If you're into your fitness and you live in London there's no way you haven't heard of the Foundry. The company took on the city's fitness scene a few years ago against a deluge of fancy new studios and gyms. The simple mantra it launched with was "Where The Strong Belong" and this is the cornerstone concept that's taken the company from its original Vauxhall location to studios at Old Street and now Bank.
In the early days, the brand was synonymous with strongman training ‚Äď we're talking big weights, big sandbags and big atlas balls. That training style is still there, but it's just part of the range of class formats that the Foundry team offers to its members.
When it says "strong" it's not just talking about big weights, but the mental aspect of always turning up, always training hard and always coming back for more. It's a concept we've loved since day one and is why we still go whenever we get a chance.
We headed down to the Foundry's newest location in the City to take on the popular Combine class.
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The quick stats:
Location: Bank | Class length: 45 minutes | Calories burned: 390 | Main focus: Cardio, strength | Exercise examples: SkiErg, rowing machine, burpees, sled pull, d-ball throw | Difficulty: 4/5 | Muscles worked: All of them | Towels: Yes | Lockers: Keypad
What is it?
The idea behind the Combine class format is to put people into teams and then have them compete against the rest of the class across a series of mini workouts for points. Those smaller workout sections can include anything from assault bike, rowing, and SkiErg calories, to burpees, shuttle runs, d-ball throws and *gulp* a team sled push.
Within the group you rotate through a series of exercises amassing points through machine calories or reps, swapping around either on the timer or when a set number of movements have been completed. The result is a tirade of shouting, cheering and sweating as the team works together to hit the top of the big whiteboard.
Once the timer goes off to mark the end of the round your team gets a short break before it heads on to the next workout section. It's the fitness class equivalent of Gladiators, just with less lycra.
How good is it?
The new Bank venue is set up with a ridiculous amount of kit dotted around the room. Each exercise unit is positioned in a different area and, for the most part, includes a mix of cardio and strength-based elements. It's daunting, but it's impressive.
The team workout format is a style that has many benefits, especially when you throw in a competitive element. Not only does it prompt you to try harder so you don't let your team down, but it generally makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable, turning what can be a 45-minute slog to get fit into an engaging and fun sport. You get to know your teammates, you get some much needed support and you generally work harder than if you're on your own waiting for the timer to count down to zero.
The mix of exercises makes for a nicely varied session. You'll end up doing a lot of cardio, but because it's broken up into shorter sections it's significantly less noticeable ‚Äď well, unless you're the last person on the ski-erg and your whole team is shouting at you to pick up the pace.
If you've ever been to the Foundry you'll know that one of the main things that it's famous for is its trainers. The team is made up of carefully chosen athletes and fitness professionals that deliver some of the best-planned sessions across London. There's also a really nice community feel, not only from the people going, but from staff that always seem to enjoy planning and delivering each of the classes ‚Äď quite often they'll even join in on a class.
Who's it for?
If you're planning on heading to the Foundry, you're going to get a good workout, there's no escaping that. So if you're the kind of person that wants to hide away at the back of the class and do the bare minimum, you won't be able to here. The trainers at the Foundry want you to give as much as you've got and they'll know if you aren't putting the effort in.
But that doesn't mean it's a place for athletes. Every class we've been to is a mix of people of different levels. All of the exercises are scaled and there are different weights depending on what you can handle. Yes, you're going to work hard, but you'll do it at your own level. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or at elite level.
In a Combine class, the teams are completely varied as well. The idea is to help each other out and play to each other's strengths. There may be a competitive element but in reality, the fun aspect of the teamwork is the main thing. The mix of cardio and strength exercises also make it a great workout if you're looking for all-round fitness.
Individual pay-as-you-go sessions cost ¬£20 with various bulk offers. Monthly payment options start from ¬£149.
To find out more about the Foundry's Combine class, as well as the other workout options available (including 1 on 1 training sessions), click here.
The Foundry has three locations across London: Vauxhall, Old Street and Bank.