It’s halfway through Bike Bar’s 6.30pm class, and 20 riders pump their legs in time to the chunky chorus of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”.
“Bonus points for fist pumps,” says instructor Lyndell Harradine to the class. They oblige.
As someone who has only ever exercised on their own schedule to a playlist that is almost exclusively metalcore, rap and punk, I was amazed to find myself obliging too.
James Dunn and Lauren Cramb’s Bike Bar classes couldn’t be further from my routines of heavy weights, punishing high-intensity interval training and long-distance running or swimming. Bike Bar has a fun-first focus – it’s as much about the music as it is about the workout. Each 30- or 45-minute class is divided into tracks, with each track further chunked into its choruses, verses and bridges where possible.
Thus, Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” might see riders picking up a pair of dumbbells to curl through verses before moving into left–right jabs for the chorus, all while keeping time with their legs. Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” is steady but constant, while the choruses of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” are all-out sprints (the 48-second final chorus is, unsurprisingly, particularly challenging).
“We didn’t want the playlist to be like a typical gym playlist,” says Dunn. “There’s no super-heavy techno and it’s not completely packed with top 40 stuff either.”
The collection of songs is curated by Dunn, Cramb and their instructors.
“We each choose our own playlists,” says Harradine. “What you get with me won’t be what you get with someone else.”
Harradine’s playlist spans four decades, from Ram Jam’s 1977 take on “Black Betty” right up to 2017’s “Chameleon” by PNAU. Dunn focuses on the 80s: think Guns ‘n’ Roses and Billy Idol. However, beneath the music is an enormous amount of high-intensity cardio.
“In a 45-minute class you’ll burn over 700 calories if you’re pushing yourself,” says Dunn. “But what makes us different from your average Spin class is that Spin is bloody hard and feels like it. We wanted it to be more about the music and enjoying yourself.”
Bike Bar made a mockery of the solid fitness base I thought I had. My singlet was soaked through, my quads and glutes burning. I have never experienced jelly legs quite as jellified as those I felt going down three steps back to the car. And yet, I enjoyed every second (yes, even boxing to Destiny’s Child).
Even if Bike Bar didn’t offer genuinely fun workouts, the concept would probably still succeed on its sense of community. The lobby is more high-end boutique than gym. It’s so inviting I happily hung around in the lobby for 15 minutes post-class, talking music and snacks with riders. Instructors fit each rider with Shimano clip-in shoes, help them with seat heights and fill their water bottles. Dunn, Cramb and their instructors don’t just introduce themselves to everyone who comes inside – they’ve also gone door to door and introduced themselves to their Claremont neighbours, even installing soundproofing panels when noise concerns were raised.
“Some people thought we were going to be a literal bar – with alcohol,” says Cramb.
Instead, Bike Bar trades cocktails for kombucha while also stocking a selection of juices, bars and other healthy treats from the likes of Pressed Earth, Naked Paleo, Rebel Kitchen and Bod.
273 Stirling Highway, Claremont
0402 753 747
Classes are held daily. available online.