We’ll start with the VeloStudio, since it’s brand new. Sessions are available to book from October, and include Sufferfest Video sets, Women’s Only Virtual Coach workouts, plus fitness and performance testing.
There are also set times when you can book in and train on the bikes to your own schedule, and these are available to book now for £7 an hour.
The studio is inside the velodrome, in a large room right next to the track. Just outside the doors to the darkened training den, you’ll find endless locker storage, changing rooms and showers.
Despite the singular title, there are really two studios – one featuring Wattbike Pro and Trainer bikes, and one with Matrix IC7 Indoor Cycles. Both have a massive screen, sound system and fans, though personally I would always vote for more fans in any training facility.
The Sufferfest, Performance Testing and Wattbike
In zone Wattbike, VeloStudio offer a weekly programme of Sufferfest training videos at £10 a session. If you don’t know about Sufferfest yet, the training video creators offer in-race footage and structured intervals to make indoor training as fun as it can be.
I’ve spent many winter evenings pounding away to Sufferfest, but would certainly welcome the idea of joining with other nutters to do so in a more communal atmosphere.
On a more data driven, scientific level, the Wattbikes will also be available for fitness and performance testing sessions with qualified coaches.
With 40 different data fields, the fully adjustable bikes are great if you want to use the winter to hone in on pedalling technique – with a graph showing you the shape of your pedal stroke, and a constant reminder of your left/right balance. I was pretty shocked to discover I was pretty equal at 49% / 51% – but could certainly do with developing my upstroke when pedalling to better the power I get from each stroke.
Matrix Bikes and More Beginner Friendly ‘Coach by Colour’
Not everyone wants to be immersed in a pro race – some of us want a friendlier, less suffer focused workout – and that’s on offer in equal measures for £12 per session.
The Matrix bikes are also fully adjustable and offer a smooth, track like pedalling motion – making them a firm favourite for Dani King. These bikes are hooked up to work with ‘Coach by Colour’ training – a programme where a virtual coach guides riders through a training session.
During the session, you virtually ride a selection of climbs from around the world whilst being gently advised how fast or hard to pedal during each section of the climb.
The cadence you should use, and the resistance, are dictated by the TV screen in front of you. For example, cadence 80 and ‘blue’ would mean you should be pedalling at 80 rpm, and your bike computer screen should be flashing blue, for easy. If it’s red, it means you are working too hard and the resistance needs to be turned down. How hard it thinks you are working is decided by the information you give it at the start of the session, based on your weight, age and exercise hours per week.
If I’m honest – I found the experience a little hard to get to grips with. The problem was that my screen was pretty much constantly on red or yellow – I spent around 20 minutes staring it at with a confused expression trying to get the resistance at the right level, giving me the right colour screen.
This, by the way, is my sweaty/confused face…
Velodrome Assistant Manager John Scripps caught my expression and explained that it had probably miscalculated my fitness based on the data, and that if I wanted to come along on a regular basis I could have a fitness test to determine the correct levels and get the machine matched up to me for future sessions.
Personally – I loved the Sufferfest Wattbike experience, and was a little less keen on the Matrix Bike Coach by Colour. However, I can absolutely understand that has a lot to do with the fact I would choose to Sufferfest it up at home – and I can definitely see that those after a more relaxed experience could really benefit from Coach by Colour.