Boutique fitness is all the rage. We take a look at FirstLight’s cutting edge boutique cycling studio at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London

 “We’re revolutionising cycling workouts and wanted London to be the first city to discover our fully immersive experience. When it came to designing the perfect studio environment, we’ve gone for something radical. Riders will be working out in a darkened room, their senses heightened and focused on the task,” says celebrity fitness trainer Mark Anthony, FirstLight’s creator.

He has teamed up with leisure, design and build specialist Createability to create the world’s first sunlight simulation-based indoor cycling experience at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London. (Createability was also the development partner on Anthony’s previous health club concept, Rush Fitness, which he sold in 2017 to fund the new £1.75m venture).

Createability’s commercial director, Brian Thompson believes they have constructed the best, high-end boutique club in London. “It’s so unique with all its bespoke finishes, from the anaconda speakers built into the curved steps of the amphitheatre-style studio to the bright yellow caged stairway that starts the customer experience,” he says.

Pioneering design concepts

Sunlight simulation

FirstLight’s signature 45 and 60-minute full body cycle workouts take place in a darkened room and include cardio, mindfulness and meditation, together with an upper-body strength workout using body bars to build and tone core muscles. 

The FirstLight indoor cycling studios uses advanced sunlight simulation technology during each class to mimic the natural sunlight you need at each part of the day. Hence so you can ride through the beauty of dawn to awaken and invigorate yourself, through the energising light of midday to boost alertness and focus, and then the evening light, helping your body produce the sleep-enhancing hormone, melatonin. The light of both sunrise and sunset have been proven to work in harmony with the natural Circadian rhythms of the body - improving physical, mental and behavioural wellbeing.

‘Magic mirrors’

FirstLight, which is part of Westfield’s new £600m expansion, consists of three studios. Studio One features 57 bespoke bikes from Schwinn with stadium-style seating, offering unrestricted views of the 30ft ‘magic mirror’ from every angle. This is a screen that transports riders to destinations such as Africa, Manhattan, Rio, Ibiza or Dubai, with FirstLight’s ‘Maestro’ instructors using sound, visuals and sunlight simulation to enhance the experience and reflect the energy demands of each class. 

Bespoke bikes

Schwinn supplied its A.C.™ Sport bike with Carbon Blue™ drives system, which features  a carbon fibre reinforced belt with teeth for maximum durability and true bike performance. The result is a belt-based drive system that combines the maintenance-free durability and performance of a belt with the authentic-ride feel of a chain. The bikes incorporate the FirstLight branding and also include Schwinn’s new body bars with 4lbs and 6lbs and triple link pedals.

Construction challenges

Thompson explains the difficulties of building within a live retail mall, with tight security, limited access and no mains services. “We weren’t allowed to attach FirstLight’s walls to Westfield’s walls, so we built three independent acoustic boxes for the studios, each soundproof to 105 decibels - louder than a jackhammer!”

Everything, including the site office, had to be contained within the 9,000sq ft of the club and moved each time work started on a new area.

Security was understandably tight, with 15 minute drop off slots, which made the logistics of managing the build complex.

Interior design by Zynk combining creativity with commercial sense

Boutique gym design specialist Zynk created an interior that delivered a brand personality to match the innovation of the exercise experience, with careful consideration given to the commercial requirements of the business.

Working with the brand’s core concepts and colour scheme, Zynk developed a complimentary colour palette consisting of yellow and storm grey tones, which is offset with a black and white backdrop. Together, these hues successfully translate across a mixture of materials including concrete, timber and mesh, adding a lux overtone to an industrial theme.

Zynk also designed an impressive 20ft entrance which immediately shows the brand’s identity. Members ascend a striking staircase that has been designed with a mesh tunnel, before arriving at the reception area.

Concepts are soon to be unveiled for FirstLight’s second studio, while Studio Three will feature live streamed classes when it opens in January 2019.

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