Health & Fitness

We Tried Out The Best Gym Alternatives & Fitness Trends (So You Don’t Have To)

Unbelievably, it’s now March. New Year promises of healthier diets, fitness fads and hardcore workout regimes have swiftly faded into nothingness – or at most, hitting the gym maybe once or twice a week. And that’s only if we can be bothered.

If it’s not done properly or if exercising isn’t something you absolutely live for, but something you do to keep fit or stay in shape, then the gym can get a bit, well, boring.

But we want to love exercise, so we decided it would be worthwhile testing out all the best gym alternatives and fitness trends we could find, mostly so you don’t have to.

Voga

Voga

What is Voga?

Traditional yoga meets fast-paced Madonna-esque vogue-ing, set to a backdrop of ‘80s anthems and encouraging feedback from the session coach.

Who is Voga for?

Women (or men) who care about fitness and want to be toned, but think regular exercise classes are a snooze fest. It’s also for people who care about their general wellbeing, and like that time to relax.

What is Voga going to work?

Expect it to work every part of your body, from your shoulders to your calves.

How do you feel during Voga?

Calm, as if you’re stretching out. If you’re not an experienced vogue-r, you may feel a bit silly trying to get the moves done. Luckily, there are different levels for beginners and those who now find voga a way of life.

How do you feel after Voga?

Suitably stretched out, toned, calm and relaxed. You might find your posture has improved slightly, too. If you’re a beginner, you’ll certainly feel those glute pulses in your derriere.

Is Voga worth it?

In a word – yes!

What else do you need to know about Voga?

Classes start from £12 in several London locations: Haggerston, Shoreditch and Hoxton. You can also try Voga in Paris, Ibiza, Mallorca, Manchester and Edinburgh. Taster sessions will be coming to the rest of the UK in 2016. Visit vogalondon.co.uk for more info.

The Justin Bieber Workout

Dance Class, Frame

What is the Justin Bieber Workout?

The Justin Bieber workshop is two-hour workshop made up of two professional-level dance routines. You can choose to workout to Beyoncé, Britney or Bieber.

Who’s the Justin Bieber Workout for?

People who understand rhythm, have co-ordination and can easily remember routines. Also, people who secretly fancy themselves as the next Beyonce. Best taken as a complement to an already established exercise routine, or with a few girlfriends for an alternative thing to do at the weekend.

What’s the Justin Bieber Workout going to work?

If you give it 110%, everywhere.

How do you feel during the Justin Bieber Workout?

A little bit silly, but that’s quickly remedied by the friendly nature of the small group, and the uber-positive attitude of the instructors.

How you feel after the Justin Bieber Workout?

Like you’re actually considering taking hip hop lessons, because you’re truly a great dancer. This feeling will subside over the following 48 hours, though. However, the desire to do the workshop again probably won’t.

Is the Justin Bieber Workout worth it?

Definitely. That said, it’s quite expensive, and workshops are irregular, so this (sadly) can’t replace a regular workout routine.

What else do you need to know about the Justin Bieber Workout?

Workshops start from £25 and regular workout classes start from £10. It’s available in London locations like King’s Cross, Shoreditch and Queen’s Park. Visit moveyourframe.com for more info.

Fencing

fencing

What is fencing?

If you like the look of all the sword-fighting you've see on Game Of Thrones, this course will dispel any myths and teach you the basics of the much-loved Olympic sport version.

Who’s fencing for?

Men and women of all ages and all fitness levels, especially someone who wants to try something different, or commit to one club for social reasons.

What’s fencing going to work?

Until you surpass the beginner stage, you’ll mostly be lightly working your legs (with lunges), arms (remaining in onguard position) and core (as before). When you join the regular class, the brutal 40-minute warm up will work you out everywhere, especially your legs. You’ll be hard pressed to find a fencer with undefined calves.

How do you feel during fencing?

During the advanced classes, you’ll feel the burn.

How do you feel after fencing?

A little bit like you’ve been to school, but in a good way, because you’re not only exercising, but learning precision, balance and skill as you embrace every aspect of the sport.

Is fencing worth it?

The beginners course is a little pricey, but once you’ve surpassed that, monthly membership fees are very reasonable, and you’ll definitely feel a sense of accomplishment the more you train.

What else do you need to know about fencing?

Beginners courses cost £150, though offers are available. Classes take place in Old Street, London. Visit londonfencingclub.co.uk for more info. If you’re outside of London, visit www.britishfencing.com.

Barrecore

barrecore

What is Barrecore?

