Gyms and studios are back! These are the best exercise classes in London to get you back into the fitness game.
Exercise need not be dull, especially in London where there’s always something new. Why not try one of our fitness classes with a difference? Whether you see yourself as a ballet barre kind of girl or a boxing fan, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a guide to the capital’s best boutique gyms.
Bright lights, a stage, multi-tiered flooring: 1Rebel’s Ride studio in Victoria is more like a theatre than a gym. And in many ways it is a performance, but one where the 80-bike strong audience must take part too. A celebrity-style spin instructor is elevated on a platform, which becomes encased with a circle of lights at numerous points during the class. The 3D sound system, Ibiza-style lighting and special effects transport you another world – one where exercise is actually fun. But don’t expect an easy ride: the mixture of sprints, hill climbs and hand-weight exercises is a lethal combination. Power through, and you could burn up to 800 calories in one class. There are six 1Rebel gyms across the city, including a recently opened studio in Angel. Here it’s all about the Reshape class, which is not spinning but equally – and perhaps even more so – gruelling. Expect to be mentally and physically challenged in a series of high-powered treadmill sessions and dynamic weight sequences, designed to push you to exertion. Various locations.
Famous for sculpting the bodies of everyone from Pippa Middleton to Rita Ora, Barrecore is a hybrid of ballet, pilates and yoga, designed to tone, lengthen and strengthen. Worlds away from sweat-inducing HIIT classes, here it’s all about small, low-intensity movements and pulses – but don’t be fooled: the burn is real. Expect to feel muscles shake like never before, particularly your glutes and lower abs. Barrecore have many studios across the city in areas including Chelsea, Wandsworth, Islington and Notting Hill. Various locations.
After much anticipation from London’s spinning brigade, indoor cycling empire SoulCycle opened its first international studio in Soho last year. Since launching over a decade ago, the brand has developed a massive cult-like following in America, with clientele including the likes of Beyoncé and Michelle Obama. It’s also inspired a new wave of spin studios this side of the pond such as Psycle, 1Rebel and Boom Cycle, all featuring pumping music, motivational instructors and the concept of riding to the beat. But SoulCycle promises something different: a mind-body-soul experience, which is not just about burning calories – although you’ll certainly do a lot of that too. There’s a lot of talk about energy, positive mantras and getting into the zone, each studio has its own crystal, classes are candlelit, and phones are banned. And be warned: you might be asked to high-five your neighbour. But it seems Londoners are hooked – the 63-bike strong classes tend to completely fill up (and new social distancing measures mean less spots per class), and even David Beckham was spotted there. 3-4 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7HH
Years as a dancer, choreographer, trainer to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, and expert in multiple disciplines – Louisa Drake certainly has many strings to her bow, but the most impressive has to be how she’s combined them all to create her own unique method, and it’s taken London by storm. Loved by fashion insiders and high-profile jet-setters alike, the Louisa Drake Method mixes the most transformative elements of pilates, barre, yoga and dance in a full-body workout that targets the exact muscles needed for the longer, leaner, stronger body of your dreams. Alternating between resistance, condition, cardio and stretching, classes in the charming Fitzrovia studio are small, fast-paced and often led by Louisa herself. This is boutique fitness at its best, but don’t expect a walk in the park – results like these require hard work, so be prepared to be put through your paces. Shape Changer and Sculpt are the most hardcore, while Pilates fans should give Refine a go – it uses a MOTR (essentially a portable, more versatile reformer) to take the Method to the next level. 10 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JJ
As we find ourselves busier and more rushed than ever, we’ve come to expect more than just fitness from our gym. Step forward The Fore, a brand spanking new 5,500 sq/ft space in King’s Cross which houses one of the toughest functional fitnesses classes in town, as well as a swanky co-working area, café, treatment rooms and calendar of regular wellness workshops and activities. It’s a distinctly holistic approach to health and wellbeing as per the vision of founder Hannah Lanel, who has personally curated the space (and furnished it with swanky Tom Dixon lights and Andrew Martin furniture) to ensure you want to hang out there all day. But once you get past the squishy sofas… The signature workout is certainly not ‘chilled out vibes’. A full-body functional fitness class that uses only three pieces of equipment, you’ll be put through your paces in 45 minutes of circuits, from sprinting and sled pushing on the Skillmill (a next-level treadmill that’s doubly efficient) to rotation training on the Rip Trainer at the first UK gym that’s got the skill to teach it. With elite trainers who ensure your form and technique are always on point, there’s no hiding here – but you’ll be thankful when your strength, speed, endurance and mobility drastically improve after just a few weeks. Take things up a notch with a PT session (Callum is perfect levels of patient and pushy) and make sure to enjoy all the lux mod cons while you’re at it. If you’re going to go hard, this is the way to do it. 14-18 Handyside Street, N1C 4DN
