When you think of boutique fitness today, the first image that probably comes to mind is a dark studio with booming music and dazzling strobe lights. The nightclub-esque workout has dominated the gym space in recent years but could it finally be time to leave our club days behind? Let us introduce you to MOVE, a new fitness studio that is shaking things up…
The new way to workout
Located in Fulham’s trendy Market Halls, MOVE is the complete antithesis of a nightclub – think a peaceful, light, all white studio and absolutely no strobe lighting. It’s been created by former professional rugby player, Christian Lewis-Pratt, who retired in 2016 following injury to pursue his passion for health and wellness. “This is not a dark basement studio with overbearing strobes and underwhelming attention from coaches,” he says. “The fitness industry should be doing more than that. We will do more than that.”
So what can you expect at MOVE? “I had become fed up of gyms getting darker and darker. I don’t think strobe lights and exercise should be combined (that’s what nightclubs are for). I am bemused by lazy training methods and I want it to change and if you really want something to change then you must be the one willing to change it,” Christian says. “We believe in coaching real movement that positively effects life outside of the gym and we believe in managing stress (training is a stressor – it doesn’t need a side of strobes and smoke). We believe in creating an environment in which people can thrive positively through movement and social engagement.”
Movement is key
For Christian who has experienced injury, movement is key and the classes prioritise that. “I adopted and adapted training methods that made me feel amazing and revolutionised my training and my body. From the outside you could say our USP is that we have a studio flooded with natural light, hanging plants and lots of open space, but our number one focus is what happens within our class, moving properly as we were intended to. We focus on improving range of movement and strength within that range, regaining a relationship with the floor and creating a schedule that offers high stress and low stress in order to best accommodate the demands of those walking through our doors. Our classes aren’t easy, but they are responsible and they demand more than just basic dumps of effort,” Christian says.
There are eight different training methods – Strength, Kettlebells, Primal Fit, Calisthenics, Yoga, HIIT, Breathwork, Pilates. Christian’s personal favourites – and two of the more unusual offerings – are Primal Fit and Breathwork. “They sit back-to-back on a Wednesday morning and I don’t think you can experience another 1.5 hours (if you do both) like it an any other gym. Primal Fit is my signature class. I’m still working on an explanation that fits, but the idea is to take things right back. To crawl, bend, lift, carry and hold. Imagine a blend of yoga, strength and dance and you still won’t quite understand – just attend one!”
Balance, balance, balance
Balance is key, Christian tells me. For example, ‘Move & Munch’ classes every Saturday morning are sociable classes, designed to encourage friends and strangers alike to come together, work out and eat afterwards at Market Hall Fulham, where’e you’ll get discounts off brunch dishes and the choice to add cocktails.
While this isn’t the end of the night club-esque workout, it does mean there’s space in the market for a more relaxing environment to workout in, too. “There are some amazing coaches and studios out there doing really awesome things. We just need to keep making noise and hopefully the shift will get bigger. There is nothing wrong with the occasional nightclub sweat but I don’t think it’s sensible long term. We live in a constantly stressed state, from a buzzing alarm in the morning, to a crammed tube, to a phone that alerts us non-stop and a job that has us seated and staring at screens. The last thing we need is more of the wrong stress.”
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.