Cycling into the future: Australia’s first immersive cycle experience has arrived in Melbourne – and it’s memorable!
Today a bunch of media folks met at the Melbourne Convention Centre, to be among the first to experience the sensory extravaganza that is THE TRIP, by Les Mills.
Personally, I felt a tad nervous – after all, I’m pretty sure the last time I actually participated in a cycling class people were still wearing their g-strings on the outside… but, life is all about facing fears and embracing challenges, so I pulled on the lycra and jumped back on the saddle – literally.
The set up inside the cycle studio was kind of like an Imax theatre which has stationary bikes in place of seats.
When the class started the room darkens and the credits began to roll on giant cinema-like screen in front of us. The information included a warning about the strobe lighting, flashing, rapid imagery changes and other special effects that may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy or other medical conditions. It also informed us that feelings of nausea, vertigo or disorientation may also occur. Oh goodie. What on earth had I gotten myself into here?
With the room darkened and my feet stuck inside the toe clips, there was no escape – so forge on, I did!
As we peddled, the animated footage that showed on the screen in front of us made us feel as if we were travelling through a deserted old town and up through a hilly forest. As we come out of the saddle to tackle a hill, we are instructed to turn the resistance up and push it hard. When we conquer the peak of the mountain, we get to turn the resistance down and enjoy the decline. At the end of the forest-like scenery I’m a wee bit tired but silently proud that I made it without too much trouble. What’s that? Oh. Apparently that was just the warm up.
For this desk-bound worker, who lives in the rural countryside of Victoria, the remaining 20 or so minutes that ensued I shall always remember. In that cycle studio we managed to pedal along corkscrew shaped rollercoaster-like pathways, we flew up into the clouds, we rode through space and we travelled through cities. The animation was second to none, and if the sweat factor is any indicator, then the workout was, indeed, effective!
Les Mills is the company behind some of the most famous exercises classes in the world, like BODYPUMP and RPM, and THE TRIP will, no doubt, become equally as coveted around the globe. This futuristic, never-before-seen concept cycle studio is probably best described as a fusion between cinema, virtual reality and cycling.
THE TRIP(TM) is a cycle experience that falls under the latest banner of “immersive fitness”, where participants are immersed in a virtual environment, in this case through the use of digital projection on cinema-sized screens, with rock concert quality lasers and lighting.
THE TRIP uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – short bursts of effort amid recovery periods – and concludes with a well-earned and highly-welcomed long cool down – where participants get to ride among fluffy clouds, into the sunset or even through space.
Les Mills Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Director Matthew Spandow said THE TRIP creates a visual sense of purpose to a workout, and a visual distraction which can help some participant forget they’re even exercising.
“By suspending belief, participants stop thinking about the workout and push themselves further,” he says. “Participants are quickly swept into the experience and begin leaning into turns and ducking under bridges, which adds even more intensity to an already powerful workout. This is “exertainment” – the next big thing in fitness. Watch this space as we continue to develop new classes that blur the lines between entertainment and exercise.”
I will admit, that during our class I may have pretended to change my resistance once or twice, but that’s what you do in a cycle class, right? The cool down was almost meditative – or maybe I was sliding in and out of consciousness… I can’t quite remember. I did actually feel slightly nauseous after the class concluded, but I am a bit prone to queasy feelings on carnival rides so that didn’t surprise me, and it disappeared very quickly after the end of the class.
Overall, I would recommend this class to people who already love cycling and want to try something different; to people who have a base level of fitness but who have never experienced indoor cycling before – because you can adjust your resistance (or pretend to!) to suit your ability; and to people who love HIIT already, but who are looking for a unique new way to experience it.
THE TRIP is aptly named because it really IS a trip.
To find out more click here or watch the video below.
PS. I am 99.9% sure that no one in the class looked anything like the lady in the photo above, whilst experiencing or after completing THE TRIP – just saying!
Program review by Analee Matthews