Wednesday 21 August 2019


It can feel rather daunting to try a new work out class by yourself, let alone find one that you like and become a regular at.

Everyone knows the feeling, signing up to a new class, not quite knowing what to expect. I mean in the first place you put yourself in quite the vulnerable position because, let’s be honest, who apart from supermodels looks amazing in skin tight lycra Lycra AND who ever looks good sweating and red faced after an intense workout?! I certainly do not. Plus there is is always that underlying fear of being the one person that has no clue what to do and who everyone suddenly starts hysterically laughing at.

Of course most of the above are silly irrational fears because we are all in the same boat when it comes to exercising and I am yet to go to a class where I feel judged or the like. Quite on the contrary I have really enjoyed going to lots of different classes around London and trying new kinds of working out previously unknown to me. 

Needless to say the enjoyment of a class can be very much dependent on the instructor, the studio and the kind of exercise you like (I quite enjoy being pushed to my limits) but with classes in London rarely being cheap, you are hard pushed to find a good one under £15, I hope the below guides helps you a little to navigate your way through London’s ever expanding fitness scene and encourages you to give one of the classes a go! 

For me working out regularly has really helped with my anxiety, stress release and getting me to sleep so that the money I have spent on classes has never felt like a waste but rather a really good investment in my personal well being!

RATING: 5/5 

All my friends will tell you that I am a little Barry’s Bootcamp obsessed and I am not the only one. It may not be cheap, £22 for a single class although you can buy monthly packages that work out a lot cheaper, but for me it really is the best workout in London. The instructors are world class and push you further than you would ever in the gym by yourself. They also make every session different - yes, there is the basic set up of a mix of floor work using weights, benches, body weights and booty bands, and hard core running on a treadmill, but the length of rounds and exercises differ in every class so that you will never grow complacent or bored of the workout. 

It is an hour of hardcore working out but your level of fitness will improve very quickly if you start going regularly and you will notice real progress. I started on beginner speeds, the instructor will always give you three speed options, one for beginners, one for intermediate runners and one for the crazy advanced runners, and I nowadays almost solidly run intermediate speeds. 

Mentally and physically the red room, where the class takes place, will really push you and I am yet to try a work out after which I feel more satisfied, slightly exhausted but also full of endorphins. I personally love the East London studio, it’s pretty big, has the best staff (shoutout to my favourite front of house toned goddess Rachel) and runs classes seven days a week - from super early 6am sessions, which I personally love as someone that has lost all ability to sleep in, to late evening ones - one of my favourites is the 7:50pm back and chest session with Louis every Wednesday. 

It takes a bit of trial and error to figure out which instructors you like best but my personal favourites are Alex (who for a reason gets most of the prime time morning slots during the week), Sam and Louis (whose sessions are known as the hardest). Make sure to book ahead though, classes are always opened a week in advance and book out super quick. Also book a T space if possible, that means you start the session on a treadmill and then move to the floor  after your first round (F space) - I always find an easier way into the workout. Will I shut up about Barry’s any time soon?! Nope probably not and that is fully none #spon. See you in the red room or the dark, loud and sweaty downstairs space that is where the Barry’s magic happens.

Cost per class: £22 (but cheaper if bought in bulk or you go for one of their monthly packages)

RATING: 2/5 

I am not going to sugarcoat it, Sweat IT very much feels like a ‘Barry’s light. There is the dark basement workout room, filled with treadmill and ‘rigs’ instead of benches for the floor work and there is the blue light filling the room instead of Barry’s iconic red light for added atmosphere. Classes are shorter (50 minutes which with all the changeovers felt too short) as well as shorter rounds and I was not a fan of their touch screen treadmills that made it hard to change speeds, especially when sprinting. I also didn’t feel their instructors were particularly infectious or encouraging and after three sessions trying out Sweat IT as part of their intro offer (£30 for 3 classes) I was left feeling like Sweat IT will burn some calories but leave you feeling a little meh otherwise.

Cost per class: £21 (but cheaper if bought in bulk or you go for one of their monthly packages)

RATING ;3/5 

Rebel1 again follows a similar workout pattern to Barry’s with treadmill intervals followed by bench / weight work. I did like the brand new Angel location with very snazzy fittings and changing rooms but again the class lacked the energy and excitement and I guess regular and committed clientele you get at Barry’s that pushes you that extra mile further. One perhaps to check out for newbies for this kind of workout as classes are shorter (45 minutes) and I did really like the new Angel studio which is super conveniently located right by the station. 

