It was 7.31 a.m. and I was late for my Notting Hill spin class. That meant the lights weren’t on when I entered the studio and scrambled to find my bike. Bleary-eyed, I noticed a man waving at me as I approached Bike 49. It was Rishi Sunak, on the bike next to mine. ‘I promise I booked this one,’ I said, so he didn’t think I was stalking him. The instructor started to shout motivational phrases at us and blast out Britney Spears and Dua Lipa. For the next 45 minutes, Rishi and I sweated it out side-by-side.
This week an LA TikToker had a similarly surreal experience when she rocked up at the Santa Barbara SoulCycle studio for an early morning Taylor Swift-themed ride, only to find it filled with security. In a video to her followers, she said she had ‘the biggest heart attack’ of her life, thinking the songstress herself had dropped by (given that she was in town for her tour). Instead, the bemused twentysomething explained that the VIP was the ‘British Prime Minister’.
When the news spread online, Westminster watchers were quick to criticise Sunak’s choice of holiday relaxation. A 7 a.m. spin class? Far better holidays have been had by Harold Wilson, smoking in the Scilly Isles, or Margaret Beckett in her caravan. Given my early-morning encounter with Sunak took place when Liz Truss was prime minister and he was on the back benches, it’s clear he likes to start the day with a ride – even when there is the option of a lie-in.
He’s not alone. Spinning – as the indoor cycling classes are known – has become the most popular group workout in the UK, beating pilates and yoga. The concept was born out of misfortune in the 1990s when the South African cyclist Jonathan ‘Johnny G’ Goldberg narrowly escaped death on a late-night ride as he prepared for a race.