Luxury gyms in London are steadily filling back up as we say so long to home workouts. That’s right, exercise classes, weight stations and treadmills are back on the agenda thanks to the latest lockdown easing.
Maybe you’re a newcomer to the gym scene with freshly acquired fitness levels thanks to a furlough period or perhaps you’re a longtime cross-trainer and Pilates pupil looking to upgrade your workout to one of London’s high-end gyms.
Private members’ club gyms aside (South Kensington Club, Home House et al), our co-founder Jonathan Holmes reveals his pick of the capital’s hippest, hottest spots set to get your pulse racing.
Third Space is unanimously agreed as being one of the most high-end gyms in London, whether you’re heading to a morning Just Ride class in the city, a lunch break session with one of its Master Trainers at Tower Bridge or an evening Swim Camp in Islington.
Fancy training in high altitude conditions? Head to Third Space’s hypoxic chamber that mimics a 3,000-metre mountain atmosphere, used by Olympians working with one of its elite trainers, Luke Worthington. This sums up its whole philosophy—cutting edge equipment designed to make fitness fit in with the time-poor. Fifteen minutes in the chamber is the equivalent of a 45-minute HITT class so you can work out before heading to its luxury shower and spa area before going about your day to day. And it’s not simply the equipment that goes the extra mile but the atmosphere too, from sleek, contemporary design details to air purity (its quartz lamps destroy 99.9% of biological contaminants and its filter system reduces 90% of air pollutants) and environmental consciousness (it reuses rather than wastes 75% of heat produced).
And if you’re wondering who Third Space has counted as its name-drop members—Prince Harry and David Beckham.
Heralded as one of the world’s most luxurious workout zones, Equinox is certainly one of the most expensive gyms in London.
The Equinox experience isn’t just about its state of the art equipment (hello anti-gravity treadmill) or its roster of classes led by trainers top of their field (enticingly named things like ‘Best Butt Ever’ and ‘Chisel’d’), but its exclusivity in membership, its celebrity attendees (forget not that Equinox was famously name-checked in one of Kanye West’s tracks) and of course its chilled eucalyptus towels to dab away at the brows of the elite. Members claim Equinox is more like a religion, a place of belonging and enlightenment, where it’s not unusual to stay for the entire day—a class in the morning, then avocado and a smoothie for lunch, followed by another class or a PT session in the afternoon.
Founded by the Errico siblings in 1991, Equinox has locations spanning the globe with over 30 locations in New York alone. Place of beauty, London boasts three locations—one in Kensington, another in Bishopsgate and the third in St James’s district which is purely for personal training and goes by the name of E by Equinox—and a fourth set to open in Soho in 2021. Inside the LuxDeco 100 designer Joyce Wang-created St James location you’ll find elliptical dome ceilings above and a padded white floor which is said to feel like walking on a cloud, and then in the changing rooms a scented steam room awaits stocked with Kiehl’s products for when you step out. The membership here might be pricey, but find me someone who doesn’t say it’s worth it.
Sophisticated, swanky and branded as being ‘London’s finest boxing gym’, BXR’s Marylebone and Canary Wharf locations first punched their way onto the scene in 2017. As the name suggests, it has a firm focus on one discipline and one discipline alone, boxing, and is the first gym of its kind, pulling together industry-acclaimed coaches from ex-boxers to current professional fighters.
Its flagship Marylebone location is an impressive 12,000 square foot space with six-metre high ceilings, so there’s zero chance of feeling hemmed in here. Design-wise, the space was inspired by Bottega Veneta handbags with custom-made braided leather ropes and made-to-measure gloves by Di Nardo for anyone entering the ring that has been elevated, amphitheatre style—details imagined by Bergman Interiors who were commissioned due to their promise of achieving timelessness. Upstairs is dark, gritty and raw, whereas the changing rooms are light, bright and elegant. “You're training like a champion with the best equipment and then recovering like a champion as well,” BXR CEO Olia Sardarova told Forbes magazine.
FOR MORE INSPIRATION
Membership at BXR isn’t simply a case of handing over the cash. Its impressive membership panel committee (which includes names such as DJ Mark Ronson and Victoria Secret model Sara Sampaio) scrupulously reviews every application. Those granted access can expect to catch a glimpse of its leading membership figure, Anthony Joshua, who trains there on the regular.
KXU, the no-membership boutique gym, lives in the heart of the Chelsea district. Like many of its competitor workout spaces, the three-floor gym offers a full lifestyle and wellness package with a nutrition bar, spa (complete with cryotherapy room and infra-red sauna) and the chicest of lifts that could easily be mistaken for a therapy room.
To step into KXU is to step into a design-driven world (thanks to LuxDeco 100 designer Peter Mikic). The cycle classes take place below a glitter ball on fluoro-yellow bikes and a party anthem playlist to reinforce the feeling of fun and frivolity and even the lockers are kitted out with in-built phone chargers proving that its every inch has been deeply considered just as its KX private members club—the OG club—a few doors down. Deciding which one’s best for you? For personal training, head to the original KX, but for more social training sessions and classes KXU is the place to go.
This luxury London gym’s USP? Instead of a gym, it brands itself as “a high intensity, dual studio fitness concept”, aka a very cool, very forward-thinking place to workout with like-minded individuals. But the dual part is interesting—there’s one room for spinning (where you get to ride on the latest C5 bikes energised by either live music or sets exclusively mixed by Ministry of Sound’s Jon White) and another for what 1Rebel calls reshaping and the rest of the world calls serious interval training.
Its founder has fitness in his DNA (James Balfour is the son of Fitness First’s owner, Mike Balfour) who sought to reimagine society’s approach to exercise regimes and the gym environment. With no membership fees, there’s a feeling of no pressure, though that leaves you the moment you step into either of its two rooms and the exercise intensity levels hit you.
After an exhausting workout, you can collapse on one of the heated benches in the urban-industrial changing rooms before detoxing with one of its house-blended, 100% organic juices that target specific areas such as six-pack building, found at all seven of its London locations.
And finally, one last boxing-centric city gym, Jab.
But Mayfair’s Jab is completely different to the other boxing spots in London. There’s nothing brutalist about the AvroKO-designed decor, but instead, a feeling that is homely and a style that feels old-school and vintage akin to a gentleman’s club.
Jab is the brainchild of, you guessed it, another former boxer and England former boxing team captain George Veness and enthusiast Jamie Landesberg, who sought to bring back the heritage of boxing in its heyday. The interior was key to bringing that vision to life. Walk in and you’re greeted by vintage red boxing gloves lining the walls, then walk to the workout areas and there’s dark wood panelling and antique furniture lining the corridors. Think less nightclub and more Rocky soundtrack.