Fulham’s fabulous fitness guru Claire Finlay is spearheading a new breed of effective, inclusive workouts at Transition Zone
Words: Madeleine Howell
On a Friday evening, when I should, by rights, have been in the pub, I attended an instalment of the Fit ’n’ Fierce series at Transition Zone, which saw founder Claire Finlay join forces with Girl Gains, a trio of picture-perfect celebrity personal trainers full of moves, tips and ideas (Tally Rye, Victoria Spence and Tommy Hilfiger model Zanna van Dijk, who lives in Battersea) and a former competitive boxer, who delivered a highly technical boxing lesson combined with HIIT.
As we recovered, smug with our newfound skills, and gobbled down a nutritious supper from Neat Nutrition and the Grill Market, female boxer Carina Crawford-Rolt offered a Q&A detailing how her accidental discovery of a passion for boxing helped her to fly up the corporate ladder with newfound confidence. It was an inspiring few hours that left me feeling both physically and mentally stronger. The best thing about it? Everyone skipped away over to The White Horse afterwards anyway.
The sense of inclusivity and the pack-like mentality at Transition Zone comes with a healthy side order of competition. Finlay herself bounded around making introductions in her signature Stella McCartney and Sweaty Betty active wear (she has been an ambassador for Fulham-based brand Sweaty Betty for years) and we were all encouraged to chat to each other and to follow each other on social media. The energy was infectious.
Curious as to what else Transition Zone had to offer, a few weeks later I grab a coffee with Finlay to discuss Transition Zone’s day-to-day classes, and to hear her own story. ‘It started with yoga,’ she tells me. ‘I worked in advertising, and then took a sabbatical to go to India. Then I had my daughter, and gave up the corporate world to focus on fitness.’
Power Plate is one of her specialised ‘boutique fitness’ offerings, and it helped her with her own post-natal back problems. ‘It got a lot of celebrity endorsements a few years ago. Elle Macpherson, Madonna… but the real benefits were forgotten. Elite athletes use it and it’s a great piece of kit. Every discipline here has been put together because it really works.’
Her own brainchild, the HiPer Zone workout is causing quite a stir. In an efficient 45 minute session, heart rate monitoring technology is used to assess individual and team performance based on real time data. The idea is that you work alongside rather than against the rest of the group as part of a collective competition, using everything from jump boxes to battle ropes to up your heart rate to the max. ‘It’s not about screen shaming,’ Finlay emphasises. ‘It’s about sticking together and creating a sense of camaraderie. The monitor isn’t just a gimmick – it’s a motivational tool.’
The way that we teach boxing is technical. You learn foot work and pad work, and we integrate it with circuits. It’s no Boxercise
Also unique to Transition Zone is the MVE Pilates Chair, which is used for a fusion Pilates class. ‘It’s very challenging,’ says Finlay. ‘It’s a small platform, so there’s a real focus on balance, co-ordination and strength, and there’s resistance from springs.’ Alongside that, there’s a strong TRX offering, which is attracting men as well as women to the studio. For cardio, there’s boxing – but it’s no Boxercise. ‘The way that we teach boxing is technical. You learn foot work and pad work, and we integrate it with circuits.’
Finlay herself is a fan of weights: ‘Women should be lifting, particularly post-35, when they lose bone density. People are more switched on to the benefits these days. Be it hand weights or a squat rack, it will help you improve in other disciplines – and if you focus on getting strong, weight loss comes naturally.’ That’s not forgetting nutrition – Finlay gets her own lunch delivered from Pollen + Grace. For snacking, the moreish mint chocolate protein smoothie with coconut milk or cashew nut butter energy balls are on hand, all made fresh by her in-house nutritionist. One more thing – she also runs supper clubs. I’ll see you there.
17 Heathman’s Road SW6 4TJ; 020 7736 2070; transitionzone.co.uk