Review of ClassPass London

My name is Sophie and I’m a ClassPass addict. 

Rewind back a month to the launch of ClassPass in London and I was a bit ambivalent to what they were offering. For a monthly fee you can go to unlimited classes at nearly 200 studios around London. The only limitation that I could see was that you’re restricted to 3 visits per studio each month (visits to different locations of the same studio, like Boom Cycle,all count as one studio). It sounded alright and I thought at best it would be worth a try for a month.

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And now here I am at the end of the month and I’ve loved it. Here’s why:

– I get bored if I take the same classes every week so variety helps me to stay motivated

– I enjoy group classes for the social aspect and they push me more than I might if I was working out by myself

– Even though I’m a Personal Trainer I still sometimes like to let someone else do the thinking for me and put together a workout

– I work from home 2 days each week so I can squeeze in lunchtime classes on those days which widens the choices of classes

– I’ve tried new studios and classes that I wouldn’t go to before because the price put me off

– It’s ridiculous value…

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Putting the work in at Moreno Boxing, Dalston

To put it into numbers:

Number of classes I did: 14

Cost of classes if I’d paid individually for each one: £176*

Cost for 1 month of ClassPass: £89/month

Cost for 3 months of ClassPass: £69/month

Cost for 6 months of ClassPass: £59/month

*This is the worst-case scenario i.e. not taking into account membership discounts at the studios (which I don’t have anyway) or introductory offers

So if you sign up for the 6 month ClassPass membership you’re effectively getting over 30% off every class if you use it very regularly.

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The torture chamber Pilates studio at Tempo Pilates, Netil house

There are a couple of things that would improve ClassPass in my opinion:

– More early-morning classes that aren’t yoga

– A wider geographical spread of studios because as an East London-ite there aren’t a huge choice of places out in Hackney

– Not being limited to 3 classes per studio each month (although I understand why they’ve done this)

– Not having to pay for all 6 months up front when you choose this option, it’s a lot of money to stump up all at once

– Being able to choose spin bikes when booking a class – I have to spin without my glasses on and if I’m not in the first couple of rows then I can’t really see the instructor! 

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This was the sweaty pain at the end of a boxing class, i’m loving it really.

I’m planning on signing up for the full 6 months because I can see the value in it and I really enjoy the classes that are on offer. Who’s signing up with me? 

I was given a month’s free trial of ClassPass but all views are my own

Boxing in Base Layers

Base layers for me have always been something that you see athletes wearing (or my brother when it’s really cold outside and he’s playing football…) so I’ve never really given them much thought. 

Until now…

I was invited along to a special boxing session at my new favourite place, Moreno Boxing, to try out some new compression base layers from the guys at Glenmuir. 

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First impressions were that they were really soft and silky, very light to wear and totally not restrictive which I always thought base layers would be. Although they are clearly designed to be worn underneath other workout gear because OMG VPL. 

The session started with some skipping, dynamic stretches and then we got stuck into some technique practice with footwork, boxing stance and punching. 

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Then in partners we practiced responding to other people’s movements by played some tag, trying to tap the other person on the shoulder which is a pretty tough cardio workout as well as testing out our footwork. At this stage the sweat started to appear and I was impressed with how comfortable the base layers were as they kept me dry. 

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We finished up by throwing some combinations in pairs, practicing all of the moves that we’d learned in the session. My only complaint was that at this point the top started to ride up slightly and because I had boxing gloves on I couldn’t pull it down! 

The part of compression base layers I’m really interested in is how they can help with recovery by increasing blood flow to the area through an increase in pressure on the skin. They can also help with decreasing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and to be honest, anything that can get me out of bed the day after a workout without wincing is good with me! 

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Watch this space as I’ll be testing the clothing in my triathlon training to see how it helps with recovery in tired muscles… 

Disclaimer: I was given the Glenmuir base layers by the very lovely people at Trace Publicity but all of these views are my own

Review of Moreno Boxing Lunchtime Classes

I’ve been interested in boxing since the lovely Kate of Form Fitness introduced me to it in her weekly classes. Even back then I always felt better after sweating and punching for an hour, it does wonders for the brain!

Fast forward 18 months and I’ve started going to weekly sessions with Carlos Moreno from Moreno Boxing. His new studio is conveniently opposite my office meaning that there’s no excuse to get down there during a lunch break.