An hour-long, muscle-toning class, taking note from ballet, pilates and cardio. It’s reportedly loved by the likes of Jourdan Dunn, Princess Beatrice and Pippa Middleton.

Who’s Barrecore for?

Someone who’s already on top of their fitness game, or a very daring beginner.

What’s Barrecore going to work?

It’ll work your arms, shoulders, abs, thighs and glutes.

How do you feel during Barrecore?

Relaxed, especially because the studios are kitted out with shower facilities, hair styling products, and all the equipment you’ll need. Then, like you’re being pushed to your very limit. Each exercise, though low intensity, will have your body quivering unlike anything you’ve seen before. The switch between mat-based moves and barre combinations helps the class pass quickly.

How do you feel after Barrecore?

Like you’ve climbed to the top of a mountain. Strangely euphoric. Despite the quiet agony each muscle-firming exercise puts you through, like you want to do it all over again.

Is Barrecore worth it?

If it works for Jourdan, it works for us. But be warned: for a supermodel body, you’ve got to pay supermodel prices.

What else do you need to know about Barrecore?

One class costs £28, and a monthly membership starts from £175. Studios are located in London areas Kensington, Chelsea and Mayfair, and Manchester. Visit barrecore.co.uk for more info.

HIIT (IT)

HIIT

What is HIIT?

A brutal 30-minute full-body blast, based on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - which involves a lot of burpees, star jumps, squats, lunges and 3-clap push ups.

Who’s HIIT for?

Someone who doesn’t have time to waste, or wants to fit their workouts in before work or during their lunch hour.

What’s HIIT going to work?

It’s a hard-going, high-impact cardio workout, so expect to see results everywhere.

How do you feel during HIIT?

Like imminent death would not be a bad thing. The instructors are the no-mercy kind, and there is no time to rest in-between bursts of exercise. If you’re not in the best shape, you might not feel encouraged to keep going.

How do you feel after HIIT?

Tired, sweaty and if, like me, you don’t drink enough water during the class, a bit dizzy.

Is HIIT worth it?

It obviously works, and it is an effective time-saver, but only some fitness fans will consider this a ‘fun’ alternative to the gym.

If you exercise out of duty and want it over with quickly, then yes, you’ll be burning a lot of calories. If you’re someone looking to make exercising fun, this is not the class for you.

What else do you need to know about HIIT?

This class is available at numerous Gymbox locations, but we tried the class in the swanky Covent Garden gym. For more info, visit www.gymbox.com.

Jumping Julia

Jumping Julia

What is Jumping Julia?

A high-impact, high-energy aerobic trampoline workout that is split into song-length bursts, and is nowhere near as simple as it seems.

Who’s Jumping Julia for?

People who find trudging to the gym a bore, and who like to feel like they’re doing something fun or a bit different. It’s very social, thanks to its founder and champion Julia Balaz, so you can attend on your own and still feel like you’re part of the group.

What does Jumping Julia work?

Everything. Before you begin, you imagine you’ll just be working your legs and bum, because you’re not just jumping wildly on the trampoline – small bounces and pushing down on the trampoline means it’s resistance-based, but there’s also an element of cardio, and toning exercises (done on the trampoline) also work your abs and arms, too.

How do you feel during Jumping Julia?

Out of breath. Each five-minute burst is driven by the speed of the music, and half way through the hour long class, you’ll definitely notice that each small session gets harder and harder.

How do you feel after Jumping Julia?

Like you’ve achieved something!

Is Jumping Julia worth it?

Definitely worth it, and if done regularly it makes an excellent alternative to the gym.

What else do you need to know about Jumping Julia?

Individual classes start from £10 per session, and take place in Shoreditch, Southwark and Kensington. More info is available at www.jumpingfitnessbritain.com.

Orangetheory

Orangetheory

What is Orangetheory?

An hour-long combination of workouts done in intervals, including weight-lifting, TRX, rowing, and running.

Who’s Orangetheory for?

Someone who is target-driven, likes setting goals, and most importantly, wants to understand the science behind working out to get a better result.

What does Orangetheory work?

There are numerous different workout styles depending on your aims. We tried the strength-training workout, which also gets your blood pumping through numerous sessions on the treadmill.

How do you feel during Orangetheory?

Welcomed – the staff and trainers are incredibly friendly. The classes are very popular, so you’ll likely be working out with a big group, so there’s little opportunity to feel self-conscious. The interval training aspect of the workout means you’ll be changing things up regularly, and it also means you won’t feel completely out of breath and overworked. You’ll be pushing yourself, without even really realizing it.

How do you feel after Orangetheory?

