Skinny Rebel Workout: The Lowdown
FORMAT: Skinny Rebel Workout is a high intensity, full body, plyometric personal training workout that is absolutely brutal (our instructor’s words, not ours!) which will push you to your limit…AND you wear an altitude mask. Yep, you heard it right. Basically the guys at Train Dirty London wanted to add in the altitude masks (as if the workout wasn’t hard enough!) so you train with less oxygen in your body, with the apparent benefits being improvements in lung capacity, energy production, anaerobic threshold and mental attention. Wearing the masks also means you seriously focus on your breathing habits – no short sharp breaths when you are struggling and no holding your breath. I went along with my friend Vikki who is a super yogi so she was well versed in breathing techniques and dealt well with the mask.
LENGTH: Classes are 45 minutes and although there are breaks in between, there’s not much faffing about so no hiding.
HOW MANY PEOPLE: Between 1 - 4 people. I found attending in a pair a bit less intense (you get a teeny bit of a break when your buddy is doing their thing) and wearing the mask is such a unique exercise experience that it was comforting to share the session. However, I would say that personal training is pretty personal (duh) and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to put it out there that I really struggled with the first class (I was massively suffering from a savage cold) and my breathing was all over the place, my chest was tight and I felt like it wasn’t the best timing for me. Having said that, cold or no cold, the class involved hard core upper body strength, which I know is more Vikki’s forte than mine so if we went solo we may not have done the exact same session to each other. I love working out with a friend but over the eight weeks we attended, I did go solo once and still enjoyed the session as I wasn't then comparing myself.
INSTRUCTORS: We were trained by Dean, who was great. He was very reassuring about wearing the masks and assured us that we could take them off whenever we wanted. He recognised when one of us was struggling and the other could be pushed a bit further.
YOU WILL LIKE IT IF YOU LOVE: Barry’s Bootcamp on acid (without the shouting instructor in the dark) or PT classes with a difference.
SWEAT FACTOR: 5/5. This class was seriously tough (we were both red and shaky by the end of many of our sessions) and would be a really good move for anyone looking to up their training to the next level and try something new. We didn't always wear the masks so it was good to know Dean was adjusting the classes depending on how we were feeling that week.
VALUE FOR MONEY: It’s £40 a class, which before you balk at you need to remember that’s for a PT session. If you go in a group of four then the price drops to £35 each. I have never taken PT sessions (mainly cause of the money but also the scary being centre of attention thing), but this is definitely at the cheaper end of the scale which is great value considering the workout and the facilities you access - treadmills, battle ropes and dumbbells all featured in our workout. There are loads of other pricing options and they are also on Class Pass...
LOCATION: Our session was at the luxury Conrad Hotel in St James, London. It's a pretty small, windowless gym but you largely get the place to yourself.
CHANGING ROOMS: There's a loo inside the gym room with all the fancy hotel trimmings and there's enough room to get changed in there. No shower though so not one for a pre-work session.
THE VERDICT: To get the negatives out of the way, the whole concept of wearing the mask can be slightly intimidating. If, like me, you find that working out with mates is a laugh because you can do just that, then this might not be the workout for you. By it's nature, wearing something covering your face means you can't see each others' expressions or really make conversation at all. Having said that, the altitude masks are an option that you don't have to take, and if you want to try something new or push yourself, this is an awesome workout that will seriously stretch you. Two days after my first session, even muscles around my thumbs were still hurting - how?!