My Top 5 Places of 2015

I signed up for Pay as u Gym (PAYG) in May 2015. Before then I went to the same grotty gym in Holloway and did variations of the same exercises and stood in line behind the same people in the weights room, subdued by the smell of sweat and excess testosterone. Eight months of using PAYG, which gives me access to a multitude of gyms, classes and swimming pools has not only improved my fitness, it has also broadened my knowledge of London – being a wanderer by trade.

So to start the year, I thought I’d list my Top 5 favourite places, which I try to visit as much as my PAYG membership allows.

Best Swimming Pool and Sauna: The landmark

This has to be at The Landmark Spa and Health Club, which is opposite Marylebone station. The pool is 15m long and 1.35m deep – perfect for a beginner like me who doesn’t want the extra test of a deep end. It is also chlorine free and heated to a comfortable level. The Landmark excels because of its customer service and added value with robes, decent towels, free fruit and juices and newspapers and magazines. Designed more for those wanting to relax, the venue also has a good jacuzzi and sanarium (like a sauna but less hot). There is also a compact and well stocked gym, but that isn’t the reason why you’ll go there. There is a steam room in the changing area, which is clean and well maintained.

PAYG Unlimited Membership Limit: 1 visit per month

Best Spinning Studio: cyclebeat

Built in a converted pub down a side street near Monument station, Cyclebeat is so serious about cycling, it only uses the word ‘spinning’ in parenthesis. You can read my full review of the venue. In short they use the best bikes, add a level of competitiveness by having all bikes connected to a leaderboard, and use experienced instructors who ride during the class. One thing that I didn’t focus on in my review was the music – some of the instructors put together great playlists to cycle to – it makes a big difference when you have to step it up a gear or two.

PAYG Unlimited Membership Limit: 3 visits per month

Best Personal Trainer Studio: More Fit Cannon Street

I never knew personal trainer gyms existed before PAYG (I know I’m sounding quite evangelical – run with it). Essentially they offer individual or small group sessions that are taught by qualified personal trainers, so you get the benefits of following a workout by someone who knows what they are doing, but not at the cost. There are several PT gyms accessible through PAYG. My favourite is More Fit Cannon Street. I’ve already reviewed the venue, but will add that the reasons why I like to go there are firstly because the staff there are friendly and knowledgeable, secondly because each workout feels complete.

PAYG Unlimited Membership Limit: 3 visits per month

Best Luxury Studio: Core Collective

For the kind of glamour exhibited in the photograph above, I would recommend Core Collective, which is near High Street Kensington Station. I wish I was joking but several of the trainers there are actual models, having a post-class coffee in the cafe area feels like walking into an episode of Made in Chelsea. But obviously that’s not why I go there. Obviously. I go there for the towels, because without a doubt Core Collective has the best towels of any place I’ve visited on my membership. Weirdly they also have a penchant for playing explicit gangsta rap in the changing rooms, but I’m sure that’s just a phase they’re going through. The venue has four studios, one for spin, TRX, circuit training and yoga. I started in the circuit studio but am now devoted to doing TRX there, as there are few venues that offer dedicated classes. Come for the class, stay for a coffee, roll around in deep shag towels when no one else is in the changing room.

PAYG Unlimited Membership Limit: 3 visits per month

Best workout that you will never be able to forget: Exerceo Training

Another place worthy of a review last year, Exerceo Training is one of the few venues in London where you can try electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). You wear a vest and shorts that are full of electrodes that pulse electricity through you as you do a workout. Sounds crazy. Is crazy. And effective. The workout is only 20 minutes but its effects will last for a few days, as the electricity stimulates the muscles far deeper than simply lifting weights or doing functional fitness exercises. When you talk about it, people think you’re crazy – it’s definitely one of those things that you only understand once you’ve done it. Exercise is meant to test the limits of your body, especially if you are trying to achieve a specific goal. Nothing will challenge you more than working out here. You won’t forget it.

PAYG Unlimited Membership Limit: 1 visit per month (though theoretically 3 visits per month if you go to their other two locations at Goodge Street and Parsons Green)

That’s all folks

Well that’s my top five. This year I’m determined to exercise one day, rest the next. I will be trying a wider variety of places, so watch this space.

If you’d like to try Pay as u Gym and receive 50% off your first visit, please use this link, which will also give me a discount on my membership.