Think London, tend to think cosy pubs and pints for keeping warm rather than an active, ‘break a sweat’ lifestyle? Think again. While a boozy indoor session may have been a productive way to keep body temp regulated in the past, it’s fast been replaced by heating up the body in some of the hottest boutique studios and boot camps in the world. That’s not to say there isn’t still time spent at the pub enjoying a Sunday roast (can confirm that’s still a thing!) but during the working week (and often weekends) Londoners are some of the fittest, toughest people you’ll ever see.
Point in case—the London marathon. As one of the biggest marathons in the world, with over 40,000 people competing and training all year for it, no amount of grey skies stops their strict training schedule.
As an Aussie beach girl who moved over to the cold and gloomy city of London, it blew my mind to see people rugging up in their long-sleeved Lululemon sweaters to pound the pavements and parks at all hours and in any condition. Serious R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Outside the hardcore running culture, the whole fitness industry has skyrocketed, with fitness festivals, upmarket boutique studios popping up in every nook and borough, as well as every sport you could imagine being played out on the fields (Aussie rules included!).
But don’t worry, if you want a mix of old and new school London living, there is still ample opportunity to warm up, break a sweat on the pub dance floor too (Brits are good fun like that!) alongside training. So, whether you’re making the big move or have just been seduced by the beautiful terrace lined streets and century-old buildings for a holiday, come rain, hail or shine London is exactly where you want to be if fitness is your thing! Read on for my bespoke guide to the best boutique studios in London town and the hottest places to be seen, according to your fitness type.
If you want to… seriously warm up
Crave a cardio hit to get the system firing? Boom Cycle and Another Space are the best places to get a serious sweat session in, especially if spin is your thing. Boom Cycle was one of the first boutique spin studios to open in London and prides their style as a ‘party on a bike,’ offering a less serious approach to traditional training with ‘fun’ and ‘low lights’ as their forte!
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re more into a serious, modern, monochrome vibe, Another Space is where it’s at. With spin, alongside HIIT, boxing and hot yoga, Another Space is in the heart of corporate city London making it a convenient place to get your sweat on, while upping your street cred too. Alternatively, if you prefer hitting the treadmill, Barry’s Bootcamp is your fitness bae. A studio specialising in aerobic fitness and functional training brand that’s already in the US and Aus, Barry’s Bootcamp is booming in the UK, with four studios, bookings hard to come by and David Beckham said to frequent regularly. If that isn’t motivation to hit the gym, what is?
If you want to… stretch out from a long haul flight
Whether you’ve flown in from a 24-hour flight from Aus or a 12-hour stint from LA, suffice to say, sometimes a good stretch is the only cure-all for a serious bout of jetlag, and the tried and true way to really feel a fascia release? Yoga. Those staying in Central London, whether Oxford Circus, Chelsea or Camden, Triyogawill be your stretch sanctuary. With over 60 classes a day, across all yoga styles—we’re talking ALL styles—from Kundalini, Jivamukti, Iyengar, shtanga, vinyasa, yin, heated it’s got you covered. There’s even ‘yoga nidra’ if you didn’t get enough shut-eye on the plane. Hello restoration.
Alternatively, if a big studio isn’t your bag, and you’re feeling a little homesick or overwhelmed by big city vibes and craving community and cosy vibes, go local and head to Clapham to Union Station Yoga, my yoga home in London. A beautiful smaller studio with a focus on mindfulness, peace, presence and ‘heart opening,’ expect to be met with the warmest of people and the most deliciously soulful yoga classes, from hatha and vinyasa to ‘mythical’ and restorative.
If you want to… get a model body
What’s boutique fitness without studios that specialise in sculpting A-listers? As one of the glitziest cities in the world, all you have to do is head to the Inner West—think Notting Hill, Chelsea and South Kensington—for a model or celebrity fitness experience. Just a little walk down Portobello Road, you’ll find the beautiful boutique studio that is Bodyism. A place dear to my heart (having spent time working there), Bodyism is a wellness brand that runs a flagship gym (specialising in personal training and small group classes), spa and wholefood cafe right in the heart of Westbourne Grove that’s loved and frequented by local celebs and models alike.
The owner and CEO Natalie Schyllert is a former model so you she understands what it takes to sculpt the allusive ‘model body’ and the original founder James Duigan, is Aussie so not only did I feel at home there amongst the acai bowls, smashed avo on paleo bread (think Bondi vibes but in London), they also play host to training celebrity clients including Rita Ora and Hugh Grant and models such as Lara Stone.
For a true ‘Bodyism’ sculpting experience, I recommend a private personal training (they offer functional, boxing or yoga privates) or taking their signature ‘Bodyism Blueprint’ class.
If you want to… go where the cool kids go
Don’t quite want to rub shoulders with celebs in the washrooms? For a just as ‘cool’ vibe but with a slightly larger studio feel and moderate anonymity head to Equinox in South Kensington. Picture a higher end Virgin Active, Equinox offers a range of weights and treadmills to do your own thing alongside a state of the art boxing, yoga, cycling and Pilates studio, spa and lounge you can just hang at to ‘be seen at.’ More into an intimate vibe? Check out Third Space. With signature classes like – Metaburn, PowerRide, Pulse (barre and Pilates), Formula 3, their workouts are curated to focus on a mix of high intensity, functional training alongside movement and meditation and are based in all the trendy places, including Marylebone and Soho.
If you want to… feel all the cosy feels without entering a pub
Whether you’re in London on a drizzly damp day or for a frosty white Christmas, nothing warms the cockles of your soul and heats you up as much as a hot water bottle in bed than Hotpod yoga. Think a domed blow up ‘pod’ with an inflatable floor that upon entering gives off the same nurturing feels as if you’re back in the womb again (sounds weird I know but seriously).
Done in a dark and intimate purple tinged light, Hotpod yoga offers deliciously warm, flowing vinyasa class at 37 degrees, making it the perfect cosy solution to safely swerve the hot chocolate and defrost your bod naturally.
If you want to… release negative energy and burn all of the calories
More of a ‘smash it out’ kind of girl when it comes to working out? Then hit up one of London’s amazing boutique boxing or functional training studios.
For a boxing workout that isolates different target areas of the body, hit up Kobox. With separate classes for upper, lower, full body, core and bodyweight variations and are in easy Central London locations. Alternatively, for those that prefer mixing up equipment and opting for functional training, check out KXU for specialised kettlebell, TRX, tyre and battle rope classes (alongside spin, yoga, Pilates) too.
If you want to… tone and strengthen without sweating too much and stinking out the tube
Any Londoner will tell you there’s nothing worse than bad BO in your face when you’re squished onto a sardine can tube during peak hour. So, if you’re more into wearing luxe activewear and keeping your sweat factor low and make-up moderately in tact for brunch after, then perhaps go Pilates reformer, yoga or Barre.
As a big fan of Pilates reformer, I adore Heartcore. With a beautiful layout, and conveniently located in Central London, Chelsea, Fulham and Notting Hill (among other spots), Heartcore offers amazingly effective Pilates reformer sessions, alongside barre, yoga, spin and strength classes too.
Alternatively, for a feel-good, fun, energetic studio that offers a fusion of toning classes from dance and yoga to Pilates and barre (alongside post-workout fuel), head to FRAME in central London locations including Fitzrovia, Shoreditch, Victoria, Queens Park and Farringdon.