From the futuristic ambience of Third Space in Soho and the upbeat vibe of Gymbox to the exclusive chic of Chelsea’s Harbour Club and Kensington’s Equinox, we present the lowdown on the best gyms in the capital.
When Barack Obama was seen using its US facilities, Harvey Spevak’s Equinox Fitness was always going to be a hit when it arrived in Kensington in 2012. Equinox, rated as the USA’s best gym by Fitness Magazine, is the place to workout if you’re an American expat and its exclusive location draws in the celebrities too.
Equinox boasts an anti-gravity chamber for gait correction, four studios, yoga classes, a spa and luxury treatments but its one Achilles’ heel is the lack of a pool.
Thirty Seven Degrees
A state-of-the-art underground fitness centre, Thirty Seven Degrees is on the bank of the Thames at Tower Bridge. Facilities include a golf simulator, AMT machine (a combination of a step machine and elliptical trainer), walk-in GP service, beauty salon, juice bar, sauna, steam room, solarium and five studios. Thirty Seven Degrees specialises in very short workout sessions for those who are squeezing in a pre-work or lunchtime session and classes include circuits, boxing and yoga.
There is now also a branch in Kensington although it is the Tower Bridge labyrinth that has the wow factor.
With quirky workouts such as ‘Bend it Like Barbie’ and its renowned signature classes, the upbeat Frame gym in Shoreditch is one of the most popular places to get fit in London. It was opened in 2009 by New Zealanders Pip Black and Joan Murphy and has now added a Queen’s Park branch to the portfolio.
Reebok Sports Club
Sports lovers will adore the chic, modern Reebok Sports Club with its ceiling-to-floor windows offering fantastic views over Canada Square. Ball sports include indoor football, netball, volleyball and basketball; racquet sports encompass badminton, table tennis and tennis and there is also boxing, golf and even scuba diving on the menu. Reebok has invested in a 23 metre pool, climbing wall and competition-size boxing ring.
One of the most highly-regarded gyms in London, Soho’s Third Space is as much an experience as a place to get fit. Set over four floors connected with open steel staircases, the Sherwood Street gym contains plenty of unique features such as a table tennis table on a glass floor above the pool; a skylit climbing wall and a hypoxic chamber for high-altitude simulation. On top of the obligatory gym and free weights area, there is also a martial arts dojo and Gyrotonic studio together with a huge range of classes, many of them free and some run by award-winning instructors. Additional services include a gym kit laundry, trendy juice bar, medical centre, complementary therapies and Wifi.
In 2011, Third Space opened its sister gym in Marylebone and members have access to both venues.
With top-notch facilities and a nightclub vibe, Gymbox is the place to workout for many central Londoners, both men and women. Based in the High Holborn area, the gym likes to add a unique twist on its classes which include the ‘Tour de Holborn’ (spinning) and ‘Lady Gaga’ classes.
Inside you will find a free weight area, two exercise studios and a full-size boxing ring; there is even a movie screen in-house.
A second gym, in Covent Garden, offers an Olympic-size boxing ring.
Pineapple Dance Studio
One of the most established studios in the capital, Pineapple Dance Studios are where dance and exercise addicts from all genres go to burn the calories and hone their moves. From tap and latin to street dance, you will find something to suit your personality at Pineapple. And if you feel you have star quality, the studios are also now a performing arts school.
Model Debbie Moore opened her doors in 1979, naming the club after the pineapple warehouse that served as their headquarters, and the studios attracted the attention of Sky TV who created a documentary/soap in 2010. There is also an in-studio and online boutique if you want to really absorb the Pineapple brand.
The Harbour Club
Chelsea’s Harbour Club is one of London’s most exclusive health clubs; where else would you store your kit in oak lockers while watching widescreen TV? Members can sign up for a wide selection of classes, run by top instructors, and soak up the sophisticated ambiance in the plush bar. Particular highlights are the tennis facilities – 13 indoor courts (four of which convert to outside courts in the summer), coaching and tournaments; an award-winning spa; a 23 metre swimming pool and a 14-metre waterfall pool. No wonder The Harbour Club was Princess Diana’s favourite place to get fit.
With more than 50 instructors and over 250 assorted yoga and Pilates classes, Primrose Hill-based Triyoga is the biggest Yoga studio in London. All forms are covered and beginners are particularly well looked after. Triyoga is also blessed with a serene and beautiful atmosphere, featuring stained glass windows, a spacious reception area, four therapy rooms, chill-out area and cafe. Triyoga also have branches in Chelsea, Soho and Covent Garden.
In addition to the nine top gyms and health clubs listed above, there are two others that are worth a visit. The airy Muswell Hill’s Laboratory Spa and Health Club used to be a British Rail laboratory and spans 4 000 feet. Designed in accordance with Feng Shui, the complex includes an underground swimming pool, Cybex strength and cardio equipment, beauty rooms, yoga and manicure and pedicure areas.
A very different aesthetic can be found in the Virgin Active centre at the Barbican, with its curved luxury design. The centre caters well for runners with top of the range treadmills and a 160m indoor running track around the perimeter. There is also a four-lane swimming pool, punchbags and four locker rooms, two for men and two for women. The Liverpool Street Broadgate Health Club branch offers a 25m ozone-treated pool, anti-gravity yoga and a cycling studio.