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What is it?

Sweat It in Aldwych, London offers a variety of HIIT classes targeting different areas of the body. These include Pillar Killer for the abs, Machine Guns for shoulders and arms, and Engine Room for the legs and glutes. Each class is split between exercise on the treadmill and floorwork.

My experience:

The first thing I discovered when it came to attending Sweat IT is that I can’t pronounce Aldwych –‘I’m off to a class in… Old Witch?’ I grumbled when I rolled out of bed at 5.45am. After a tube ride and a nice stroll through Covent Garden (minus all the blimmin’ tourists), I arrived for the 7am class, and ordered my post-workout smoothie to collect on the way out (turns out this is quite a taxing decision at this time of day, so I went for ‘Posh’ because it was the only one named after a Spice Girl).

As well as nice changing rooms and a large, well-equipped studio, I was also happy to discover a fridge of reusable water bottles that you can fill up and return at the end of the class. It’s so simple and SO much better for the environment than dumping plastic bottles in the bin, and I can’t believe more gyms aren’t doing this.

To the class, and essentially, Sweat It follows the same format as Barry’s Bootcamp or 1Rebel’s Reshape: a few minutes on the treadmill, a few minutes doing weights on the floor, and swapping back and forth until you feel like you might have a heart attack.

The difference is that Sweat It has taken this concept and ironed out some of the niggles. The floor equipment, for example, is better: each person has their own landmine bar, a ‘rig’ stacked with bars and weights, plus a shelf to store dumbbells on. Rather than having to scrabble out a space on the floor for planks, ab crunches and so on, you have a clearly demarcated zone (although no mat, which means your arse bones get a bit sore during V-sits). I did the Pillar Killer class, which lasts 50 minutes, and our floorwork included mountain climbers, Russian twists, side plank dips and weighted sit-ups.

Another improvement is the treadmills – these ones are seriously impressive. For example, you can switch between ‘run’ mode and ‘parachute’ mode (where all the movement of the belt comes from your legs) at just the press of a button, so there’s no fiddling about with that red cable. Changing speed doesn’t involve shuffling through all the numbers; instead, you hit the 10km per hour button on the screen and the speed change is almost instant.

They’re simple tweaks, admittedly, but honing a successful format is never a bad thing. Sweat It also introduces a new element with a ‘challenge’ at the end of the class. In pairs, we had to take it in turns to complete 80m on the treadmill running against a 20kg weight in parachute mode – which sounds weird, but was essentially VERY VERY HARD.

By the end of the class, I felt like I’d had a really thorough workout. Unfortunately, Sweat It suffers from the curse of all class-based studios: not being able to provide enough showers to prevent queues when a deluge of people suddenly leave a session at once. But the queue wasn’t horrendous and the toiletries were nice, plus there were swanky Dyson hairdryers, so all is forgiven.

Overall, I was really impressed with Sweat It and would definitely attend another class – it’s a great way to kickstart your day.

Fitness level:

You get to choose your dumbbell weight and there are always three speed options to choose from on the treadmill, so anyone with reasonable fitness would be fine at this class.

I burnt:

400 calories (which I then re-ate after turning up to work and finding someone had left a whole Colin the Caterpillar cake on the side).

More info here

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wake-up-london-john-lewis-workout-review

What is it?

Combining a number of Time Out-worthy phrases – ‘rooftop’, ‘pop-up’ and ‘morning workout’ – Wake Up London is a Tabata class happening on top of John Lewis Oxford Street throughout the summer and into September.

It’s run by fitness company HEX, aka personal trainers Phil Wilkins and Chris Timmins, who normally operate round my neck of the woods in Clapham, but are taking up early morning residency on top of a shop because, well, why not?

My experience:

Firstly, I have to say it’s pretty bloody exciting walking around John Lewis when it’s still closed – so many neatly lined up things! No other people! (Not that we were allowed to buy anything at 7.20am, obviously).

There were around 10 of us in the class, and we bundled into the lift up to the sixth floor, where John Lewis is currently hosting a rooftop bar/restaurant thing for the summer called The Gardening Society.

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Luckily, the astroturfed set-up for the rooftop bar is also perfect for an early morning workout; I had been half expecting a blank concrete wasteland when we got up to the top, but instead there were plants, cute little benches and wooden buildings dotted around.

We started off with a warm up which involved jogging, jumping and crawling our way round the astroturf. Then, we were split into two groups, one of which started with boxing, the second with a series of exercises such as push-ups, weighted squats and V-sits.

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My boxing partner was fairly unthreatening looking, so I was shocked when I took the pads and had to catch some pretty ferocious punches. More enjoyable for me was the exercise set; there’s something about doing Russian twists in the fresh air that makes them so much more enjoyable.

In fact, the main perk of the class was definitely the chance to enjoy the great outdoors while getting a morning workout out of the way, although I’m not sure it would be so lovely in the rain (apparently they run the 45-minute classes every Tuesday or Thursday, come rain or shine).

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Fitness level:

Definitely any – and it’s a welcoming class to go to alone.

I burnt:

210

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gymclass review london

What is it?

Founded by fitness pro and Instagram sensation Helle Hammonds, Gymclass is billed as ‘a revolutionary high intensity interval and strength training workout, like no other’ designed to ‘torch body fat’. As well as being available in its original location of Holland Park, you can now do Gymclass in the very appropriately named Gun Street in Moorgate.

My experience:

Gymclass’s new studio is down an adorable little side street – but let me tell you the warm up is anything but sweet.

Any hopes I had of being eased in gently at 7am were quickly put to bed as we started a series of intense jumps and squats, which left my legs quivering before the ‘proper’ workout had even begun. But then, looking at Helle Hammonds, who led the class herself, it was obvious we were never going to be in for an easy ride (that lady has one of the most mind-boggling bodies I have ever seen).

After the warm up, when I was already gagging for a lie down, we started the main section of the class, which is basically like circuits, but with hella hard exercises (box jump burpees, pull-ups, wall squats – all those lovelies).

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We worked round the room in pairs, alternating each exercise with a partner (so, for example, while my partner burnt 8 calories in the exercise bike, I would do crunches, and then we’d swap over while I cycled off 8 calories, then switch again).

gymclass review london

It was definitely a great workout, and good for people like myself who get easily bored in a class, but I have to say the best thing about it was Helle herself. Although she looks ripped enough to literally kill me with one finger, she was the friendliest, most upbeat trainer ever – even at 7am. She made me push myself but in a really encouraging way, so by the end I felt like I’d had an amazing workout – and very much deserved the Cheeky Choc protein shake presented to me on the way out!

Fitness level:

Moderate to good – it’s a pretty tough class but very welcoming if you’re a newbie.

I burnt:

480 calories (and according to Helle LOTS of fat-burning later on!)

 

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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.

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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!)

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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:

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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.

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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.