Spin classes are a somewhat hellish fitness experience that place you in a dark room with loud thumping music, a shouting instructor, and little else to distract you from the burning in your thighs and the tears in the corners of your eyes that tell you you’re punishing yourself. Unfortunately we can’t all have Kimmy Schmidt’s happy place to escape to.
Well, the next generation of spin classes seem to be aiming to more effectively distract their participants from their self-inflicted torture by incorporating IMAX technology to take them on an ET style journey. Called IMAXShift, the classes have studios equipped with the huge screens and audio systems found in existing IMAX cinemas that will take class participants on amazing visual journeys in an attempt to make the whole experience less boring and less insular. Rather than classes like SoulCycle which invite participants to internalise, clear their heads, and find something in themselves, IMAXShift seems to do the opposite, having customers externalise and will themselves anywhere else. We think that could be easier to get on board with.
Unfortunately not all aspects of the IMAX experience are included in the classes and we imagine the instructor will have something to say if you use the cup holder for a large ice blast and run out halfway through the class during what you feel is a lull in the action to quickly grab some chocolate.
Once you’re seated on your stationary bike and the class begins you could find yourself cycling over the coasts of Hawaii, through the solar system, or through visuals that react to the beat of the music around you. The aim is to cycle along to the beat of the music and lose yourself in the images surrounding you as the stationary bike tracks your workout and your progress to give you individual feedback later. It’s an interesting way to adapt immersive entertainment technology, keeping us physically active but mentally passive enough that even the most unwilling participant might find themselves able to go on for longer. It just seems like a similar idea to the placing of TV screens in gym equipment but scaled up massively.
Right now the classes are only running in New York with one class priced at $31 (£21.27). Like most fitness crazes, and like the IMAX experience itself, we don’t doubt IMAXShift will find its way to the UK sooner rather than later. We might hold out for the inevitable VR fitness classes. Now those would be immersive.