Don’t get us wrong; home workouts are brilliant, and they were the saving grace of the fitness world throughout the pandemic period. But gyms are fully open — and there’s just something about being part of a crew, isn’t there? Even if you’re sweating uncontrollably, muscles screaming and on the point of giving up, just knowing that everyone around you is feeling the same can help you find those last pockets of energy you didn’t know you had.
But if you’re serious about honing those abs (or even just shifting those extra work-from-home pounds), then you’ll know that overcrowded chains are not the place to be – especially if you’re just taking tentative steps back into the workout world following the excesses of December.
Thankfully, London showcases some seriously exclusive spots; so we’ve curated a list of the city’s most luxurious gyms that you need to know about this January. Just be sure to mind your etiquette…
Best for Collaborators: UN1T
UN1T is all about the science, and every class will emphasise the functional basics of mobility, muscular endurance and strength. Classes for the latter, notably, have an efficient focus on progressive overload, with a 12-week training programme (four weeks of hypertrophy, four of strength and four of power). Meanwhile, the conditioning classes are all about teamwork (perfect for anyone who thrives on some light competition); and the mobility element underlines the importance of freedom of movement. Consider booking SW1TCH — a “strength class with a twist” — or ALLY, which is centred around pairing up with a partner.
Best for Total-Body-Training Masochists: Barry's
A true stalwart of the LA fitness community, Barry’s launched on these shores in 2013 and has been delivering world-class workouts to a super-loyal following, including the front-row crowd and Olympic athletes. The signature is an hour long, alternating between high-intensity interval training on treadmills and strength work with free weights, resistance bands, and medicine balls (it is said that you’ll burn up to 1,000 calories per session). Plus, its Fuel Bar offers a range of post-workout smoothies (we’d nudge you towards the PBJ shake).
Locations: Canary Wharf | Euston | Finsbury | Queensway | Soho | St Paul’s | Victoria |
Best for Pilates Obsessives: Equinox
Housed in a series of beautiful buildings across London, this gym packs quite the punch – literally – as classes across all locations cover yoga, boxing, running, barre, cycling and dance. But it’s the Pilates that we’re really enthused about, as the offer is an in-club experience which utilises unique equipment and a range of over 500 exercises. If home workouts have become your thing, though, never fear: the Virtual Pilates offering gives the opportunity to be guided one-on-one by a top instructor, working to build flexibility and mobility.
Locations: Bishopsgate | Kensington | St. James’s
Best for the Time Poor: 1Rebel
As work schedules have started to ramp up once more, there’s likely to be a slight move away from indulgent lunches to intense workout sessions this month. At the forefront of the high-octane offerings is 1Rebel. Founded by James Balfour in 2014, the chain offers a bevvy of 45-minute classes, including Ride, Rumble and Reshape (spinning, boxing and HIIT, respectively). Classes are often dark and accompanied by seriously loud live performers, so there’s equal emphasis on the social element as well as the punishing workouts.
Locations: Angel | Bayswater | Broadgate | Hammersmith | Holborn | Liverpool Street | Oxford Circus | Kensington | South Bank | St John’s Wood | Victoria
Best for the R-and-R Crowd: Third Space
Designed as an antidote to the stress of everyday life, Third Space health clubs offer a unique luxury aesthetic complete with all the latest equipment. There’s a wide-range of classes, with enigmatic names such as “Afterburner”, “The Wod” and “Formula 3”, as well as swimming pools, climbing walls, combat sessions (Jiu Jitsu; boxing) and dance. There are also spas to rival those of five-star hotels (saunas, steam rooms and ridiculously inviting swimming pools, lit by low, luminous lighting), on-site medical services, and even a gym-kit laundry service, all of which help Third Space challenge the monotony of the norm. Membership also includes access to a dedicated app where you can take on exclusive at-home workouts and meditation sessions; book your classes; and see, via a live timetable, in which locations there is a space.
Locations: Canary Wharf | City | Islington | Marylebone | Mayfair | Moorgate | Soho | Tower Bridge | Wimbledon
Best for the Jack of All Trades: The Fore
More a fully fledged lifestyle concept than a straightforward gym, The Fore packs a fitness studio, personal training room, café and co-working space into one style-led location in King’s Cross. Its Foretitude class is angled as “your fastest way to fit”; Noga, which is a novel take on the practice, creates better posture and core strength; and Fore Life revolves around your breathwork. The sessions combine TRX with a range of elements (including free weights, Skillmill running machines, RIP trainers and cardio) to create full-body experiences. To scrub away the grime, Fore’s elegant changing space has private showers, in-house products and a range of grooming essentials.
Location: King’s Cross
Best for the Highly Stressed: Kobox
Boxing is brilliant for all-round fitness – and it’s incredibly liberating to throw a few uppercuts and hooks – but if you’ve always shied away from the punchbag at your usual gym for lack of knowledge, then it’s definitely worth investing in a few classes at Kobox. The premise at each of the high-end chain’s trio of sites is the same: every 50-minute class is split into two parts. Half the session is spent at the punchbag, and the other half has you working up a sweat with a range of functional exercises that focus on a different body part. At the beginning of each class, trainers run through the basic boxing moves with first timers; then the lights go down, the music begins and suddenly you’re working out in a basement rave. Few things are guaranteed to get you pumped faster.
Locations: Chelsea | City | Marylebone
Now for your recovery. These are the 4 best luxury plunge pools and ice baths on the market…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.