When you’re in desperate need for a full body workout, they say boxing is fantastic. So surely KICKboxing is the ultimate? I went along to Flykick on Euston Road to check out one of their classes.
There’s a new business area which has sprung up in recent years, just across the road from Great Portland Street station. The buildings are shiny and tall and even the employees in the area look new. I actually laughed when I arrived at Flykick. I’d been nose to my phone, following the trail that Citymapper had given me, gearing myself up for a bit of aimless wandering as I searched for an elusive door and silently congratulating myself for allowing myself some extra journey time, just for this purpose. And there it was, a massive f***-off sign with FLYKICK written in huge letters literally walking you to the door.
Just like everything in the area, the Flykick reception is also white and shiny and bright. And CLEAN. I’ve done a fair amount of boxing before across several boxing gyms in London and they’ve all been rather gritty; they look like places where people sweat in. They smell like places where people sweat too. It looks so deliciously clean at Flykick, that I’d have totally felt comfortable licking the floor (of course, I’m not sure how comfortable others would feel about this…) The one thing that struck me at Flykick from the moment I entered the door was how friendly everyone is. As I entered the glass doors, I received a great smile from Tony, one of the instructors who handed me a pair of ‘stinkies’ (gloves which are available to rent for those who don’t have their own) and a couple of towels – one to sweat in and one for the shower (I don’t really sweat that much so I didn’t need it but it was a nice touch). He also warned me that Flykick was definitely ‘not boxercise’ (I’m now slightly horrified that I may look like a boxercise kind of person…)
There’s a two-level seating area which is pretty cool and an area on the opposite side of the reception which is currently serving as an impromptu kitchen but will eventually be a smoothie bar.
Running through the whole of Flykick, there’s a light-hearted atmosphere. You’ll find clues to this on the gloves, by the water station and in the changing rooms. However, as soon as you enter the studio, everything changes. As day is to night, the studio is the complete opposite to the reception and other areas (although it’s still very clean-looking!) The studio is where the good stuff happens; this is where you’re transformed into a fighter (albeit a very tired one by the end of it). Dimly-lit with UV piped lights on the ceiling and two rows of serious-looking freestanding kickboxing bags, I’m reminded of a sci-fi film I saw in my teens.
First-timers are required to attend a briefing session, which was taken by the feisty, smiley Amanda. She runs through the correct techniques for the main moves being used in the session and is available to answer any questions before everyone else piles in and the class begins.
With Tony and Amanda tag-teaming on explaining the moves and giving demos, the pace is fast, upbeat and thankfully, there’s no time to think. Before I know it, high knees, jumping squats, jumping lunges and commandos are being performed by all eighteen of us, each set counted down by a large timer at one end of the room. And this is before we’ve even had a chance to put our gloves on. Warm-up and conditioning complete, we have 20 seconds to grab some water and pull on gloves before we head to the bags. Here, we’re practising rounds of 2.5 minutes focusing on combinations of punches and kicks. Each person has their own bag so you can take things at your own pace. When I pause for breath (which is quite often…) a quick glance over the room reveals that some are full on going for it, barely stopping to wipe the sweat from the eyes. Others are more measured, focusing on technique and power with a steady rhythm. Some actually look like they’re in the ring and there’s some footwork and head-bobbing happening too. Me, I’m just trying to get my combinations right! It’s been a long time since I was “jab-cross-roundhouse-hook”-ing. In fact, having never done kickboxing before, I’m much better with my upper body combos – the kicks throw me. Every 2.5 minutes, the combinations are progressed and during this section both Amanda and Tony stopped by to correct technique or give me some pointers; they made sure everyone was receiving a minute or so of individual attention.
Time flies when you’re dripping with sweat and throwing punches and before long, it was time to pull our gloves off and get to the floor for some core work and stretching. Ahh… the stretching!
I left smiling. There’s something rather exhilarating about a fast and furious session with gloves and a bag. I don’t often do these types of sessions, favouring things like yoga instead, but when I do, I love them!
Oh, and remember how I said I don’t sweat? Well that’s a complete lie. I was DRIPPING with sweat. Just turns out it had been so long since I’d done a proper hardcore class that I’d forgotten all about that aspect of exercise…
Who’s it for: Gents and ladies who want to be challenged
When is it: Monday to Friday, there are morning, lunchtime and evening sessions, with fewer classes on Saturday
Where is it: 350 Euston Road, Regent’s Place, London NW1 3AX
How much: The first time pack is £27 and includes 3 sessions and your own pair of Flykick gloves. You will also need to have your own wraps or buy a pair for £5.