London’s Best Gyms for a Great Workout
Has your fitness motivation nose-dived? Maybe you’re at the wrong gym. The Resident picks out London’s best gyms, whether you’re into free weights, HIIT, spin, barre or boxing…
Lead image: Bulgari Hotel’s WORKSHOP
1 BXR, Marylebone
BXR, which set out to revolutionise the way we workout, is backed by big names like Anthony Joshua – who you might just see working out in the gym’s central boxing ring – Mark Ronson and Victoria’s Secret models Sara Sampaio and Maryna Linchuk. The state-of-the-art, members-only fitness facility offers the highest level of professional boxing training with top boxing coach Jamie Reynolds, as well as Dr Mike Loosemore of the Centre for Health & Human Performance so that members can recover like a champion, too. The 12,000 sq ft space is set out over two floors with everything from those dreaded treadmills to a bespoke fitness menu by Joe & The Juice.
2 Equinox, Kensington & St James’s
Luxury American gym chain Equinox has been welcoming celebrities and fashionistas through its doors since its London launch in the architecturally stunning Derry and Toms building on High Street Kensington in 2012. Equinox aspires to be the final word in workout luxury, offering its hip clientele state-of-the art equipment, a range of science-based, high-octane group classes and world-class trainers. Work out on the anti-gravity treadmill, freshen-up with a chilled eucalyptus-infused towel and complimentary Kiehl’s toiletries and then grab a juice at the smoothie bar. The brand has just opened E by Equinox in St James’s, too. Prices available upon request.
3 BodyWorksWest, Notting Hill
The expansive BodyWorksWest health and fitness club in Notting Hill has state-of-the-art gym equipment, a huge range of fitness classes, swimming pool and spa areas, as well as a private member’s lounge where, if you’re lucky, you might just bump into one of their A-list clientele. These famous bodies of beauty are, sadly, kept tightly under wraps, but let’s just say you might bump into a superhero… And what class does the Notting Hill set flock to? Barre, of course, with the amazing Mercedes Schindler, who founded BalletSculpt and is probably responsible for the explosion in barre classes around London. The class focuses on postural strength and alignment inspired by ballet, yoga and Pilates to help sculpt the lower body and core.
4 Barrecore, various locations
Speaking of barre, Barrecore has announced the acquisition of BARREtoned in Notting Hill, home to celebrities such as Stella McCartney and Claudia Schiffer and Barrecore’s ninth studio in London. Sure, it’s not a gym, but since Barrecore is the UK’s leading boutique fitness brand, it deserves a shout out. Workouts target all the major muscle groups in the body thanks to a high-intensity, low-impact method focused on small isometric movements followed by static stretches. Within a few weeks of working out at Barrecore, clients report a number of positive changes in their bodies including a more toned physique, fat loss, improved strength and greater flexibility. Find studios in Mayfair, Chelsea, Kensington, Chiswick, Hampstead, Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Moorgate.
5 The Chelsea Health Club & Spa, Chelsea
The Chelsea Health Club & Spa combines health, fitness and wellbeing services with its state-of-the-art gym floor featuring cardio and strength training machines, free weights and a suspended outdoor running track, as well as specialist personal trainers, plenty of classes, a club nutritionist, restaurant and Antara Spa. There’s also a 25m ozone-treated pool, which is less harsh on your skin and hair, and safe for allergy and asthma sufferers, plus a sauna and steam room. And if you want to get fit without the commitment, just download the Esquared fitness app, which lets you book two-hour gym sessions and one-off classes at The Chelsea Health Club & Spa in real-time, with no commitments or catches. Prices start at £25 for two hours using the Esquared fitness app.
6 Third Space, various locations
Third Space wants to be that space alongside work and home where you spend a good chunk of your time. There are branches in Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Soho, Islington, the City and Marylebone. At the Tower Bridge venue, the gym is spread across four levels, connected by open steel staircases, the equipment is top of the line and there’s a live DJ to keep that motivation up. There are strength and cardio classes, as well as instructors on hand for guidance. They also offer a health check so that you can set the most appropriate health or fitness goals. The Soho branch even has a hypoxic chamber, designed to simulate the altitude of Le Panoramic in Chamonix, where the reduced levels of oxygen make your body work harder.
