digme-fitness-review-1

What is it?

Digme Fitness offers indoor cycling classes with top-end equipment – most notably the Keiser M3i bikes, which connect with a screen at the front of the studio and allow you to visually race through the mountains and compete against your fellow riders. It has recently joined forces with Barrecorre to open a swanky new studio in London’s Moorgate, which is where I tried out a class.

My experience:

I’ve tried spin classes with screens and leaderboards before (oh hey The Pack), but this was by far the most impressive bit of tech I’ve experienced.

digme-fitness-studio

We were all given the number for a particular bike when we walked in, and once we started riding cute little characters with corresponding numbers popped up on the screen in front of us, pedalling their way through a picturesque hillscape. Unsurprisingly, being able to see where you ranked in the group of characters was a huge motivating force throughout the class!

Our instructor was very careful to make sure all the bikes were set up properly and that we understood what the various measurements on the screens – including watts, speed etc – meant before we properly got going, which I realised was quite rare for spin classes.

Once we started cycling is was full-on, with plenty of hill climbs and sprints, as you can probably tell from the picture below (that’s me, far left!)

digme-fitness-review-1

The leaderboard element definitely added some interest to the class. At one point, we were given a ‘3 minute challenge’, where we basically had to see how far we could get in three minutes, with everyone’s realtime results and rankings beamed onto a screen at the front,.

As my long-suffering friends and family will know, any activity that taps into my competitive side is bound to get me working harder than I would otherwise, and I think most sporty types would say the same.

However, I was quite surprised to look up and realise that I was actually top out of all the girls there – really wish my year 10 P.E. teacher had been there to witness it tbh, and I look extremely hideous but happy upon learning the news:

digme-fitness-review-1

I was even more shocked when the final leaderboard was revealed at the end of the class and I was second out of everyone (including two male instructors who were in the session – HOLLLAAA). If anything, I think this is a reflection of sheer bloody determination more than talent, although of course I took a photo of the leaderboard to prove that I’m secretly a professional athlete.

leaderboard-digme-review

All in all, a fun and challenging class, particularly good for those who thrive off competition!

Fitness level:

Any fitness level, although if you’re a bit rusty, prepare for the whole class to know it.

I burnt:

258 calories in a half hour taster class.

More info here.

Images: Luke Ayling


As you can probably tell from this l’il blog, I’m a huge fan of a fitness class, and regularly attend everything from aerobics to boxing classes, trendy HIIT sessions to spinning at the local leisure centre.

While the classes and environments may change, one thing is always constant – the kind of people you find at a fitness class.

Whether you’re into Zumba or pilates, barre or body attack, here are a few types you’ll probably be familiar with!

1. The teacher’s pet

This person is absolutely always found at the front of the class. In fact, they’re so well-established that they actually have their own spot, which no one else dare stand in.

To cement their teacher’s pet status, this individual will always be the one to fetch a mat for the instructor, and is relied upon to laugh loudest at their jokes. If it makes them happy…

2. The permanently confused one

Not everyone has great coordination; in fact, some people will literally never get their heads around the class routine, no matter how many times they attend it.

This person can normally be found accidentally walking into other class-goers as they bound the wrong way, or doing their own sweet thang as everyone else performs a perfectly synchronized routine.

I kind of love this person, as long as I’m not exercising next to them.

3. The noisy one

While most of us like to keep a low profile at fitness classes, there’s always one person who likes to scream/bellow/grunt their way through the whole affair.

Most commonly found at boxing-inspired and HIIT classes, these people are seemingly unaware of the surprised looks they’re getting from everyone else.

4. The competitive one

Whoever said it’s the taking part that counts clearly had not met this class-goer, who treats every workout session as if it’s the Olympic Games.

Whether they’re proving that they can sprint across the room fastest, do burpees at twice as fast as everyone else, or hold a plank for 15 minutes, this person is all about showing they are THE WORLD’S GREATEST.


5. The gossipers

Is it an exercise class, or a coffee shop? This pair genuinely aren’t sure. You’ll see them use the class as an opportunity to catch up, only putting in a leisurely effort, because really the most important thing is having a chinwag. Fair play.

6. The perfect girl

While you are sweating and gasping your way through an exercise class, this girl remains absolutely perfect-looking throughout: smooth, swishy ponytail, golden tan, not a drop of sweat on her and toned abs peeking out under her crop top.

On the one hand, she serves as inspiration – if you keep working out, you might look like her one day.

On the other hand, you kind of want to punch her.

7. The newbie

We’ve all been this person at some point – the one wondering around in confusion while everyone else knowingly grabs their equipment, or trying to work out how the hell to do some complicated routine that feels like second nature to regular class-goers.

Be a good person and help them out – it’s no fun feeling like the clueless one!

