It’s been a long few months since gyms were forced to close their doors and studio classes switched to at-home streamed workouts. Now they’ve been given the green light to reopen – provided stringent safety measures are adhered to. Here’s what your favourite London fitness studios look like now…
London fitness studios post-covid
The Red Room is back in action – albeit at 50% capacity and with treadmills and floor spaces reconfigured to comply with social distancing measures. However, there won’t be the option to hang out with fellow classmates over a smoothie after the session, much to the disappointment of Sandy Macaskill, Barry’s UK Co-Founder and master trainer: “It pains us to say this, but we are having to ask clients to limit the time spent at the studio outside of taking class.” Despite this, he claims that clients have been desperate to get back to the studio: “Ever since we were given a date to reopen the studios, we’ve been inundated with messages of support – and our opening weekend classes sold out in record time.”. All Barry’s Bootcamp studios are open as of 25th July, except Canary Wharf for now.
Reshape, Ride and Rumble classes got underway again on Saturday across 1Rebel’s sites. “Our studios have self-scanning temperature checks at entry, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens between each piece of equipment and ventilation systems that are superior to that of an aeroplane with 3,500l of clean air, per second, pumped into the studios,” co-founder James Balfour told DOSE.
According to Digme Co-Founder and CEO Geoff Bamber, there has been an overwhelming response to the reopening of the majority of its studios this weekend: “Our community is desperate to get back to their beloved studios with their favourite instructors. No amount of Zoom or Instagram workouts can replace the buzz of the live studio class experience and the sense of connection with your fellow members. People are bored of their own four walls and craving seeing others after months of isolation. Our first classes back open sold out in just 10 minutes!”
However, with the extensive changes that have been made to ensure the studios comply with distancing and hygiene regulations – such as reduced capacity in classes, clear signage and floor markings to make it easy for classgoers to navigate the new studio layouts, showers remaining out of action and classgoers being requested to bring their own sweat towels or purchase in studio – will the class experience be compromised? Geoff is adamant that this won’t be the case: “It may be socially distanced in the studio, but the atmosphere and people will be just the same when the lights go down and the music turns up.”
Over the weekend four of Heartcore‘s ten London studios (Fulham, Chelsea, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood) reopened, with a staggered reopening planned through August/September for the brand’s other locations.
Kerry Budd, responsible for Brand & Business Development, shared with DOSE, “We opened the schedule for booking a week ago and were extremely humbled to see most classes fill within the first day.” As for the first classes back, she reports that these were a “huge success”, with classgoers “just so delighted to be reunited with us – the team, the ‘sanctuary’ studios, and especially the CoreFormer workout”.
In response to the long break from reformer workouts for the majority of classgoers, Heartcore has also introduced a new ‘welcome back’ class to the schedule, called Find Your Flow. The class is Heartcore’s signature Pilates class taught at a slightly slower pace to help guests find their flow again. Kerry notes, “The class is proving popular with our die-hards just as much as first time guests.”
Core Collective was so eager to reopen its studios once it got the go-ahead from the government that it hosted two 60-minute midnight classes on Saturday 25 July to celebrate reopening its doors. Head of Digital Jemima McCrystal shared with DOSE, “The community feeling in the run-up to the weekend has been really something after months of lockdown and we’re so excited to have classes up and running again.”
All equipment classes have been programmed to ensure there is no sharing of equipment, and trainers will no longer be able to make hands-on adjustments. Trainer Christie Pearson says that the changes have helped evolve and improve her style of teaching: “Having to keep my distance from classgoers has made me really think about how to make human connection with the people in my classes: I’m making a conscious effort to use their names and make eye contact.”
When it comes to the class itself, Christie recommends that people don’t push themselves too hard in the first session back: “It was amazing to see regulars again, but I encouraged them not to go hell for leather even if they feel like they want to blow away the cobwebs after not having done anything like this for so long. It’s important to be mindful and honour your current fitness levels, and know that it’s perfectly normal to struggle a bit to begin with.”
Gymbox threw open its doors at the weekend inviting customers to start ‘pumping iron and sanitiser’. It has released a ‘guide to safer sweating‘ on its website that details cleaning protocols and changes including a gym time booking system, temperature checks and signage and floor markings to help guide on social distancing. Certain cardio equipment will also be out of use, biodegradable sanitising wipes will be provided to wipe down equipment and there will be a reduced number of shower facilities. “We’ve received the framework from the government and we’re not ones to brag (well, gains aside…) but we’ve gone above and beyond what the mandated rules are,” its website reads.
KXU said it was “delighted” to welcome back gym-goers and posted the below images on Instagram of its new-look studios. The club told its followers they will be taking temperature checks and asking everyone to use hand sanitiser on arrival, adding: “Luckily athlesiure is in so arriving dressed for class will be much appreciated as changing room capacity will be limited. You are still welcome to if there is no other alternative. As well finding some snazzy new perspex screens in class you will also benefit from a reduction in class capacity. This does mean booking in advance is a good idea as spots will soon book out.” It also said it won’t be doing any hands-on adjusting in classes and its nutrition bar will be serving hot drinks and smoothies but no food for the time being.
BXR also made a comeback and has released a list of its covid-secure measures: bookings only for gym floor via app to control capacity; shield guard at reception; compulsory hand sanitation upon entry and exiting club; gym/sweat towels only available from reception; no touch temperature checks for all customers and employees upon entry; and no finger scanner for entry to gym floor. “Your health & safety is our number one priority. That’s why we’re introducing new cleaning procedures and physical distancing measures, which have been guided by the experts at UK Active, the UK Government and Public Health England,” it said on Instagram.
Main image: 1Rebel
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After graduating from Cambridge University with a triple First, Rosie decided to pursue a career in the fitness industry rather than follow the traditional path of her peers in investment banking. Unable to shake off the fast-paced routine she developed in her City job, she achieves balance by winding down in yoga sessions, escaping on fitness retreats, and going for extended brunches that somehow seem to wind up in a hidden gem of a cocktail bar.