Dark rooms, loud music, flashing lights… the atmosphere is intense and I am dripping in sweat. As we leave the basement studio, high fiving the instructor on the way out, we all give each other knowing nods and half smiles. We just smashed it.
This is the scene at many of the new, and increasingly popular boutique fitness studios popping up around London. All are well equipped with perfectly toned, enthusiastic instructors working us to our max. And they can all fit a lot of people in one room, a ‘team’ they might call us, working to the same goal… to look like our instructor!
But after one worryingly poor class, I can’t help but feel perhaps these mass participation, ‘all about the atmosphere’ classes are lacking a few vital ingredients… technique, care and safety. I was in an indoor cycling class recently, the lights had gone down and a guy walked in late, and sat on the bike next to me. He said to the guide showing him over that he hadn’t been here before, yet they just popped him on the bike and left him in the dark (his fault for being late you may say). I took a glimpse to my right and could see him hunched over the handlebars, legs nowhere near extension as he pushed down. This was a recipe for disaster. In the darkness I climbed off my bike and offered to help him… no need for blushing, it was too dark to see and he could barely hear me over the music. But we managed to adjust his bike and get on with the session. This lack of disregard for participants is something I’ve seen now a number of times in similar classes, where poor technique is being overlooked so as not to interrupt the pace of the class. I cannot help but think this cattle herding attitude is going to see nothing but injuries, and a lot of them.
I’ve seen poor squats, terrible push ups and dangerously placed neck positions in a number of classes just in the last seven days, and can barely hold back when the instructor fails to make appropriate corrections because he/she is too busy getting the ‘crowd pumped up’!
Don’t get me wrong… I do love a good dark basement workout with pumping music, and forgive me for sounding like the health and safety geek that no one wants around, but maybe these places should be offering beginner classes, or at least a five minute induction to newbies? Or maybe I’ll just retrain as a physiotherapist, and cash in whilst I can!