Towards the end of the Chile Challenge last year I made a fairly major change in my training regime. In the previous few years I had been tended to focus purely on triathlon race training, so lots of swimming, riding and running, which enjoyable as it was, tended to be very much a solo activity. I would go for long-ish runs with only myself and some music for company, and whilst it undoubtedly helped my training (particularly getting me through two half-Iron distance races) it could at times be lonely.
This all changed about halfway through a particularly tough 4 hour indoor bike session at my gym last winter, where from my bike I could see a class going on in the spin studio which looked like fun. Long story short I gave it a go, and it turned out to be a Les Mills RPM class. Even longer story short, and I have now become somewhat obsessed with these classes, and the extra motivation you get having both a coach and other people to train with, a different range of inspirational music, and the variety of training you get from sprints, endurance races, hill climbs and everything else that comes from the class.
I would add that this wasn’t the first Les Mills class I had done as for some years before I had gone to the odd Body Combat class, but only on-off and never that seriously. This all changed very quickly though, as my wife & I decided to start trying some of the other classes on offer at our gym, and ever since most of our evenings this year have featured either Body Combat, Attack, Step, Balance, RPM, Grit or just about any other class we can get to – averaging around 5 different ones each week.
But just like triathlons, it was not long before we decided we wanted to take our obsession further, and during one class we were told about the ‘One Live’ events. Now just to explain, Les Mills are a New Zealand based company who organise a range of different exercise classes, and are probably the leading brand in the fitness market (a bit like Ironman in triathlon). Their One Live events are held all around the world, and on a quarterly basis in the UK when each new round of classes is launched. I guess they probably started purely for instructors, as a way of teaching them the new releases, but they seem to have grown, and now anyone can come along and try a range of the different classes on offer.
Our event was in Manchester a few weeks ago, and having driven up the night before (to a particularly over-priced Travelodge) we found ourselves at the Convention Centre just after 8am. We really were not sure what to expect, but having been used to classes of around 20-30 this was something else, as this had some 3000 of the fittest people in the country in attendance! It was necessary to book our classes in advance so they could manage demand and space, and they had a fairly organised colour-coded wristband system to look after things.
My first class was RPM (of course!) whilst Ange had a go at Body Balance. It was the first time I had ridden with so many people, at least 200 riders in the room, and it was an amazing experience. I was pleased to see my training was paying off, as although it is not a competitive session, I felt I was giving it a decent shift, and riding faster and harder than many in the room. It was hot though, as in really hot! I am not sure if the air-con was on the blink or just could not cope, but it was like training in a sauna, and by the time we staggered out it looked like we had been open water swimming… perhaps not the best way to start a long day, but fun all the same.
The next few sessions were a bit different, as part of the reason for the day is to try new classes, and particularly those not on offer in our own gym. We decided to try three new ones – Bodyvive, Body Jam and Sh’bam. The first was a kind of circuit training class for the first half, before we switched to using a ‘smart band’, an item significantly less hi-tech than it sounded, basically a resistance band with handles. Still, it was a great class and well taught, particularly with around 500 people in the hall this time, so hopefully we will be able to have another go in future.
The other two were much more similar, and basically turned out to be a sort of street dance class. Now I am more than happy on a 50 mile bike ride, but I am really not sure I was designed for these! The instructors were obviously amazing at it, although as much as we tried to copy them it seemed many of the audience were in the same boat as me, and at times it felt more like we were watching some sort of Britain’s Got Talent show than actually able to take part! Still, I guess it is the sort of thing you get better at and it was good fun, but probably not one to replace racing next year.
By this time we were more than halfway through the day, so after a bit of lunch we decided we still had some energy left and managed to squeeze into an extra Grit class which still had some spaces left. Now the aim of Grit is basically to do a 60 minute class in 30 minutes, so they are really intense, and with the top instructors in the country (or even world) this was really tough, and we were hardly able to stand by the end. Indeed, a fair few had not made it and were basically collapsed around the edges with exhaustion!
So with five classes down, we just had one left – our old favourite Body Combat. This was the last class of the day, starting after 5pm and in the biggest hall with well over 500 people in there. Fortunately it was also fantastic, with a brand new release of music and moves (which will not hit the rest of the UK until next year) and we smashed it, getting all the way through to the end in one piece and on a massive high.
So ten hours after arriving we were finally there, survivors of an amazing One Live Manchester, and already looking at when the next one is going to be!