8. The token bloke

Okay, this is not true of ALL fitness classes – some of them have a fairly even gender split.

However, the vast majority of classes are very much a female affair, although in my experience, there always seems to be one man who doesn’t give a crap about going to a ‘girly’ class and bloody well does some aerobics anyway.

Token blokes – I salute you.

bxr-skills-london-review

What is it?

Located at the (dead swanky) new BXR London gym in Marylebone, Skills is a pay-as-you-go class designed to hone your boxing skills and get you fit along the way. Each day of the week, the class focuses on a different technique, so by the end of it you’ll basically by professional boxer Anthony Joshua (who, incidentally, is on the committee of the new gym).

My experience:

First of all I’d just like to toot my horn and let you all know that I woke up at friggin’ 5.50am to review this class for you guys – YOU’RE WELCOME.

By the time I arrived at 7am, I had just about woken up, which meant I could pay attention while our instructor demonstrated the correct way to punch the bag and move your feet around (amazing how few box-fitness classes actually bother with this).

Once we’d mastered the technique (I use the term ‘mastered’ loosely in my case) it was on to a fast and furious warm-up, involving burpees, press-ups and all manner of exercises that no one in their right mind would do at that hour of the morning.

bxr-skills-london-review

When we were fully sweaty, it was on to the boxing, and, similar to 1Rebel’s class Rumble, this involved slowly building up a sequence of punches until we were, essentially, beating the shit out of our punch bags.

The only slight issue I had was being able to see our instructor at the front of the studio. The nature of the class means there are whopping great punch bags hanging everywhere and – like all trendy workout classes these days – the lights were dimmed, so several times I really couldn’t see what he was doing, and had to rely on copying those around me instead.

 

bxr-skills-london-review

However, in general I would say the instruction was good and there was more focus on technique – for example, how to kick correctly – than I normally get at these type of classes.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the session was when we were told to partner up (always terrifying for awkward people like me) and told to punch each other in the stomach. Yep really, partner one had to stand with their hands above their head and brace their abs while partner two repeatedly punched them in the stomach. This was fine until the instructor decided that my partner wasn’t whacking me hard enough and took it upon himself to beat the crap out of my abs while I stood there like ‘Umm actually, I don’t entirely agree that this is pain-free’.

All in all, a fun and educational class, but probably not one to try while you’re on your period…

Fitness level:

Any fitness level, as long as you don’t mind getting punched.

 I burnt:

300 calories

More info. Classes start at £15.

 

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F45 Tottenham Court Road London

What is it?

F45 is a fitness phenomenon that started in Australia, home of fit people (in every sense of the word). Since launching several years ago it has spread internationally, with the a new UK studio opening in London’s Tottenham Court Road. Imagine circuit training but with trendy studios, tonnes of good equipment and upbeat, knowledgable instructors and you get the idea.

My experience:

There are 27 class ‘programs’ available from F45, but I tried Athletica, which promises to get you leaner, faster and more agile in 45 minutes (all music to my ears).

I was a bit wary when I arrived at the press taster class and saw a couple of huge, muscly male instructors, not because I have a problem with big, muscly men – quite the opposite – but because in my experience that tends to mean ridiculously heavy weights, testosterone-fuelled competition and lots of bootcamp-style shouting in your ear, which is meant to be encouraging but I just find aggravating.

F45 Tottenham Court Road London

Luckily, I was completely wrong. In fact, what struck me most about the class was how welcoming and inclusive it was. Sometimes it’s nice to have an instructor who’s cheers you on rather than screaming in your face, and weights that are challenging but still actually lift-able (if I go to one more class where they assume that EVERYONE can run around swinging two 30kg weights off their arms I will scream).

That’s not to say this isn’t hard work. In small groups of three or four, we moved our way round a series of exercises including kettle bell squats, Russian twists, TRX pull-ups, battle ropes and pushing a weighted sled up and down a track. By the end I was about 85% sweat. But there was a fun, upbeat feel to the class and a good camaraderie among the groups, which helped everyone get through the intense exercise (we did three 20 seconds bursts with a short break in between each, before moving to the next exercise).

F45 Tottenham Court Road London

I’ll be honest, the only not so great aspect of this place is the changing rooms. F45 is not alone in this; the problem with lots of studios that offer classes is that everyone hits the changing room at the same time, which means there’s not enough room for everyone to shower/get dressed/dry their hair at the same time. A warning for shy types: the showers at F45 are pretty open (one girl kept screaming to her friends outside “I can see everyone naked, it’s horrible” while I was also in the shower, which was flattering).

However, changing room gripes aside, I definitely recommend this class – it’s a great way to set yourself up for the day and I never felt like I’d deserved a breakfast more!

F45 Tottenham Court Road London

This is the kettlebell I accidentally swung into my crotch. NOT ADVISABLE.

