Get fit in the capital, learn news skills – no gym required

Amy Abrahams

According to BBC breakfast, we have spent 20% more on ‘fun’ this year, including activities like trampolining and ten-pin bowling. 

This trend is also reflective of our preference when it comes to keeping fit. Getting fit doesn’t have to mean pounding away in the gym if you don’t want to – turns out there are plenty of ways to be active that will get you sweating AND smiling.

According to a study of 2,000 people by the fitness app MINDBODY, water workouts, climbing, and dance classes are some of the top activities you’d like to try this year, so read on for where to find this year’s must-have fitness plus other inspiring new ways to sweat happy.

What’s SUP?
Stand-up paddleboarding with Active360

For city dwellers living in London, watersports might seem like wishful thinking – but now you get fit and explore the capital on water thanks to Active360’s stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) classes.

With locations in Paddington, Kew Bridge, Putney and Brentford Lock, the sessions involve standing on something like a surfboard, only bigger (which makes it easier to stay on!), and propelling yourself forward with a paddle. It’s a masterclass in balance, not to mention a full-body workout suitable for beginners and pros alike.

It goes without saying that it’s boatloads of fun too. ‘One of our favourite things recently has been our sunrise paddles,’  says Paul Hyman, Active360’s director. ‘Our classes are less than 90 minutes but intense and with incredible backdrops and nature.’ And if you want to get some extra Zen, why not try SUP yoga too? ‘The instability of exercising on water adds to the value as muscles work harder to maintain stability,’ adds Paul. Plus, it looks seriously cool on Instagram, just saying…

SUP from £10, SUP yoga, £30,

Get hands-on
Handstanding with a circus pro

For a unique – and acrobatic – approach for getting fit, pop down to Sammy Dineen’s handstand classes in north London. Sammy is a professional handstand artist and one of the UK’s best hand balancers, who trained at the National Centre for Circus Arts.

While you might look at Sammy in action and think, ‘Do that? You’ve got to be kidding…’, don’t be alarmed, his classes cater for all levels of fitness, from total beginners to people who enjoy yoga inversions or pilates core work to professional athletes who want to learn something new.

‘We use different methods to master the technique – whether lying on the floor on your back or front, against the wall or in partners. We work on ways to understand how you use your hands to balance and, in between each set, we also stretch so that you work on everything you need on your journey to achieve the perfect handstand.’ Simple!

From £25, for schedule.

Bring it like Bey
Dancing like a boss with Seen On Screen

If you’re the type of person who can’t hear a good tune without throwing some shapes around the room (guessing that’s a few of us?), this class is definitely for you. Giving you the chance to unleash your inner backing dancer, Seen On Screen is a dance company that brings you workshops and master classes to the soundtrack of your favourite stars.

There’s the ever-popular Diva class – where you can learn to whip, dip and flick your hair like Beyonce, Britney and Christina – or why not try Boss, a new class for 2018, which spins tracks from the likes of Rihanna, Stefflon Don, Little Mix and, yes, more Bey? Consider it your fast-track to feeling empowered, inspired and headed for stardom.

Various locations across central London. From £15,

Be the queen of the castle
Climbing at The Castle

If you’re looking for something social, challenging, excellent for building strength and so much fun you forget you’re even exercising, get yourself to a climbing wall – one of the friendliest environments to get active.

Great for working your upper and lower body, it builds abs, strengthens your back and legs and also improves stamina and agility.

Londoners in the know love The Castle in north London, not far from Finsbury Park, for its bouldering and rope climbing, not to mention excellent veggie-friendly cafe.

And they also rate The Arch Climbing Wall, which has three locations in the capital, and offers improver sessions – some women-only – to help you build confidence and enjoyment (the latter obviously an essential!), in a welcoming, supportive space.

Prices vary, /

Jump around
Gymnastics at East London Gymnastics Centre

This no-frills welcoming space is a hit with some of London’s biggest fitness insiders, editors and bloggers when it comes to getting a great workout with smile perks. Think of it as soft-play for big kids – there are crash mats to tumble about on, ropes to swing off and beams to test your balance skills.

If you’ve got some experience already, there are open sessions so you go wild on your own or if you’re starting from scratch (or haven’t done a forward-roll since primary school – *waves* guilty!) there are lessons to help hone your skills, giving you an understanding of the fundamental basics and taking you from warm-up to basic jumps, shapes and floor-based skills.

From £6 per session,

Fly through the sky
Aerial fitness at Flying Fantastic

Roll up, roll up, there’s a new workout in town – and this one is all about taking to the air, circus style. Whether you’ve always wanted to take to the trapeze or suspend from the ceiling by ropes or silks, make Flying Fantastic your favourite new destination for fun fitness.

As London’s only dedicated aerial fitness school with four centres across the city (in Battersea, Bankside, Wimbledon, Old Street), the welcoming spaces are suitable whatever your level, from absolute beginner to acrobat extraordinaire, and offer a range of disciplines including aerial yoga and aerial hoop, as well as Conditioning and Flexibility classes, which combine a little bit of everything. Fitness benefits include strengthening of your core (hello, abs!), improved grip, better mobility and all-round stronger muscles. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get sky high.

Classes from £16,

Sign up to MoveGB

If you’re looking to try something new, but can’t quite decide, why to try them all? MoveGB is a monthly membership that gives you access to a variety of classes (and we are talking *seriously* varied!), from parkour to bouldering to twerking to hula hooping, saving you money on individual fees in the process. Time to dig out all those old gym tops, because you’re going to be using them a lot.

First three classes free. Prices start from £12.99 per week, which allows access to 226 venues in London;


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