Go outdoors with the best al fresco fitness classes in London

Get out of that basement gym and head outside for some open-air London fitness
London's best outdoor summer fitness

The sun is shining, it's gloriously warm and you're off to work out in a dark windowless room. Not the ideal combo, to be honest. No matter how advanced your gym's air-con system, there's nothing quite like getting your sweat on out in nature. The obvious al fresco training choice is running or cycling, and while Londoners are spoiled for choice in the routes they can take for either of those, there is also an abundance of more novel workouts available.

Whether you're a yogi, swimmer or circuits fan, there are outdoor fitness classes for you that make the most of London's rooftops, parks and open water spaces. If you would prefer something more on the adventurous side, try a calisthenics session (the gymnastics kind, not just the basic bodyweight moves), escape back to your childhood with organised playground games or even try out the flying trapeze.

Intrigued? You should be! Have a browse through and find your ideal outdoor sweat session, with not a treadmill or weights room in sight.

Rabble

Best outdoor fitness classes in London

While most of us are haunted by the memory of school PE lessons (hockey in shorts in minus temps, anyone?), playground games are quite a different situation. Nothing quite beats the glory of ploughing your way to victory in a game of British Bulldog, and that's exactly what Rabble looks to capture.

With over 50 locations worldwide and 10 in London, Rabble gathers likeminded teams together to play school ground classics such as British Bulldog, Dodgeball and Capture the Flag. The stop-start intervals that are naturally involved in the games create fun, competitive HIIT workouts that help improve your co-ordination, speed and endurance.

It's relatively flexible in terms of intensity, so you can give yourself a beasting if you're feeling competitive or take it easier if you're not 100% or brand new to fitness. With games taking place in all corners of London, you'll be sure to have one in easy travelling distance.

Where: Acton Park, Blackheath Common, Clapham Common, Finsbury Park, Hyde Park, Kennington Park, Shoreditch Allen Gardens, Shoreditch Park, Spa Fields Park, Streatham Common

Price: £14 per class. First timers can take advantage of a joining offer of £19.50 for three sessions.

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Swim for Tri

Run by competitive swimmers and siblings Dan and Keeley Bullock, Swim for Tri is a swim coaching team dedicated to helping triathletes conquer their swim section (as well as teaching intros to front crawl/freestyle and coach for long-distance swims).

Each summer, they take to the Serpentine in Hyde Park to train people up outside the constraints of pools ready to take on their events. Running on Mondays, they offer fitness sessions for experienced swimmers which will see you take on tempo and speed intervals, and skills sessions for newer swimmers to teach open water technique.

At 90 minutes, they provide a great opportunity to fine tune your stroke and gain confidence in open water, which often takes some adapting to if you're used to pool swimming. Friendly coaches and the Serpentine's stunning surroundings make this the perfect way to introduce yourself to the world of open water swimming.

Where: Hyde Park

Price: £25 for a single session (£30 on the day), £60 for three sessions or £96 for six.

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Be Military Fit

Best outdoor fitness classes in London

Be Military Fit launched a whole 20 years ago back in 1999 and has been bringing military-style training to the public ever since. Now endorsed by none other than outdoor survival pro Bear Grylls, BMF leads workouts in five parks across London.

Their classic Military Fit class is a 60-minute blast of military-style drills, sprints and bodyweight exercises. The group setting is supportive and packed with camaraderie, so newcomers need not be intimidated – plus different levels are provided for beginners, intermediate and advanced participants.

More recently, BMF has launched Crossrun, a 60-minute running-based workout which begins with a short warm-up followed by a run interspersed with plyometric bodyweight moves for a real heart rate challenge. If this all sounds a bit extreme, don't worry – they also offer Active classes, which use bodyweight moves, stretching and power bands to improve posture and help prevent injury, ideal for those who are new or returning to fitness.

