For all its renown in history and art, culture and pop culture (Kate! Pippa! Harry!),you'd be forgiven if images of buff bodies sipping green juices don't immediately spring to mind when you think of London. But that could be changing.
Recently, the city’s been making boutique fitness moves that look a lot like Los Angeles and New York, with the launch of Barry’s Bootcamp and Equinox (and the arrival of its first Lululemon).
And homegrown London studios like Triyoga, The Third Space, Frame, and Psycle are catering to the swelling number of fitness-lovers with pay-as-you-go workouts in seriously gorgeous spaces that are inspiring more people to sweat. Still, “we’re ten years behind New York City,” says Simon Hill-Norton, co-founder of fitness fashion brand Sweaty Betty, which has 36 stores in the UK and two in the U.S.
But at the rate the fitness scene is growing, London could feasibly catch up quickly. There’s demand for high-quality fitness studios with amazing workout experiences, like in the U.S., says the fit co-founder of Mio Skincare, Sian Sutherland, who regularly travels between the two. Here are some of the hottest right now… listed in alphabetical order. —Frances Phillips and Melisse Gelula
Super-popular barre workouts are starting to make waves in London now, too. In part because Pilates has been so huge in the UK. The other reason is Niki Rein, founder and CEO of Barrecore. A yoga teacher and dancer who also worked at Tracy Anderson and trained with Exhale, Rein attributes the barre boom to its results—creating a long, lean body. She calls her series of tippy-toe plies and thigh-quaking tucks at the barre “isometric ballet.” And she has specialty classes that feature use of bands and boot camp moves. It's also about "incredibly quick results," she says. Eight sessions can give your behind a lift.
£28 per class, locations in Chelsea and Mayfair, www.barrecore.co.uk
The white-hot interval training workout born in Los Angeles, with super-packed studios in New York and beyond, also arrived in London earlier this year. Brothers Sandy and James Macaskill, who run the studio, are putting Londoners through their paces with the signature class: runs and sprints on a suped-up treadmill, followed by strength training on the floor. Those who like to go hard can now sweat it out in typical Barry’s fashion—and then do it like the Americans and grab a protein smoothie at the Fuel Bar afterward.
£20 per class, 163 Euston Road, Kings Cross, www.barrysbootcamp.com
(Photo: Barry's Bootcamp)
Its luxe setting inside the Bulgari Hotel has made it a favorite “mega bucks” personal-training spot, as has its talentÚ owner and trainer James Duigan, who established himself with a client list including Elle McPherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, beauty editors, and is known for being very supportive and empowering. The focus here is on training smarter not harder, using functional movements and eating well. In fact, Duiggan wrote Clean and Lean and created a supplements line that’s stocked in Space NK. There’s also a squadron of uber-trained yogis here who pull from their work with Jivamukti in New York to Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and B.N.S Iyengar. And the amenities, of which there are many, include a complimentary post-workout shake.
From £100 per hour at Bodyism in the Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge, www.bodyism.com
(Photo: The Gentleman's Journal)
In fall 2012, Equinox brought its exhaustive class schedules and cool fitness ethos to London. The impressive High Street flagship with its Art Deco features and domed ceiling looks the luxe part. The most popular classes are the HIIT signatures, Whipped and MetCon3—a good sign that Londoners are seizing their fitness opportunity (and lots of heavy objects) with two sweaty hands—and workouts like Barre Burn and indoor cycling. Of course, there's lots of equipment for doing your own fitness thing and stocked locker rooms for cleaning up. And you can grab a smoothie and salad on your way out at The Juicery.
Membership approx. £180 per month, 99 Kensington, High Street www.equinox.com/kensington
Founded by Michele Pernetta (who first brought Bikram yoga to the UK in 1994), Fierce Grace is the go-to for those who like their yoga hot. A series of five different classes are offered here. Hard core yogi? Try The Beast for an almost two-hour advanced class. New to Bikram? No worries, the instructors are expecting you. As Pernetta explains "yoga is not just for the young and fit. It is to make every age young and fit.”
From £15 per class, locations in Kentish Town, Queens Park, Old Street, and Primrose Hill, www.fiercegrace.com
(Photo: Fierce Grace)
The classes are always packed at Frame, which has a fun and funky vibe and a diverse class schedule. There’s Frame Camp (a 30-minute treadmill and weight-training workout), a yoga program with about five different styles, a dance cardio roster with '80s-themed to music video, and Framework, a class that combines high-intensity moves with cardio and flexibility training. Another novel idea is the "kit rental" (AKA workout clothing) for £5—meaning there’s no I-forgot-my-leggings excuse. The boutique gym's founders have created social atmosphere that's really resonating. “Girls come with their mates...and then head out for dinner or drinks after,” says co-founder and star instructor Pip Black.
