They call themselves the Fitsters – and they can afford the best in luxury gyms, personal training and food, finds Leanne Kelsall
Ever wondered how London’s elite stay so lean? The answer’s simple: luxury health and fitness. And as the 2016 State Of The UK Fitness Industry Report shows, the industry is now worth around £4.4 billion and it’s changing. Fast.
From gourmet health food delivered to your door to personal training in Olympic-standard gyms, here are the latest luxury gym trends to hit London and how you can get involved.
Boutique Boot Camps And Gyms
It’s just past Dawn and I’m surrounded by attractive, clean-cut 20-somethings, dressed head-to-toe in the latest Lucas Hugh athleisure.
This is a crowd that go by the name of Fitsters (fit hipsters). They cover their perfectly toned figures in designer workout wear worth a small fortune, and their mere presence leaves me feeling a little uneducated, despite having been a fitness enthusiast for years. How is it possible to look that good at 6 am?
The dimly-lit mirrored studio we’re in is flooded with flashing multicoloured lights, and as those around me start to limber up, I find myself both excited and nervous. A DJ-curated playlist pumps loudly through the sound system, but I’m not at an invite-only A-list party (although I could be, minus the treadmills). I’m about to begin a class at Best’s Bootcamp (bestsbootcamp.com), the latest of a handful of boutique gyms to revolutionise London’s fitness scene.
The ethos here is to be your best, aided by state-of-the-art treadmills that you won’t find anywhere else in Europe and 360-degree InstructorCams helping you keep sight of your trainer.
With one in every seven people in the UK belonging to a gym, the demand for more exclusive exercise has led to the emergence of boutique gyms. In an age where fit is the new hip, boutique gyms aim to make working out a part of your lifestyle with short, high-intensity classes you can squeeze into a lunch break. Plus, there’s tasty health kitchens and blow-dry bars to boot. These new studios operate a no-strings, no-obligation policy – and who wants the worry of a lengthy gym contract anyway?
Lee Drabble, Managing Director of Best’s Bootcamp, says people who live in London are often highly motivated and want to achieve goals quickly. “Each session is like a personal training session but you’re surrounded by like-minded people with the same or similar goals. “We, the boutique world, are building a community of goal-driven, fitness-hungry professionals,” he says.
A single 45-minute session costs as much as an entire monthly membership in some other gyms, but it’s a worthwhile investment that lets fitness-lovers wave goodbye to crowded gym floors, overbooked classes and little interaction with trainers. Small class sizes let you get up close and personal with your PT, who’ll motivate you to push miles beyond what you usually would.
Little indulgences sweeten the deal, and while I was checking out London’s boutique gyms, some of my favourites included warm, lavender-scented towels, deluxe toiletries in my locker, and free bubbly.
Says Lee: “When guests are finished they want to feel they can pamper themselves, or be pampered before they leave, so the boutique experience doesn’t finish in the studio. “It continues through blend bars, the vibe of the reception area, all the way to the high-end products offered in the changing rooms. No expense is spared in the boutique world.”
In Kensington, Core Collective
(core-collective.co.uk) attracts a regular celebrity crowd. And when they’re not challenging their core at a Velocity, Resistance or Accelerate class, they’re dining on a buckwheat waffle in the chic Core Kitchen. It looks more like a trendy private members’ club than a gym, with leather banquette seating, for-sale wall art and edgy, exposed steelwork.
Core Collective’s founder, Jason de Savary, says: “Health is the new wealth in London, and people’s attitudes have changed to reflect this. “There is no single right answer to a healthy balanced life but at Core Collective we are offering our views, ideas, energies and passion to find at least one.”
In trend-setting East London, luxe spin and HIIT (high intensity interval training) studio 1Rebel (1rebel.co.uk) houses Insta-famous trainers who are at the very top of their game. They could make a living off their social media channels alone if they weren’t so dedicated to helping you be the fittest you’ve ever been.
Gym-goers can join their Rebel Army and book in for a gruelling Ride session – a 45-minute full-body workout set to a backdrop of live music and pyrotechnics.
Five-Star Fitness Hotels
At the ultra-luxurious end of the scale, five-star hotels are fast becoming the go-to for an exclusive way to stay in shape.
