(Photo: XYZ via Facebook)
In a never-ending quest to make us spend more money, the health and beauty industry comes up with creative ways to tell us we’re fat, and correspondingly creative ways to tell us how to lose it. Sometimes it seems that the city’s health-conscious residents are more susceptible to trying out the latest fitness fads than they are to catching SARS.
Coconuts Hong Kong’s associate editor Laurel Chor is going to save you the trouble by sweating her way through all the latest fads in this new five-part, biweekly series. We review anonymously and pay for ourselves.
When I enter XYZ, it feels like I’m going inside some chic, urban spa. The dim lighting, the brushed concrete walls, the sleek faucets in the changing rooms, the receptionist’s hushed tone as she hands over your cycling shoes.
But as I penetrate further into this spinning studio’s only location, it slowly becomes clear that I am in fact entering the inner sanctum of an exclusive cult, composed of mostly female members who have to wear different neon colours (bare midriff optional).
The shrine is, of course, the studio’s one and only classroom – dubbed the “cave” – from which followers emerge glistening with sweat, their faces glowing, as if they’ve been made privy to the meaning of life.
The classroom contains about 40 bikes, most of which are arranged in four rows facing the instructor’s stage.
I adjust my bike and clip in my shoes with the help of a staff member, and I question what the hell I’ve gotten into as the room suddenly becomes the most happening nightclub in Hong Kong.
The instructor’s bike sits on a stage, where an iPad allows her to be the DJ and sound and light technicians all at once – meaning music is blaring, the lights are flashing (or off entirely), she’s yelling at us, and I’m quickly wondering how often people come to these classes at least a little bit tipsy.
(Our instructor went around the room confiscating phones so I have no photos of this sacred space.)
I can definitely ride a bike, in addition to pulling off a dance move or two, but for the next 50 minutes I barely make any progress in figuring out how I’m supposed to bob to the music – up and down, to the left and to the right – while simultaneously pedalling furiously.
The instructor has us doing push-ups on the handlebars, doing half-squats as we hover over the seat, and awkward side-crunches. At one point we even use small ergonomic weights to ensure a full-body workout – but your legs never stop pedalling, of course.
It’s like I’m engaged in some crazy dance-off between rival bicycle gangs, like we’re trapped in a weird movie mash-up of Grease and Tron. It’s loud, it’s difficult, and our collective sweat is evaporating into a mist so thick I actually thought the studio had a fog machine.
I’m not sure I like it, but I’m definitely sweating! Before I know it, the class is over. I’m temped to return just to figure out how to simultaneously cycle like Lance Armstrong and dance like Usher like the instructor does, but the steep HKD350 price tag makes it less appealing. Clearly, that doesn’t stop others, though: the studio offers a 100-class package for HKD27,000 upfront.
XYZ’s killer cardio workouts are definitely worth a try just to see what all the cool kids are talking about – and you might just find yourself getting lured into the cult.