Kettle bells, exercise balls and oh, those new weighted ropes, the just-launched Whipped class at Equinox has it all. Emma Jones tried it
Whipped is the latest fitness craze from super-chic London gym Equinox. It combines HIIT with circuit training to provide a class that gives you a full body workout through exercises designed to tone, tighten and improve strength. Set against the pumping backdrop of a healthy helping of motivational music, the class combines ten separate stations where various equipment is used to aid your workout, from kettle bells swung from side to side to strengthen your core to exercise balls held between your knees for leg lifts and stomach crunches.
When I arrived at Equinox in Kensington, I was welcomed by trainer Geoff Bagshaw who showed me round the gym’s facilities. Specially designed studios for yoga, cycling, Pilates and boxing, a juice bar, steam room and beautifully kept changing rooms (featuring hair dryers, straighteners and eucalyptus towels), Equinox has it all. There’s even an anti-gravity treadmill designed for those with knee and leg injuries that gives the feeling of running on the moon.
I was definitely apprehensive when I stepped into the brightly lit studio and caught sight of my reflection standing next to the beautiful Equinox gym bunnies, and felt no better after being told I was the only Whipped virgin in the room! Geoff introduced me to Rory, the class’s (gorgeous) instructor, who promised he’d go easy on me.
We started warming up by doing bum kicks and knee lifts before side stepping around the room. We didn’t stop from this point onwards, as Rory asked us to keep ourselves moving on the spot while he explained what to do at each of the 10 exercise stations.
We spent 30 seconds on each station before rotating to another, then going back and repeating the first and then the second station before moving on to two different ones. We were to do two laps of the room in total with a 30 second break in between the first and the final lap where we could rest. I soon found out when you have been moving non stop for 20 minutes, 30 seconds is barely enough time to wipe the sweat from your forehead let alone have a rest, but I guess that is the whole point of the class.
We then paired up, the music was cranked up and we got to work. The first few stations were fairly easy, with energy levels high and our excitement at trying something new pushing us through. Rory was super-enthusiastic, moving round the room to correct or improve posture and technique and offering encouragement but never pushing us too far or singling anybody out. Despite my initial apprehension, I soon felt right at home in his class.
My partner and I started out on two mats doing what Rory called ‘plank walk-ups’. This where we would assume the plank position before going down on to our elbows and then pushing ourselves back up on to our hands (possibly the most intense human effort ever). This station was designed to work the arms, core and bum, and was soon doing its job as I began to feel the burn.
We then moved on to step ups on a Bosu ball (like a gym exercise ball cut in half). Rory had explained that as the class was suitable for anybody, you could tailor each station to suit your own ability levels. While my partner (who had obviously done this before) did star jumps jumping on and off the ball, I stuck to stepping up and then down one foot at a time. Rory had made it look easy in his demonstration, but it was tricky to step exactly in the middle of the ball without bending your ankle at first. Once my confidence grew however, I was soon able to hop on and off with more speed and precision. (Oh yes, speed and precision that’s me)
After 30 seconds of each, we went back the plank walk-ups and then the Bosu ball again before moving clockwise to the next set of stations. Although we had only done two minutes of actual workout, by this time I was already starting to sweat from the constant movement and pace of the class.
One by one we worked our way through the stations. As well as the walk-up and Bosu stations, we lifted various weights, passed kettlebells through our legs while doing lunges, did leg lifts with an exercise ball, used a medicine ball for press ups and twisted our bodies to reach for the sky while only our feet and forearms kept contact with the ground.
In the middle of the room were the main focus of the class and the new and exciting element that makes Whipped so different: the weighted ropes. There are four in total, two for each person with each rope attached in the centre of the room to a weighted kettle bell. At this station we were asked to move our arms up and down while holding on to the ends of the ropes in order to get a smooth, wave like motion going. Rory showed us various other ways of moving the ropes for more advanced members of the class, including waving the ropes from side to side or in circles in opposite directions. Although getting the hang of the first technique, by the second lap of the rope station the circular motion technique nearly finished me off and I had to give in and go back to the waves.
Creating waves with the ropes ensures that the biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles get a good workout. Rory also suggested crouching as you whip to work the core and bring in the leg muscles. They might look easy, but the weight of the ropes soon starts to weigh down your arms making them harder and harder to lift every time you try to create a wave. As the class went on, I found myself stopping short of the 30 seconds allocated for rope station due to the sheer exhaustion of my arms. Although tiring, they were a great element to the workout and something really different which helped keep the class interesting.
As the only Whipped virgin, I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only one ready to collapse in a heap by the end of the class which lasts for just over 45 minutes. Although tiring, the fact that each station focuses on working a different area of the body does offer some respite to tired legs and achy arms, and the combination of the fast pace of the class, pumping music and energetic instructor motivates you to push through even when you feel like giving up.
I was told at the beginning that the class was aimed primarily at intermediate fitness levels, but that anybody is welcome. As a beginner, I had no problem keeping up with the others in the class, even if I did have to go at my own pace.
By the time I had finished I was sweaty-faced and in desperate need of a shower. Although tired, my whole body felt as if it had had a good and thorough workout. The aches hit before I’d even got in from work at the end of the day so I knew the class had been effective, and I felt like it had woken up muscles I hadn’t used in ages.
For those looking to push themselves and get results, I would say that Whipped is the class for you. It is also great for beginners (as I found out), as the weighted ropes add an element that’s new and exciting that you tailor to suit your fitness levels. It lives up to its name and will definitely leave you feeling whipped, but it’s a playful, if super-challenging way of getting in shape.
The monthly membership fee at Equinox is £183 (plus a one off initiation fee of £150).
Alternatively you can try Whipped out for free at the Be:Fit London weekend on Sunday 30th March at the Old Billingsgate, London. Visit befitlondon.com for tickets.
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