Road Test: ‘The Trip’ Les Mills Immersive Fitness class


I love trying out new kinds of exercise and recently had the opportunity to road test The Trip; the hottest new Immersive Fitness class at Les Mills Newmarket, Auckland.

The name Les Mills is synonymous with group fitness, and now they’re taking their exercise classes into the future with their new ‘Immersive Fitness’ studios which merge a real fitness experience with Kiwi-developed digital technology.

Their first programme to undergo this virtual makeover is what most of us would already know as their RPM class (a.k.a. spin/cycling) which has been re-created as ‘The Trip’.

The class

I road tested The Trip at the newest Les Mills gym in Newmarket, Auckland – the first gym in New Zealand to have an Immersive Fitness studio. These studios have already become available internationally and The Trip can currently be experienced in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Stockholm, so this Newmarket studio is kind of a big deal.

All the bikes – including the instructor’s – are set up facing towards a large cinema-quality screen at the front of the room. The lights in the studio are turned off and the cinematic experience begins. During the 45-minute class you follow the instructor’s cues as per a normal spin class, except these cues are matched to a virtual journey displayed on the screen in front of you along with pumping music to keep you motivated.

We started out with a low-intensity warmup, cycling through a virtual town and up into the green forested mountains. The virtual worlds then progressed to a trip through outer space – starry skies, then an alien city – above ground, below ground, and the jagged mountains of the alien world.

As the screen journey shows the twists and turns of your cycling path, the instructor gets you to lean on your bike as if you’re taking the bends in real life which enhances the experience. Moving from track to track, the intensity of the class continues to build which gets your heart pumping; standing up with heavy resistance load to replicate hill climbs, lower resistance with fast pedalling for faster speeds, and slower pedalling with heavy resistance for those long slower hill climbs. Finally, the last track is a cooldown and a trip back through space to return you home and end your journey.

I go to RPM classes every week so I’m no newbie when it comes to spin sessions. I felt I got a lot more out of this class as you could see on the screen just how big that hill is supposed to be – which can either be a good thing as it gives you a heads up on what is coming, or a bad thing as you’ll know when a horrible near-vertical mountain climb is approaching.

Only thing you may need to watch out for is if you have issues with strobe effects or motion sickness (I felt a little ill afterwards for a short time – Motion Master-style rides always leave me feeling a little queasy!).

What you need

thetrip4All you need to do is turn up in your workout clothes and training shoes. Bring along a gym towel to mop up any sweat (as you will definitely be sweating throughout this class!) and have a drink bottle of water handy (as you will need to replace all that water you’re sweating out!). If you want to take it to the next level, you can use the proper clip-in cycling shoes instead of your regular sneakers.

Just the same as with a ‘real’ bike, your bum can get pretty sore after spending time on these seats. You can either stick it out until your body gets used to it, or you can invest in padded bike shorts or a gel seat cover if one isn’t provided.

Best thing to do if you haven’t done a spin class before is turn up a bit early and ask the instructor to help you set up your bike as there are a few settings on your seat and handlebars that may need adjustments to suit your body and make the ride more comfortable.

What you’ll be working out

Your legs will take a hammering, the leaning and pushing your butt back in your seat will help improve your core strength, and you will get an incredible cardio workout from The Trip. The Les Mills website advises it burns up to a whopping 455 calories per class.

The class is a medium-high intensity, however you are in charge of your resistance dial – a turn to the left makes it easier and takes the load off, while a turn to the right makes the resistance in the pedals heavier. Because of this, it’s really up to you how hard you push yourself so anyone from beginners through to advanced exercisers can do it.

Give it a go

To try out The Trip for yourself in New Zealand, you will need to go to the Les Mills gym in Newmarket. A small fee does apply, booking ahead through reception is essential and you must be on time to the class (if you’re late you won’t be allowed in!).

For more information on Les Mills, check out their website, Instagram @lesmillstribe or Facebook Les Mills – New Zealand.

Images / NZ Real Health

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