What is it?
Labelled ‘the hardest and most dangerous gym class in the world’, Flatline has made headlines for being so hardcore that a paramedic is on hand for those who can’t handle the pace.
The Independent reports that given it’s ‘potentially deadly’ nature, participants need to sign a disclaimer beforehand and fill in an organ donor form.
So naturally, when Gymbox invited me to try it, I went along, hoping I’d still be alive at the end of it…
One of the ways in which Flatline nearly killed me was starting at 7.30am in Farringdon – that is one early wake-up call when you live on the other side of London.
I’ve never been to an exercise class with on-hand medical aid before, but when I rocked up, there he was: Keith the ambulance man, standing round in his green uniform, ready to pump me back to life if necessary.
The class involves working your way through a grid of activities. Here they are, accompanied by my thoughts while doing each:
- Throwing atlas stones: I can’t even lift this weight off the floor, let alone chuck it over my shoulder.
- Kettle bell thrusts: Two is too many kettle bells. Can’t lift them above my head as required, so I’ll just dangle them around shoulder height and hope the instructor doesn’t notice.
- Box jump burpees: I started off so speedy and now I can barely crawl over the box. Think I might be dying. Where’s Keith?
- High intensity exercise biking: YAY I CAN DO CARDIO!
- Climbing up and down the rope: I’m sorry what? I’m meant to do this with my bare hands? *sits of floor*
- Picking up 40kg and sprinting up and down the room: Lies down on mat laughing.
You do each for 45 seconds, and there are four circuits in total, each punctuated by a stop at the ‘recovery zone’ where you can inhale oxygen through a mask if you wish (I didn’t, but this guy was loving it).
Before we started, we were set up with heart rate monitors, the results of which were beamed onto a screen so EVERYONE would know if you were slacking. From what I’d read of the class beforehand, we were also meant to be wearing 12kg weighted vests, but none of these were produced, which leads me to think this is just an optional extra for maniacs.
So how did I find it? Well, to be honest, I don’t entirely agree with the fitness industry trend of focusing on EXTREMELY HARDCORE exercise classes, seemingly at the expense of technique. A lot of the weights were so heavy that I had to contort myself into really weird positions to lift them, which is why I managed to strain a muscle about five minutes into the class (I can still barely lift a cup of tea up now, which as you can imagine is deeply traumatising).
Admittedly, I have the upper body strength of a flea, but I’m not alone in that, so if Flatline is going to appeal to a wide audience, there needs to be more of a focus on lifting weights properly, not just seeing how much weight participants can crane up from the floor.
Weirdly, my reaction in the face of ludicrously hard exercise was to laugh, which turned out to be very infuriating for the instructor, who spent a good 50% of the 45-minute session screaming in my face (I think we were friends really though).
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the class, and I’m sure if you kept at it, Flatline would help you achieve some real benefits in terms of strength and stamina. There was a great team spirit and plenty of variety if you’re the type of gym goer who gets fed up with the same old exercises.
Plus, nobody died, so that was a bonus.
Well, I think anyone with at least a moderate fitness level could try it, but be prepared to ask for lighter weights and stand your ground if you know you definitely can’t do something (not just don’t want to!)
An impressive 400 calories in 45 minutes.