The 14 Best Gyms and Fitness Classes to Try in UK

YOU WANT… TO TAKE YOUR FITNESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL TRY… GROUP TRAINING

Recruit three to five buddies to sign up for a small group workout with a personal trainer. Group personal training is growing in popularity and for good reason – it’s more affordable than one-to-one personal training but offers the same expert guidance and tailored training plans. ‘Group training is a great step for someone who has been going to the gym alone and hit a plateau,’ says Caroline Pearce, co-author of Better Body Workouts for Women (Human Kinetics, £13.99}. ‘You’ll get encouragement from your friends as well as your trainer. It’s very sociable.’

AVOID IF… YOU’RE NOT SELF-MOTIVATED

If you’re the kind of girl who doesn’t turn the resistance up on your Spin bike when the instructor tells you to, this isn’t the workout for you. With workout buddies likely to take the trainer’s attention away from you, it’s all too easy to put a halfhearted effort into the odd exercise and fall short of your full potential.

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YOU WANT… A NEW CHALLENGE TO HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT TRY… BOOTCAMP WORKOUTS

Fitness bootcamps are booming right now and we think we know why -the militaryinspired workout burns oodles of calories. ‘Bootcamps are challenging yet they’re not only for the super-fit,1 claims Gary Kerr, of British Military Fitness bootcamp (britmilfit. com). ‘BMF boasts three different ability groups, so everyone can keep up and have a tough workout. Plus, every session is different, meaning there’s no chance of getting bored.’ As a bonus, exercising outside burns up to 30 per cent more calories than its indoor counterpart, while reducing anxiety and enhancing mood.

AVOID IF… YOU DON’T DO TEAMWORK

So, you’re not a team player – no biggie but you probably shouldn’t sign up for a bootcamp. Motivating individuals through group activities is a key part of a bootcamp instructor’s arsenal and one of the main reasons many people keep going back. If you’ve more of a lone ranger, a solitary gym session in which you listen to your inner cheerleader may be better for you.

YOU WANT… AN ACTIVITY THAT’S KIND ON YOUR BODY TRY… AQUATIC CLASSES

Are you injury-prone? For a workout that’s low impact and kind on joints, take a dip in the pool. But it you think aqua classes are tor senior citizens, you clearly haven’t tried the latest breed of water workouts – aqua Spinning, aqua Zumba and aqualates (Pilates in the pool). ’A huge advantage of doing water workouts such as AquAllure Spinning classes is that you rarely feel muscle ache after exercising,’ explains Dorine Denjean, founder of AquAllure and Poolbiking (aquallure.co.uk). ‘People wrongly link this feeling to a below-par workout when, in fact, being submerged in water prevents the body from getting the micro muscle damage that leads to pain.’ As a high-resistance cardio class that works the whole-body and blasts a whopping 800 calories in 45 minutes, aqua Spinning is perfect for all sporty types.

AVOID IF… YOU WANT TO GET STRONGER

Water boasts 10 times the resistance of air, so gentle aqua-aerobic classes are great for muscle toning, cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and increasing muscle mass in the beginning stages but, over time, your strength gains will level off. Muscles need to be overloaded to increase in size, but water resistance in a pool remains the same. Opt for water workouts that offer different levels of intensity through upping the speed of movements, adding weights or exercising in deeper water.

YOU WANT… TRAINING TAILORED TO YOUR PHYSIQUE TRY… ONE-TO-ONE INSTRUCTION

Committing to work with a personal trainer (PT) is the ultimate investment in your fitness. Trainers are dedicated to helping clients achieve their personal goals with tailored plans, making sure you use your workout time in the most efficient way. They’re also master motivators – inspiring you to commit to regular exercise – after all, it’s in their interest to deliver great results. ‘Having a professional trainer waiting for you – and only you – will motivate you to get off your butt and exercise,’ says Pearce. ’There’s nowhere to hide and no-one to take the attention away from you in a one-to-one training session. Every rep, run, set and lift will count!’ You’ve been warned.

AVOID IF… YOUR PIGGY BANK IS EMPTY

As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for – and personal training doesn’t come cheap. Seeing a PT for a one-to-one session is more expensive than an exercise class or group personal training session. The price may make it difficult for you to commit to several sessions and your one-to-one time may be limited to a single workout each week. The result? If you’re not super motivated anyway, you may find you fail to blitz the number of weekly workouts required to reap the results you’re looking for. If you’re unlikely to stick to the schedule by doing workouts on your own in-between PT sessions, or may run out of cash mid-programme, one-to-one training isn’t for you.

YOU WANT… FRIENDS TO GET FIT WITH TRY… BOUTIQUE SESSIONS

Boutique gyms – small fitness centres such as independent yoga studios and CrossFit warehouses – have ditched the mass membership mindset for a community feel with a lower ratio of staff to members. Gone are the unknown gym instructors and rows of generic equipment in favour of specialised kit and personalised instruction. ‘These gyms are popping up all over the country and some offer reasonable membership prices,’ says Ben Pratt, of Premier Training International. ‘There tends to be lots of group interaction and motivation, and the specifically-equipped classes are focused on the skills that fit within the gym ideal.’ In fact, being a member of a boutique gym is like being part of a big fitness family!

AVOID IF… YOU LIKE TO DIVERSIFY

Whether it’s a yoga studio, a conditioning warehouse or a Spinning centre, a boutique gym is equipped with everything you need to get really good at select activities. How so? Because these expert gyms are packed with the specialist equipment and instruction required for that activity. Be warned, though, a boutique gym does not offer the variety of programmes and equipment found in a bigger gym. There probably won’t be a squash court, sauna and 25m pool, for example. For this reason, a boutique centre isn’t for someone who likes to sweat, swim and then hit the steam room.

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