We Are Synthetics – The Latest Fitness Craze to Hit Leeds

We Are Synthetics fun and empowering class launched for a 6 week run in the City on January 12th. We Are Synthetics is ‘putting the ‘fizz’ back into physical’ and bringing the 80’s back for us all to experience.

Synthetics – The workout is a perfectly mixed cocktail of nostalgic aerobics, retro dance moves with the classic soundtrack of the 80s. A cardiovascular workout that will sculpt each part of your body like it’s 1986. Think long lean muscles, crop top worthy abs and a hot ass… 60 minutes of sweat, squats and spandex!

I spoke to the founders, Ben Skevvy and Mark Franks, about We Are Synthetics and my friend and I also tried out a class. Read on to find out about the team, the founders’ vision and my thoughts on the 80’s experience.

Where did the idea for We Are Synthetics originate?

As far as I’m aware, there are no 80’s inspired exercise classes in Leeds. So, when I heard that We Are Synthetics was launching in the City, I was intrigued to hear more about the class and where the idea for the unique experience originated. That is where my conversation with the co-founders, Ben and Mark began:

We’ve been doing We Are Synthetics classes for a couple of years. We love the 80’s and are passionate about it. We thought that fitness had got too serious and we wanted to change things. Our class, which is a fitness and dance combo, makes fitness more inclusive. We like the idea that anyone can keep fit. We use our classes to put the fizz into physical. We dress ridiculously and we try and put everyone on the same level. Our classes are an experience.

In addition to classes, I saw that We Are Synthetics also work at a range of other events and festivals. “Synthetics has morphed into having so many aspects. We do festivals and help people to get into dance and music. We also have a performance element to Synthetics. We do shows. We did one as part of the Underbelly show at the South Bank in London. We also do club events. Its great because people can have fun and let their hair down. We also take Synthetics to corporate events. We have a lot of strings to our bows.

Some more background

The unique 80’s inspired class, which is being hosted in Leeds at the Barrecore studio, is not something that everyone could lead. I wanted to hear about the co-founders and what experience they had in fitness, dance and the 80’s and why that made them perfectly suited to developing and leading We Are Synthetics. Ben: “We’ve known each other for years. We first met when we were the backing dancers for Gina G. Our mutual love of the 80’s built our friendship. As well as being friends, we are a great team. I am a dancer, choreographer, model, PT and fitness instructor and Mark is a music producer, master mixer, singer and DJ. Now we combine our experience as dancers and our skills to make Synthetics work.

We Are Synthetics launched in Leeds on January 12th. How has it been going?

I had seen some great reviews on social media but wanted to hear how the first couple of weeks had been for the guys at the helm. “The response has been fantastic.” They explained. “The response for the Leeds class was so great. Everyone who came wanted to come back and bring their friends. Leeds is a great place for our class. There isn’t really anything else like this in the City. There is a lot of serious fitness but nothing quirky. And we are helping to fill that gap!

This run of Synthetics classes in Leeds was being hosted out of the Barrecore studio on Mustard Wharf on the up-and-coming South Bank and only opened in 2021. “When we were initially going to launch We Are Synthetics, we were going to go with a hotel chain. But when lockdown hit, it was all stopped. They held fire and took too long. We took matters into our own hands. We liked the Barrecore studio. It’s all covid regulated because it was built and designed in the last couple of years. It feels safe. It’s also a nice space to go into. The space feels neutral but that means we can add lights to make it feel like a party vibe. Which we definitely did for the launch!

The class experience

‘” teach in American. I have created an alter-ego, which is great fun. We use a real mix of music. We’ve created a sixty minute soundtrack. We have 80’s tracks in there of course, but we also have other songs and quirky bits in there, too. The music is a real integral part of what we do. That is one of the ways bringing the fun back. We want people to experience the whole thing. We go all out to help people feel like they’ve stepped back in time. Synthetics is about burning calories without even thinking. Its also about building a community. This was something that we really highlighted when we worked with Misguided. We worked with them to build a campaign about building a community regardless of shape of the person or their size. The class is empowering. People get to know each other. They get more confident each time.

Who is the We Are Synthetics class designed for?

I often feel that fitness classes are designed with a specific audience in mind. I wanted to know who We Are Synthetics had been created for. Unusually for a fitness class, the guys said that We Are Synthetics is for “Literally anyone. The class is for people who might be scared of going to other classes as well as for people who are fit but want some more fun. The class is all about having fun but at the same time it is a legitimate workout. You get a really good workout. We make the class accessible. There are led parts of the class but also some freestyle moments and people really relish the opportunity to let loose. It’s really freeing. It’s so nice to have something that is really lighthearted. It’s sparkly and camp. Everyone is welcome.

Looking ahead

We are starting off with Leeds and London. It’s only recently that people can and are happy to workout again in groups. We did a lot on Zoom, which was great over lockdown. It let us expand globally. We even had a lady that was joining from Vegas. But now that we can be in person, we want to build a real life class family. Then once we are building that, we will expand.” However, the guys are keen to make sure that they only expand when they are happy with how they are going to achieve expansion whilst keeping the heart and soul of Synthetics. “It would be great to start a tribe in lots of different cities. Franchising is a possibility but we are so passionate about the 80’s and we don’t want to lose that. We need to be central to the classes. The heart behind it makes the whole class.

The guys are also looking at how they can return to events and festivals. “We were quite focussed on the festival element before COVID. Thankfully, this year we have a busy summer planned.

My Synthetics experience

So that I could get a real understanding of what the Synthetics experience is all about, I went to try out a class in Leeds for myself, and I took a friend along with me. I was apprehensive about it as I am a terrible dancer and used to struggle keeping up with even the most basic of dance routines growing up. But when I arrived at the studio, the guys and the others in the class were so supportive. Everyone seemed so happy to be there and were raring to go.

When the class itself started, and Ben took on his American diva persona, the whole thing just came to life. I loved the music and seeing everyone else have a great time was awesome. My friend and I agreed that although the class wasn’t our usually go -o exercise option, we had a great time and were smiling throughout. The workout was as tough as you wanted it to be, but it was also so much fun.

I haven’t been to a dance style fitness class before so I can’t compare it to other classes, but I thought Synthetics offered a great experience. I loved trying to keep up with the led elements and gave my best in the parts of the class where we were free to do our own thing, despite that looking more like I was stabbing at the air. Overall, I loved how the class felt like we were in the 80’s and thought the choice of music was spot on. Seeing others in their 80’s gear – leg warmers, leotards and sweat bands – and hearing the music from the era made the class a real 80’s experience. I would recommend the class to others wanting to get fit whilst also having a great time. P.S. The class is great for guys and girls.

To find out more information and to get a taste for what a We Are Synthetics class looks like, check out the We Are Synthetics Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/wearesynthetics/

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