Want to break a sweat rather than your overdraft? Prefer having fun to regimented high-impact training? Here are a few alternative ways to stay fit in London, that don’t involve pricey gym memberships and banks of equipment.
East London’s Resistance Gallery is the place to get into the ring, for two very different wrestling styles.
Fans of the Netflix series GLOW won’t know what hit them at EVE wrestling. Classes are held every Sunday and are open to anyone identifying as a woman or non-binary. You can pay in cash on the day.
Classes are run by “The Fightin’ Irish” Rhia O’Reilly, two-time EVE Champion, professional wrestler and fitness instructor; and Greg Burridge, London School of Lucha Libre head coach, professional wrestler turned film fight choreographer, and stunt person. Get fit with shouty aerobics, learn some moves and create your own fierce wrestling character.
Venue: Resistance Gallery, Bethnal Green
More info: Eve Wrestling
Lucha Libre Mexican Wrestling For Beginners
Fancy yourself as a luchador? Spend three hours in the ring alongside wrestlers from the Lucha Britannia show like La Diablesa Rosa. This is no soft intro though, you’ll do an hour of warm-up (including cardiovascular and core strength), before getting put through the moves, a change of T-shirt is recommended, it’s a sweaty business!
Venue: Resistance Gallery, Bethnal Green
More info: Lucha Libre Mexican Wrestling website
2. Get fit and do good with GoodGym
Social enterprise GoodGym started with a chance meeting between founder Ivo Gormley and an older man called Terry who he began running to visit twice a week. Now runners all over London (and other parts of the UK) run to do tasks in groups in their local community, as well as visiting older people (the GoodGym coaches) and one-off smaller ‘mission’ runs doing tasks for older people that they can’t easily do themselves. Read more about GoodGym and how to join.
Venue: Across London
Cost: Donation based (£9.95 per month suggested)
3. Bounce on a trampoline at Oxygen London
Have a go at bouncing around on a one-hour ‘free jumping’ session, where you can jump and flip at leisure. Want to go higher? Take a class with the School of Trampolining to learn more skills, or get a workout at one of the fitness classes.
Venues: Acton, Croydon and Greenwich
More info: Oxygen London website
4. Join the hooping revolution at HulaFit
There are hula-hoopers all over London, but Anna the Hulagan is one the best known. Her classes have been putting hoopers in a spin since 2007. Classes are available for all levels and are split between HulaFit, which is more of a aerobic workout. The Hulagan tricks class is better for those who want to learn fun and fancy moves. Either way, it’s a fun way to build core strength. Hoops are provided at both classes.
Venue: The Hugh Cubitt Centre, Islington
More info: Official website
5. Daytime raving with Morning Gloryville
Spreading glowsticks, glitter and huggy vibes all round, daytime raves have been a wholesome early morning London thing since around 2013. Shapes are thrown across the dancefloor at 06:30 and go until 10:30. It’s either a garish or glorious sensory experience, depending on whether you’re a morning person, what your tolerance for neon is and how much you want to hear banging ‘choons first thing in the morning. If you are, rave your way into your day.
More info: Official website
Bonus fitness ideas for the supercheapo
Excercise in the park
Around 40% of London is made up of parkland, so wherever you live, you’re never too far away from a free workout space. Plug in your music, get your trainers on and go for a run—simple. Here are 5 of our favourite London parks to do just that.
Many of these parks have outdoor gyms, or fitness trails for you to discover. A quick Google search will reveal where these are, or check out this website for a handy map.
In my book, there’s no substitute for a nice run or cycle in the open air. Why get on the treadmill and stare at a wall when you can actually run for real, with changing scenery and people-watching to keep you entertained? Richmond or Greenwich parks are ideal.
The brand new Queen Elizabeth Park is another great example. Lap up the legacy and inspiration of the Olympics and exercise your way around the dedicated running and cycling trails that wind their way around the beautifully sculpted landscape, slap bang in the middle of East London (Stratford would be the nearest station). And why not check out the awesome and affordable views from the Orbit sculpture while you’re at it.
Organised work out sessions
The organisation called ‘Our Parks’ is pretty much made for this article. Their slogan is ‘Get fit for free!’ and they provide their services across a huge number of locations all over London. All you have to do is register on their website, book a class and turn up! All classes are delivered by a fully qualified professional, and cater for many levels and types of fitness through varied classes, from seated fitness to street dance to yoga. If you are strapped for cash and want to improve your fitness in a social atmosphere, this is exactly what you need.
Sports shops across the Capital also provide a similar service, although you may have to nod and smile your way through a sales talk at some point. Examples include LuluLemon yoga classes, every Sunday, and the Nike+ run club. For all you East Londoners out there, there’s also a great little drop in centre on Old Ford Road (in Bethnal Green) called the YogaNest, which organises drop in yoga, fitness and dance classes, 7 days a week. There are a plethora of these little independent centres around London, just have a quick search on Google and you’ll find them.
If all of the above isn’t enough for you then here’s a quick something extra for the cyclists out there. It costs a measly £2.00 to hire a Boris bike for 24 hours, with each separate 30-minute journey being free of extra charge. Any additional continuous half hour is then charged at £2.00 each. So keep your workouts short and intensive! Check this link for a detailed price guide.
These are the rental bikes that are parked all around the city (currently emblazoned with red Santander logos). You can hop on and hop off as many times as you like within that 24-hour period—just stay within those separate half hour periods to keep it at £2.00 (and make sure you dock them in their stations properly!).
Trial gym memberships
If, from time to time, you want to workout and follow it up with a dip in a heated pool or a steam in a sauna, then take advantage of the introductory offers that these large gyms offer. We won’t name any in particular, but take a look at this link just as an example. It’s worth rotating around for a few free top-of-the-range workout sessions. Stay there all day and that’s great value.
Be aware though that you’ll have to remain steel faced and immune to their inevitable sales interrogation. And they might make you pay for a locker/towels.
And now that you’re all set with a sweet new bod, take care of the rest of you! Here are some handy tips on free and cheap hair, beauty and grooming treatments around London.
Thanks to Joe Baylis for contributing to the “bonus ideas” section.