the Reads: Body & Fitness

Group fitness: our top places to go in London

the Antidote to... solo exercise

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After such an inspiring talk at Selfridges, in which we examined the link between fitness, the community and our emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing, we all asked the question “Great! But how and where can I join up?” Which is why we’ve rounded up our pick of indoor and outdoor group fitness activities in London. From strict exercise regimes and cycling on a bike in a studio to communing with nature, every need and creed is catered for…

Nike + Run Club 

The “world’s largest running group” has sessions designed for every runner, regardless of skill level. In less than an hour their experts get you mentally and physically ready: pick your own pace, discover new sights and improve your overall endurance, speed, balance and mobility. Leaving from four major meeting points across London, the original Nike Run Club began in 1999 at Nike Town in Oxford Circus, with the aim of providing runners of all abilities with a free, safe and fun exercise environment. You’re given the choice to run either a three-, four-, or seven-mile course, with routes tracking through scenic and historical parts of London.

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Secret Yoga Club

Secret Yoga Club brings people together in picturesque and unique settings to experience yoga in new and exciting ways. Making its debut in 2013, SYC was the very first pop-up fitness experience in London and has grown from humble beginnings in living rooms to venues such as the Royal Academy of the Arts, Sutton House and Wilton’s Music Hall. Whether it’s hosting monthly supper clubs, bringing people together on beautiful retreats around the world, curating yoga and sound events for big brands or simply hosting regular yoga classes (with a twist), SYC is one of the most innovative and immersive experiences in the UK.

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Wildfitness Hampstead

Wildfitness’ head coaches have devised two-hour ‘jams’ sessions throughout the summer that allow you to develop your movement capacity and fitness from the natural-evolutionary perspective that Wildfitness is known for, with the added convenience of not needing to leave London. You’ll learn insights into how we use nature as a tool, not only to get physically fit but doing so in a place that will stimulate your primal senses.

Sessions have a different focus each week and take place from 10am-noon on Hampstead Heath, one of the most beautiful and wild spaces London has to offer – a Wildfitness playground in which to have fun, be playful and enjoy an exceptionally good workout at the same time.

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British Military Fitness Hyde Park 

In April 1999, British Military Fitness had its first class in Hyde Park, London with just three people attending. Week by week, numbers grew as the people being trained told their friends and work colleagues about how great a fun BMF work out was.

The idea was, and still is, to get people of all fitness abilities training outdoors in parks, with motivation provided by military-trained instructors. While many people refer to BMF as a boot camp, it was never the intention to make BMF an intimidating, hard-out boot camp. Instead, the aim was always to give everyone a fun and effective form of training using the highly professional skills learnt in the military to get people fit.

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Muddy Plimsolls

Outdoor fitness trails dotted around London, these outdoor sites feature traditional calisthenics equipment, perfect for bodyweight exercise. Go, pull-ups! The locations of these sites are rarely publicised and have been shared mostly by word-of-mouth through a community of users.

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Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze 

Anyone can come and learn to fly in a two-hour class – the youngest student has been 8, the oldest (so far) 78! Students start with a warm-up then move on to practise a simple trick on a low bar. They then attempt the trick on the Flying Trapeze and towards the end of the class get caught by an instructor on a separate swinging bar. With a mixture of drop-in classes and courses, the more classes you take, the more advanced tricks you can perform! If you truly are addicted to flying you may be able to join the weekly frequent flyer and intermediate classes.

Over the summer the school is located in Regent’s Park, with a second outdoor trapeze appearing at festivals, events and other parks around London. In the winter they move indoors to the Hanger Arts Trust in North Greenwich.

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Serpentine Swimming Club 

The Serpentine Swimming Club is an all-year-round open-air swimming club, affiliated to the ASA and perhaps best-known for its “Peter Pan Christmas Day Race”. During winter months the water temperature is very low and the lake does occasionally freeze, whilst in the summer the water can reach ‘tropical’ temperatures over 20°C (70°F).

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Run Dem Crew 

Founded in 2007 by DJ, poet and writer Charlie Dark as an alternative to more traditional running clubs, Run Dem Crew has grown from a casual run around the neighbourhood with friends to a large and multifaceted organisation with fingers in many creative pies. Committed to change and the uplifting of the next generation, they work closely across London providing mentoring and advice along with the opportunity to explore London in unique and supportive environment. For ‘creative heads’ who call themselves a community, not a club, and run hard, fast and strong, RDC is split into groups according to fitness and pace.

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Paddle Boarding 

Stand up paddleboarding, brilliant for the core, balance and seeing London from a different view – standing on the river! Lessons and coaching at Paddington, Kew Bridge, Putney and Brentford Lock (Islington Basin coming soon). Yoga on the board also offered.

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Vine.London 

A social fitness community in the Barnes area of London  that empowers women to re-engage with health and wellbeing. It has a loyal following through river runs, women’s football and yoga classes, fostering a great sense of connection and camaraderie. Founded by a personal trainer and former advertising director.

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The Third Space 

Four super-sleek and luxurious health clubs dotted across central London. The original in Soho offers 75 square metres of climbing wall, a suspended glass floor training area and boxing with one of The Antidote’s favourite soulful boxers Cathy Brown, who packs as much punch with her CBT-based encouragement as she does with her physical skills and techniques.

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Psycle

Psycle has taken London by storm since its launch in 2014.  Spinning in the dark with flashing lights, carefully picked feel-good club tunes (think Beyonce and Adele remixes) and weights for the added challenge. You’re on your own bike but the power of the group is strong with this one, especially with the enthusiasm of CEO and trainer Rhian Stephenson. They are also currently popped-up in Selfridges, London.

Find out more here