The rise and rise of the super gym: ­­­­how to work out in style

Laura Williams
I remember a time when “posh gym membership” meant you were given a towel on arrival. Nothing so modest nowadays. We’ve moved on to scuba diving in your lunch hour, technology that allows you to measure and track every heartbeat and swim stroke, both in and out of the club, and chilled eucalyptus towels on the gym floor. Welcome to the super gym.

Diane Kay, director of sales and marketing at the Reebok Club in Canary Wharf says: “Super gyms have something special. Often independently owned and operated, they try harder to provide an outstanding service to their members, investing heavily in their facilities and keeping their clubs spotlessly clean and well maintained, with bang up to date equipment.”

They are also innovative and imaginative with their programming. Equinox, the US sports club, has recently opened its first international gym in West London, below the Kensington Roof Gardens. The Equinox philosophy is: “It’s not just fitness, it’s life” (although I’m not entirely sure what that means). Equinox claims it is not merely a fitness club, but “a temple of wellbeing”. Again, not entirely sure what this means but I’d love to try one of their 24-carat gold facials to try and get a better understanding.

So, I wonder, is the City worker a target for the super gym? “Yes”, Kay says: “The City life is time poor and fast paced. Super gyms provide an outstanding range of facilities that allow members to get in and out and enjoy their workout in time to get back to their desks. Waiting for machines is not an option.” Cutting edge technology helps too: clubs that offer the latest equipment and class trends are well received by the competitive high achiever. Elliott Lyons, general manager at the newly opened Virgin Active Classic Health Club at 200 Aldersgate says: “Our new club raises the bar for a modern day health club. We wanted to take our Classic brand and push the boundaries to provide something even better for our members with our new concept club. Everything from the layout of the club, the group exercise timetable and the concierge service has put the member first.”

So which of these Disneylands-with-dumbbells to go for, for your New Year body blitz? Here are my top three the city has to offer:

WHO: Reebok Sports Club
WHERE: Canary Wharf, E14

WOW FACTOR: At 100,000 sq ft, the Reebok Sports Club is the largest gym in the UK. Reebok offers an indoor golf facility, a 13m indoor climbing wall, scuba diving lessons and is the only club in the UK to offer Jukari Fit to Fly (Cirque du Soleil workout).

Cost: From £102 per month; £40 membership admin fee

Contact: Tel: 020 7970 0900

WHO: Virgin Active Classic Health Club
WHERE: 200 Aldersgate, EC1A

WOW FACTOR: Cutting edge equipment and the very latest technology is top of the list on Virgin Active’s newest London club. The club offers MYZONE and Swimtag, technology that allows members to store details of heart rate and swim stroke online, while the gym floor is home to state-of-the-art core kit, Core-Tex and the Freedom Climber (a rotating climbing wall that provides a challenging workout minus the need for ropes, harnesses and helmets).

Cost: From £110 per month

Contact: Tel: 0845 270 9119

WHO: Equinox
WHERE: 99 Kensington High Street, W8

WOW FACTOR: With a US clientele that includes the likes of Kanye West and Cameron Diaz, Equinox was always going to appeal to those lusting after the A-List experience. Locker rooms come equipped with Kiehl’s products while the club’s Green Initiative means you’re breathing purified air and drinking ultra filtered water. And if you break a sweat during your Barre Burn class, you can wipe your brow with a chilled eucalyptus towel.

Cost: £180 per month; £500 joining fee

Contact: Tel: 0207 666 6000