London’s top 5 exercise classes
Words by Katherine Hodgson
From Barry’s legendary bootcamp, to the ever-reliable F45, business is booming for London’s high end gyms. Whether you want to burn fat, stretch, or just break an almighty sweat, there is a huge number of classes to choose from. But making sense of it, and the seemingly endless list of acronyms (cue HIIT, EMOMs and AMRAPs), is not easy. So here’s the definitive guide to London’s best exercise classes.
WOD AT THIRD SPACE CITY, BRANCHES ACROSS CENTRAL LONDON
Third Space is a members-only gym with branches across central London. While each branch has a slightly different lay-out, they’re all immaculately maintained and tastefully designed with friendly, experienced staff. Third Space run a series of exclusive classes, regularly updated to keep you challenged and WOD (workout of the day) is easily one of their toughest.
Over 60 slow minutes it combines interval training and weights, leaving you gasping for breath while your muscles ache. After a gentle warm up, you work in pairs switching between exercises that use your body weight, kettle and dumbbells – so expect plenty of burpees, press ups and lunges. Then, with just 10 minutes to spare, you take on the ‘WOD’ – which, as the name suggests, changes daily.
You work alone for this one and at the end of an already exhausting class, where the music blares, the lights flash, and the instructor barks orders, it’s probably the last thing you want to do. But power through – the faster you go, the earlier you’ll finish and the WOD shouldn’t take most people more than seven or eight minutes.
Third Space memberships start at £100 per month with classes included.
EXPRESS CLASS AT BARRECORE, STUDIOS ACROSS LONDON
Barre is a low-impact class, inspired by ballet, which targets deep into your muscles. Don’t be fooled by the ‘low’ impact descriptor, this class is not easy. It won’t leave you panting or dripping in sweat, but it does burn. A lot.
Instructors encourage you to ‘shake’ and make ‘micro’ movements as you hold increasingly difficult positions. It’s not uncommon to balance a small ball between your thighs as you squat for several minutes, and then use a resistance band to pummel the muscles in the back of your arms.
The Express class (which is 15 minutes shorter than the signature hour long class) is the perfect introduction to barre training which – for maximum results – should be done weekly. But if you can’t face that, or fit it into your schedule, then Barrecore (with 10 branches across London) offer pay as you go sessions and short multi-class bundles.
Barrecore offers three classes for £56.
TEAM CON, WHITE CITY HOUSE GYM, WHITE CITY
Soho House’s newest London outpost is one of the capital’s trendiest places to catch up over cocktails, grab a meal, or develop a tan (with its rooftop pool a favourite with models, influencers and posers).
But buried in its basement is a quiet and polished gym, that – in the summer – is a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the clubhouse and hotel. This sprawling gym has a well rounded selection of classes with Team Con being the most interesting.
Unlike the standard HIIT, pilates and boxing which dominate the timetable, Con is an unexpected and uncommon mix of moves. It’s regularly updated by the no-nonsense instructors not afraid to chastise and bellow. With seven alternating stations, the class is a unique mix of intervals and circuits as you hold an exercise for up to a minute followed by a brief rest (which usually involves rushing to the next station).
But there is a catch – classes are £10 each on top of a hefty membership or hotel bill. This little nag is no doubt why White City House’s classes remain relatively quiet despite operating for a year.
White City House classes are £10 each and memberships start at £77 per month.
CIRCUIT AT CORE COLLECTIVE, KENSINGTON AND KNIGHTSBRIDGE
With two gyms nestled in well-heeled west London, Core Collective is a popular choice for those after quality without lengthy contracts. The chain’s circuit class is hands-down its best.
Each circuit class is different – dictated by the preferences of the instructor, the time of day and the number and ability of attendees. This class should not be confused with HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Although both burn fat, induce sweat and make you breathless, there’s a key difference – HIIT attacks your cardiovascular system, while circuit is a full body workout. Core Collective’s decision to shun the in-vogue HIIT and offer a more retro, yet still challenging, full body workout is a welcomed change. It’s 45 minutes of fun and discipline.
Core Collective classes start from £22 but multipack offers are available.
RED DIAMOND, F45, STUDIOS ACROSS LONDON
It’s the big daddy of all interval training – F45. Or Functional 45 if you’re being pedantic. This Australian brand has franchises throughout London and is perfectly designed for the professional on the go, with compact gyms dotted near busy office blocks and major shopping centres. With the bulk of classes lasting just 45 minutes, you could squeeze one into your lunch break – if you’re brave.
F45 has an ever-growing list of classes. Most are cardio-based but a few are resistance training (using weights) or a combination of the two. Red Diamond is one of the newest and focuses solely on weight training – which you might assume is the easier option, but don’t be fooled, you can still gasp for breath while throwing 30kg above your head for 60 seconds.
This class will leave you shaking and aching, with muscle soreness that lasts days. But the best bit is the atmosphere – F45 prides itself on its welcoming and encouraging approach, and with two trainers in each class you’re unlikely to go unmissed if you make a mistake or injure yourself.
The instructors make a point of learning everyone’s names and if you’re a regular, expect to attend frequent socials and compete in nutrition and training ‘challenges’. The screens dotted about the studio are also a helpful way of reminding you which move you’re doing and when.
F45 prices vary but a class is typically £25.