The City is bursting with different ways of getting you back in shape – and most of these activities can be enjoyed in your lunch break
1. Take intensive bursts of exercise
LAX St Botolph’s, the City’s largest gym, opens today with a fitness programme specifically aimed at reflecting the lives of busy City workers, who want a gym stocked with top-of-the-range facilities, but have limited time before, during and after work.
It runs up to eight fast classes a day on the gym floor lasting 20 minutes, working on one specific area, from abs, legs and core to mini spin sessions. So you can get there, work up a sweat, shower, grab a bite to eat and be back in the office by the time your lunch hour is up.
LAX also has touch screens built into the walls that devise a personal fitness regime for you so you don’t have to schedule an appointment with trainers or fitness consultants. With over 150 studio, group cycling and gym classes a week, there are plenty of chances to work out after and before work.
It even has the changing part down – you’re handed a towel and toiletries on the way in so you don’t have to carry them to work and you can rent a locker for £30 a month so you can leave your gym clothes there.
LAX St Botolph’s can be found at The St Botolph Building, 141 Houndsditch, EC3A 7AG. Call 020 7337 3400 or log on to lax.co.uk.
2. Fly your way to fitness
If you’ve always fantasised about flying or you’re looking for a fitness class with a touch of the exotic about it, then sign up to Flying Fantastic.
The idea is that you pull yourself up on long sashes hanging from the ceiling and tangle yourself into a variety of positions that stretch your muscles and work your core to the… core. And if you thought there was only so much you could do with two lengths of sash, you’re wrong.
Turns out, there are loads of things, such as aerial yoga in which you use a low-hanging sling to hold positions; aerial slings, using wider sashes rigged to the ceiling that are easier for beginners; aerial pilates, focusing on posture, improved alignment and core stability; aerial silks, which teaches you all the twisty tricks nornally reserved for the Cirque du Soleil; and aerial hoops, which present more of a challenge once you’ve master the sashes.
Flying Fantastic runs classes from Gymbox in Farringdon at 20 Farringdon Road, EC1M 3AP. Call 0845 241 5220 for prices and availability.
3. Go for a refreshing dip in the pool
Swimming is gentle exercise yet it works practically every muscle in your body.
If you want to feel refreshed after your lunch hour – and, crucially, not completely exhausted – then going for a dip in the pool might be for you.
Most of the swimming pools in central London belong to gyms but, if you don’t want to become a member to just to go for a dip, or you’re not sure if you want to commit yourself long-term, hop along to the Ironmonger Row Baths near Old Street station.
This Grade-II listed 1930s Turkish bath has a rustic charm. It’s one of the few public baths left in the capital and the public laundry is still there with its traditional iron presses.
The 30-metre pool is accompanied by a smaller teaching pool next to wooden spectator benches.
Ironmonger Row Baths also boasts a steam room, three hot rooms, an icy plunge pool, relaxation area, body scrubs and massages on marble slabs.
Ironmonger Row Baths can be found at 1 Norman Street, EC1V 3AA. Adult non-members can swim from £4.40. Call 020 3642 5520 or visit better.org.uk/leisure/ironmonger-row-baths.
4. Don’t talk about fight club
Has the printer been playing up all day? Take some of that workplace aggression out at The Real Fight Club in Shoreditch.
It claims to be the pioneer of white collar boxing in the UK, with club founder Alan Lacey introducing it this side of the Atlantic in 2000.
It specialises in organising various events and fundraisers, including its “hero for six minutes” bouts and celebrity matches, which have involved Bob Mortimer and Princes William and Harry.
Visit The Real Fight Club at 89 Worship Street, EC2A 2BF, call 020 7392 2633 or log on to therealfightclub.com.
5. Have a fling with swing
Get your dancing shoes on and learn how to really move by heading down to The Princess Alice pub for a spot of Swing Dancing after work.
No partner or experience is required – beginners are encouraged to go along at 7pm and just give it a go. Intermediate swingers turn up an hour later, then at 9pm, the advanced rock steppers arrive to show everyone how it’s done.