Wealthy city workers, A-listers and health-conscious tourists are checking into some of London’s most exuberant hotels which house some pretty glamorous gyms.
Take the Corinthia Hotel. Alongside its 300 rooms and 47 suites is the discreet ESPA Life – four floors dedicated to your health and wellbeing. Members can indulge in a relaxing wellness massage to relieve the day’s stresses, or hit the high-tech gym where ice-cold coconut water and artisan protein balls are on tap.
The five-star spa includes a glass amphitheatre sauna, a mosaic steam room and a silver steel pool, lined with marble loungers. An hour or two spent here is enough to wash away the woes of even the busiest work days. I can vouch for that! Plus the spa menu caters for every inch of your body and mind, from everyday treatments and pampering, to new and highly advanced therapies. Yogic Sleep, anyone?
When it comes to personal training, ESPA Life is home to some sought-after health, fitness and nutrition experts.
Another shining example is Knightsbridge’s Mandarin Oriental Gym and Wellness Centre, where, for an additional fee, members gain access to celebrity trainer Ruben Tabares. This highly-in-demand strength and conditioning expert is the brain behind some of the world’s strongest and best-looking bods, including sportsmen David Haye, Amir Khan and rapper Tinie Tempah.
“My celeb clients all have different fitness goals, ranging from wanting to have an eight-pack to having beautiful skin,” says Ruben. “The most popular always has to be a flat stomach and tight body.”
Those training with Ruben can rest assured that this is a luxury that only the most elite of us get to experience.
Body Transformation Studios
Body transformations have been taking place for decades but in recent years, the idea of transforming your physique has grown in popularity exponentially. It’s an emerging fitness trend showing no signs of slowing and today, the demand has resulted in a new kind of gym; specialist body transformation centres.
Sounds extreme? But these high-tech fitness centres are dedicated to guiding you from start to finish on your own three-month transformation. And they get results.
Perhaps the most popular is Embody Fitness (embodyfitness.co.uk) thanks to its Olympic–style training regime – a regime that has seen celebrities, Olympic athletes and entire Championship rugby teams sign up for the challenge. Costing around £4,500 for an 8 to 12 week programme, members can wave goodbye to flabby midriffs and sugar-filled diets, and look forward to a whole new way of life. A dedicated team of nutritionists, sports therapists and ex-Olympians will work together to craft your health, food and training programme, which is regularly re-assessed to keep you on your toes.
FE Fitness (fegym.com) in Whitechapel mixes workouts based on science with an ultra-modern gym floor.
New members commit to a bespoke diet and exercise plan before they can enjoy full use of the gym. Failure to comply results in a loss of their place – and their initial investment, too.
Gourmet Food Delivery Services
Being healthy is hip; training hard is trendy; eating clean is cool. Staying in the know about the best food to fuel your body is a fundamental part of the luxe fitness trend. Londoners are swapping decadent dinner dates and one too many drinks for all-things raw, green and organic.
As Francesca Giacomini (founder of the highly successful Francesca The Method – a targeted, tailored lifestyle transformation) points out: “These days, people are more knowledgeable on how nutritious food and daily exercise promote longevity, increase life span and keep illnesses at bay.
“We all want to eat more greens and have an active lifestyle, which is great.”
Part of this movement has seen the growth of premium food prep and delivery services, like Fresh Fitness Food (freshfitnessfood.com) – a sort of luxury meals-on-wheels if you will, designed to help those who lead hectic lives (and who doesn’t these days?) to eat healthily every day.
Sign up and you’ll get everything from your morning shake to healthy snacks delivered to your door. What’s more, each gourmet recipe is tailored to your body and personal goals – down to the last gram. Their award-winning chefs and nutritionists work with local producers to create nutritionally-balanced meals, whichever plan you’re on.
Each morning, for around £20 a day, members receive a temperature-controlled bag filled with fresh and tasty health food, precision-weighed and ready for the day ahead.
Meal plans like Muscle Gain and Summer Body are the secret behind some of London’s leanest bodies – a saving grace when time’s short and you find yourself swaying towards the Ready Meal aisle. Something to consider the next time you’ve spent an entire evening finessing the following day’s superfood salad.
So there they are, the best ways to get in shape that money can buy. I’m not saying getting the body of your dreams is easy, but these luxuries will certainly lighten the load.