Satisfied – because you monitor your progress throughout. You’ll be wearing a heart monitor, and you can measure how hard you’ve pushed yourself in different zones (with a target for how long to spend in each zone for maximum results), see how many calories you’ve burned, how many calories you’ll burn 24 hours after the session and your heart rate.

Is Orangetheory worth it?

It’s a great alternative to the gym, so it’s easy to see why this fitness trend made the leap across the Atlantic to the UK.

What else do you need to know about Orangetheory?

Orangetheory classes take place at David Lloyd studios in Aldgate, Enfield, Islington and Winchester. More info on Orangetheory is available from davidlloyd.co.uk.

Aerial Fitness

Aerial Hoop Fitness

What is Aerial Fitness?

It’s a gymnastics-based workout, only it can be done on a trapeze, an aerial hoop or on silks.

Who’s Aerial Fitness for?

A confident (and flexible) individual whose aim is to improve their skill set as well as their fitness. That said, though beginners are properly instructed during their first sessions, this is a bit intense for an exercise newbie. Not for anyone with a fear of heights or fear of falling.

What does Aerial Fitness work?

It’s dependent on which apparatus you’re working with, but we took an aerial hoop class, and definitely felt the burn in our arms and abs, because that’s what you use to pull yourself up on the hoop. After a few sessions, don’t be surprised if you’ve suddenly developed your upper body strength and have more-defined, toned arms. Posture, balance and flexibility will also be improved.

How do you feel during Aerial Fitness?

For someone who isn’t just learning the basics, after a warm up (on the ground), you’ll be working through a series of poses and positions on the hoop. A beginner might feel a bit nervous to begin with, after all, this is no walk in the park.

How do you feel after Aerial Fitness?

It’s rewarding, and it’s clear to see that those who dedicated a certain amount of time to aerial fitness reap the results.

Is Aerial Fitness worth it?

It really depends on your goals – if you’re looking for something fun and easy to replace drawn out gym sessions, this might be too technical and complicated for you. If you’re already in prime shape, have an interest in gymnastics or are looking for a new fitness adventure, then this will be right up your street.

What else do you need to know about Aerial Fitness?

One class costs £22, and is available in London in Battersea, Farringdon, Old Street and Wimbledon. Visit www.flyingfantastic.co.uk for more info.

Pulse

What is Pulse?

A workout in a dark room, with a bunch of strangers, a fitness instructor and some glow sticks – and of course, some dancing.

Who’s Pulse for?

Groups of friends. The class we attended was mostly filled with groups of female friends looking for something different from the norm. Though you’ll be welcomed if you attend on your own, the fun aspect of the workout is definitely amplified in the presence of familiar faces.

What does Pulse work?

If you give it your all, everywhere!

How do you feel during Pulse?

After a few tracks, you’ll start to sweat, and understand why the class is such great cardio. Some of the moves were a little bit repetitive, and as someone attending the class solo, some of the more fun elements of the class were lacking.

How do you feel after Pulse?

Unless you really push yourself and fully get into the swing of it, you’ll feel like you’ve done a moderately taxing workout. Give it all you’ve got, and you’ll be ready for a long nap.

Is Pulse worth it?

It’s certainly an unusual and fun way to workout with friends at the weekend.

What else do you need to know about Pulse?

Pulse powered by Clubbercise is available at Virgin Active locations across the UK. For more info, visit www.virginactive.co.uk/classes/pulse.

Psycle

Psycle

What is Psycle?

2015’s ultimate fitness craze given a glamorous 2016 makeover – the ultimate arch-rival of any woman who hates spinning.

Who’s Psycle for?

The woman with a no-nonsense approach to keeping fit, and for someone who wants to workout in style.

What does Psycle work?

Everything from your head to your toes gets some attention – though obviously there will be some focus on your thighs, calves and glutes – given that you are on a bike. Small weights used during the sessions also pay attention to your back and upper body.

How do you feel during Psycle?

A bit clumsy if you’re not properly acquainted with Psycle’s way of doing things – how your shoes clip onto the bike to avoid any accidents, and how to turn the intensity levels of the bike up and down. Once you’ve got into the swing of things, this high-intensity workout will leave you sweating. Luckily, there are plenty of towels lying around.

How do you feel after Psycle?

How you should after any good workout – a bit red, a bit sweaty, but most importantly, accomplished. It’s addictive – in part thanks to the undeniably motivational instructors. You’ll wish they were around to shout encouragement in every aspect of your life.

Is Psycle worth it?

100% yes!

What else do you need to know about Psycle?

10 classes cost £180. Pyscle is available in London, in Canary Wharf and Oxford Circus. Visit www.psyclelondon.com for more info.

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