Immersive, high-energy and energetic, a Psycle class is much more than your average indoor cycling session. Part workout, part nightclub, you can expect to be greeted with thumping music, whether it’s 7am in the morning or 7pm at night, replicating the buzz and excitement of a night out. Workouts are led by some of the capital’s best instructors, so be prepared to be put through your paces – Psycle’s cycling classes offer a full body workout, featuring killer hand weights sessions to ensure your upper body gets some TLC as well as your spinning legs. They now have studios in Mortimer Street, Canary Wharf, Clapham and Shoreditch, with some offering other classes such as barre, yoga and strength training. Fist-pumping, cheering and high-fiving optional, but strongly encouraged. Various locations.
With its elegant interiors, motivational instructors and luxe changing rooms, boutique gym Another_Space really is a space like no other. Located in Covent Garden, it’s a class-based gym, offering a packed timetable of HIIT, yoga and spinning, which range from 30-60 minute workouts. The HIIT class describes itself as “fast and furious”, which it’s certainly not lying about. Prepare to get your sweat on as you alternate between high energy boxing routines and toning exercises on the floor using punchbags, sandbags and the like. Fancy something a bit more relaxing? Their yoga classes are a delight, with a calming yet upbeat soundtrack to take you through your flow. Changing and shower facilities here are second to none, with electric lockers, big white fluffy towels, private shower cubicles kitted out with Cowshed products, illuminated mirrors and hairdryers. The only problem? You won’t want to leave… 4-10 Tower St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9NP
There’s no hiding at the back in Digme’s spin classes: your performance will be tracked on a virtual display board, ensuring top effort from everyone. But don’t let this put you off: the studio is designed to strip back all the intimidating features which often put people off, and there’s actually a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere. They also offer HIIT classes, as well as a challenging ‘Matrix’ class, which uses TRXs kettlebells, and SkillMills (non-motorised treadmills), featuring a mixture of running, conditioning and movement. Locations across Richmond, Moorgate, Blackfriars and Rathbone Square.
At immersive yoga studio FLY LDN, technology actually helps you switch off. The dark studio space is lit up by a huge HD screen, which shows a series of images and videos of serene landscapes: from crashing waves to snow covered mountain tops. Choose between 45, 60 or 75 minute signature yoga flows, or for ultra calm go for their candlelit ‘Chill’ class, perfect for stressed city workers keen to unwind after a long day. Here, it’s all about going back to basics – no jargon, no cliquey feel, just great yoga with an interesting twist. Fibi House, 24 Creechurch Ln, London EC3A 5EH
‘We train as one’ is the mantra for London Bridge fitness studio UN1T. Prepare to be pushed out of your comfort zone as you work in a team in a series of cardio, strength and mobility focused classes in a circuit format, with 12 different stations for participants to work around – from weight lighting to rowing machines to climbing planks. Rumour has it if you’re spotted having a break the class will be punished with five burpees, so it’s certainly not one for the faint-hearted. Despite this there’s a really friendly atmosphere and the team-style structure is great for motivation – you’ll certainly leave on a high (if a tad exhausted)…140-148 Borough High St, London SE1 1LB
Head to one of Paola’s 50-minute barre classes to feel the burn like never before, in muscles you never knew existed. A mixture of pilates, cardio, strength, ballet and dance-based moves, classes are harder than the average barre class. But your body will thank you for it – after just a few sessions you’ll feel leaner, stronger and more toned. There are a number of different variations of the class, but most incorporate the barre, as well as weights, balls, resistance bands and other exercise paraphernalia, with plenty of squats, pulses and planks. If you want to really challenge yourself, go for PBB Burn, a step up from the PBB Signature class notorious for its “burn factor” – you can burn up to 700 calories in a class. 2 Fulham High St, Fulham, London SW6 3LQ
