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I tried a rhythm cycling class and here’s what happened

When I was invited to attend a rhythm cycling class at Westward Cycle I knew it would be different from a regular spin class at the gym, but I wasn’t sure what else to expect. All I knew was that celebrities like Beyoncé (and my friend Rosie) were converted to the movement, so it had to be more than ordinary, right?

Founder of Westward Cycle Sarah Fairburn hails from Canada and is credited with bringing rhythm cycling to New Zealand. When Sarah moved to Auckland she tried out a variety of spin classes around town, but “they were missing what we had experienced overseas – the combination of the workout, the community aspect and the fun”.

Knowing that New Zealanders love physical activity, it was a no-brainer for Sarah that we’d love rhythm cycling too. “When I leave a rhythm cycle class I feel happy, inspired, energised and accomplished, and it was this feel-good movement that I wanted to share with New Zealanders”, Sarah says.

Sarah Fairburn. Image by Dane Wetton.

Rhythm cycling is different from a spin class – full-body movements are incorporated to engage both the lower and upper body, and 85% of the class is spent out of the saddle. There is also a dedicated arms track toward the end of each class where weights are used to enhance upper body strength (and give the legs a quick break!).

Experiencing the class first hand, I was blown away by instructor Gab’s unwavering energy and passion for the workout. She was upbeat, quick to move yet graceful, making me wonder how I could get on her level (rhythm cycling multiple times a week, perhaps?).

As a newcomer I was glad I came with an open mind – I’m slightly slower than others at picking up new moves, and with all things, practice makes perfect, so I found it easier to do the arm movements at half pace. Luckily for me, Sarah says it takes 2-3 classes to get the hang of rhythm cycling, and no one is a natural – be kind to yourself.

Instructor Gab Davenport. Image by Dane Wetton.

Notably, Sarah says of the experience “rather than fixate on superficial results, we focus on how movement makes you feel. When you feel good, good things happen”.

This ethos is echoed in the changes that regular Westward riders see – and they’re more than physical. “We hear more about the mental changes, like stress management and release. Many comment on the meditative qualities they experience in our classes – dark room, music, not disturbed by phones etc.”.

I wholeheartedly agree with this – being in a dark room with catchy music, focusing on the ride and nothing else, was a much-needed escape for a Saturday morning. Half-way through the class I was already sweaty and exhausted, yet I felt amazing. My mind often wanders in spin classes, so this class was a great way to focus, have fun, and do something different.

All in all, I highly recommend you check out Westward Cycle for your next fitness adventure. Sarah and Gab are kind and welcoming, so once you walk in the door, you’ll instantly feel at ease. Cycle shoes and towels are provided for riders – just bring a water bottle.

Book your ride and find out more at westwardcycle.co.nz.

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