VIP Fitness: London’s Best Classes
After having two babies in 15 months, it’s fair to say that my body’s taken a bit of a battering. I lost weight after the first, working really hard to get back into my size 10 jeans and by six months after the birth of my first I felt like me again. Then I got pregnant again a couple of months later…
I found the second pregnancy a lot harder as I didn’t have the same amount of time to nap so I got my energy from gooey supermarket cookies, chocolate fudge cake and Dairy Milk. Sugar was what helped me get through a day with a pre-toddler / toddler while being pregnant and exhausted. And now, 7 weeks after the birth of the littlest I have a lot more weight to lose. It’s not baby weight, it’s sugar weight and I don’t like it. I want to look like this again:
Before the babies, I was super fit so I’m hoping getting back to exercise will help me shed the fat and feel like a yummy mummy rather than a slobby mummy. However, I don’t have time to waste on average exercise classes. What matters to me is how can I burn the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time plus tone the booty and build some biceps. Also, I don’t want to be committed to a specific time just in case something happens with one of the babies / childcare.
Thankfully, I was a bit of a commitment-phobe when it came to gyms last time round and I tried several of London’s boutique fitness studios. Below is a guide to what I remember from each of the studios if anyone out there wants to get fit quickly. And when it comes to my fitness journey, you can definitely expect to see me at Barry’s soon….although I don’t think I’ll be moving fast at first.
I am a Barry’s addict. I love it so much I even smile when I do core exercises (above). Seriously though, I went to the first ever class when the first studio opened near London Euston in February 2013 and I went non-stop for almost two years. I’m saying at least three or four times during the week plus a double session on a Sunday. For a commitment phobe like me, that’s a lot of sessions!
The reasons I stuck with Barry’s is because the classes are so hard, so intense and so lung-busting, eye-watering-ly painful that the endorphin rush afterwards makes you feel like you can conquer everything. If you start your day with a Barry’s class then you can rest assured that nothing that occurs for the rest of the day will be harder than the class you smashed
The workouts consist of approx. 25-30 minutes of treadmill activity and 25-30 minutes of weights. The instructors are full on, meaning they’ll notice if you’re not going fast enough or lifting heavy enough. The fact that the trainers are all super hot definitely encouraged me to work harder.
Get more info on the Barry’s Botcamp London website.
Frame is one of the most fun boutique fitness studios in London. There’s something on it’s timetable to suit all fitness tastes whether you’re a yoga bunny, a dancing diva or you just like to work up a sweat doing cardio. Oh and there’s boxing, ballet barre and even bouncing on trampolines. All with super friendly, smiley and energetic instructors who are so upbeat they force you to try harder. When I started there was just one studio in Shoreditch but now they’re in Kings Cross and Victoria too – they must be doing something right.
The dance classes are especially fun, with special themed ones for divas like Beyonce and Britney, music video classes and even healthy raves! But I enjoyed the Cardio Circuits class – a super high intensity class where you work through different stations for 45 minutes and burn shed loads of fat. Ass and abs and Get Leggy are also high intensity with cardio, toning and high-energy instructors.
Visit the Frame website for more details.
If you’re competitive or you need to be pushed and motivated, you’ll love, you’ll love Ride Republic. The perfect physical shape of the teachers does a lot to motivate me (I’m shallow I know) but the wow factor comes from the Burn Board. Everyone’s bikes are numbered and this correlates to a number on a large blue screen behind the instructor’s bike. However hard you’re working on your bike is then projected onto the screen for all to see. There’s no hiding! If you see someone in front of you or catching up with you it’s great incentive to push that little bit harder.
Another thing that puts Ride Republic above other cycling studios is the clarity of the instructions. The bikes are super hi-tec, meaning that you can see which resistance you’re working on (as opposed to being told to turn your own wheel by a quarter or a half at other studios). Having a number to aim for whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced keeps you in check so you can’t pretend you’ve turned your wheel up. How hard your working can be seen by the instructors who often get off their bikes to check up on the class.
Find out more on the Ride Republic website.
Paola’s Body Barre
This is where the beautiful people of West London go to sculpt their bodies. Paola (pictured above right with me) has been trusted with the bodies of models, TV presenters and socialites (as well as discerning fitness folk) ever since her original studio opened in the residential backroads of Fulham.
Her signature burn class is full-on – a workout for every single muscle. If you want a lean, toned dancer’s body then Paola’s is where you build it. By repeating small movements, it forces the muscles to lengthen and it’s especially good for thighs and bottoms. Paola herself full of energy and she picks instructors that share her joie de vivre, lust for life and fitness know-how. Seriously, try going regularly for a month and be prepared to listen to compliments about the shape of your booty!
Check out the PBB website for location details and to book classes.
City workers are often high achievers and also short of time. When Barry’s only had one studio, 1 Rebel set up as a city based alternative for those who didn’t have time to trek to Euston for a class nor spend 60 minutes doing it. 1Rebel’s Reshape classes are similar to Barry’s Bootcamp classes with a mix of treadmill and floor work, but usually last 45 minutes with lunchtime 30 minute slots available. But there are five things that make 1Rebel more fabulous than the rest.
- There’s a real mix of classes. I find that after a while my body gets used to exercise so I stop seeing results. When I shock the body and do a mix of exercises, I start to see more changes. 1 Rebel has cycling classes, Reshape classes and Rumble (boxing classes). Doing a mix of all three will definitely get you fit fast.
- The changing rooms (above) will mean you look tons better after a workout, no matter how much you’ve sweated. The benches are heated – amazing for your muscles – the showers are powerful and stocked with luxury products and the free towels are large, fluffy and sumptuous. There are also plenty of state of the art hair dryers and hair straighteners if you don’t book in for a blow dry. Which leads us to point 3…
- There’s an on-site barber shop and blow dry parlour – Barber + Blow. Everything you need to look fabulous from top to bottom has been considered by 1 Rebel.
- The pricing structure is clever. Several fitness studios only sell class packs, but 1 Rebel also does monthly membership where you get a specific number of classes per month. This works out much better value for money
- There’s free prosecco on Fridays!
Find out more details on the 1 Rebel website.
When you walk into Core Collective, you feel like you could be in a high-end spa. It’s really relaxing and calming (until you start a class when you’re pushed to the max). So get there early and enjoy the changing rooms while you can – you’ll need to psyche yourself up.
Like 1 Rebel, there’s a mix of classes but I particularly enjoyed the Velocity classes – high intensity interval training and the Resistance TRX classes for building the core and shaping longer, leaner muscles.
The PACE classes combining cardio on rowing machines with weights provide the ultimate full-body workout without any potential damage to knees that can occur when running on treadmills.
See more details on the Core Collective website.
Check out this video for a glimpse into how Barretoned delivers a more intensive workout than you’d imagine from first impressions:
See more details on the Barretoned website.
So those are a few of my favourite places and I haven’t even got round to writing about Gymclass London, KOBOX, Psycle, Project Fit, BXR London, Slice Studios, Cyclebeat, Boom Cycle, Barrecore or Speedflex yet…London has so many incredible fitness studios!
What’s your favourite way to stay in shape?