From £9 per class, locations in Queens Park and Shoreditch, www.moveyourframe.com
Founded in 2011 by fitness duo Susan and Stuart Dyson, Hiitgirl's aim is to get busy women the results they want FAST. In fact, HIIT sessions last just 30 minutes at this women-only studio. As Susan explains, the workout method focused around the concept of "tough glamour,” which we take to mean, pretty people work out hard. Signature classes pair 15 minutes of strength-training moves with 15 minutes of cardio, and you’re showering, slipping on your heels, and on your way out.
Prices from £72 for 4 sessions, locations in Crouch End and Harrogate, www.hiitgirl.com
(Photo: HIIT Girl)
It’s a weights-and-pulleys workout and neighborhood favorite that locals pop in and do for just 15 minutes a day. Day one might be chest and back, legs the next, and arms and shoulders on day three. "It’s lightning fast, needs no brain power," says a regular, and its metabolism-boosting method produces a toned, she-looks-after-herself bod. Founder Zana Morris has grown to three locations now, the buzziest being The Library in Notting Hill, and two Little Libraries. But all practice the signature circuit-style method, where everyone is working their way around the central column of weights, and attendance is capped at four fitness fanatics at a time.
Annual membership £345, locations in Barnes and Notting Hill, www.thelibrarygym.com
(Photo: The Library Gym)
This boutique gym and wellness center has attracted a cult following. No membership fees and the mix of personal training with classes like reformer Pilates, a "Secret Cycle Club" of RealRyder bikes, and tiny group Blast classes that use TRX for a Met-Con-style workout, have made it a hot place to get sweaty. Jonathan Lomax, owner and CEO, says "it's about getting the best results for the time and money you have.” There's even a pay-as-you-go Pod Hire (a private area tricked out with your fave fitness props), which is popular for personal workouts sans trainer. The best part? Making a day of it with a visit to the café with green juice (among the best places to grab a healthy snack in London), and a massage upstairs.
£10 per hour for pod hire, £15 for a cycling class, £50 for a duo-Pilates class, £55 for a PYG personal training session, 293 Fulham Road, Chelsea, www.lomaxpt.com
As one of the few cycling studios to open across the pond, this swanky new one has Londoners saddling up in droves.Founders Colin Waggett and Tim Weeks designed the music-driven classes and super-sleek studio design to appeal to riders of every level. “You’ve got an exercise type that everyone can do, that everyone can get something out of, and you can make it feel like really good fun,” says Weeks, a former Olympic triathlete and trainer. The high-energy workouts aren't the only perk that draws SoulCycle regulars visiting the UK. An uber-luxe locker room, healthy juice, and snacks, and high-end retail make Psycle a top experience on London's boutique fitness scene.
£20 per class, 76 Mortimer Street, Marylebone, www.psyclelondon.com
“In a word, awesome,” says a Well+Good reader, who's visited repeatedly. With a class schedule and locker room amenities to rival Equinox, a clientele that includes Prince Harry, plus ozone-treated pools (no more nasty chlorine hair!), The Third Space's two locations are hot, hot, hot. It’s known for personal training, and its spin classes come complete with a live DJ. (Just be prepared: cycling’s in the middle of the floor, amid others working out, not in a private room.)
Membership £139 per month, Soho and Marylebone locations, www.thethirdspace.com
(Photo: The Third Space)
With four popular studios around town, Triyoga has become known as London's yoga Mecca. Light, lofty, and clean spaces with organic cafes (Primrose Hill and Chelsea only) pull in the yummy mummys and dedicated yogis on weekdays and are full to the literal rafters after work and on weekends. "The vision for Triyoga has always been to create the highest quality centre for true well-being, combining yoga, Pilates, and treatments" explains Founder Jonathan Sattin. And with its vinyasa classes, hot styles, and regular workshops with yogis on the international teaching circuit, like Jason Crandell, Bo Forbes, and Ana Forrest, it seems to be working.
£14–16 per class, locations in Primrose Hill, Covent Garden, Soho and Chelsea, www.triyoga.co.uk
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