Passions and Obsessions

At the ripe old age of 16, I knew my knees were not made for running

An incomparable spinning experience— indoor cycling puts you in a party mood


Gone are the days when exercise was limited to running on dirt trails or swimming in an enclosed body of water. Gone also are the days when raw athleticism was a prerequisite to getting involved in whatever workout. It’s no longer as embarrassing to go to the gym looking like a terrified fox during hunting season. One of my favorite innovations of mankind since sliced bread are the new forms of exercise that blossomed sometime between the end of World War II and, ironically, the peak of Y2K.

There is a workout for everyone. You want to try your hand at climbing but you’re afraid of heights? There are indoor climbing classes where you can hop on a machine that is only an inch above the ground. Are you a gym rat who can’t be alone with your thoughts? There are group classes that take you through each exercise that can cure that.

My personal poison, however, is indoor cycling. At the ripe old age of 16, I knew my knees were not made for running, nor were they made for the leaps and pirouettes of the ballerina I was aspiring to be. So I turned my attention to the world of stagnant bikes and overly remixed top 50 hits. Needless to say, I fell in love quite fast.

Despite our brief break-up in college, indoor cycling, or spinning to the kids, continued to court me till our love affair officially continued into my 20s. I have tried many studios, from those you see on your Instagram ads to those you see installing their bikes on roof tops for God knows what reason. My roster of studios is pretty extensive. However, not one of them managed to put a ring on it, as it were, and got me to the aisle to say “I do.” That is, until now.

Rave Studio is one inclusive party every time.

On a foggy Tuesday evening in the middle of January 2023, Rave Studio got down on one knee, figuratively, and vowed to keep me happy and satisfied for the rest of my days. The idea behind all this came not just from one person. The genius behind the studio was derived from the collective efforts of several people. I had the recent privilege to sit down with its founder, Ian Villaruel, to know how Rave Studio came to be.

“Before I decided to open the studio, I was also just a regular rider,” says Ian. “My first ever spin class was in April 2019, and I absolutely hated every minute of it. My second class came out different, I enjoyed it—and I thought, this workout is really fun and I would love to do it more frequently. But the packages were expensive, so I checked out other studios and was even more surprised that their packages were even more expensive. There, I had the wild idea of opening up my own studio. Around June 2019, I started looking for a space, equipment distributors, etc. After two months, I decided to fully commit to opening my own cycling studio. I prepared from August 2019 to December 2019—just five months—and we opened Rave Studio  to the public on January 11, 2020.”

It became clear to me that Ian was also caught up in a whirlwind love story with indoor cycling. While my love language is how to constantly make time for a spin class, his is sharing the love he has for the sport by ensuring it’s accessble to everyone.

“Spinning is the only workout I know that is truly fun and effective,” he continues. “You don’t notice you’re actually working out when you spin because it’s just so fun to do. And sometimes, even if a class is tough, it’s alright—you just come back the next day, but not very scared of it because you know it will be fun all the time. I’ve never felt it with any other workout I have tried, and I still think more people should experience it, because it is such a fun workout to do.”

Although I do love my fair share of ostentation, as I think every Manila gal does, the pretension that comes with many activities in the city gets old. And so does its effect on your wallet. Rave Studio is the pioneer in this sense, because aside from its affordability, its commitment to quality overrides its need to fall into the status quo. Manila elitism has infected virtually all corners of this town, but Rave Studio has managed to escape its overpriced claws.

“I wouldn’t take full credit for creating the Rave Studio community because for me, the community is built by the riders,” Ian says. “What I always try to make sure of is that the studio is a safe space for everyone. I make sure both my instructors and my staff are welcoming, warm, and won’t discriminate against any client. Most times, fitness studios can be very intimidating for new riders. We are very deliberate about it by making sure our staff are friendly, easy to approach, and there’s no need to feel anxious whenever you’re attending Rave for the first time. And this kind of energy also reflects in our riders. All our riders in the studio have a positive energy and good attitude which eventually they share with fellow riders—it just snowballs from there.”

Not only is Rave Studio the product of like-minded lovers of indoor cycling, but it is also  born of a marketing brain. “I am a marketer by profession,” Ian reveals. “Now I work as country category leader for P&G Philippines—but before opening Rave Studio, I was a marketing manager for LOTTE Confectionery Japan.”

Rave has managed to build its own unique brand that has birthed an incomparable spinning experience. Following the theme of a “rave” in its strictest sense, the moody ambiance, with signature neon blue and green lights, forcibly thrusts you into a party mood. Aggressive? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

“The very first concept for Rave was to make it look very industrial and underground. You know how raves, especially in the States, are usually hosted in secret spaces, old warehouses, building basements? The idea was to do something similar—and you’ll see it in how raw the studio is. Our first set of marketing collaterals were also very dark. But eventually we tried to transform into something lighter because the community we were able to build evolved. Our marketing assets and how we do business transformed to become warmer and more welcoming.”

However, what made me decide to continue my love affair with Rave was not particularly the aesthetics or spicy choreography; it was something that a lot of people overlook,  arguably the hardest thing to guarantee, but one that any studio cannot function without.

“I choose my instructors mainly based on character. I am a strong believer that you can always teach skills, but you can never teach character. Rave Studio champions inclusivity and I always make sure all my instructors are good ambassadors of this purpose and vision.”

At the end of the day, Rave Studio thrives on one thing: community. With all its cogs, nails, and screws, its fuel is its people, those who lead the rides and those who scream, yell, and dance to the tune of chaos inside the bike room. It is a passion project-turned-success story—one that I, and many other people, get to benefit from.

If you’d like to try one of Rave Studio’s classes, visit their website at

About author


She is an International Relations graduate of the University of Navarra in Spain. She enjoys reading, baking and playing mahjong, preferably with gin and tonic within reach. She is an advocate of social equality.

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