Over the course of 12 weeks, Healthy Hospo Champion, Kaitlin Wilkes-Back, donned her lycra and joined a group of drinks professionals in a dark, energetic, and very noisy room which for many became one of the highlights of their year.
Wednesday’s at 12:10 became a ritual for some 25 bartenders based in London as it was here they would work hard to show their commitment to fitness, cycling and sweat during a 40-minute cycling class as part of the Martini Racing Ciclismo program at Digme Fitness in Rathbone Square.
Bartenders from around the city would aim to complete a 12-week program to earn a spot to cycle in the iconic Martini Racing La Classica ride starting in Florence and ending in Rome, an epic 220km journey, just in time for the inaugural Rome Bar Show.
La Classica is your usual brand trip. A spot on the prestigious trip has to be earned through sweat, dedication and a commitment to better fitness. Attending the 12 classes would be just the start of what the bartenders had to do, they also had to find time to cycle on their own time… after all, a 220km journey is no easy task for the untrained rider.
Each week we joined the bartenders at the class and watched them push themselves and each other towards their weekly cycling challenge… it seemed that the competitive nature of cocktail creation went beyond the bar in this room… but we also felt a sense of community was developing, that these 25 bartenders began to not only realise the importance of their physical health and how much they could actually gain from a 40-minute cycling class but that it could be a lot of fun, particularly with the encouragement from each other.
We caught up with a few of the bartenders participating in the class over the 12 weeks and there was a common theme amongst their experience…
Nicole Sykes of Lyaness describes the experience “ (For me) It was a real challenge but I loved every minute of it. It pushed me and taught me how to fit ‘fitness’ into my week. Training every Wednesday was something I would look forward to!”
Amongst several other bartenders, who felt the same they also realised that fitness became more of a regular activity in their lives “(Yes!) A lot more fitness, cycling to work and taking time to do more longer cycles home, especially if I am on a day shift” – William Campbell- Rowntree of Artesian at The Langham Hotel said.
Even busy bar owner and operator Bobby Hiddleston of Bar Swift, found time to attend the classes for the second year in a row as “I came back this year as I want to push myself even further, but mostly because I genuinely enjoy it.”
As the 12 weeks seemed to speed by like the peloton in the Giro d’Italia, we loved our sweaty cycling sessions with all of the bartenders, including genuine bike nerd and celebrity bartender Merlin Griffiths of Channel 4 ‘First Dates’, whose advocacy for the challenge only drew more focus to a balanced life for hospitality professionals.
Six hard-working and well-deserving bartenders qualified for La Classica and will be heading to Florence this Saturday, September 21st, 2019 to begin the long ride to Rome. Congratulations to Roman Shabodalov (Bar Swift), Alex Woolley (Hawksmoor), Nicole Sykes (Lyaness), Claudia Newman (The Ned), Ivan Villegas (Davies & Brook) and Lorenzo Manzo (Annabel’s) for their dedication, sweat and laughs along the way. Merlin will also be joining the UK team.
We wish all of the bartenders the best on their 220km cycle and thank Martini Racing Ciclismo and Davide Zanardo for letting Healthy Hospo be a part of this amazing journey.