Looking for the best gyms in London? Our Gym Hopper Vicky Hadley has been trying out different classes and post-workout protein shakes to find out where you should be training
Last month in my gym hopper column I explored London’s Virgin Active Gyms and this month I have been trialling a membership at Fitness First
Why I love it: Designed for those who LOVE training. With its loud pumping music throughout the gym floor and it’s loud colour scheme, Fitness First screams to those who take their exercise regime seriously and like a lively and upbeat atmosphere to get them in the mood to train.
What are the classes like?
I would definitely recommend trying out one of Fitness First’s Hot Yoga classes. Many gyms offer yoga studios and yoga classes but it’s pretty rare that you would find a hot yoga studio within your gym I headed down to one of the flagship gyms in Hammersmith to try it out.
At seven o’clock in the morning and feeling pretty sleepy I grabbed my mat and headed out the door, the Fitness First gym in Hammersmith is located underneath what looks like a corporate building, walking down the stairs and into a modern spacious gym I headed to the changing room to drop off my sports bag and begin my class. Make sure you bring a padlock though – these aren’t one pound lockers and without a trusty padlock you will be left hoping for the best. Towels are included so with my yoga mat and towel I entered the yoga studio.
Red walls with dim lighting and relaxing music enveloped me upon entry. I placed my mat down on the floor and lay on my back in savasana (relaxation position) enjoying the 30 degree warmth of the room. Charlie, the yoga teacher delivered a very deep and intense class where you really felt like you were not only detoxing your body but also your mind. We worked through simple asanas (yoga poses) and sun salutations and got faster and harder as the class went on. Being a weights enthusiast the muscles in my legs were exceptionally tight so stretching in downward dog pose really enabled me to let out some stress that had definitely been building up in the backs of my leg. I was dripping with sweat by the end of the class and felt utterly detoxed and surprisingly very awake too.
If you’re more of a HIIT lover than a yogi…
London’s Cottons Club has recently had a refurbishment and has fitted the first exclusive ‘Beats Studio’ to Fitness First, meaning that the room vibrates with loud music whilst we take on a heart pumping HIIT (high intensity interval training) class. The beats studio is located slightly above the gym floor on an open planned floor with different stations of equipment that you take on whilst the fitness instructor stands with a headset microphone egging you on and giving you a lively, army bootcamp style workout. The class was half an hour long spending 40 seconds on each section and 20 seconds rest as you move round each station. You wear a heart rate monitor belt throughout the class and have a set of TV screens on the wall above you with traffic light coloured zones in which you can track how hard you are working.
From kettle bells to battle ropes I felt pushed to my limits even groaning as I held the final deep squat position for 40 seconds – even though I am normally a big fan of any ‘booty building’ exercises. I left the class sweaty and high on endorphins by the end of the class. Sweat factor? 10/10.
For you spin queens…
Now, I’m definitely not a cardio lover and you will NEVER get me on a spin bike in the gym, no matter how much you pay me. But, Fitness First have just launched their brand new class, ‘Glow’ which doesn’t actually sound too bad. Glow is led in a dark spin studio where participants will use a piece of equipment known as a Velobell as a hand-weight that under UV lights glows in the dark turning the traditional spin class into a fun and exciting weight lifting party.
Does one gym stand out from the rest?
I fully recommend making your way to one of Fitness First’s flagship gyms, including Tottenham Court Road, London Bridge Cottons Club, Baker Street and Hammersmith. These gyms have access to a beautiful and large swimming pool and spa area where you can relax and unwind after your workout. Complete with a hot tub, sauna and steam room you can switch off and listen to their relaxing music.
Are there any extras?
Yes, Fitness First London Bridge Cotton’s Club also has squash courts to add to its refurbishment meaning that you can book out a court and have a private session with a partner or friend.
Post-workout Fitness First has protein shakes available and vending machines offering healthy snacks and drinks to help you recover and re-build your muscles meaning you don’t need to go hungry or reach for that chocolate ‘pick-me-up’ snack after you finish training.
Fitness First have 68 clubs nationwide and memberships start from £18 per month.