Priced out of the London fitness scene?
There’s absolutely no doubt that the UK is experiencing a fitness boom, and Londoners are trailblazing by going mad for clean eating, skin tight yoga pants and independent studios. But all of this comes at a cost.
When I first started exercising a few years ago, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to lace up my trainers and get out there. Gosh, that realisation that it’s completely free to run the streets at any time I want really spurred me on. Of course, lots of people keep fit by mixing up their cardio with resistance, and I too felt the lure of a gym membership to compliment my pavement pounding. And where some of us find knocking around a gym clutching our little programme slightly soul destroying, taking a class can be more motivating and doesn’t usually require a commitment to a pricey membership. PAYG classes have kicked off and independent studios have sprouted up all over London – it feels like there’s a new yoga or spinning studio popping up in an already crowded corner of London every week now, although I'm not complaining. But with the average price of one of these classes coming in up to £30, have we all gone completely bananas and lost sight of what’s a reasonable amount to pay to workout?
I mentioned to my Buckinghamshire residing sister recently that I thought the cost of your average London spin class was about £20 (at a guess) and her jaw hit the floor. She’s busy working out for a couple of quid with lots of other new mummies and their buggies, and doing Joe Wicks DVDs, and I’m paying ten times that for 45 minutes worth of exercise. But what else am I getting for that money?
Swanky Instagram friendly aesthetics aside, London fitness studios are becoming a one-stop shop for your perfect Saturday. Take the cool, mouthy, self-proclaimed ‘King of Gyms’ studio 1Rebel as an example – as well as rocking up for your scheduled class, you also get use of towels thrown in (for me, this is invaluable – I absolutely do not want to lug a wet towel around with me all day and I'm happy to pay for the privilege), including a nice cold one for your really sweaty face post workout; and access to any toiletries you could so desire, even cleanser and toner. That’s lightened up your gym bag considerably. You can also iron your crumpled shirt, get yourself a post sweat shake or juice (obviously this is extra £££ unless you’re doing a lunchtime class which is shorter) and really push the boat out with a blow dry or hair braid from the in-house beauty team.
Many of my friends are avid Class-Passers (we even have a whatsapp group about it, yo), having joined the US start up which lets you book up to 10 London classes in a month for up to £105 (among other packages). Although still super expensive compared to a run of the mill gym membership at even the swankiest and most central gyms (not to mention any gym membership outside of London obvs), you don’t have to be a mathematician to realise that’s a big saving for PAYG class addicts. I can’t help but wonder if Class Pass is too good to be true, and it doesn’t surprise me that it stings members with penalties if they cancel a class less than 12 hours before, or if they no-show. It will be interesting to see where this company goes.
So what’s the future for London fitness bunnies? Is the hefty price tag and luxe studio bubble going to burst when more and more Londoners find they can no longer afford to workout? Here’s some ways you can get exercise in the Capital without giving the bank manager a call, 'cause we're also spoilt for free stuff too you know:
- Join a run club. We’re so incredibly lucky in London to have so much choice for running clubs and most of them are completely free! The biggest (and my favourites) are Nike Running Club (“Who are we, NRC!”, say it with me!) and Adidas Runners, where as well as the regular social runs, you can also have the chance to run on track, take part in interval sessions and even meet GB athletes. There are plenty of other great and smaller ones about.
- Go parkrun! It’s a free 5km run every Saturday morning for nutters that are up and about by 9am, all around the world. I had my first experience of parkrun recently and loved it.
- Join a ‘budget’ gym. No you probably won’t get hair straighteners in the changing room or be able to grab a protein shake on the go, but you’ll be able to go every day a month for practically the same cost as a single class elsewhere. Pure Gym and Fitness 4 Less are great budget gyms starting from around £16 a month depending on location.
- Go to some free classes in your favourite shop! Nike, Lululemon and Sweaty Betty all offer a wealth of in-store workouts, and other events, for free. Just don’t be tempted by those snazzy leggings whilst you’re there which might defeat the point somewhat. Just head to their websites for more info.
- Try Our Parks which is an amazing and underrated free initiative using London parks to workout.
Have you got any tips for working out in London on a budget? Know any studios which are keeping costs lower than others?