When: Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Hampstead Heath, Hyde Park, Shoreditch Park

Price: £40 a month for 1 session per week, £54 a month for unlimited sessions or £130 for 10 class credits.

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WakeUp Docklands

If you're an adventurous type, WakeUp Docklands has the ideal training workout sessions for you. They offer both wakeboarding and stand-up paddleboarding classes, which are suitable for absolute beginners as well as experienced water sports fans. Wakeboarders will be able to practise and learn the ropes thanks to the company's cable system, which means your movement can be guided by an experienced instructor as you get used to the water. If you're already experienced, you can try out their advanced course which features a series of obstacles for you to hone your air tricks on. If you fancy something a bit more chilled, try stand-up paddleboarding to test your balance and upper body strength as you steer yourself around the dock.

Where: Royal Victoria

Price: £35 for an introduction to paddleboarding experience or one-hour wakeboarding session (you'll need to hire a wetsuit at £5 per session)

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Midnight Runners

Best outdoor fitness classes in London

So, we said we were talking about workouts that didn't involve running, but Midnight Runners is far from your standard jog around the park. Their weekly 10K Boot Camp Run begins in St Paul's and will see you travel down the Embankment, over Westminster Bridge along the South Bank then back over Tower Bridge along to finish.

Instead of having set pace groups, people take the run at their own speed and faster runners stop five times for bodyweight workout breaks while those behind them catch up. The sessions run no matter what the weather, so you can try them out on long, warm summer evenings or go hardcore in the depths of winter.

The Midnight Runners are a friendly bunch, so you're sure to find a running buddy (or five) along the way. Just remember to brace your quads for their Bring Sally Up squats challenge.

Where: St Paul's

Price: Free – sign up via the myCrew app

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Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze

You've probably spotted the giant flying trapeze set-ups in Regents Park and Kensington Gardens – they're hard to miss. And yes, it looks slightly terrifying, but don't panic – learning the flying trapeze with these circus pros is in fact fun, exhilarating and incredibly safe.

After learning the basics on a static low bar (such as how to change from hanging by your hands to hanging by your knees) you'll go up onto the trapeze platform and attempt it in the air, with the support of a harness and a massive safety net underneath you. Once you've got the hang of that, you'll be able to attempt a full catch – that's practising your swing and hang from the trapeze bar, then reaching out to a member of their staff who'll catch you from the other one.

Their Level 1 classes are suitable for total beginners, while Level 2 and 3 are for those who've successfully completed a number of catches before – check in with the staff to see where you're best placed, and prepare to embrace circus life!

Where: Kensington Gardens, Regents Park

Price: £25-30 for a Level 1 class, £28 for a Level 2 class and £26 for a Level 3 class

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Strong Island

Based at the Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf, Strong Island is playing host to a whole squad of different workouts this summer. Events are announced just a few weeks in advance – at the moment, you can grab a class with House of Voga, which blends yoga practice with catwalk moves, or learn routines with At Your Beat, the UK's most inclusive dance company.

Previous hosts have included Revolution Ride spin and Naked – which, despite the name, doesn't involve taking off any clothes, and is a bodyweight exercise philosophy from Carli Wheatley and Emma Louise Burrows. Keep your eyes peeled for what they have coming up next at this stunning venue.

Where: Canary Wharf

Price: Varies per class, check the website

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Yogarise

Take your training outdoors with the best al fresco fitness classes in London

Set in Peckham's Bussey Building, Yogarise makes the most of the summer months by taking selected classes up to the building's rooftop terrace. With views out across the City of London and the Shard, mats are spread out over the astroturf floor for a true al fresco vibe as you move through a full body yoga flow.

The classes are weather-dependent, so if it chucks it down you don't have to worry about doing a surprise aqua yoga class – your credit will be refunded and you can rebook. When you're done, head out to relax on Peckham Rye and maybe head back up to the terrace later on, when it'll be taken over by the Rooftop Film Club.

Where: Peckham

Price: Drop in classes start at £14

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