From high-tech equine simulators at Wimbledon Village Stables to Flip Out trampoline workouts in Wandsworth and flying trapeze workouts from Flying Fantastic, there’s no shortage of new and thrilling ways to shape up in South West London this spring…
Words: Madeleine Howell
Barrecorre, hot yoga, voga…You think you’ve seen it all, and then the next fitness trend comes along to get you chasing those endorphins again. Anti-gravity yoga and aerial acrobatics are big news this year, with the likes of Aerialand in West London offering a host of classes.
Now, London’s first dedicated aerial fitness centre has come to St Mark’s Church Hall in Wimbledon and Battersea’s Wilditch Centre, offering classes in aerial silks, hoops, slings and static trapeze. Aerial yoga uses a low-hanging, hammock-like sling to support your body weight, lengthen your spine and allow for deeper stretches. Best of all, you don’t need any previous experience to have a go at the silks – and it works every muscle in the body, from your wrists to your abdominals.
A typical aerial fitness class involves a combination of climbs, tricks, drops and conditioning as well as floor work. It’s about having fun rather than becoming the next Cirque du Soleil act
‘A typical class involves a combination of climbs, tricks, drops and conditioning as well as floor work,’ explains founder and ringmaster Christopher Wigan, who discovered aerial fitness in Buenos Aires back in 2008. ‘The different levels of intensity are one of the best ways to burn fat and improve fitness. The classes are designed for people of all levels – it’s about having fun rather than becoming the next Cirque du Soleil act.’ If you’re already hooked, try Gorilla Circus in Regent’s Park, which takes aerial fitness a step further in the great outdoors.
For horse riders and would-be equestrians, Wimbledon Common is the place to go, with friendly stables such as Stag Lodge and Ridgway Stables offering lessons. This year however, there’s a twist: Wimbledon Village Stables, a family-run stable tucked away just off the High Street, behind the Dog & Fox pub, have now launched their pioneering ‘Equicise’ simulator. The simulator replicates the behaviour of a perfectly trained horse so you can focus on technique and alignment, and we predict that novices and experienced riders alike will be hooked.
In conjunction with yoga and Pilates, Equicise also improves core stability and endurance – all great for posture and for minimising risk of injury, either in the saddle or out of it. ‘We’re trying to really tie fitness and riding in together. They go hand in hand,’ says owner Carol Andrews.
‘Most of the time, when people aren’t sitting correctly, it’s because their core is weak. It’s easier with the simulator to correct technique and identify any issues. You need your body aligned for any sport, because if you’re using one side more than the other, you’re going to create a weakness.’ If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can look into taking riding a step further with polo classes at London’s oldest polo club, Ham Polo – which even offers group classes, so you can make a day of it with friends.
We’re trying to really tie fitness and horse riding in together. They go hand in hand
As the weather gets warmer, it also makes sense to make good use of London’s gorgeous green spaces. You can head to Ravenscourt Park or Bushy Park to be put through your paces with military trained instructors from British Military Fitness – the sense of camaraderie is hard to replicate.
If the British Military Fitness fanatics or the solo joggers aren’t your clan, fear not: Zumba Stars now hold outdoor dance classes on Clapham and Wandsworth Common in the summer using wireless tech, silent-disco style. For a clubbing atmosphere on otherwise miserable Monday nights, they also run an indoor class at La Retraite in Balham using lighting and a serious sound system that makes exercise feel more like a night out than a chore.
Of the same ilk, and also making the most of Monday nights, is salsa night at The Imperial Durbar in Tooting. Enjoy their infamous cocktails and burn them off simultaneously – guilt-free fun at its best. Meanwhile, a couple of stops up the Northern Line, Flow Dance studios have just opened near Oval, offering Ballroom and Latin American dance.
In Fulham, Mampara Dance now hold cheerleading sessions for adults at the Dance Attic – which involves everything from pyramid stunts to dance routines along with cardio, conditioning and flexibility. ‘It has really caught on in the North, and the South of England is slowly catching on,’ says founder Natalie Hunt. They also do birthday or hen fitness parties – so you can celebrate and exercise at the same time with Bring It On-style cheerleading or Great Gatsby-esque swing dancing.
Also in Fulham, we love the Trampoline Rebounding class at Slice Studios, and their new Ride to the 80’s! spinning session, accompanied by motivational cheesy tunes. For mums looking to keep fit and bond with their babies at the same time, there’s mum and baby yoga and Pilates for tots from 6 weeks to 8 months, and a boot camp for older toddlers.
Don’t miss the opening of Flip Out Wandsworth in Earlsfield, London’s largest playground of interconnected trampolines for children and adults alike
Make sure you don’t miss the opening of Flip Out Wandsworth in Earlsfield, London’s largest playground of interconnected trampolines for children and adults alike.
If team sports are more your thing, Back to Netball from England Netball at the new Streatham Leisure Centre might be for you – whether you want to get back into it or try it for the first time, sessions are led by a coach and cover basic skills as well as matches. For team sports with a real community feel, The Spencer Club in Earlsfield are always looking for new members and volunteers to join in with hockey, cricket, lacrosse, and tennis sessions.
If you’re just too strapped for time, Sweaty Betty offer a number of workout videos online, and recently launched their Get Fit For Free initiative, offering classes from top-trainers in their boutiques and online. You can book a spot at their Fulham, Wimbledon or Battersea stores for a session of yoga, or have a go at one of the brand new Rumble classes, a boxing-inspired workout.
It seems there’s something for everyone, and no excuses not to try something new…