Chelsea socialite Henry Conway has never had time for fitness – who has the time when there are Mojitos to drink? But since the whippet-thin physique of his teens eludes him in his 30s, something’s gotta give (and it won’t be the cake)… 

School, for me, was defined by trying to avoid sport at all costs. Aged nine, I was put in the group affectionately known as the ‘no hopers’ – a ramshackle bunch, who didn’t quite get what this ‘football’ thing was all about, instead taken on bracing hikes in the Welsh mountains.

I was one of those whippet-thin children who ate twice his body weight in nursery food, and whose only allergy was cricket. Genuinely, I don’t think I properly exercised until the age of 25.

Now in my 30s, and a keen devotee of cake, whippet-thin sadly eludes me

Now in my 30s, and a keen devotee of cake, I am having to do something about it – whippet-thin sadly eludes me. Having joined a gym, enthusiasm for beating myself up on a treadmill has yet to grip, so after taking some advice, here are the results of my quest to kick-start the year in Kensington & Chelsea.

Naturally the first step was to turn to Scott Ashley, the health and fitness expert on ITV’s This Morning. He knows my predilection for Mojitos and dancing as a replacement for my five-a-day and exercise, so how to transform me into an Adonis?

‘You’re not a gym bunny, and you don’t have to book a personal trainer – do classes, you don’t even need to think,’ he advises. The Core Collective in Kensington is his top shout – it does spinning, yoga, circuit training and TRX classes (where you use bands and bodyweight to tone – it looks like a Monty Python torture routine, but it works).

Alongside this is food consumption – keeping it colourful, fresh and seasonal is apparently key, and remembering portion control. South Kensington’s newest addition, Squirrel, is a leafy new healthy restaurant, should you be so exhausted you just can’t cook.

I searched out for something less of a shock to my nightclub existence. Gymclass in Holland Park provided just that – bodyweight classes all based around HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), with neon lights and a pumping soundtrack.

Helle Hammonds, Gymclass’s founder, is a fabulous whirl of blonde energy, a walking advert for her method, and got me signed up to a month’s body transformation. Four classes a week, and it was like I had taken the potion in Death Becomes Her – I discovered muscles that didn’t exist in my GCSE biology.

Four classes a week and it was like I had taken the potion in Death Becomes Her – I discovered muscles that didn’t exist in my GCSE biology

Should you find monkey-climbing and burpees too much for shaking bones, and want access to a bit of traditional gym time, Virgin Active in Chelsea is what you need. Virgin has partnered with Speedo to create water workouts, ‘Hydro’ – low impact HIIT sessions, perfect if you are worrying about injury.

Plus, just a few doors down is Scott’s favourite fitness fashion shop, The Sports Edit. Looking good will help make you feel good in getting on in the gym, and your old school sports kit simply doesn’t cut it 20 years on. The crossover of loungewear and gym wear is the LA-born trend that just gets bigger, and with Westbourne Studio-based label Made By Riley giving its profits to selected charity partners, such as the NSPCC and Maggie’s Cancer Trust, you can look fabulous, as well as giving back as you work out. All in all, it makes you feel and look great.

My martini love-handles should be a distant memory by spring – though it may have to be calorie-free skinny Margaritas from here on in.


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