Whether you’re a permanent resident in London or just heading over for a visit, there’s plenty of fitness classes to choose from if you're looking to burn some calories or build muscle. Like most things in the capital though, you have to search through a lot of options if you want to get to the good stuff.
So we’ve tested out a lot of fitness classes in London. Some were bad, some were okay and some had us going back time and time again to get our training fix.
Here we pick the best from across the city. The criteria for being in the list are simple: classes need to be taught well, push people to develop and be designed to make it as enjoyable as it is taxing.
Each option offers classes on a minimal class basis, so you can try them all out without worrying about signing up to any long-term contracts. Although buying in bulk will often be a cheaper option, so check the individual websites.
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The slogan used by The Foundry is ‘Where the Strong Belong’, a sentiment that, having been there a few times, is right on the money. That’s not to say that you have to be a certain level of fitness to join, but it does give you an idea of the general theme behind each class. Whether you head over for its signature City Strongman class or opt for something less weights focused, you can bet it'll push you to try your hardest – which is what you want when you pay good money to get fit.
By far some of the best trainers, best class formats and heaviest weights (ever seen an atlas ball in a class before?) we’ve seen in London. There’s also a big focus on community and training together, which tends to help when you’re desperately pushing 100kg of weight across the floor.
Where: Old Street, Vauxhall, Bank
Price per class: £20
Following in the footsteps of Barry's Bootcamp, 1Rebel's Reshape class covers a similar format with each 45-minute session combining treadmill intervals with a mix of floor exercises. As well as sprints, big inclines and parachute running (pushing the stationary treadmill belt), expect floor exercises that hit the whole body.
That means you can pick and choose the specific areas you'd like to focus on. The class means you can partner up with a buddy, and switch every four minutes between a sweat-inducing treadmill burst and floor work, which mixes body weight exercises and weights. Think thrusters, bench press, dumbbell rows, deadlifts and Russian twists – and then back on the treadmill.
Check out our review of 1Rebel Reshape.
Where: Locations across London
Price per class: £22 PAYG
CIRQ is all about simplicity when it comes to working out, with classes focusing on either HIIT or strength. The latter option, called Lift, takes people through a 45-minute workout covering a series of strength-based stations.
On the walls are screens showing the exercise and the time you have left to do it before switching over to the next station. The format changes, so don't expect to know the workout before you turn up, but you're likely to be up against squats, thrusters, frog jumps and kettlebell swings – each focussing on slower controlled movements with a relatively heavy weight.
A great option if you're less concerned about burning calories and more about developing your strength.
Where: Fleet Street, London
Price per class: £19 PAYG
If you’re looking for a studio that ticks all of the boxes then UN1T is the place to go. Classes range from full-on HIIT to an impressive range of strength and conditioning sessions. Each day is themed so you know what you’re letting yourself in for, with classes focusing on strength, cardio or even compound lifting. They also update the exercises frequently, so the sessions never get boring.
One of the biggest plus points for UN1T is an underlying team aspect behind the majority of the sessions, with the workouts often making people work together or against each other to keep motivated throughout the session. Trust us – it works.
Where: London Bridge
Price per class: £20
Be Military Fit with Bear Grylls
In a world where new shiny fitness studios open up every week, it’s easy to forget about the ones that have been around for a while. There’s generally a good reason that they’ve existed for so long though – they tend to work. The BMF workout format has been developed over the past 20 years, taking place in over 140 parks across the country and offering one of the most cost-effective options for anyone looking for group training.
The workouts are styled on those used in the military, only without the associated tirade of shouty orders. They also break the group up into three fitness levels, so there’s no need to be worried about stepping into something you can’t handle.
Where: Locations across London
Price per class: From £40 for four sessions over a month
Originally a fitness concept set up in Australia, F45 is a studio brand that’s very quickly becoming one of the biggest in the UK. With over 1,300 locations across the world, 28 of those in London, classes cover a range of HIIT, circuit and functional training elements across a massive range of formats, all lasting 45 minutes. The F in the name stands for functional, in case you were wondering.
