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British Cycling chief Shane Sutton backs London's latest cycle-focused fitness hub

by Jak Phillips | 25 Apr 2014

British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton is one of the main backers behind Athlete Lab – the latest cycle-focused fitness club to hit London in what is fast becoming a competitive market sector.

Following hot on the heels of former Fitness First CEO Colin Waggett’s Psycle, the £1.5m Athlete Lab – boasting interior design by Zynk – by aims to separate itself from the pack by offering an authentic road-biking experience in the heart of the City.

The acquisition of Sutton as a shareholder – who also oversees the coaching strategies – was a major coup for Athlete Lab founders Michael Flynn and Neil Franks, who launched the London site at the beginning of April.

The pair of triathletes met as British expats in Singapore, opening the first Athlete Lab there before later expanding to Sydney. London is the third Athlete Lab to open and the company believes the 4,500sq ft (418sq m) site’s 30-custom-made road bikes (most fitness facilities only have group exercise bikes) will give it the edge in an age when triathlons and iron man competitions are growing in popularity. Members are also free to bring their own bikes, which can be fitted to a workstation.

“In terms of coaches and equipment, we’re offering members the cream of the crop,” operations and marketing manager Ben Franks told Health Club Management.

“Our cycling coaches include national level age group triathletes and we make sure there’s one coach for every four to five people to ensure a personal experience with practical advice on technique, rather than someone just standing at the front of the room shouting stuff.”

The Adjustabikes at Athlete Lab are custom-made by a company in Canada (they won’t say which) and the accompanying computer system ensures a scientific approach to data collection, with information emailed to members or uploaded to cycling apps like Strava immediately after a class.

In addition, the huge data-display screen at the front of the studio can replicate any cycling circuit which has ever been GPS-tracked. This enables members to prepare for a big event by practice racing each other on that very circuit, or simply pit their legs against world-famous cycling tracks, with the bikes adjusting in accordance with incline and even drafting (following in the slipstream of another rider).

Athlete Lab is going after the city worker market and its owners believe full capacity is between 500 to 600. Spread over two floors, the downstairs area features changing rooms, stretching area, small strength and conditioning platform and 10 bikes. While the main section upstairs features 20 bikes.

British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton is one of the main backers behind Athlete Lab – the latest cycle-focused fitness club to hit London in what is fast becoming a competitive market sector. Following hot on the heels of former Fitness First CEO Colin Waggett’s Psycle, the £1.5m Athlete Lab – boasting interior design by Zynk – by aims to separate itself from the pack by offering an authentic road-biking
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Athlete Lab believes its custom-made road bikes will give it the edge in an age when triathlons and iron man competitions are growing in popularity / Athlete Lab
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