hen it comes to fitness classes, the maxim to remember is the best form of exercise is the one you actually do. Any personal trainer worth their salt will tell you that it’s pointless signing up for a weekly high-intensity, muscle-building circuits session when actually you really want to be doing pilates. You’ll just go once or twice and then give it up.
It’s time to stop choosing your fitness classes based on burned calories, and instead picking a workout you’re going to love (and, importantly, stick with). And, if you’re based in the capital, we’ve got good news: London’s high-end gyms and health clubs are home to hundreds of unique and effective fitness classes. So, where to start? From leg-burning spin sessions to full-body cardio blasts and targeted strength training, these are the best fitness classes in London guaranteed to get hearts racing.
BarreSignature at BarreCore, across London
Since bringing its ballet-inspired low-impact, high-intensity workout to London in 2011, BarreCore has become a workout phenomenon, now boasting 10 locations in the capital and a further three across the UK. Pippa Middleton, Claudia Schiffer and Poppy Delevingne are all known to be fans of the BarreCore Method, which prides itself on safely exhausting muscles and inducing the famed ‘BarreCore Shake’ without putting pressure on joints.
There are now a whole span of classes on offer but long-term fans still wear by the original BarreSignature. This 45-minutes class can be adapted for all levels, making it a great choice if you’re new to barre, and combines bodyweight resistance, barre work and light weights in high repetitions for a full-body workout that hits all the major muscle groups.
Classes from £45 for a pack of three, memberships from £250/month, barrecore.com
Peach for the Beach at Flex, Chelsea
Cult Chelsea gym Flex offers classes in everything from yoga and pilates to HIIT and spin, but, if you’re looking for something a little more targeted, its Peach for the Beach session does, well, exactly what it says in the tin. Expect some serious burn in this 45-minute class that utilises resistance bands, sliders and kettlebells to activate and strengthen the glutes and give you the rear you’ve always dreamed of. Sign up for a membership and combine it with Flexi Beast strength training, Flexhiit interval workouts, and restorative yin yoga for a well-rounded exercise regime.
Classes from £22, memberships £190 per month, flexchelsea.com
Full Body at Kobox, across London
If you’ve always fancied trying your hand at boxing but have been put off by intimidating rings, warehouse gyms and the thought of taking a glove to the face, Kobox is the solution you’ve been looking for. Its four stylish locations in Chelsea, Marylebone, the City and Waterloo offer a welcoming place to learn proper jab and hook technique in classes that combine fast-paced combinations with traditional functional exercises. Specific classes targeting the core, upper and lower body are on offer but for a great all-rounder choose the full body workout. Let the pumping music and flashing lights sweep you up as you spend half the class performing fast-paced six-punch combinations at the bag, before switching to mat exercises designed to target the core and lower body. This may be the most fun you’ve ever had in the gym.
Classes from £22, memberships from £270 per month, koboxingclub.com
Athlete at John Reed, Liverpool Street
This vast gym (it spans 2,000 sqm across two floors) in the heart of the City prides itself on, quite literally, offering something for everyone. As well as a boxing gym, hot yoga studio, spin area, huge spaces for machines, cardio and free weights, two saunas and an extensive personal training programme, John Reed also offers more than 300 live classes per week. The choice is equally as extensive, with strength, cardio, yoga, barre and pilates all covered. If you’re a more sociable gym-goer, we recommend Athlete: a station-based full-body tag team workout weights, cardio and bodyweight resistance exercises to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
Memberships from £100 per month, johnreed.fitness
Ride at Boom Cycle, across London
If you find the range of classes on offer at a lot of gyms a little dizzying, head over to Boom Cycle, where they make things simple by offering just one highly effective workout. A classic spin class, complete with nightclub-atmosphere, chest-thumping beats and high-energy trainers, every class is adaptable to your fitness level, with all participants personal encouragement to set their own goals and push to meet them. As with most classes of this type, how much you love it will often come down to the instructor, so try out a few to see whose style suits you best.
Classes from £20, memberships from £220 per month, boomcycle.co.uk
Rocket Yoga at Blok, Clapton and Shoreditch
Hip East London gym group Blok doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to training. Instead, upon joining every member is encouraged to choose three training categories to focus on (strength, endurance, skill, flexibility and reset), with a program of at least three classes per week created to cover your chosen specialisms. The benefits of this cross-training method are myriad: lower injury rates, less chance of boredom and faster progress, to name a few.
Classes are highly tailored, with some surprisingly niche options on offer, including an hour-long class dedicated to handstands, as well as strength-based calisthenics, breath workshops and sound healing. Yoga is one of Blok’s specialties and, if you’ve got a solid foundation, it offers a number of more advanced classes and twists on classic flows to take your practice to the next level. Our favorite is Rocket Yoga: a fast-paced class that utilises the principles of ashtanga yoga but does away with long holds to offer inversions and arm balance sequences that improve flexibility and stamina.
Classes from £15, membership from £84 per month, blocklondon.com
Metcon3 at Equinox, Kensington, St. James’s and Bishopsgate
Equinox’s three London locations rank among some of the most luxurious health clubs in the capital, with spas, members’ lounges and steam rooms as standard. But, before you can sit back and relax in the sauna, you’re going to need to earn your downtime. Enter Metcon3.
One of a number of classes exclusive to Equinox, this challenging class targets strength and cardiovascular fitness with three rounds of exercises designed to tax the body’s three energy systems (aerobic, anaerobic lactic and anaerobic alactic) for maximum results and optimal metabolic conditioning. Will you be exhausted at the end? Yes. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Memberships from £240 per month, Equinox.com
Wattbike at Third Space, across London
Third Space doesn’t do things by halves. At its seven venues in key London locations, including Mayfair, Canary Wharf, Soho and Islington, you’ll find acres of floor space, rows and rows of equipment, yoga studios, pools, saunas and quite possibly the chicest changing rooms in the city . Accordingly, the range of classes on offer is equally all-encompassing, with 44 workouts offered across disciplines including swimming, dance, combat, strength and conditioning, yoga and athletic training. The star of the show, however, is its Wattbike class. Endorsed by British Cycling, this innovative class replicates the feel of a real ride while also analyzing your technique and adapting the challenge to maximise performance.
Memberships from £210 per month, thirdspace.london
The Original HIIT Workout at Barry’s
Come on, you didn’t really think you’d get to the end of this list without a trip to Barry’s did you? There’s a reason its signature HIIT class has become the thing of legend and inspired a cult-like following across the globe. Available at its six London locations, and always taking place in the infamous Red Room, the workout follows a 50 per cent treadmill, 50 per cent strength training formula, with workout focus changing daily so you’re always challenged and never bored. While there’s no denying that this is a tough workout (and we know we said it’s not all about the numbers), if you are looking to torch some serious calories, Barry’s promises to burn more than 1,000 in a single 50-60 minute class while raising your metabolic rate by 15 per cent. It’s time to feel the burn.
Classes from £24, memberships from £231 per month, barrys.com
Read more: The best at-home workouts to try now