Classes are themed and mainly made up of cardio and resistance elements, moving people from exercise to exercise throughout the 45 minutes. If boxing is your thing then Brixton is a workout largely covering punching movements; if you’re looking for a resistance-based workout that overloads your muscles, book yourself into Red Diamond.
One of the nicest elements to F45 is the screens situated around the room showing you how to do the movements – because It’s easy to forget things when you’re covered in sweat and desperately clawing your way to the end of a burpee set.
Where: Locations across London
Price per class: Varies based on location, but around £25
A fitness studio guide in London wouldn't be complete without at least one CrossFit box and our favorite is CrossFit London by a long shot.
The two massive studios are nestled under the railway arches in Bethnal Green and offer one of the most impressive functional fitness spaces across the capital. Expect piles of kettlebells, meters upon meters of frames and all the wall balls you can chuck angrily across the room.
The real beauty of CrossFit London is not just the impressive facilities though. The training team are focussed on helping people to develop skills and technical form in a smart way instead of just pushing everyone to end up on the floor in a pile of sweat at the end of the class. So it's a great option regardless of what level you're starting at.
As well as the more conventional CrossFit sessions you can also cover specialized training like powerlifting and gymnastic skills.
Read our fitness diary guide on CrossFit London here.
Where: Bethnal Green
Price per session: £20
It's been a global HIIT – and thats what Barry's Bootcamp is all about. 50% on treadmill, with 50% floorwork – all inside the now legendary Red Room. Barry's is big on inclusion and the classes are absolutely huge, with instructors to guide you through each aspect.
While it's something of an all-body workout, you choose different classes to focus on specific areas of the body with arms and abs, abs and ass and all-body all part of the weekly mix.
Like so many on-trend classes that are sweeping the world fitness scene, the idea is that you shred fat faster if you perform the floor weight exercises with your heart rate elevated. With metabolic rates soaring, you should see results faster, although it's more about general leanness than making specific muscle gains.
Where: Five locations across London
Price per class: £22 per class – with big multi-class discounts.
If no-nonsense, no-excuse training is what you’re after, then Manor is one of the best that London has to offer. The fact that it’s set up and run by a team of former professional fighters and athletes should give you an idea as to what to expect from its four locations across the capital.
Its simple mantra is “Train, Fight, Recover to help build stronger bodies and fitter minds” a sentiment derived from its boxing roots. But although it has boxing at its heart, it’s not all about the ring, with classes covering everything from cardio and endurance to muscle growth and power. Expect tough trainers, tough workouts and a post-class sense of achievement that’ll make you feel like you’ve just won a fight.
Where: Victoria, Shoreditch, Vauxhall, Fitzrovia
Price per class: £19
As well as being known for some of London’s best spin classes, Digme’s Matrix series of studio workouts offer a refreshingly simple but smoothly devised place to train. Although there are classes focusing on running and core training, it’s the original Matrix class that we always head back for.
Incorporating TRX, bodyweight, kettlebells and an onslaught of SkillMill exercises, the 50-minute class is a full-on total body workout that’s designed to push you hard but stop you getting bored. The fact that each of the four London locations are some of the nicest designed fitness destinations you’re likely to find makes the whole experience feel like you’re getting bang for your buck.
Where: Richmond, Moorgate, Blackfriars, Fitzrovia
Price per session: £20
The Engine Room
The fact that it’s based inside a Grade 2 listed church in Central London makes The Engine Room stand out as a place to investigate. Let’s ignore that fact though and focus on the fitness side of things. As exercises go, indoor rowing has always been a fairly popular way to get fit, and rightly so, it’s one of the best ways to cover off cardio and upper body at the same time and it's low impact.
The run/floorwork format of group training has been floating about for years now, but it’s not often you see it done with rowing machines. Why? We don’t know, but after doing a class at The Engine Shed we’re big converts.
