London's gym class offerings
by Olivia Cartwright,
I'm sure you've noticed. There has been a recent surge in the offering of specialty classes and there is something for everyone. Spinning, HIIT, hot yoga, reformer pilates, hip hop dance, whatever you're into there's a boutique class waiting for you! People are willing to pay a premium price on classes at boutique gyms over your traditional membership. I found weirdly paying upfront for these classes appears to have some sort of motivation for me. Parting with £20 on entry gives me a 'work hard, you're paying for this' mentality above any standard bums and tums classes I've tried at the gym. These classes tend to be the ultimate in luxury: designer products in the showers, designer activewear on sale, even chilled face towels for a post class cool down. All the perks of a luxury gym membership without the commitment. WARNING: You do inadvertently spend more than I would ever feel comfortable spending on a monthly gym membership so keep an eye on your attendance costs.
Barry's Bootcamp made the jump from across the pond and was one of the first to pioneer intense HIIT Training with treadmills in a fitness class. Barry's was also one of the first to gain cult notoriety with the hashtag #barrysbootcamp having over 35 000 posts. With all the new kids on the block entering the arena, Barry's' image seems to be tiring a little though. Also, while this is also more a reflection on my own fitness levels than Barry's, I personally found the class too hard to the point of it being demotivating. 'Are you kidding me?' was the thought that came to mind most and I left feeling deflated and disappointed at my own performance.
I hold my hands up, I have a girl crush on Shona Vertue, she's an angel. Her funny quips and laid back Aussie approach motivates you and make you laugh simultaneously. However this admiration quickly turns to hate (in a good way) within 10 mins of her class - but it flies by I promise. I have always labelled myself as 'just not being a sweaty person'. I was wrong. Shona refuted this statement instantly and continues to do so every week. The basic concept of Shona's classes is yoga + kettlebell circuit training + meditation. It sounds weird but it's amazing and if you're a yogi the best part is it advances you in your regular yoga practice, and faster. Not to boast but I can now do crow to headstand and back again... Ok I'm boasting but still.... Head on down to the Detox Kitchen and try it out, I'll see you there! If you want a Detox Kitchen supper post class be sure to pre order and then you have dinner waiting for you. #healthyeveninggoals
1 Rebel is the cool kid in the playground. It's slick design and attention to detail really does separate it from the others. From the copper features to the fully equipped beauty stations in the changing rooms, they really have thought of everything. They even have scented chilled face towels for after your session - because why not? I've tried the Reshape class, but there is spinning and boxing on offer here too. The structure of the classes is not all that dissimilar to Barry's. It's treadmill based HIIT training where you rotate from weighted floor work to a series of sprints on a treadmill. The difference I found was that the classes are a more managable 45 mins as opposed to an hour and I seemed to find it much more achievable. I have never worked so hard in my life in a class or any other gym environment but I didn't feel like I couldn't do it. I left 1Rebel feeling like I'd achieved something rather than failed which is exactly why I'll be going back for more.
Please note, I have never been into spinning, I'm just not. In fact I am the loophole to the commonly used phrase 'it's like riding a bike'. They say it comes back to you quickly. I say it does not and I have the bruises to prove it. I cautiously accepted an invitation to go to a psycle class with a more athletically advanced friend and I have to say I have been hooked ever since. The classes are challenging yet achievable, and I like the fact you are in control of how much or how little you wish to push yourself. The classes were also unexpectedly spiritual with the first half transporting you to a nightclub (oddly uplifting at 6:30 in the morning) and finishing with a motivational speech. Walking out of a pyscle class is somehow inspirational, you're swelling with pride you really feel like you can take on the day. My favourite classes are with Sal, Sophia and Tammy but I've never been to a bad one so try it and see. They have a good intro offer that's worth doing and don't even think about leaving without a smoothie, FYI I like No Resistance.
This is definitely my pick when I want a short class that I can fit into my lunch hour in central London. It's on the mainstream side of boutique i.e. not super glam and so the drop in prices are very reasonable (from £16). One reason I like it is the variety of classes on offer. Some days I can do yoga, or there's power plates and spinning too. I really wasn't convinced about power plates to be honest and thought it might be a bit gimmicky but it certainly leaves your muscles aching and feeling like you've worked out for a lot longer than 25 minutes. My favourite yoga class is the Bliss Restorative Yoga on a Sunday night. Ideal to relax after a hectic weekend and focus on the week ahead. Also, keep it to yourself but this is also my best place for celeb spotting!