I was asked recently to answer some questions on what I think about exercise sessions taking place inside to loud music with encouragement from those teaching the sessions. These sessions are significantly different to my garden based Pilates and HiiT Pilates workouts. 

The articles for VICE can be found at this link https://t.co/pouFqov3sz?ssr=true

After trying an intensive cycle session the journalist asked me why she was in such pain after the session.

I answered... I think your thighs were in agony possibly because you're not used to that form of exercise. You can be super-fit but if you dramatically change what you're doing then your muscles will be screaming. From Soul Cycle's website it looks like they offer a 'soul 101' which is optional and will help to understand the techniques and set up. This will go so far to ensure you don't get injured. However If anyone can attend classes adhoc without the instructor knowing their history or level of fitness they're liable to push themselves 'too hard' maybe. Also if theres 'rock star' music and a 'party atmosphere' then you're likely to work harder. Now this is great for those who are able to embrace that screaming muscles feeling 2 days later (Delayed onset muscle soreness / DOMS). However as a mum of 3 with a hectic home and business life I can't afford to feel in pain with every movement! I want to know that I've worked but also to be able to work-out comfortably the next day and every day going forward. Longer term your muscles may adapt to the intensity but also without the correct attention may be susceptible to injury. 

Sh also had the following questions for me... 

1. Is exercising in the dark/with music playing particularly good for anyone's mind?

Again I think it may depend on the person attending. Some want to escape the real world and therefore the darkness and music will help them focus in on their work out hence getting better results. However some people in the winter never see the light of day having arrived at the office before sunrise and leave the office after sunset. If an indoor cycle session is squeezed in within a lunch hour then the individual may be susceptible to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or vitamin D deficiency. A brisk walk through the park may be a better idea for the soul!. Or a quick HiiT session on a patch of grass. 

2. Does music help lift the mood of people exercising?

Music is important to lift the mood, set the pace and help the sessions feel quicker, distracting you from the intensity of the workout. 
However it could possibly be better for the soul if the session is done outdoors, with uplifting music that isn't too loud so that you can hear the specific instructions from the instructor who is using commands to encourage better movement and postures whilst guiding people on the level they should be pushing themselves to when technique slips. This helps reduce post work-out soreness and risk of injury is kept to a minimum. It also helps people to want to return! Friendly banter can keep people going and create an atmosphere where they are happy to work at their own level without feeling embarrassed. 

3. How negatively can an injury like mine affect the psyche? 

I think if theres too much pain after exercise it leaves people wondering if they have injured something, they may feel nervous about going back, they may not push themselves hard enough the next time or leave it too long before returning hence not achieving results. Also if they feel so sore post work-out they may 'treat' themselves to a doughnut not he way home as they 'deserve it' . This can lead to a detrimental cycle whereby exercise is thought of as something to endure. If you enjoy the work-out and feel uplifted rather than in pain afterwards they you'll feel that the work-out was the treat. 

4. Can you check out pscylelondon.com and tell me what you think of them there, please? Their website seems to extol the virtues of a Psycle LIFESTYLE but I found that it was awfully isolating and the darkness and music contributed to that. 

I checked out the website, I feel inspired reading through it. and would love to do a class but like you darkness does not spell exercise to me, even with good air-conditioning i think id feel like I'm inhaling other peoples sweat! There seems to be some kind of mismatch between the website and the experience. Or perhaps even a  lack of authenticity. Cycling on a rooftop may feel more fitting to the ethos. My idea of exercise is taking you back to whats natural even as far as the current trend of 'Animal movement' and it certainly should be outside and actually connecting with people in order to feed the soul. 

5.As for all the uplifting stuff they shout at you, things like 'come on, let's do this' and 'push yourself!' do you think those sorts of exclamations actually help people's souls at all? Do you think that can truly improve people's inner wellbeing?

 think perhaps the encouraging shouts certainly push people to try their best and not to give up. As far as being good for the soul and well being - I'm not sure. If it is supportive it can make someone feel that someone really believes in them. To some it could be extra pressure and anxiety not to let someone down if they don't perform. Lastly these commands must always be positive which they sound like they would be at psyche.  I think the 'military fitness' approach could significantly damage the soul of the wrong person at the wrong time. 

I set up my classes to encourage people to exercise who had previously been put off by studio classes. Common complaints are... stuffy studios, inside, too serious, no connection with people, too hard, no focus on form. Hence i do the opposite... outdoors, lots of chat and banter, work at your own level and focus on technique. I get a lot of feedback about better wellbeing since enrolment in the classes.

In conclusion 'each to their own!' but the main thing is to get results you need to do it regularly > 3 x per week and it needs to be a part of our life and something you enjoy