GymClass & facing my fears
Let's be honest--I was not a fan of gym class in school. I wasn't too bad at some parts of it and was a fish when it came to swimming, but I got rid of it from my class timetable as soon as I possibly could and definitely went through a phase of concocted 'illnesses' to get out of it (until I met a teacher who believed in sweating it out--dammit!). But GymClass London is a different story entirely. This boutique fitness studio in Marc Anthony's old private gym is the farthest thing possible from a smelly, sweat-stained gymnasium from my school days. Brightly painted on the outside, on a leafy street between Shepherd's Bush and Holland Park, it feels intimate, clean and welcoming as you arrive, dodging kids and mums doing the school run.
Run by Helle Hammonds, ex-Barry's Bootcamp trainer and all-around woman of steel (seriously, I've stood next to her--I'm pretty sure there's not a single part of her that has an ounce of jiggle!), this gym is her passion and you can tell from talking to her. Bypassing her hard-core toned exterior, Helle is warm, welcoming and upbeat, and her love for her studio and what she does for her clients is exuded in everything she does. Although she'll shout out reps and bark moves at you with the best of them, she was surprisingly softly spoken when we were chatting, which makes her so approachable and like the super-fit older sister you never had, who believes (and makes you believe) you can get a bod like hers. It’s a very welcoming environment and, as I say, Helle is lovely… but that's pretty much where the warm & fuzzy ends. That’s when the workout starts. And it's hard.
55 minutes of high-intensity and resistance moves makes for the ultimate workout but flies by in a blur because you'll be changing it up so much and doing things that you rarely get challenged to do in other fitness classes. We boxed. We did paired sit-up variations. We did power squats. We did monkey bars (is there a grown-up gym name for those?!). We cycled. We burpeed. And that's about half of it! A lot of the class was done in pairs which was fun. It was great to meet other fit-minded people and it was motivating, too. Having Helle encouraging us all, as well as having our own personal cheerleader partner made it easier to push out that one last rep (or at least harder to give up!). The space and class sizes are small enough that you get what feels like personal attention, too, but it’s enough people to give a great buzz and energy.
Sweaty post-workout pic!
It was a tough, fun workout -- the only thing that threw me for a loop was the monkey bars. I didn’t realise that my fear of heights would ever challenge me in a workout, but apparently the monkey bars freak me out a little. Even knowing that I was about 15cm off the floor, I couldn't get up the nerve to swing across and only managed to do some suspended ab crunches. Next time I hit up GymClass that’s my challenge, though: make it more than one bar swing!
I’d love to head back to this place (although the monkey bars still intimidate me a little!) and they have a new style of Fight Club class which I’ve been hearing great things about and would love to try.
Have you tried GymClass's classic workout or new Fight Club? What did you think?
Disclaimer: Occasionally I am offered free opportunities, like this class at GymClass. The opinions expressed in these reviews are my unbiased opinion and are not affected by or paid for by the companies mentioned.