7 1Rebel, various locations
The coolest class-based gym on the block? Quite possibly. The playlists are on point and the changing rooms are kitted out so you can leave looking more fabulous than fried and the classes are bang on trend. The classes are pretty cool, too. There are three to choose from: Ride (a themed spin class with live music, immersive pyrotechnics and hand weights), Rumble (a boxing-style HIIT class incorporating explosive speed, footwork and strength but most of all willpower) and Reshape (an intensive group experience designed to condition and resculpt selected muscle-groups). 1Rebel now has seven studios across London to choose from. Classes cost £20 per session or less when buying in bulk.
8 Transition Zone, Fulham
Fulham’s fabulous fitness guru Claire Finlay is spearheading a new breed of workouts at Transition Zone. The sense of inclusivity and the pack-like mentality comes with a healthy side order of competition. Finlay herself bounds around making introductions in her signature Stella McCartney and Sweaty Betty activewear, and classmates are encouraged to bond. You can find your squad here. Workouts are targeted and serious, but fun. There’s Power Plates, TRX equipment, weights galore, battle ropes and Transition Zone’s pièce de résistance – the HiPer Zone workout, a 45-minute session with heart rate monitoring technology to assess individual and team performance based on real time data.
9 Frame, various locations
Since the flagship Shoreditch studio opened in 2009, Frame has garnered a cult following thanks to its energetic, feel-good classes – 80s aerobics, HIIT, Beyoncé dance workshops: you name it, they have it, but they’ve also got a pretty impressive yoga offering. The idea behind the new studio is to welcome beginners with a fun, upbeat atmosphere, while also providing advanced practice for more seasoned yogis, such as the Rocket and Power classes. Frame has branches in Shoreditch, Victoria, Farringdon, King’s Cross, Angel, Hammersmith and Fitzrovia.
10 ESPH, Harley Street & Dulwich
ESPH has physios, personal trainers and exercise instructors at its fitness centres in Harley Street and East Dulwich, so should you break yourself in the new Year fitness panic, you’re in the right place to get fixed. ESPH Harley Street is the longest-serving physiotherapy practice on London’s medical mile, offering physio treatments, sports massage, Reformer Pilates sessions, pre and post-natal sessions and personal training with the latest eGym and Technogym equipment. ESPH East Dulwich, while still offering physio treatments, massage, personal training, diet advice and fitness assessments, has more of a gym feel with a range of fitness classes including indoor cycling, yoga, Pilates, dance, pre and post natal sessions and tai chi.
11 KX, Chelsea
Olympic Triathlete Emma Davis heads the personal training here at KX in Chelsea. The class timetable offers more than 100 classes a week across five intimate studios, as well as utilising the gym floor in the Olympic lifting and treadmill based classes. There’s a fine spa and treatment centre, as well as a restaurant – you’ll love grilled octopus with mashed sweet potatoes, avocado, rocket, taggiasca olives and anchoiade dressing – as well as a nail lounge, clubroom, saunas, steam rooms and plunge pools galore. KX also caters for a full range of business needs, including copying, scanning, faxing and printing as well as on-site couriers. You can pound the treadmill and watch your share index too.
12 Bulgari Hotel’s WORKSHOP, Knightsbridge
While you can dine, dance and dazzle here with the best of them in the swanky surroundings of this black marble and gold-feathered hotel, it’s the spa and fitness centre downstairs that really feels like stepping into another world. Ethereal curtains of water, a shimmering, gold-mosaic swimming pool and an incredible range of treatments and unctions means you’ll feel more like an Arabian Princess (or Prince, of course) when you finally resurface. The state-of-the-art gym, somewhat dauntingly called WORKSHOP, was founded by Lee Mullins, recognised as one of the world’s leading personal trainers, so you can tailor your workout to reach your goal. There’s also a 2,000 sq m spa with steam room, jacuzzi, private treatment rooms and a 25m pool. The catch? You’re looking at a £2,000 joining fee and £5,000 annual membership fee.