I mean, it’s literally about 50 yards from my desk….

Carlos is an internationally competitive boxer and currently holds the Portuguese national champion title as well as numerous others. What more could you want from a trainer?

Each class starts with a warm up consisting of skipping (which I can confirm that I’m getting better at luckily), shadow boxing, lunging, footwork and some dynamic stretching.

Then onto the boxing. Firstly, technique, which is something that I need to work on as although my offensive movements aren’t too bad, I have no defence at all, as Carlos showed me by pointing out exactly where he could punch me. Not that he did but lesson learned anyway.

We then did some 3 minute rounds (I have no idea how many, I got into the zone and lost track) of sparring, mixing up punching and defensive manoeuvres which equated to a serious cardio workout. The sweat was real.

Trying to concentrate on lots of new things all at the same time can be a bit daunting but it’s brilliant for clearing your head of all other worries as you focus 100% on where the next punch might be coming from and where there might be a chink in the armour that you can take advantage of.

Then followed 3 minute rounds on the punchbags, alternating ‘freestyle’ minutes with all-out 1-2s to keep the heart rate up.

My face says it all…

Each session is then ended with taking the gloves off and getting stuck into something a bit different, whether it’s TRX, circuits or something else to mix it up. Yesterday we did a circuit of heavy deadlifts, battle ropes and sit ups with a ball to isolate the core. With 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest this circuit was a killer.

To finish everything off you can look forward to a series of planks, just in case you haven’t had enough.

This is exactly the kind of class that I love because it’s tough, works you hard but also dedicates some time to technique. There’s nothing as satisfying as that thwack when your glove connects with a pad correctly. You also know that you’ve worked hard because the next day everything is that right amount of sore.

Details

What? Moreno Boxing Lunchtime Sessions

Where? 1 Bailey Place, Dalston, London, N16 8BA

When? Check out the timetable here

How much? Classes are normally £12 but you can get your first class for just £6. Or for those on ClassPass, they’re included in your monthly fee! If you’re interested, sign up here for £50 off a month’s membership, total bargain!

42 Juice is the meaning of life

I’ve dabbled in juice but I’ve yet to hit the big time and purchase my own juicer. You could say I’m more of a social juicer than an addict.

So when my friend Anna joined the 42 Juice team and opened up their first shop by the sea in Brighton I had to give it a go.

Their juices are cold-pressed (think fruit and vegetables being squashed between 2 surfaces under huge pressure) rather than extracted in a centrifugal juicer (which allows air in and starts the oxidisation process and therefore degrades the nutrients). All of their ingredients are also organic and sourced as locally as possible.

As well as making fruit and vegetable juices they also make nut milks (some flavoured with cacao or coffee), chlorophyll waters and revitalising shots of goodness.

This little yellow stick of dynamite was one of the most intense and delicious things I’ve ever tasted! It’s citrusy, fiery and you can feel it going all the way down your throat. It’s like a shot of espresso but a million times better, you have to try it.

These 2 green juices were also really good, with I Am Skinny Green being sweeter than the other. It might be a good introduction to juicing for people who need a bit more fruit in the mix. I Am Alkaline was the nicest ‘pure’ green juice I’ve ever had, it wasn’t overpoweringly ‘green’ and it even tasted a bit sweet to me. That might just be because I’ve cut down massively on the amount of sugar that I’m consuming in every day foods though…

They also do smoothies with delicious mixes of fruit, veg and supplements in. In fact, the ratios of ingredients are so perfect that my boyfriend loved his smoothie with spirulina in! It gave it an earthy flavour while not overpowering the other ingredients.

If juice cleanses are your thing, 42 Juice can provide you with a course of juices suitable for your level of juicing with UK-wide delivery. Having never done a juice cleanse before, I’m intrigued to give it a go and see if I can survive without solid food for a few days. Watch this space…

If you live in Brighton or even if you’re just visiting, make sure you drop in for a juice, you’ll love it!

Edge Cycle Well And Truly Took Me To The Edge

I’ve been neglecting my resolution to try out new classes every 2 weeks so when I was given the opportunity to try out a new spin studio in London I jumped at the chance.

Enter Edge Cycle.

It’s aim is to offer a combination of indoor cycling and bootcamp-style group workouts, which it does from its beautiful brand new studio in Holborn.

