Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tough It out; Fitness from Blackout HIIT to Hip-Hop Hot Yoga, a New Generation of Classes Is Taking It to Extremes, Says Phoebe Luckhurst

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tough It out; Fitness from Blackout HIIT to Hip-Hop Hot Yoga, a New Generation of Classes Is Taking It to Extremes, Says Phoebe Luckhurst

Article excerpt

EXERCISE is regularly described in terms of torture. Usually, this is hyperbolic not to mention glib but the point remains: there are some classes that make you feel so physically unpleasant that it seems like a punishment, albeit one you volunteered for and spent PS18 on.

However, these classes are veritable spa treatments compared to the latest iteration of London's fitness scene. Extreme-conditions classes are taking over timetables and if a regular yoga class doesn't make your abs quiver, one conducted at 35 degrees certainly will.

Indeed, this is one of the offerings: One LDN a boutique gym with studios in Tower Hill and Chelsea is offering an exhausting hip-hop yoga class, with the heat turned up to 35 degrees. Granted, Bikram goes hotter but this one is pitched at beginners; moreover, it's Vinyasa, the soundtrack is hip hop, and it takes place in the dark.

That's a lot to compute; to comprehend it, I trial a class. Within minutes of setting up I am slick with sweat, which pools on the mat's surface. The arm on which I am propped is quivering so violently I fear it might collapse beneath me. Frankly, I usually consider yoga a pretty sedentary workout the conditions here mean it's quite the opposite.

"We wanted to provide a yoga experience that provided the workout quality of a cardio class," explains Jamal Kurdi, the trainer who devised the concept and leads my class. "One that would make you sweat, really work your muscles and give you a good workout." That it does. Unlike regular yoga classes, this one is, as Kurdi emphasises, "perfect for cardio junkies who love a highenergy, result-driven workout". And the reasoning for the heat, which is provided by infrared sensors in the studios? To "provide a better cardiovascular exercise and deliver a high-calorie burn, while maximising flexibility". Certainly, I am exhausted afterwards, and I sink two 500ml bottles of water before I can make it to the showers.

Meanwhile, Gymbox's hero offering for autumn is Blackout: participants put blindfolds on before they start performing functional training moves (such as squat thrusts holding medicine balls). …

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