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).

gymclass review london

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!)

 

More info here.

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bikes-gymbox-flatline

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…

My experience:

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.

chilling-with-keith-gymbox-flatline

Great.

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).

oxygen gymbox flatline

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).

kettlebells gymbox flatline

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).

flatline gymbox

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.

Fitness level:

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!)

I burnt:

An impressive 400 calories in 45 minutes.

More info here.

 

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boogie bounce trampoline class

What is it?

Imagine if I told you that bouncing up and down on a tiny trampoline could actually count as a full-on exercise class, great for burning fat and toning muscles throughout the body.

Well that’s exactly what Boogie Bounce, a new fitness programme based entirely on mini trampolines, is promising. Obviously, I had to give it a go, so when the class – which is available as far afield as the US and Australia – touched down in Covent Garden, I went along to try it out for myself.

My experience:

It’s not often I go to an exercise class and have a ridiculous grin on my face the ENTIRE way through, but with Boogie Bounce it’s unavoidable. I mean, you’re bouncing! On a trampoline! It’s like being 7 years old again, except this time you’re listening to Anaconda by Nicki Minaj and have the trampoline all to yourself.

boogie bounce trampoline class

The class has an upbeat soundtrack and an even more upbeat instructor. I think bouncing all day for a living must make you high on life, and this lady’s attitude and enthusiasm confirmed that.

We went through a series of exercises from more simple side-to-side jumps to full on leaps into the air (luckily the trampoline has a bar you can hold onto if you’re scared of just shooting right off). The routines had really fun choreography and great music – Boogie Bounce is the kind of class where you have to let go of any notion of looking cool and just enjoy yourself! I think the clip below illustrates this:

I could definitely feel the burn in my bum and thighs after all that bouncing, and there was also a quick abs section at the end – turns out balancing on a trampoline while you do sit ups is a good way to challenge your core muscles!

boogie bounce trampoline class
Fitness level:

I think people of all levels of fitness would enjoy this class, although given the amount of bouncing involved, I can imagine it’s going to appeal to a slightly younger crowd! It’s definitely a good one for those people who ‘hate exercise’ to try – like Zumba, it provides something totally new and fun, which makes you forget you’re working out.

boogie bounce trampoline class

I burnt:

150 calories in 30 minutes.

More info here.

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hydro active virgin active review

What is it?

Billed as HIIT in the pool, Hydro Active is a cardio-building, fat-burning workout that also improves your swimming technique.

My experience:

I’ll be honest, I probably should’ve asked whether I actually needed to be a decent swimmer before attending the press preview of Hydro Active. As it was, I rocked up to the very swanky Virgin Active gym in Broadgate with just my basic breaststroke skills in tow and no idea of what lay ahead.

My ineptitude at swimming was mirrored outwardly by my totally inappropriate swimwear. Before I left work that evening, my colleagues helped me decide between a string bikini and embarrassingly plunging swimsuit, and we plumped for the latter, so I was vaguely mortified to find that most of the girls in the class had been gifted Speedo swimsuits – as in proper ones, for swimming, not posey swimsuits designed purely for lying on a sun lounger pretending you’re Elizabeth Taylor (a favourite activity of mine).

hydro active virgin active review

What’s more, most other people in the class could actually swim – oh CRAP! When the instructor announced that we would be doing the whole class in front crawl, I was a tad mortified to tell her that particular move wasn’t actually in my swimming repertoire. Luckily, I wasn’t the only journo there who would probably fail to get their ‘Little Duck Level 2’ swimming badge, so me and my fellow doggy paddlers were put together in the slow lane with a slightly revised version of the Hydro Active routine – one which accommodated for the fact we were all vaguely crappy swimmers.

So I’ll be honest – I think you need to be fairly confident with your front crawl in order to truly get the most out of this class.

However, if you’re a good swimmer who wants to improve, it’s perfect. The class consists of drills, where you mix longer distances with ‘sprint’ swims, plus more unusual activities, such holding a float between you and a partner and both kicking as if your life depends on it to see who can push the other person backwards through the water. 

hydro active virgin active review

Float fighting!

The drills where we were instructed to get in and out of the pool at the end of each length were surprisingly tiring – I did not realise how exhausting it would be hauling my great heft in and out of the water that many times!! 

Overall, I like the HIIT in a pool idea – I normally think of swimming as super repetitive, robotic affair, but Hydro Active breaks your swim up by combining high intensity bursts of energy with more endurance building sessions. I just wish I was better at it…

Fitness level:

As you may have guessed, you really do need front crawl in order to properly participate in this class. It would be ideal for triathletes looking to increase their swimming speed and stamina. 

hydro active virgin active review

Life in the slow lane…

I burnt:

Sadly my Fitbit doesn’t work underwater, but the class promises a 250-300 calorie burn.

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What is it?

SoulBody Barre Unhitched is basically a barre class with a difference. Instead of a traditional barre at the side of the room, you have a 3kg or 4kg weighted bar which you use to perform a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises, with the aim of creating better balance, definition and posture. It’s hopped over to the UK from the US, which, as we all know, is where the best/craziest fitness trends start.

My experience:

I’ve done many a barre class in my time, but Soulbody Barre Unhitched is completely different – and I loved it!

The class basically involves lots of traditional bodyweight strengthening exercises classes (plank, bridge, lunges etc) but made more intense with the addition of a weighted bar (which is a bit like a tap dancing cane in length, but heavier!) and an inflatable ball.

For example, instead of just going into the bridge position, at the same time you would have your feet balanced on the ball and be pushing up the weighted bar repeatedly to work your shoulders.


We also did side planks on one arm while rotating the bar to the side with the other (I am SO glad I have pictures to illustrate what I’m on about here!)


The hardest moves were probably the core work, but since #perfectabs seem to be everyone’s goal right now, that can only be a good thing. LOOK AT THE CONCENTRATION.


My favourite thing about the class was how varied and fast-paced it was; you don’t really have time to get fed up of one set of exercises because you’re quickly moving on to a new area of the body, and the whole feel of Soulbody Barre Unhitched is very upbeat.

I would definitely attend again! 

Fitness level:

Anyone could attend this class, as you can adapt each move to your fitness level.

 

I burnt: 

250 calories. Not too shoddy.

Let me know your favourite barre classes in the comments below!

Read my review of BarreSculpt by Barrecorre here.