The Canary Wharf branch of high-end gym Third Space recently opened The Yard: London’s largest multi-functional training space, set over 7,250 square foot. Here you can try your hand at a number of unique fitness classes, including gruelling strength class Yard Strong, where you’ll be put through your paces with a series of strongman challenges in a stadium atmosphere – expect log bars, farmer carriers and the like. There’s also Yard Wod, which involves five teams working across five zones such as rowing, plyo boxes and AirBikes. Not for the faint-hearted, The Yard’s new classes are high-energy, fun…and utterly exhausting! 16-19 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5ER
Founded by personal trainer Chris Heron, The Engine Room in Marylebone studio offers three 50-minute rowing classes, all of which are technique focused – so if you’ve never rowed before, it’s the perfect chance to learn the tricks of the trade. The studio is located in a Grade-II listed converted church, with classes featuring blue strobe lighting, high-tech trackers and thudding music for top motivation. Prepare to sweat! The Engine Room, St Bedes Hall, Off Albany Street, London NW1 4EE
Though the Marylebone BXR studio is members only, anyone can attend the pay-to-train classes at boutique fitness studio Sweat by BXR. The flagship is located beneath BXR London, with a second site recently opened in Canary Wharf, both offering classes designed to assist in creating, developing and maintaining the foundations of being an athlete, and improve strength and cardio. Keep an eye out for special residencies too, which have recently included world-renowned Justin Gelband, aka “the model whisperer”, who is responsible for the bodies of Victoria’s Secret Angels such as Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr, Karlie Kloss and Irina Shayk. Prepare to be put through your paces at their intense 45-minute Sweatbox workout. You’ll be pushed to the max as you power through rounds of boxing and floor work drills, hyped up by heavy bass, hip hop and club-like surroundings. Not one for the hungover. Other classes on offer on a pay-as-you-go basis are skills boxing classes, strength training and the only Versa Climber class in Europe. BXR London, Chiltern Street, London W1U and Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AR
The usual dread of going to a new gym has entirely evaporated by the time you roll up to the elegant townhouse in a leafy South Ken neighbourhood where the Pilates Squared studio is located. A large bay window lights up the intimate space where the highly-trained experts walk you through the hi-tech apparatus which includes Reformer machines and a Cadillac (the rather terrifying-looking metal frame with additions to help you stretch in all the right places). This is bespoke fitness at its very best – each new client receives an individual consultation from which a personalised program is devised to help them meet their goals.
Classes never have more than three people and the studio specialises in one-to-one training, so this is the place to go for expert individual attention. The focus is on perfect alignment, stretching and strengthening through Pilates which is beneficial for weight loss, a more toned body and even rehabilitation for injuries. Book in for a private session with founder Caron, or the charming and attentive Hakan who puts you immediately at ease (despite his military background). A true gem in London and needless to say, clients are lifelong and fiercely loyal – and the results obvious after just a few sessions. 27 Emperor’s Gate London SW7 4HS
London’s barre obsession is here to stay, thanks to global fitness empire DEFINE bringing their unique method to the city. The aim? A strong, lean, sculpted (define’d, get it?) body. The method? Strength training, cardio sequences and isometric moves all mixed into choreography that promises to make working out fun again. The first state-of-the-art studio opened last year in Fitzrovia, offering a number of different exhilarating class concepts designed by Ashley Verma, DEFINE founder, former Broadway performer, and all-round wonder woman. Thirty-minute Arm and Ab and Mat Express classes are perfect for your lunch break, while Dance, Stretch and classic Barre are sure to make you feel the burn. Take it up a level with a Balance class, which uses a Bosu Ball to elevate the Barre method to a ‘calorie torching journey’. 82 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7NW
You will likely have heard of KX, the private members health club that costs over £500 a month and is one of London’s most expensive gyms. KXU is its sister – but luckily for us mere mortals, it’s slightly more affordable. The Sloane Square boutique ‘fitness destination’ is just as swanky as its predecessor, with 3 large and luxurious studios, its own Medispa and a nutrition bar that is always abuzz with green smoothies and the chatter of West Londoners. As soon as you step foot inside KXU, in fact, it’s obvious why it’s called a ‘destination’ as opposed to simply a gym – with its buzzy cafe, significantly better-than-at-home showers, infrared sauna and plenty of eye candy, it’s not easy to drag yourself back out to the real world.