Fitness level:

Average to good, although it’s a really encouraging class so even if you’re crap someone will help push you on!

I burnt:

510 calories (woohooo!)

 

From £25 per class (7-day trial for £20). More info here.

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Just like every other basic bitch twenty-something woman in London, I love a good brunch, and having lived in the Clapham area for the past few years, I’ve tried A LOT of them.

As a vegetarian, you often want to know beforehand that you’ll be decently catered for in a restaurant – otherwise they might just throw you a few leaves or a potato and expect you to be happy (FFS).

That’s why I’ve rounded up the best vegetarian brunches in Clapham for all veggies to try – and yes, this was a lot of fun to research.

ESCA

esca vegetarian brunch clapham

Best veggie dish: Melted Smoked Chedder and Crushed Avocado Omelette, £7.90

This cafe has had a revamp recently, and the interiors and customer service are now so much better. The biggest improvement though is the menu; gone is the tired all breakfast buffet and now they serve up delicious omelettes crammed with flavour.

The cheese-filled omelette topped with avocado is an absolute winner if you’re looking for something hearty and filling.

THE DAIRY

the dairy vegetarian brunch clapham

Best veggie dish: Fried Cacklebean egg, cavolo nero and crispy potato £10

This trendy restaurant has food critics raving, but a word of warning – the portions here are all about quality rather than quantity, which might not be what you’re looking for if you’re hungover and ravenous.

However, if it’s fine ingredients and unusual flavours you’re after, then The Dairy is the place to go.

We were perched at high stools for our breakfast, which for me consisted of a vegetarian version of the beef cheek dish on the brunch menu (they replace the beef with butternut squash, as you can see above).
It was very tasty, if a little tiny post-gym. Basically, what I’m confessing here is that I went home and had some toast afterwards. #sorrynotsorry

BRICKWOOD

brickwood avocado and feta on toast

(Image: Instagram/TheLondonFoodQueen)

 

Best veggie dishes:

Smashed avocado with feta and poached eggs on sourdough £9
French toast brioche with mascarpone and maple banana £9.90

You need to get to Brickwood before 10.30am if you want to sit down straight away – with it’s Aussie charm and brilliant coffee, this is one of Clapham’s most popular brunch joints.

My go-to on the menu is definitely the avocado, feta and eggs on toast because let’s face it, it’s the #basicbitch dish of choice.

However, if you’re looking for something sweet, the French toast is unbelievably good. I mean it’s probably about a million calories but definitely worth every one of them.

After much research, I’ve found the best tactic  is to take a mate and go halves, treating the French toast as dessert.

ECO

eco vegetarian brunch clapham

Best veggie brunch: Homemade granola, creamy yoghurt and fresh fruit, £4.95

Eco is a bit weird in that it’s kind of a pizza restaurant but also does everything else. I like the chilled-out, industrial vibe though, and the service is quick and efficient.

If you love baked eggs and frittatas, this restaurant has some great veggie options, but in the interest of changing things up (and because I was too hungover for anything big when I visited), I’m including this lighter number from the breakfast menu.

Sweet, juicy strawberries, crunchy granola and thick, creamy yoghurt – combined with an Americano this is just what you need (incidentally while I ate this, my boyfriend was eating a massive 11am calzone, so we must have looked like a strange pair!)

THE MANOR

the manor clapham vegetarian brunch

Best veggie brunch: Poached eggs, potato flatbread and sorrel, £7.50 with avocado side, £4.50

The Manor is sister restaurant to The Dairy, and equally lauded by critics, but I have to say I prefer this place, which is on a side street of the main road.

For brunch it’s a lighter, more spacious environment that The Dairy, plus it’s cheaper and the portions are slightly bigger, but come with the same interesting flavour combinations and textures.

I’m aware this brunch looks a little weird from the snap above, but four of us had it and agreed it was bloody delicious! The potato flatbread was salty and filling, the poached eggs were perfectly done and I loved the creamy sauce on top. Avocado on the side but it made a lovely addition too.

THE CLAPHAM NORTH

clapham north brunch vegetarian

Best veggie brunch: Wild mushroom, spinach and potato hash topped with melted tallegio cheese, crispy shallots, £9.50

Considering the Clapham North is a pub, I was amazed with the array of brunch options, but the enticement of wild mushrooms was too much to pass up on.

When this pan was placed in front of me, I have to admit I was a bit like ‘Is that it?’, but the flavours of the mushrooms and cheese combined were so rich that actually I felt satisfied for hours afterwards (read: cheese coma).

Some of the stuff on the menu here is wildly expensive considering it is a pub (and you smell the faint night-before booze aroma in the air), but if you get a window booth and choose carefully it’s a nice, laid-back place to go on a weekend.

What are your favourite vegetarian brunch spots? Let me know in the comments below!

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