lifestyle

Harder, better, faster, stronger: how to get fit this season



And here we go again! The great office comeback is on pause (for now) and for most of us, it’s back to working — and working out — from that same well-worn square of carpet. This time, you’ve already got the Fiit login and finally sourced a set of dumbbells that isn’t sold out — so why does it all feel a little less exciting the second time round?

Mercifully, the change in season brings a welcome reset and, ignoring the darker evenings, autumn offers an abundance of options for mixing up your workout. For a start, gyms and yoga studios are now open for those who are keen and comfortable to get back to the socially distanced treadmill, and it may be getting cooler but you can still take your session to the park. Many of London’s top trainers are gearing up for a season of bootcamps crunching among the autumn leaves — the ultimate refresher after a day hunched over the kitchen table.

Virtual workouts are getting an October makeover, too. Peloton has expanded its offering to include yoga and barre, a new (cheaper) at-home spinning bike is hot on its heels and this month Apple announced it’s joining the home exercise brigade. Its live class offering, Apple Fitness+, pairs with your Apple Watch and should be out before the end of the year.


From boxing in Regent’s Park to gear for this weekend’s virtual London Marathon, this is your autumn fitness guide.

Sweat sessions

New season, new schedule. A study by ClassPass found lunchtime workouts have rocketed 67 per cent since lockdown started — a way to break up the day WFH. Yoga is also on the up. Digital yoga classes have jumped 25 per cent and now that newbies have perfected their downward dogs without an audience, studios have new recruits. The silver lining to social distancing in class? You get even more attention from your instructor, says Yoga West founder James Muthana, whose Acton studio is hosting Covid-secure classes for 15 or livestreamed workouts to follow at home. And it’s the same if you’re hitting the treadmill. Barry’s, which now has a shiny new studio in Soho, is running classes at 50 per cent of pre-lockdown capacity and has a new concept, Lift, designed to get you lifting heavier each week. There’s only 15 spaces per class so it’s the perfect way to get personalised feedback on your technique.

Elsewhere, Core Collective says its 70 per cent capacity cycle session is currently waitlisted every day, while Paddington boxing gym BXR is launching a performance workout for autumn: a heart-rate-monitored edition of its popular Versaclimber class focusing on endurance.

Down and dirty

This autumn it’s all about crunching through the leaves in more ways than one. The evenings might be drawing in but outdoor bootcamps are drawing larger crowds than ever. In Regent’s Park, PT Mossab Ahmed is hosting 20-person Hiit It bootcamps every Saturday while F45’s Tottenham Court Road studio is taking its full-body classes outdoors Monday to Saturday.

South of the river, trainers from Swift Fitness, One Element, New Motion and Train Dirty are all hosting post-work bootcamps on Clapham Common, while in Notting Hill, boutique gym Form Studios is taking members through outdoor Hiit classes in Powis Square next to the studio. Don’t let the rain put you off: David Lloyd trainer Alastair Crew says the club’s outdoor workout, Battlebox Hybrid, will go ahead whatever the weather.

Take your flow outside, too. Yoga on the Heath is an open-air beginners vinyasa yoga class on Hampstead Heath every Saturday — book in on Meetup to join the Whatsapp group — while Cake and Yoga Club founder Immy May is hosting sessions on Highbury Fields on October 11 and 18. Yoga will be followed by chai latte and cake so bring your mat, mug and cosy layers.

HIIT the living room (again)

(JaxJox)

It was all so novel the first time round- so what’s new for WFH 2.0? Quite a lot, it turns out. Apple has just announced a new streaming platform built around the Apple Watch and shareable with five family members for £8 a month. It’s due by the end of the year.

Fitness chain Psycle just launched a new At Home platform offering ride, barre, strength and yoga classes if you can’t get a slot in the studio; #ThisGirlCan has an app Her Spirit with daily classes; while Frame has added fun new rave and Nineties dance cardio classes to its platform to make up for shuttered nightclubs. Invest in some weighted Bala bangles and JaxJox’s smart kettlebell to burn while you boogie.

Autumn also brings a chance to get back to the barre. Peloton has now launched on-demand barre classes ranging from five to 30 minutes, while barre is among Classpass’s hot new range of online workouts, available for free for the first seven days. For something slower, Cake and Yoga Club’s new £12.99 monthly package gets you access to an archive of 50 virtual classes, live community workouts and curated Spotify playlists for your evening flow.

If you found a favourite trainer over lockdown, several of the pros are going solo. Ex-Barry’s master trainer Jay Copley now has his own fitness platform, JC Collective, with live dumbbell, bodyweight, meditation and mobility classes for £15 a month, while DJ and ex-Barry’s trainer Connor Minney is offering five days of 50-minute weight workouts and blistering full-body Zoom classes for £10 a week. He’s also launched a series of guide runs set to his favourite tunes.

On yer bike

No, not that bike — unless you’re one of the few still cycling into the office every day. If not, take it to the living room on one of Peloton’s newly unveiled Bike+ models, the first upgrade to the cult at-home spin bike raved about by David Beckham. The snazzy machine costs a steeper £2,295 (the original now costs £1,750) but offers a larger 24-inch screen that swivels so you can hop off your bike for mid-class mat exercises. Peloton’s new Bike Bootcamp classes rotate 15 minutes of bike cardio with 15-minute strength intervals on the floor.

(Apex)

If you can’t afford the hefty price tag, British designers have a more affordable solution: a spin-bike called Apex that lets you stream endorphin-inducing workouts created by Boom Cycle at 60 per cent of Peloton’s cost (bikes cost £1,200). There’s no built-in monitor — the interface is via your iPad or iPhone — but for £30 a month you can dial into live and 24/7 on-demand classes from Boom Cycle’s instructors. The app features real-time metrics, interactive leaderboards, challenges and reward schemes to push you harder at home.

Sweat smart

Missing your morning Joe Wicks? He might not be back for PE lessons (yet) but he does have a new podcast. Guests range from cyclist Mark Cavendish to presenter Fearne Cotton — the perfect booster to take you through the London Marathon’s virtual 26.2 this Sunday.

That’s not the only tech available to runners ahead of marathon day. Smart insole Nurvv Run launched in Selfridges on Friday, with 32 sensors inside each shoe to give you live real-time coaching via an app, while virtual running platform Zwift is launching an Academy Run programme next month. The eight-week bootcamp is led by US long-distance running coaches Terrence Mahon and Jen Rhines and is designed to help you become fitter and faster through the winter months.

Holborn start-up Let’s Do This is also matching runners with virtual events from 1k fun-runs to marathons. Enter your location, book your race and once you’ve crossed the finish line, send in a screenshot of your tracker with a selfie. More than 20 per cent of races are raising money for the NHS.



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