And the classes? KXU offers a huge range, from TRX and boxing to barre and every type of yoga imaginable, meaning it’s impossible to ever get bored. The Friday evening yoga classes are a particular highlight and a great way to close the working week, while themed spin sessions (Britney vs Christina – what could be better?) make the pain almost bearable. You can book classes on a pay-as-you-go basis through the KXU App, which is satisfyingly hassle-free. With elegantly-designed interiors, all the equipment you could possibly need, an in-house cryotherapy chamber and elite trainers who provide individual attention, KXU is undoubtedly the epitome of London’s boutique gym offering. 241 Pavilion Road, London SW1X 0BR
Tucked away down a quiet, unassuming street lies this gym that really packs a punch. Classes at Sweat It are longer than most, ranging from 40-60 minutes of high-intensity training– combining intense cardiovascular treadmill interval work with functional strength and conditioning exercises. The Pillar Killer class focuses on core power and, like most of the classes, splits its time 50:50 between the rig and running machine (which features sled and parachute settings). Their newest classes are Pace, a 50-minute treadmill based class designed to improve running ability and technique, and RIG, focused on optimising strength and building lean muscle. The instructors are on-hand to guide you through the class and motivate in a way that isn’t overwhelming or aggressive. After class, step into their utilitarian, stripped-back style changing rooms with amazing-smelling L:a Bruket soaps on hand for a well-deserved shower before picking up a freshly prepared smoothie (with the option to personalise and add protein), and leaving with a spring in your step. 4 Kean Street, London WC2B 4AS
With an ever-growing number of studios across London, you’ll likely find an F45 on your doorstep or near your place of work. The sessions are hard and fast, and combine HIIT with circuits and functional training. The result is a 45-minute class that will burn fat, build lean muscle and leave you drenched in sweat. There are 31 different classes to choose from, and with different circuits which you are guided through by on-hand instructors plus technique demonstrations shown on screens, you certainly won’t be bored. The F45 Fulham branch, consisting of a light and airy studio, is just a five-minute walk from Fulham Broadway tube station and a hop, skip and jump from supermarkets, restaurants and cafes for you to refuel after your body has been put through its paces. 2-8 Dawes Road, London SW6 7EW
Adding to the list of highly popular pay-as-you-go gyms in London is Core Collective, which is made up entirely of class-based exercises. The hyper-modern and swish facilities include state-of-the-art changing rooms with luxurious showers, products and even a hair station with straighteners and plenty of hairbands to get you class-ready. There’s a great range of classes to choose from, including Lift and Row, Power Yoga, TRX and the classic Spin as well as Pace and Lift for which they are most famous. The former is a mix of functional training, weights and rowing machines used at intervals, while the latter is renowned for increasing your strength and athleticism using bars, bodyweight and kettlebells. Be prepared to be well and truly put through your paces, before rewarding yourself with some delicious food at their on-site cafe. They have two studios, one in Kensington and another in Knightsbridge. 45 Phillimore Walk, Kensington, London W8 7RZ and 23 Pavilion Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 0HD
Founded by professional dancer Andrea Rogers, Xtend Barre merges elements of dance, ballet and Pilates to create an adrenaline-fuelled formula. Geared to challenge bodies of any age, gender or fitness background, this 55-minute total body workout serves to strengthen, lengthen and chisel the body. As well as the signature workout, 12 additional variations of classic Xtend Barre method are on offer in the London space, including classes incorporating elements of yoga, reformer Pilates and Tabata/HIIT training. Within the Xtend Barre London flagship is a relaxation area and juice bar serving delicious, healthy juices and shakes to clients after their workout, and all changing rooms come complete with luxury hair products and body washes. There’s even a shop for sports gear and exclusive merchandise for that post-workout fashion fix. 49 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5HH