I signed up for a 07:30 class, which felt VERY early when I met my friend Kate of Form Fitness at 07:00 in London Fields. After a swift cycle over to Holborn we arrived at Edge Cycle and signed in.

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I put on my first ever pair of cleats and jumped onto the practice bike in reception to get used to clicking in and out of the pedals.

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I was a bit excited. Also, look how fast my legs were going, they’re so blurry…

We went into the studio and were called to the front row by the instructor, Jono, via the weights rack where we picked up sets of 3kgs. They felt pretty heavy and we hadn’t even started anything yet!

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The bikes were lovely and new with a fresh towel sitting on the handlebars. We took to our saddles and started warming up.

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As soon as the clock ticked over to 07:30 Jono turned the lights down, pumped the music up and got us going. The first 20-25 minutes were spent going through a series of hill climbs, sprints and shoulder presses and shoulder raises whilst cycling. At this point, the weights got even heavier…

Just as I thought I was going to have to slow down we jumped off the bikes onto the mats and went through a set of squats, lunges, planks, press ups and crunches. Whilst I love all of this stuff I found it very difficult in the cleats, especially the lunges and jump squats, so next time I’d probably stick with my trainers.

We then climbed back on the backs for a last sprint, last hill climb and some conditioning work on the bikes. Then, before I knew it, we were cooling down.

I would have preferred a bit more encouragement as we went through the class as I felt a bit isolated, especially when I was struggling, but Jono was confident and kept me guessing as to what was coming next. It meant that just as it was becoming too difficult we switched to something else and it became manageable again. I also would have liked a few more sprints as that’s when I get into the zone.

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I was absolutely dripping in sweat after the 45 minute class but I was totally buzzing and that buzz has lasted all day!

The showers, while small and rather public (no shyness allowed!), were clean with lovely toiletries and hairdryers. They even have hairbands in the Edge Cycle colours on the front desk if you’ve forgotten yours which is a great touch.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my first class. It was a brilliant all-round workout in a great new studio and I’ll be back very soon…

Details

What? Edge Cycle Bootcamp

Where? 2 Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7RA

When? Check out the timetable here

How much? £15/class bought on a class-by-class basis, prices decrease if you buy multi-passes

Thanks to Sophie @ Be Pretty Fit and Entice Communications for the opportunity to review Edge Cycle! 

Warriors Assemble

I like to think of myself as someone who could handle themselves in a fight. Whether this is actually true or not I’ve (luckily) never had to prove and long may it continue that way.

But when the opportunity came up to start working out like a fighter and training in boxing techniques I was far too excited… Introducing ‘Warriors’ from those lovely people at London Fields Fitness Studio.

I dragged a friend (Kristina) along with me to the first class because I had no idea what to expect and I was oddly terrified! Quite rightly…

We started off with a gentle group warm up before getting stuck into the first circuit – 15 reps, 5 stations, as many circuits round as you can do within 15 minutes.

Circuit 1 (cardio): burpees, military press + triceps with 5kg plates, crossover star jumps, stepper, sprint up the road and back

I pushed myself hard and managed to fit in 4 complete circuits. I might have pushed myself too hard based on the muscle soreness today.

Circuit 2 (strength): abs + obliques, knee + arm blocks, jump squats, slow push ups, punches with weights

My weak back and I were rubbish at this circuit as I really struggled with the ab work – very frustrating!

At this point Kristina and I were dripping sweat and looking at each other in terror contemplating what was coming up next.

Luckily, next was some boxing technique which gave us a brief breather before we were skipping round the gym working on our footwork. Every time ‘don’t cross your feet’ was shouted, all I could think of was ‘don’t cross the streams’. Particularly useful, thanks brain.

The session ended with a 3 minute round of sparring putting into practice our newfound punching and blocking techniques. We walked out into the fresh air feeling on top of the world (if not quite like Rocky yet…).

Details

When? Every Tuesday 8-8:45pm

Where? Railway Arch 379, Mentmore Terrace, Hackney, E8 3PH

How much? £5 per class, no booking necessary

Mulitpower Nature’s Power Bars

I was sent some Nature’s Power bars by the lovely people at Multipower to try out and I’ve got to say, I was pretty impressed…

These bars are designed as pre and during training snack made with natural ingredients that contain fast and slow-releasing carbs. 

I got 2 each of the salty cocoa, honey & seed and strawberry & cranberry bars and I obviously started with the salty cocoa flavour. 

