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December 10, 2018

Fitness: Pedalling the way to a healthier you

Reform Studios, Westlands
Reform Studios, Westlands

The thought of sitting on a stationary bike in a dark room, cycling for around 45 minutes, may baffle many. But I’m here to tell you, that it might be one of the most intense workouts you can do.

I’m not sure if it’s the combination of the loud music or the instructor or even the competition between you and the rest of your class, but you will come out of the session fully worked out.

Although not necessarily as popular in Kenya, especially compared to traditional gyms, spinning is a high intensity form of exercise that is fantastic for cardio conditioning.

Unlike running, it is also a low impact form of exercise meaning that for all ages and even those with injuries, it is a safe.

One studio In Nairobi that offers a range of spin classes is Reform Cycling and Strength Studio in Westlands, opened by Saloni Kantaria in 2015.

She said, “A couple of years ago, I felt that the spending power in Nairobi clearly existed and it was ready for the concept of a boutique fitness studio but of a different nature to what I’ve seen internationally.

“In 2015, I took a leap of faith and decided to take a break from my legal career so that I could focus on implementing my concept for Reform Cycling and Strength Studio in Nairobi. I came up with the name ‘Reform’ as it signifies a positive change.”

The result is modern studio that provides a range of strength and cycling classes that cater for anyone from men, women, elderly clients to elite athletes.

While spin classes have been increasing in popularity, it is important to remember that it is not a fad but a legitimate form of exercise with a number of health benefits.

You will get a full body workout and build muscle tone as the workout focuses on your core muscles as well as the buttocks and thighs.

While you pedal, you work your thighs and muscles and maintaining certain positions will work the abdominal muscles. Pedalling faster will burn fat and pedalling at a slower speed but higher tension will work muscle.

Instructors have also started introducing “hybrid” classes that combine cardio and strength training.

“If you are just starting out your cardio workouts, you need to slowly get your heart to adapt to this intensity of exercise, and so I recommend starting with hybrid classes,” Saloni said, “Our hybrid classes are CycCoreFlex, CycStability and Body Shredder.”

The sessions involve a 30-minute interval training in the cycling studio as well as a 30-minute strength training exercise in the strength studios.

For Saloni, variety is the key to creating the perfect workout regiment, and a reason why Reform offers a range of classes.

“I believe in taking a long-term approach to exercise. As I tell all our clients, be consistent and be patient if you’re looking for results. In order not to get bored, try to do something different every day and long term you’ll be able to continue exercising rather than going through cycles of exercising then abandoning it.

“My ideal week of exercising is two days of playing tennis, two days of doing pilates or barre, two days of cardio and weight training, one day of focusing on flexibility for 45 minutes, but also incorporating it daily for 10 minutes into my exercise regime. I love doing classes as it keeps me motivated, allows me to meet other people and with a good instructor to learn new moves.”

Unlike many gyms, Reform has no membership fees. You pay per class or purchase class packs. Currently, they offer an introduction pack that offers five classes for Sh3,000.

 “I think Nairobi’s fitness scene has dramatically improved in the last two-to-three years and there are more boutique studios popping up, offering specialist forms of exercise, for example pilates/cross fit/bikram yoga, which is great for city residents.”

She adds, “I think the challenge in Nairobi is finding quality instructors who meet the standard I expect to teach a Reform class. Form and technique while offering a well-structured class are of vital importance to me.”

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