Cost per class: £21 (but cheaper if bought in bulk or you go for one of their monthly packages + £16 first timers class offer)

RATING: 5/5 
I am usually not a fan of the classic circuit training class, finding it a bit boring and laborious if I am honest, but I have to say I really LOVED the Stamina 50 class at Psycle. It was bloody hard and longer than your standard 30 minutes HIIT circuit training but Ryan was an excellent trainer (I did his Thursday evening class at Psycle's Mortimer Street studio) who guided us through how to use all the different stations. I also liked the variety of the stations in the circuit (rowing machines, box jumping, cycling) and the longer periods you spent at them rather than your standard minute. If you want to tone up quick this is the class for you, even me as regular gym goer was knackered after. 

The central London Psycle location happens to also be very nice, super modern and spread over several floors, with each floor dedicated to different kinds of work out - spinning, barre HIIT training, you name, and I found the staff there generally very helpful and nice especially to newbies!

Cost per class: £22 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £22 first timers offer which buys you two classes and a buddy credit so you can take a friend)


RATING: 5/5 

I was never used to be a big fan of spinning but instantly loved the no bullshit approach to it at Boom Cycle. The Holborn studio I frequent may not be the most fancy spinning studio but who cares - the classes here are affordable compared to some competitors (more on this later) and the instructors are bloody brilliant! Every class I have been to had a great sense of team spirit and even when I was far from good or steady on my bike during my first few classes I never felt judged or not part of the class. Forget about the fancy spinning studios with lots of hype and head to one of Boom Cycle's locations - they’ve made me a real spinning convert! My favourite instructor: Duncan - his Thursday evening class is addictive with great tunes and he really is the best and most encouraging instructor you could wish for!

Cost Per Class: £18 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £29 first timers offer which buys you three classes)

RATING: 4/5 

I really liked the Shoreditch Psycle studio which is super modern and snazzy, the spinning studio even has a little light show going as you cycle away, and I also appreciated the variety of spinning classes they offer rather than just sticking to your standard 45 minute session. 

I tried the 60 minute class on a Sunday with Wolf which was challenging but manageable and Wolf was a great instructor that made sure all the moves were done right by his class and also had a fab selection of tunes. I am keen to try their 90 minute class soon and really rate their commitment to offering a bit of a different approach to spinning than most competitors in London.

Cost Per Class: £18 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £29 first timers offer which buys you three classes)

RATING: 2/5 

I had the most disappointing of my spinning experiences so far at Soul Cycle. Soul Cycle is of course not to dissimilar to Barry’s in terms of its cult following in the States, so when they opened their first studio in London, just off Oxford street, there was A LOT of hype, many proclaiming the mecca of spinning had finally arrived in the UK.

I guess that meant my expectations were set high, particularly considering the rather heavy price tag of £24 for a 45 minute session, and I couldn’t help but be a little let down by the overall experience. The space itself isn’t effectively designed, changing rooms are way too small and cramped and overall it felt like they tried to squeeze too many paying customers into every class to make it a pleasant experience - even waiting outside the studio it was hard not step on someone’s spinning shoes. 

The class itself was not amazing, a little too preachy for more liking rather than about the spinning and considering the  price tag it just felt like I was paying to be at "the famous Soul Cycle" rather than to have a proper good spinning session.

Cost Per Class: £24 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £16 first timers offer for one class)

This class at FLY LDN has to be my absolute favourite barre class in London. Courtney is a one of a kind energetic instructor whose classes offer the perfect mix of classic ballet elements and strength training, all to a super fab soundtrack. Your glutes will be on fire during the class and if you want to tone up in a fun way and are fan of ballet this is the class for you. For me the 45 minutes of his Saturday class fly by in no time! The studio itself, near Liverpool street station, is also super modern, with big changing room and never feels too cramped!

Cost Per Class: £17 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £10 first timers offer for one class)
I tried a few classes at Barre focused studio Define, near Oxford Circus, and thought they were all pretty great in terms of their level of teaching and studio amenities. My favourite class was Define Mat with the lovely Becky. It is not for the faint hearted, basically hardcore muscle building work with some ballet elements, weighted down by ankle weights, but boy do you get to work your muscles! Becky is also so encouraging and full of energy that the class, though quite advanced, still felt fun and I for sure felt the next day I had had a proper workout - perhaps not if you are after a classic Barre work out but perfect if you want to get toned.

Cost Per Class: £20 (but cheaper if bought in bulk + £30 first timers offer which buys you two classes and a buddy credit so you can take a friend)

Although I love the Blok studio in Shoreditch, its all very slick and modern, I have to be honest and say the classes I have tried, whether Barre or more HIIT based, have never been amazing considering THE price per class. They also have always felt a little oversubscribed, with Barre being so busy that you constantly felt like you were about to get kicked in the face at any point and instructors really don't get the chance to give proper feedback or corrections to individuals where needed. Maybe I was unlucky with the classes I have tried so far but for now only the great studio and changing rooms left a positive impression on me.

Cost Per Class: £17 (but cheaper if bought in bulk)

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