Paddleboard in the Royal Victoria Dock, climb to dancefloor-derived beats with BXR, or learn the flying trapeze in Regent’s Park
Words Mary-Jane Wiltsher
Here at PHOENIX we subscribe to the idea that a ‘beach body’ is best achieved using a two-fold approach: (A) putting swimwear on said body and (B) hitting la plage. Having said that, no one ever got a rush of endorphins from an afternoon spent on the sofa. With publicity surrounding the mental wellbeing benefits of exercise at an all time high following Heads Together’s hugely successful London Marathon campaign – a project that brought together nine mental health charities and saw 39,000 people run in the name of mental health awareness – it’s a good time to get the body moving. We’ve cherry-picked five unexpected, accessible classes to get you up, out, and shaking – rather than berating – the junk in your trunk. Remember people, the race is only with yourself.
The Disco Climb
Sweat by BXR: ‘Climb To The Beat’
BXR London’s space on Chiltern Street (entrance 24 Paddington Street) is every inch the swish Marylebone workout space, with its Joe & the Juice bar, glossy changing rooms and specialist sports clinic. The boutique venue, which opened its doors in January, is primarily a boxing gym, but also offers ‘SWEAT’ cardio classes geared around the VersaClimber, a 75-degree vertical rail with pedals and handles that simulates the motion of climbing. Alex Nicholl – a man who could have been carved from a slab of rock – leads the ‘Climb To The Beat’ beginners’ class, which is accompanied by pumping music in a dimly lit room. The format is similar to a spinning class, with a dial to increase resistance and bursts of intensive climbing alleviated by gentler inclines. VersaClimber is a great choice if you want a full-body, low impact workout that allows you to blitz those calories without putting your body through the stresses associated with impact training (such as running).
24 Paddington St, Marylebone, London, W1U 5QX, from £15
The Flying Trapeze
GORILLA CIRCUS in REGENT’S PARK
Fulfil those dreams of running away to join the circus at this gem in Regent’s Park, where people of all ability levels can have a crack at the flying trapeze. Classes kick off with a warm up and progress to basic manoeuvres on the low bar, before graduating to the trapeze for a chance to attempt the trick in the air and be caught by their instructor. Stomach flipping at the thought? Don’t worry, all tricks are performed with harnesses over a huge safety net, and the patient, good-humoured staff will happily talk you through any concerns. These classes really do aim to make the circus experience something for everyone: the oldest class member is 78. Plus, with just ten students per class, everyone gets the time and attention they deserve for the price tag. Heads up: you will ache afterwards, this is the definition of a full body workout. Level 1 classes start from £25. During the winter months, the school operates out of the Hanger Arts Trust in Greenwich.
Outer Circle, Regents Park, NW1 4RT, from £25
The Modern Yogi
Fat Buddha Yoga Pop Up at Coq d’Argent
Granted, there’s no shortage of rooftop yoga classes in London, but for any yogi who likes their classes contemporary and accessible, the monthly morning sessions hosted by Fat Buddha Yoga (founded by DJ and Nike yoga trainer Jessica Skye) at Coq D’Argent are some of the best we’ve tried. Jessica reinterprets traditional practices with a modern mindset, focusing on high-energy flows to jump-start the day, always soundtracked by uplifting tunes. The backdrop’s not bad either: unroll your matt on Coq D’Argent’s immaculate, hedge-framed lawn and watch the early morning sun reflecting off the Gherkin and its neighbouring City buildings. Round things off with one of Coq D’Argent’s heavenly breakfasts: muesli with a dollop of berry compote and honey-swirled Greek yoghurt, or a Bayonne ham and tomato Benedict.
Coq D’Argent, 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ, £15 per class
THE URBAN PADDLEBOARD
PADDLEBOARDING with WakeUp Docklands
See the city from a different point of view as you glide serenely across the calm waters of Royal Victoria Dock. Paddleboarding is the fastest growing sport in the world, and an hour’s taster session with WakeUp Docklands makes it clear why: it’s great for engaging your core and improving your balance, has an intensely calming quality (once you get over the initial fear of falling in), and gets its practitioners out in the fresh air. If you like your watersports more energetic, WakeUp Docklands also offers cable wakeboarding.
Royal Victoria Beach, E16 1AG, from £30 per hour
THE BOOTY BLITZ
Sapan’s Booty Camp at London Fields Fitness
Personal trainer Sapan Sehgal founded London Fields Fitness off the back of years spent working in big, commercial, central London gyms. His goal was to create ‘the anti-gym’, stripping away the rows of machines and mirror-worshipping clientele and instead focusing on bodyweight-based exercise. The result is a community-driven fitness space housed within two disused railway arches, where all classes (with the exception of Urban Ecrisma Martial Arts) are priced at £5. Booty Camp is among the most popular classes and offers a reimagining of the legs, bums, tums format, shot through with Sapan’s tongue-in-cheek humour. Expect short, intensive bursts of mountain climbers, deep squats, star jumps, ‘bum fights’ (ahem) and a borderline masochistic number of burpees. Make no mistake, this is a tough workout, but the ensuing hilarity and sense of camaraderie will more than make up for it. Booty Camp runs every Saturday and Sunday at 11am.
Mentmore Terrace, E8, from £5
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