Gayle joins an outdoor spin class – and then takes on a sweaty circuits session – at The Shed Health Club near Tarves.
My thigh, calf and glute muscles are burning, sweat is pouring down my face and my heart is racing.
Sound like torture? It’s actually a heck of a lot of high-octane fun!
I’m taking part in an outdoor spin class at The Shed Health Club at South Ythsie near Tarves.
It’s a brilliant concept, allowing folk to socially distance while enjoying group exercise and having a laugh in the process.
The Shed was founded by personal trainer Rachel Combe in the summer of 2019 and is believed to be the first agricultural building-turned-gym in Scotland.
During the first lockdown, realising she had to adapt to retain members, Rachel and her team began offering live online workouts.
These were hugely popular, but the concept of The Shed as an outdoor gym has really taken off, with fitness fans flocking to the scenic spot in the Aberdeenshire countryside to get their exercise hit.
My spin class starts at 6pm and with snow having fallen earlier in the day, I fear it might be cancelled.
But when I contact Rachel to check, she’s 100% adamant it WILL go ahead and tells me: “The weather just adds to the experience!”
As I arrive, all evidence of snow has melted but there’s a fair old nip in the air, despite the sun doing its best to show face.
The facility is in a fabulous location – in the middle of field and with stunning views of trees, rolling hills and surrounding pastureland.
A sea of friendly faces greets me and instructor Daniel Wilson helps me to set up my stationary bike.
Then the music starts pumping and the session gets underway.
As Daniel asks us to increase the resistance level, things start to heat up.
I quickly realise I’ve worn far too many layers and begin stripping.
The puffer jacket comes off, as does the running one, and I treat everyone to the garish sight of my “jungle-style” leggings teamed with a red and black tracksuit top.
Daniel puts us through our paces and, with a turn of the resistance knob up, or down, we climb steep (virtual) hills, tackle sprints, and vary our positions between sitting, standing and even jumping. It’s high intensity and not for the faint-hearted.
If you’re feeling a tad under the weather, or not in peak fitness, you can cheat a bit (you don’t HAVE to turn the resistance up if you really don’t fancy).
The beauty is, you can push yourself as much, or indeed, as little as you want. Most importantly, Daniel is there to encourage, support and spur you on.
The sweaty but fun session ends with a few minutes of recovery, a cool down and stretching.
A glutton for punishment, I’ve also signed up for a half hour circuits class with Rachel so once the bikes have been wheeled away, I grab a yoga mat (sanitised between users) and gather round in a socially distanced circle.
After spin, my legs are like lead so the first round of squat jumps elicits groans, grumbles and squeaks.
Other brutal exercises include press-ups, star jumps, lunges, burpees (the Devil’s work) and sit-ups.
As the sun sets on The Shed and the sky turns various shades of yellow and gold, the black silhouettes of distant trees lending an aura of magic to the experience, a classmate turns to me and says: “Get ready for the rave!”. She’s not joking!
The music ramps up a notch and we find ourselves leaping, pumping our fists, bringing our knees up to our chests and whooping with joy. The adrenalin levels shoot through the roof!
“Yeeha! C’mon The Shed! Let’s go!” cries the lady beside me, Helen Spark, and everyone joins in.
I haven’t grinned as much as this in ages! The combination of music, exercise, a party/rave-like environment has well and truly hooked me!
The Shed, it seems, has everything you could want in a fitness club – great classes, friendly people, supportive instructors, fantastic gear (there’s loads of spanking new gym equipment indoors plus an outdoor facility called the Ranch) but its USP, in my opinion, is its fabulous rural location.
It offers classes for everyone – from eight-year-olds to 108-year-olds – and includes strength and conditioning sessions, weight-training, spin, box-fit, meta-fit, kettlebells, yoga and much more.
Rachel first became inspired to set up her business when she drove past the shed in 2017, then a disused agricultural building surrounded by cattle.
After submitting a planning application to convert it into a state-of-the-art fitness facility, she started a petition to gauge local support, winning hundreds of signatures.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It was time to bring a fantastic fitness facility to the countryside,” Rachel tells me.
“We often capture moments of pure serenity during outdoor classes. The backdrop of the sunrise or sunset while people are taking part is truly breath-taking.”
One lady, a member of The Shed since it opened, tells me she feels she’s part of a “big family”, while others say it’s given them a positive focus during the seemingly never-ending periods of lockdown.
“It’s a welcoming community and Rachel and her team are always there to offer a smile and advice come rain, shine or snow!” says one girl, in training for Tough Mudder.
Having been a member of various gyms in the past – often the snobby ones with grunting, vest-clad posers flexing their muscles in mirrors – I can honestly say The Shed is a refreshing, down-to-earth haven for those dedicated to fitness and socialising.
It’s good for the mind, body and soul and no surprise people flock here from all over Aberdeenshire.
- The Shed has been nominated for Scotland’s Prestige Awards 2021/22.
- Check out theshed_healthclub on Instagram for daily videos of classes in action.
- Also see theshedhealthclub.co.uk and The Shed’s Facebook page.