Welltodo Insider: The Secrets Behind The Psycle Experience


This year we’ve witnessed the spinning revolution in London and with the success of Psycle‘s first studio on Mortimer Street, more and more Londoners are getting a taste of indoor cyclist at its best.

But some aspects are very different to the prehistoric gym spin class and for very good reason, which is why we pinned down Pyscle instructor Chiara Pellegrino to get the ins and outs of the Psycle experience; from why it won’t give you thunder thighs to how your mentality impacts your ride…

So Chiara, we’ve ridden a bike before, maybe even done a spin class… why does the instructor need to set the bike up for us?

“This is a really important question! 70% of first-time riders at Psycle think that we are setting them up too high on the saddle,” says Chiara. “But,” she explains, “this is generally because of their experiences at a regular spin class.”

“The Pyscle technique requires that we set your seat slightly higher, in order to activate the hamstrings and gluteal muscles rather than relying on the quads, and to release any tension in the hip flexors.”

So how should the bike be set-up?

“First we’ll set the saddle to your hip height, and then the seat should be the distance of your elbow to hand length from the handle bars. Though these are just guidelines; we’ll find the perfect set up once you’re sitting on your saddle.”

This is where Chiara would check that the knee is slightly soft, not too bent and never locked. When the knee is at 90 degrees, it should be in a straight line with the pedal crank.

“The handle bar setting is up to you. If you’re a first timer or have lower back problems you’d have it higher than someone who is an experienced ‘Psyclist’ seeking a deeper shoulder and arm workout.”

What about those special shoes that clip in to the pedals… why not regular trainers?

“We provide you with cycling shoes for pretty much the same reasons: clipping in with cleats allows you to pull the legs up (as well as pushing down), engaging more gluteal and hamstrings to avoid growing big thighs (which we know women want to avoid at all costs!). You can’t do this in regular trainers.”

So, what kind of workout are we getting?

“Psycle classes combine cardio and resistance training: they are designed to burn lots of calories whilst toning your body all over, with the help of light hand weights. If you have the correct technique and you use your resistance properly you can burn up to 600kcal in a 45 minute class.”

How is a class structured?

“The structure is based around intervals and movements out of the saddle that keep you out of breath throughout the whole class. This “shocks” your body so that it keeps burning calories up to 20 minutes after the class is finished (which is why you’ll keep sweating even after showering)…”

“Then is comes down to the use of resistance, which you control.”

How do we know when to adjust the resistance lever?

“Teaching people how to use their resistance is one of the toughest part of being a Psycle instructor. Tracks like Ballet and especially Power, do not make sense if your resistance is not high.”

“I give guidelines like “you should be now at 20%-60%-90% of your maximum resistance”. But it comes down to the rider feeling whether it is hard enough or they could add more; this you learn after a few classes.”

“From the stage it is very clear who is turning up the dial and who is ‘cheating’.”

“We would never come off the bike and take your resistance up: that doesn’t fit with the Psycle philosophy. We encourage you to push yourself, but it is your bike and your workout; do what feels good for your body.”

Psycle have introduced the concept of ‘ballet on a bike’, what’s that about?

“Ballet on a bike is our signature track. It is the track ladies enjoy the most; whereas you can clearly see on the male riders a hint of doubt in their faces – like “ballet? What the hell?”…”

“At this point in the class, your resistance goes up and an instructor will encourage you to maintain your height, so you’re not longer using your weight momentum.”

“Taking your arms up into a ballet “port-the-bras” gives the chance to engage the lats and use the back muscles as well as testing your balance to challenge your abs.”

“I personally think it is brilliant. It really works the core stability and brings all the weight on the pedal crank, lifting the body towards the ceiling at the same time. Lots of riders tend to shrink in their shoulders when leaning on the handle-bars which we remind you about.”

How much importance is placed on the music?

“Music is vital. Every movement is on the beat, starting from your leg speed. We choose the music we love and we invite our riders to get lost in it, so they are distracted from the physical challenge and can focus on enjoying the workout experience.”

“Each instructor plays different music depending on our personality. Normally the music I listen varies with my mood.”

“In my class it is pretty much the same: when I have to approach a particular track, weights for example, I think of the mood I want to set for that track first, say bubbly and energetic, and I choose a song accordingly. I love old school music; hip hop and R&B. But you can hear some dance and electronic tunes as well in my class and occasionally my rock side kicks in.”

Finally, what should the rider’s mentality be during a class?

“This is an important element of Psycle that shouldn’t be unexplored: the PSY. Why Psy-cle? Each instructor, in our own different way, takes riders on a journey, exploring the body for sure, but also the mind.”

“Our mind often confines our bodies with boundaries, whilst at Psycle there aren’t limits: you can do it, and you will. You can achieve anything you want, you just need your brain to tell your body that you can.”

Chiara Pellegrino is a fitness instructor at Psycle and Barrecore, and a Health and Fitness Blogger. You can search the Psycle class timetable for her classes, which may change from week to week. Have you had the Psycle experience? Let us know what you though in the comments below.


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