With our Summer Series now well underway, we caught up with Stefan who not only came up with this exciting concept but is leading each session too!
If you weren’t aware, this new class aims to replicate some of the biggest climbs in professional cycling form the three Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
How have the first few sessions gone?
Stefan: I was hopeful that the concept would work well and be much different to a normal Group Cycle/Spin class however as we’ve never tried anything quite like this in the past, I couldn’t be totally sure! I am really pleased to say that the first three sessions have gone so much better than expected and the feedback from all taking part has been incredibly positive. There is no doubt that these are the toughest classes I have ever taught. Those taking part have described how they have been surprised at how far they have been able to push their bodies and (probably, well after the class has finished!) have enjoyed the feeling of being more challenged!
Where did this idea come from?
Stefan: The first Grand Tour of the year was about a month away and whilst sitting at home I began to think about how we could try something totally different, something themed around these huge cycling races. I started to think about some of the famous climbs that the professional riders have taken on over the years and how we could replicate them in our cycling studio. I then thought about how we could utilise our screen in the studio and in a virtual sense, join the professionals on their ascent. This meant quite a bit of research as I had to try and dig out full footage of some of these climbs – this would make it possible to turn this into a class and for us to create a really unique team atmosphere as we battled to the top of each climb. So that I could really understand what would be involved in each stage and how each climb would pan out, I had to spend a lot of time watching the selected video footage and also get to grips with the profile of each climb.
In the end, I decided to select three stages from each tour, so nine sessions in total.
So that those taking part get the most from each class I also wanted to make sure that we started off with a really good warm up. During this time, I would explain how everything would work – what to expect and when. Behind me on the screen would be a detailed profile of the climb so that we could plan for each section and everyone taking part would know which power zones they would be riding in at various stages. As the footage started, we would then follow the professional riders from the base of the climb to the top and work together as a team. Riders in the studio would adjust their resistance on their own bikes depending on where we were on the stage.
How tough have these classes been?
Stefan: These classes have been the toughest I have ever taught (no hesitation here whatsoever!). The second stage of the Giro D’Italia was undoubtedly one of the most challenging classes that members have taken part in and it was a 10 out of 10 in terms of toughness from start to finish! Motivation is hugely important – as well as the music there is lots of coaching, encouragement and shouting at times too! What I have found is that there are such amazing levels of energy and positivity that everybody begins to feed off each other. There is a great team spirit and a brilliant atmosphere and this has really helped everyone to complete the stages so far.
The final stage of the Giro on the 30th May was, in his own words, the best class yet. This stage saw riders taking on “Cervinia”, the final big climb of the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Slightly easier in comparison to the previous stage, this was the easiest of the three stages of the Italian tour in terms of average gradient however had a longer overall distance.
Next up will be three stages from the Tour De France. These will run on the 18th, 25th July and 1st August – all bookable now. The final three stages of this series will be taken from the Vuelta and will run for three consecutive weeks from the end of August.
Thinking of giving these classes a go?
“Don’t be put off” is the advice from Stefan. He stressed that you are working to your own fitness level so you do not need to be some kind of elite cyclist! If you regularly take part in group cycling classes then this is for you. The class will be a completely different experience to your normal class and you will surprise yourself at what you can achieve.
If you would like to find out more then Stefan will be more than happy to speak with you. With three climbs down and six to go, he is already talking about a Winter Series…watch this space!