Gym brands are spending millions on interior design, facilities, music and mood to impress us and keep us coming back. These days it’s all about creating a club atmosphere, making you look and feel fantastic. Where you train is a lifestyle choice.
In and around the City, you have your pick of the bunch, from the high-end brand-within-a-brand Virgin Active Classic Collection – spas, free coffee, ironing service, phone chargers, robes and slippers (virginactive.co.uk) – to the urban jungle of 1rebel, living up to its name with its sassy vibe and a cocktail bar (1rebel.co.uk). No two clubs are the same any more. Whether you’re looking for home gym inspiration or a gym that looks as hot as you do, here are three of the most design-savvy.
The vibe: Third Space has recently invested £3.5m at its Tower Bridge gym and £6m at Canary Wharf, Europe’s largest luxury gym. Sparcstudio was commissioned for both upgrades, and has worked the wow factor into the walk-through. Lighting is mood enhancing, and artworks change with the seasons. Tower Bridge draws you into a cocoon of brushed copper detailing, end-grain oak panelling, soft lighting and chevron timber floors. A hot yoga studio lined with juniper wood is one of seven workout zones plus pool and spa. Changing rooms have spacious showers, huge fluffy towels, Cowshed products, GHD straighteners and vanity boxes. As Beverley Bayes, director at Sparcstudio, says: “It’s a luxury club rather than a gym.”
Cost: Joining fee from £50; monthly memberships from £130; corporate discounts available
Where: Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Soho, Marylebone, with Islington coming 2018; thirdspace.london
The vibe: If nightclubs are closing and music tribes are a thing of the past, then Gymbox could be the future. In 2003, Gymbox hired the architectural legends behind the world-famous Hacienda nightclub in Manchester and turned its car park in Holborn into a place where “working out felt like going out and exercise was hot and sweaty fun.” The motto here is “inspire, excite, energise, ignite”. All the clubs’ architectural/interior design is by Patrick McKinney of A Modern Practice. Farringdon opened in November – a vast underground space, McKinney’s look utilises concrete and corrugated iron together with mood lighting, and places the functional training space at its core.
Cost: From £72 per month, joining fee from £30, with corporate memberships from £61 per month.
Where: Bank, Covent Garden, Farringdon, Holborn, Old Street, Victoria, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford; gymbox.com
The vibe: Buzz words are “friendly” and “approachable”. Frame was founded in 2009 by two friends, Pip Black and Joan Murphy, as the kind of place they would like to exercise, hang out, meet, eat, chat and shop. They might not have the corporate millions, but still recognise how interior design adds to wellbeing. They have chosen colour to inject life and personality “so it’s not too stark and soulless,” says Black. “Seating layout, smiling staff and great music can all help towards creating this atmosphere,” she continues. House of Hackney wallpaper in Frame Kings Cross is just one way of invoking a sense of homeliness and joy.
Cost: Pay as you go from £9 per class; discounts and packages available; full membership (£199 per month) includes Reformer Pilates and HIIT PT; half membership (£110 per month) excludes these.
Where: Shoreditch, Queen’s Park, Victoria, Kings Cross, Kings Cross Yoga; moveyourframe.com