Is glow-in-the-dark exercise the future of fitness?
It’s kind of like a rave, but it’s 8.30am and you’re not on drugs
Whether it is Takeshi’s Castle-style jungle gyms or mud-streaked marathon obstacle courses, the gym in the 21st century must be as exciting as it is excruciating. But surely all this noise is just a distraction from the fact that exercise is a miserable pursuit?
To prove this theory, I visited Fitness First, to try its latest neon-tinted iteration of spinning: “Glow”. The concept suggests it will combat the pain of a heavy bike session using glow-in-the-dark armbands and a party playlist.
On these grounds, I’m not quite sure what to expect. I’m picturing something between a glow-paint party on the Malia strip and that bit in Tron where they zoom around on their mad space bikes.
Luckily it’s more like the latter: the darkened studio is decked out with pulsing neon bulbs and racks of glowing weights. These, I’m told, are “Velobells”, luminous bike-weights created especially for Glow. The room is filled with elfin beauty bloggers who I half-expect to sparkle in the UV lights. Then there’s me, standing there looking perplexed in a grubby white T-shirt and some too-short shorts.
As the class begins and ultraviolet light bathes the room, two things are bothering me: how clean my shirt is, and whether I should have gone to at least one spin class before I signed up. But is this even spinning?
Our instructor tries to explain Glow in simpler terms: “It’s basically a party on a bike.” Right.
We get going, and it doesn’t feel like a party. It actually just feels like a spin class, except for the fact that I’m wearing glowsticks and can’t see where I’m meant to put my feet.
I try to pinpoint exactly what it reminds me of, and a whole heap of Matrix/Blade Runner comparisons spring to mind. Maybe High Rise – basically anything set in a dystopian future where the people probably ride stationary bikes in dark rooms while thrusting misshapen lightbulbs in the air.
However, at some point during this thought process, I realise how much I’m enjoying myself. Somewhere between the colourful lights and the thumping club bangers and the glowsticks on your wrists, you do genuinely forget you’re doing a spin class. It’s more like one of those strange daytime raves you always hear about and never actually see.
That’s not to say it isn’t difficult: I’m spending as much time singing along to Neyo as I am mopping up sweat and trying not to stop peddling. In fact, the concentration required to pull off full-speed cycling and simultaneous shoulder presses means I’m in genuine danger of toppling off my bike and into the very expensive-looking light fittings.
The class ends on a high with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which we dance along to. My exuberant claw move is clearly making the woman next to me uncomfortable, but I don’t care because I’m in my element. And guess what? It barely even registers that I’m still cycling at 100rpm.
People may turn their nose up at things like Glow, saying there’s nothing wrong with a normal spin class. Or that there are many things wrong with all spin classes. But the fact of the matter is, a normal spin class doesn’t leave you with a smile on your face – and it definitely doesn’t have you rushing to sign up to the next one.