Set inside a space that looks like a scene from Blade Runner – complete with an enormous data screen covering off each rower – it’s an impressive place to train. The mix of sprints, endurance and floor exercises also makes the whole 50-minute session go by in a flash.
Price per session: £19
As far as beautifully designed fitness studios go, you’d be hard pressed to find another one as nice as Psycle. But it’s not all about looks, and luckily Psycle puts as much effort into its class planning as it does into aesthetics.
Aside from running yoga, spin and barre sessions, Psycle has developed a strength class focusing heavily on the science behind training; designed to boost metabolism and maximise the body’s hormonal response to exercise. We’re not sure if that actually happens, but we’ve left every class knowing that we’d done some pretty intense work. Classes range from high-intensity cardio to focusing heavily on strength.
Where:Shoreditch, Clapham, Canary Wharf, Westminster
Price per class: £22
If it’s a lively atmosphere you want, with trainers that have the energy of a toddler on Haribo, then Frame is the place to go. Think bright colours, a focus on making things fun and the sort of positive attitude you’d find in an Ibiza night club.
With over 1,100 classes a week across its six London destinations, there’s a lot to choose from with sessions titled 'Ass and Abs', '80s Aerobics' and 'Kylie Butt Lift' amongst the massive list of options. Don’t think it’ll all be fun through – there’s a fair bit of exercise hidden away in every class, you just might not notice.
Where: Locations across London
Price per class: £15
As in any major city, there’s a massive number of copycat fitness studios that work on the same principles. We’re not saying that you won’t get a good workout by going to them, but sometimes it’s nice to see somebody developing the idea a bit. Sweat It London are one of London’s newest contenders in the studio fitness stakes and we’re big fans.
As well as the usual treadmills lined up against walls of the studio (albeit some very fancy modern ones with exciting new functions), the studio is kitted out with a selection of apparatus that we haven’t seen in a lot of the classes we’ve trained at. Pull up bars, real barbells and a massive range of free weights – all in your own 'rig' area that’s actually surprisingly large. Classes cover different body areas and have a focus on compound exercises as well as checking good form. Well worth a visit if you’re serious about training and don’t just want to burn calories.
Price per class: £21
Victus Soul is another London studio that merges two workout styles into its classes. The options here are HIIT and Box – a 40 to 60-minute workout that combines boxing drills with various floor exercises, and HIIT and Run which, as you've probably guessed, uses treadmills sprints.
Although it wins no prizes for uniqueness, it's a workout concept that's tried and tested with Victus Soul offering one of the most chiseled versions of the popular format. The studio spaces are impressive to say the least and for anyone living or working close to the Aldgate studio, it's the best option in the area by a long shot.
Classes are broken down into short sections with participants moving between boxing or treadmills and HIIT workouts. The floor sessions are focussed on different areas of the body meaning you can choose workouts based on your goals or just head to a full-body session.
For us, Victus Soul is similar to what you'll find at Barry's Bootcamp, but with a more personal feel to the experience. For seasoned fitness folk, expect to get a well-devised workout that has everything you need to get a heavy sweat. If you're a beginner you'll have the ability to take control of the speed and weights to make sure you're working at a level that comfortbale for you.
Price per class: £21 (£14 off peak)
12x3's modus operandi is training with real boxers, so unlike studios where the boxing element is focused on burning calories through cardio, heading to a 12x3 class has a large element of training boxing skills.
That means that instead of aimlessly punching a bag to get your heart rate up you'll actually have trainers teaching you skills that real boxers use. The level of that boxing focus depends on the class you take on. At one end of the spectrum is Ring Craft, a class where you'll actually spar with other boxers and at the other end is Boxcon, a hybrid workout that switched between boxing drills with bags and pads, floor work using weights and some conditioning elements like assault bikes and skipping.
For beginners, or those just hoping to increase fitness Boxcon offers a tough and enjoyable way to get a full-body workout. Once you've got used to that you have the option to take your skills into one of the more advanced boxing classes, which adds an element of progression to training that you won't find at a general HIIT studio.
Where: Aldgate, Paddington
Price per class: £25