sessions are structured the conventional way – 10-minute warm-up, main set, and 5-10 minute cool down – so I was curious to see how a full 30-minutes of start-to-finish intervals was going to work.
Well, the simple answer is that the "main set" is high-intensity, with short rests. Pro Cycling™ sessions are structured as a 5-min warm-up, followed by a Training Phase of 4 to 6 sets of intervals, a Competition Phase of 4 to 6 intense stages, and ending with a 5-min Recovery – that's 8-12 sets in 30 minutes! Julian reassures us that "30 minutes is sufficient time for a workout so long as the right structure, intensity, and support is present". Furthermore, this session suits "high performance athletes and people with busy schedules who cannot fit a standard 45 minute or one hour spin class into their day"
What I found most unusual was that the workouts are based on Victoria Pendleton's training programmes. For those of us who don't follow track cycling (which is most of us in Singapore. We don't have an indoor track), and those of us who didn't spend time in the UK, we wouldn't have a clue about this lady. To cut a long story short – she's a 9-time World Champion and Double Olympic Gold Medallist. Ask any lady out there if they'd want to look like a sprint-cyclist, and they'd give you a worried stare. However, Julian assures us that Pro Cycling™, as a "short yet high intensity class" simulates "just some of her training sessions, which would be beneficial to high performance athletes and allowing one to achieve an athlete's muscle tone".
In fact, several national athletes have participated in Pro Cycling™ classes, such as members from Netball Singapore, and Rugby Singapore. Even national marathoner Mok Ying Ren has attended Pro Cycling™, and he likened the intensity of the class to his 40km bicycle leg during the 2007 SEA Games Triathlon event, which he won a Gold Medal for.
FITNESS FIRST offers Pro Cycling™ at a majority of their outlets; even if you're not a member, Julian tells us that a free one-day trial gym pass is available for those who wish to try Pro Cycling™.
If you're up for a challenge, you want to pedal away all that work day stress, and you fall within the group of individuals Pro Cycling™ caters to, then you know where to get your fitness fix!