Looking for the best gyms in London? Healthista’s gym bunny and fitness enthusiast, Vicky Hadley has set off reviewing gyms around London to help you find the perfect one for you…This week, Virgin Active
Gyms in London are getting increasingly sophisticated with personal trainers, classes and equipment constantly exceeding our expectations. But with so much choice it’s hard to know where to go. Of course, the best considerations are always a gym you’ll actually attend and that’s ideally 5-10 minutes from your home or work to make it more likely you’ll make it down more than once. We thought we would help by bringing you a new Gym Hopper column that features some of the differences between gyms in London. I will be tasting many different gyms in London to see which classes, equipment and facilities they have to offer, so stay tuned to see my weekly reviews that will hopefully help you find the perfect gym for you. Let’s kick off with fitness stalwart Virgin Active and what sets it apart.
Why I love it : With gyms dotted all around London and the newest training equipment including a ginormous donut ring that acts as a replacement for bog-standard weights bar for deadlifting (lifting weights) and a TRX room dedicated to all HIIT lovers everywhere it is no surprise Virgin Active is one of my top gyms.
There are classes ranging from dance options such as Pulse and Zumba, to weights classes such as pump and kettle bells to my all round favourite, HIIT which is a blend of high and low impact work that will have you drenched in sweat in 20 minutes flat.
I left the class 20 minutes late dripping in sweat and feeling amazing
I tried out Hammersmith’s Kettle Bells class led by fitness instructor Mohammad Gelik at 7am; this class is a 20 minute total body blitz that targets the entire body in one short workout. I’m much more of a weights lifter and yoga bunny so wasn’t too sure about how I would find Kettle Bells – all I knew about what to expect from the class was what a kettle bell is. It’s fair to say I was pleasantly surprised. The class started with a warm up where we passed the kettle bells around our bodies from one hand to the other to get used to the ideal weight for you. As I like to really sweat and feel like I’ve had a proper workout I opted for a heavier 12kg weight whilst the majority of the class stuck with a six-eight kg weight.
The class included kettle bell swings, squats, forward and backward lunges and lots of lifting in which I decided maybe I wasn’t as strong as I’d like to be – yet… and lowered my weight too. I left the class 20 minutes late dripping in sweat and feeling amazing. Sweat stake? 10/10.
See the full timetable for your closest club on Virgin Active‘s site.
Which classes to take?
As well as the obvious Kettle Bells class I loved Virgin Active’s PULSE class. A brand new glow stick style workout that mixes clubbing with exercising to create a new trend named ‘Clubbercise.’ The class included a mixture of old school and current chart topping songs whilst I boogied the evening away without needing one drink. The studios are transformed into nightclubs by disco lights, and the instructor teaches a fun and hiphop styled dance class for one hour.
I’m a huge yoga class lover so the wide range of yoga classes from Anti Gravity yoga in which you hang from the ceiling via a hammock to dynamic classes like Vinyasa yoga made me extremely excited. After my third yoga class at Aldersgate Virgin Active I found myself in my first aided inversion (headstand) from my yoga teacher who helped me slowly wobble my legs into the air against the wall before sliding back out again.
Does one club stand out over others?
There’s even protein shakes and juice bars
Virgin Active, Aldersgate has nailed it for me in the gym department with a huge array of training facilities that will never leave you waiting for a machine. Aldersgate gym is spaced around a huge swimming pool with glass windows that look down on a relaxing blue pool that makes you feel relaxed and surprisingly energetic during your workout – or maybe it’s just that urge to finish your workout and go for a swim?
With five different gym floors, weights sections, machine sections, TRX sections and free spaces it’s no surprise this Virgin Active has me hooked. ‘There’s even protein shakes and juice bars’ I screamed on my first visit. The canteen in the gym is full of healthy parfaits, oats, smoothies and juices including Bounce Balls and Pulsin Bars which I devoured post gym session. My only issue was the fact there are no vegan protein shake options in the canteen just the traditional whey. Luckily for me the Pulsin’ bars satisfied my cravings though.
If you’re more of a spa trotter High Street Kensington and Canary Wharf Virgin Active gyms are a must go. Both are equipped with a luxury swimming pool, steam room, sauna and hot tub. Both male and female changing rooms host their own private sections so women and men can spa separately straight after their workouts.
The changing rooms are spacious and clean in all of the gyms whilst offering their clients shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, towels and hair straighteners completely free.
I have dropped my body fat and increased my muscle mass in only six weeks
What about the personal training?
Virgin has knocked it out of the park with personal training. Even offering a direct debit option for those who wish to pay later. I have spent the past six weeks training with Hammersmith’s trainer, Yousuf Siddiqui (below) and not only have I noticed an impressive difference in my body shape but I actually look forward to training. From arriving at 51 kilograms with 23 percent body fat, I have dropped to 21 percent body fat whilst increasing my muscle mass in only six weeks.
Training at the gym has become one of my favourite places to hang out and I know that I am guaranteed to leave the gym buzzing with energy having spent roughly 55 minutes of my hour long workout laughing – because laughing causes abs, right? Come on six pack…
Individual prices for a personal trainer range from: £55.00 – £185.00 depending on the package you buy.
There are also group discounts where you can split the price with your friends or family.
Virgin Active’s membership prices vary from £41.95 per month (Humberston Club) to £130 per month (for the Collection Clubs) depending on Location