It was crispy, chocolatey and salty (obviously). Perfect! I don’t have a sweet tooth so I’ve found other nutrition bars to be waaaaaay too sweet in the past. The honey and seed bar was also delicious and much more chewy which I found more satisfying. The strawberry and cranberry bar was my least favourite bar but that’s just because I don’t really like dried fruit! I know, weird. 

I had one before each of my last 3 personal training sessions and I have to confess that I didn’t feel particularly invigorated during the session but I wasn’t really hungry afterwards (which I always am).

They’re relatively high in carbs (around 25g per bar) so these are probably not suitable for anyone on a strict low-carb diet. However, I would definitely choose these as a healthy and tasty pre-workout snack. In fact, if these were repackaged into some funky organic and natural packaging, you wouldn’t realise that you were eating a sports nutrition bar!

Details

What? Multipower Nature’s Power bar

Flavours? Salty cocoa, honey & seeds, strawberry & cranberry

Where can I buy them? Only online at the moment

How much? £32.99 for 24 bars

Disclosure – I was sent these products to review but all opinions are my own

learning how to yonce

Have you ever seen a baby elephant trying to take its first steps? Well imagine that. On ice. And that is largely how I look when I dance. 

However, part of my new healthy lifestyle is to try out new fitness classes and so when a friend asked if I wanted to learn how to dance like Beyonce (one of my favourite ladies), I was in. 

We booked in with Seen On Screen Fitness who offer dance-based classes all around London and went along to a Why Don’t you Love Me class at the YMCA club on Tottenham Court road. 

Bonnie, the founder of SOS, welcomed us in and warned us that for the next 90 minutes we had to channel our own personal Sasha Fierce. I was nervous.

We went straight into a dance-like warmup which had our heart rates pounding and a ‘sexy’ sheen of sweat covering our faces. Then came the choreography. 

Bonnie was great. She explained each section in full, taking us through the steps over and over again until we got it. After each section we would run through it at full speed with the music, adding the new section one each time. My apparent inability to coordinate my legs and arms was cancelled out by the massive very un-Beyonce like grin on my face. And don’t get me started on trying to do body rolls or ‘graining on that wood’….

At the end of the class we split into groups and performed the whole dance for each other with cat calls and shouts of encouragement. It was delightful. 

Details

When? Every weekend

Where? Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road & Clapham

How much? £18 for each class. It’s not cheap but it’s a great workout and so much fun!

Also, here’s Beyonce being amazing for nearly 15 minutes. You’re very welcome.

Be:Fit London – my highlights

Last weekend was Be:Fit London, a 3 day health and fitness event aimed purely at women.

Now, as a woman who is just starting on her health and fitness journey and is somewhat confused by all of this talk of macros, protein bars and tabata, I decided it would be a useful thing to go to. And it was.

I recruited my mum (who has been doing pilates for the past 15 years and has dodgy knees) and my friend (who is getting fit for her June wedding) to come with me and so, dressed in our snazziest workout gear, we headed down to Old Billingsgate Market on the Thames.

As soon as you walk in, you’re assaulted by a huge number of companies giving out tasters and wanting to talk to you about their products. It was a little overwhelming so here are my highlights:

1) Chia Pods – I’ve heard a lot about this supposed wonder-seed but have never found them cheap enough to warrant trying them! These little seeds soak up a lot of moisture making you feel fuller for longer as well as giving you 10% of your daily Omega3 as well as 25% of your daily fibre. And they taste pretty satisfying too! 

2) Quest protein bars – These are everywhere online and everyone keeps talking about the #chunkporn… So I had to find out for myself if they’re as good as everyone makes out. I got 2 free samples, the cookies and cream bar and the peanut butter supreme bar. They’re very sweet which is good if you’re having a sugar craving but they still have that slightly synthetic taste of protein which puts me off. Still, for 180 calories, 21g of protein and only 3g of carbs you can do a lot worse.

3) Eat Water – This company is tagging along on the back of the supposedly miraculous Zero Noodles which are calorie free noodles and pasta. Eat Water’s offering is made from the konjac plant from Asia which contains high quantities of soluble fibre meaning that it’s easy to digest, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and prevents some fat from being absorbed. Mixed with a simple tomato and vegetable sauce, the testers that we had at the event were delicious! The texture is a bit weird as it’s nothing like pasta but for a quick low-cal meal (only 7 calories per serving!!) mixed with some sauce and protein these are a great idea.

