“It’s really hard to hold the eagle pose whilst you’re dry-heaving…”
Here at BOWER we are a motley crew of runners and gym-goers and therefore between us we have a good spread of experience of the latest, best and most humiliating ways to get sweaty and fit in London. I personally rate a gym class’s effectiveness based on a complex algorithm of ‘price vs how little effort I can get away with exerting’…however, my much healthier, fitter colleagues tell me I have to rate them by ‘price vs quality of workout’, which I’ll call the ‘sweat-spot’…
5) Forrest Yoga at Yogarise – AB-achingly Fab
Located in the centre of Peckham you don’t expect to find such a tranquil studio. The Bussey Building is known for it’s late night parties and rooftop bar so the contrast of also having such a peaceful yoga studio is fabulous.
Forrest Yoga is just one of the classes on offer and was developed for healing and injury management and as such seems to have a real focus on core. Unfortunately, my core is about as strong as wet tissue paper but it didn’t seem sociable to stay in child’s pose and weep gently for most of the class so I had to man-up. Three days and four tubes of Deep Heat later, my abs still hurt and I have to roll out of bed, but the classes do leave you feeling stronger, relaxed and ready to take on Peckham High Street.
Location: Peckham, you plonker
Price: Intro offer £30 for 14 days, £13 drop in or monthly packages available
Sweat-spot rating: 6/10
4) Exerceo – Zip me up and hose me down
This is very much like a cheap version of Fifty Shades of Grey and similarly oddly satisfying in a self-flagellating sort of way. It’s a little hard to explain but you basically strip down to your pants and put on almost see-through, black cycling shorts and t-shirt, which made me look like a fat mime artist. This puts you in a motivated mindset for doing some exercise, which is a good thing since ‘fat mime artist’ is not my intended look for summer 2017.
You then step into an abseiling harness and matching jacket covered in electrodes, are zipped up and then hosed down with water. I’m almost certain this sensation made me wet myself a little bit (in the same way that putting a drunk person’s hand in a bowl of warm water does).** They plugged me into a machine and then ran an electric current through my suit. I’m not sure how to describe the sensation but it’s pretty much how I expected being electrocuted to feel.
I then did 20 minutes of half-arsed lunging and press ups whilst being zapped to within an inch of my life. I think it says something about me that I’d rather endure electrocution for 20 minutes instead of a traditional hour of ‘normal’ exercise. Gratifyingly, laziness pays and the next day I really felt the effects of my bonkers session. Definitely worth trying for those of you short of time or just mildly masochistic…
**I wasn’t drunk (on this occasion)
Locations: Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Parsons Green & Goodge Street
Price: £10 for a trial session, £420 for 10 sessions (or £300 if you bring a mate). Longer contract deals available
Sweat-spot rating: 7/10
3) Hot yoga – Flicked with man sweat
I love hot yoga and I think that House of Yoga in Putney is one of the best studios of its kind. It knocks out great classes and manages a good balance between pro yogis and beginners all in one class. The pace of their power hour sessions is great and means that you’re constantly moving and feeling limber instead of having to hold a plank for 9 minutes at a time, the effort of which would make anyone have to break wind in public.
My only downside is the incredibly inappropriate closeness of the rest of the patrons. Especially when you’re stuck next to Keith, the 50-year-old cyclist who sweats buckets of liquid that smells like whatever he ate the night before and then flicks it at your every time he goes from downward dog to a bridge pose. It’s really hard to hold the eagle pose whilst you’re dry-heaving, trust me. Except for that, the consistency and quality of the sessions here are really addictive. Just pick your spot in the room carefully…
Price: 30 day intro package for £35. Monthly memberships from £89 a month. Drop in £18
Sweat-spot rating: 8/10
2) Ride Republic – Lycra heaven
Once the new fangled exercise ‘thing’, spin classes are now almost retro but there has recently been some kind of sweaty, lycra boom of new, ever more crazy, spin classes. Of these ridiculous, innovative workouts, Ride Republic is right up there (as was my very ill-chosen underwear at the end of my workout). They focus on your RPM and gear changes and then the top 10 male and female riders come up on the board at the end of the class, giving them a ‘burn’ score. Part of me loves this competitive element but it also makes the lazy-bird in me just want to eat ice-cream and leave the lycra-stars to it…
Unlike other classes, I really feel that in a spin class it all comes down to the instructor and RR have some real corkers who make even the laziest get a great workout in. The thing that really clinched it for me though is the cold minty towel that you are handed 10 minutes before the end. I nearly ate mine but settled for a blissfully cold wipe down.
1) Kobox – “Leave it Darren, it’s not worth it!”
In my youth there were a group of my friends (never me of course), that would go out to a terrible nightclub on a Friday night for a dance and a fight. Kobox is pretty much the same but without the shots of Aftershock and 20 Malboro Lights. They have, however, thoughtfully included the shouty instructor, who often does a great job at impersonating exactly the sort of person who we (sorry, they) would end up in a fight with.
This aside, their classes are fabulously structured into ‘rounds’ and you alternate between floor circuits and the bags. It keeps the hour interesting and means you feel you’re getting a full body work out. Another advantage is that the room is kept in almost complete darkness and is filled with extremely loud music, which I think creates the perfect storm of a good workout: motivating group training without the need to interact and an environment where you can be entirely un-selfconscious. They’re onto a winner.
Locations: Chelsea & The City
Price: £25 intro offer for 2 classes & wraps
Sweat-spot rating: 9/10