A spin class at Bodhi & Ride is dark, sweaty and intimate. There’s music blaring and neon lighting. It’s a little bit like working out in a nightclub, minus the vodka-lime-soda. But there’s no dance floor beneath your feet. Instead, pedals.

The gym’s Austrian-born founder Michaela Fellner was working as innovation manager at ANZ, and turned to spin classes for personal respite.

“That’s how the seed started to grow,” she says. “I would always go, ‘Oh that was so dull, the music was crap, and the bikes were rubbish’. I kept thinking, ‘How can I do this better?”

Next, Fellner began to teach. “I’d find myself … blocking out my lunch hour with a fake meeting and running downstairs to the YMCA gym,” she says. “The day that I signed the lease on my Port Melbourne studio was the day I went on career break at the bank.”

The Port Melbourne studio opened in February 2016, and three years later Fellner still hasn’t returned to corporate life. In August last year she opened a second studio on Goldie Place in the CBD after trialling it as a pop-up. Now, the third Bodhi & Ride studio has opened just off Chapel on Wilson Street, South Yarra.

The space needed a paint job, chipboard carpentry and some greenery to bring it in line with Fellner’s other studios. More complex was creating a near-soundproof “room within a room”, dubbed the Ride Chamber.

“It’s really the only way you can contain the noise,” Fellner says. “The volume is nightclub level: it gets up to 95 decibels. The bass is the hardest part to contain.”

The blacked-out studio is fitted with 28 stationary bikes. Cleated shoes are provided, and there are towels available to hire.

For those unacquainted with spin, Bodhi & Ride offers free 20-minute Welcome to the Tribe classes that cover how to clip in, clip out, set up your bike, feel resistance and adjust it. “It’s sort of like the 101 of how to do a spin class properly,” Fellner says. “The wine-tasting equivalent of fitness.”

Rhythm Ride is the studio’s 45-minute signature class, and an express 35-minute version caters to the lunchtime crowd. In addition to the cardio training any spin class provides, hand-weight exercises incorporated during a few tracks guarantee your whole body will feel the burn.

The music holds a lot of weight here; each class is configured to a set number of BPM (beats per minute). Some rides are set to an artist, such as Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga. Others are set to a theme such as Old Kanye vs New Kanye, ’00s R’n’B or hip-hop. “We specifically don’t play songs you would hear on the radio. It would always need to be a remix of something and the songs have to be longer,” Fellner says. “It costs us quite a bit of money to play original songs and remixes, but obviously that’s part of what we want to deliver.”

Bathrooms are well-equipped with everything from make-up remover to shaving cream. “You literally need to book your bike and show the fuck up,” Fellner says. “We even provide hair ties, so there’s no excuse.”

There are plans in the works for yoga classes and meditation to complement the high intensity of spin. It’s a testament to the yin and yang name, Bodhi & Ride. “Bodhi means that mindful side of life, where you get into the zone,” Fellner says. “Ride was the opposite. The intensity, the sweat, the heat.”

Casual classes cost $31 and monthly unlimited memberships are $259. Introductory offers, concession prices and class packs are also available.

Bodhi & Ride South Yarra
54 Wilson Street, South Yarra
0479 077 763

Mon 4pm–8pm
Tue to Thu 6am–8pm
Fri 6am–2pm
Sat 8am–11am
Sun 9am–12pm


This article first appeared on Broadsheet on April 8, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.