At only £8 entry, this is definitely one of the cheaper ways to get fit and you can impress the opposite sex with your 1940s swagger. Swing Patrol runs the classes from a number of locations but the pub in Spitalfields is closest to the City and it has an informal feel about it, too.
Swing Patrol nights are held every Wednesday at the Princess Alice pub at 45 Commercial Street, E1 6LP. Call 020 3151 1750 or email email@example.com to find out more.
6. Get personally trained
No 1 Studio Training is a personal training gym that specialises in body transformation. If you’re a member of a gym but don’t really know what to do or which machines to use, book yourself in with a personal trainer here.
Owners Ben Camara and Harry Thomas are knowledgeable, friendly and have a proven record when it comes to dramatic body transformations – Ben was named Personal Trainer of the Year by Men’s Health magazine for changing an out of shape City worker into a lean, mean adonis. City A.M. journalist Alex Dymoke is a third of the way through his transformation and is already seeing great results.
If you’re looking for something a little less intense than a one-on-one, you can try one of their “fitness slots” – a fitness slot is a maximum of four people in the studio with one personal trainer for 30 minutes.
They also offer the services of a qualified nutritionist to help you get the most out of your training routine.
They’ve got two studios, one in Tower Bridge and one on St Mary Axe next to the Gherkin, so if you work in the City you can easily get there in your lunch break.
Visit no1studiotraining.co.uk or call Tower Bridge studio on 0207 403 6660 or City studio on 0207 621 1312
7. Become a soldier in your lunch hour
If you’ve always harboured a desire to get fitter but you just can’t find the motivation to do it, then sign up to British Military Fitness.
Nothing should get you moving more than an ex-army man yelling at you to keep your knees up.
It runs over 130 outdoor classes around the country but the one based in the City is at the Honourable Artillery Company off City Road. Classes are 45 minutes long and aim to get you to burn 600 calories per session.
They also run during the week so you could get your boots on before work on Monday and Friday or report for duty on Tuesday lunch time.
Billed as a full body workout, your instructor will get your heart pumping and your muscles aching with a number of cardio routines and obstacle courses. This course tones down the army manoeuvres so the average Joe can join in without passing out during their lunch hour.
As the Honourable Artillery Company is still an operational Territorial Army Base, the group is sometimes forced to meet there and head to somewhere else in the City.
The sign up costs are clearly designed with commitment in mind as the course costs £45 a month or £37 for six months.
To find out more, call British Military Fitness on 020 7751 9742 or log on to britmilfit.com.
Cycle around the City
If running is too boring and weights are too macho, why not follow the likes of Froome and Wiggo and have a go at our new post-Olympics national sport.
There are plenty of cycling clubs dotted around London, with different places catering for a wide range of abilities.
If you’re just out of stabilisers, Rollapaluza (rollapaluza.cc) is an excellent choice for beginners, with qualified coaches specialising in all cycling disciplines from road to mountain biking.
For those who already know their way around a velodrome, there’s London Dynamo (londondynamo.co.uk). Join the club to spend your Saturday with other members riding laps around Richmond park. How do you know if you’re fit enough to join? Well, if a 28 mile ride sounds like a walk in the park then you’ll be at home at this advanced club.
Racing is all well and good, but for those looking for something a little less exhilarating, cycling is also a good way to meet new people. Central London CTC (centrallondonctc.org.uk) – the London incarnation of the Cyclists’ Touring Club national charity – emphasises the social aspect of the sport with leisurely excursions to the countryside.
Meet on Sunday at any Central London station, escape the city by train and ride to a pub for lunch. A different part of the countryside is chosen every week. A perfect way to keep fit, expand your social life and explore the country – all at the same time.
Or, if you just want to explore London, check the TFL website for an exhaustive list of routes.
Go for a run
These running routes are designed to get you a good cardio workout and back to the office within an hour. The beginners’ route, marked in yellow, is around 3.5 miles and should take around 35-40 minutes for someone fairly new to running. The pink route is 5.2 miles and will take a more experienced runner 45-50 minutes.