4) The Reebok Fitness Studio – Be:Fit paired up with Reebok to provide 30 minute tasters of some of the hottest classes around. Seeing as we’d done a killer PT session that morning and we were totally preoccupied with trying as many freebies as we could, we only made it to one class! We tested out The Body with Carly Newson which was a hardcore hiit class that didn’t stop for the entire 30 minutes! Within seconds we were sweating and our legs were groaning as we worked our way through a strengthening routine to pumping music. 30 minutes later, we staggered out and had some frozen yogurt to cool down. 

I would definitely come back next year although I would come with a bit more of a plan as to which classes to do and then explore the stalls in between each session. 

Details

When? March 2015 TBC

Where? Old Billingsgate Market, EC3R 6DX (TBC)

How much? £18 per adult although you get a £5 ticket for a friend if you buy full price. Bargain! 

Mash Up – circuits and boxing all in one… ouch…

This week’s new class was Mash Up with Kate from Form Fitness at my favourite place in East London, London Fields Fitness Studio.

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Picture credit: Kate Stewart (http://www.formfitness.co.uk/about-me/)

It’s an hour’s worth of circuits, boxing and some core work. Now, I like circuits because you get to work lots of different muscle groups and just when you think you’re about to pass out from effort, it’s time to move on to the next exercise.

I’ve always been a bit sceptical about boxing because my upper body strength is largely non-existent. However, that is one of my aims for 2014 so along to the class I went.

The circuits were a great combo of squat jumps, skipping, punching with dumbells,  slips to tuck jumps (yeah, I had no idea either) and some core-activating downward dogs to plank moves.

By this point everyone was glowing nicely and I was sweating heavily. As usual.

We paired up, put on the gloves and pads and got down to some serious padwork. Kate paired punch combos with sprints and core work which was great for hitting some cardio as well as conditioning.

By the end we were all glad to lie down on our mats and do some quick core blitzing.

Overall this was a great class. As it is split into sections the time flies by but you’re working hard all of the time. Kate helps to count down the sets and keeps everyone laughing and encouraged.

The most important things that I learnt were that I punch like a baby, I have less than no strength in my puny left arm but I bloody love boxing!

Details

When? Mondays 19:30 – 20:30

Where? London Fields Fitness Studio, Railway Arch 379 Mentmore Terrace, Hackney. E8 3PH

How much? Only £5 for a right a**e-kicking!

Hot Pod Yoga – You win some, you lose some

As part of my 2014 goals, I’ve decided to try out a new exercise class at least every other week. This week’s new adventure was Hot Pod Yoga at The Trampery on Mare Street, Hackney. 

I’d always avoided bikram or hot yoga in the past as I suspected that I wouldn’t enjoy it. I’m great in the heat as long as I’m lying in a hammock with a book. Having to actually do anything when it’s hot makes me grumpy. Good start.

First off, the space. The inflatable pod is up on the first floor and first impressions is that it looks like a giant purple and black bouncy castle with a roof!

I was worried about a number of things:

– Would it smell of sweaty people?

– Would the mats be clean?

– Would it have that slightly moist sweaty thing going on that bouncy castles sometimes have…?

You can breathe a sigh of relief, it was beautiful inside! It was clean, smelt like eucalyptus and the mats were spotless. The hard floor meant that once you were inside it didn’t feel like a bouncy castle any more. With the purple walls and lights it felt like being inside a tellytubby’s tummy. In a good way. 

 And so to the yoga. It was Vinyasa Flow which I’ve been doing for the past 8 months or so with the lovely Jess at Fat Buddha Yoga so it felt comfortable. You flow through a series of asanas, working your whole body, especially your core. It’s not for those who come to yoga expecting an hour of meditation!

However, it was slightly faster than I was used to and the sweat pouring off every part of my body made the mat slippery which complicated some poses. 

Overall, I found it difficult to focus on the poses as the dripping sweat completely distracted me. Within about 15 minutes I was praying for the end of the class so I could get a gulp of fresh air. 

It was a good experience and I slept very well afterwards but it’s not for me. It was too hot, I couldn’t concentrate and an hour was a little bit too short. 

However, for someone looking for hot yoga I would definitely recommend it for being a clean, professional and affordable option.