This month I tried 4 classes at Central London’s largest gym, the YMCA club. The gym boasts 125 weekly classes, a 25m swimming pool, rooms to relax and to train by yourself. The chances that you will need to ask someone where your class will be is close to 100% but do not worry, everyone there is lovely and there is a great sense of community that envelopes you with each encounter. Below I’ll go into detail of the 4 classes I tried, namely In-Trinity, Zumba, Boxing Technique and Total Barre.
Have you heard of the In-Trinity board? I never have until seeing it on the timetable in YMCA, which immensely intrigued me as I am always ready to try new workout methods. In-Trinity is an elevated fitness board and it allows you to explore movements on different inclines. In addition, you can put your hands underneath the board (because it is on an incline) so you can go into deeper stretches. The best way I can describe the feeling of training with an In-Trinity board is a blend of Pilates and basic yoga. At times you are doing Pilates-like slow leg raises, whereas, towards the end you are doing downward dog and crane pose. Definitely something to look into if you want to stretch and workout in a mindful, almost meditational, matter.
I will say this right away, I can’t dance. Therefore, my biggest motivation for Zumba class is actually to see how one dances to the beat and if you can create it into a workout the better. Overall the class is in a fun room, with coloured purple lights. The only issue I found was that there were a lot of people and despite me being nearly in the front, I could not see or follow well the teacher. However, I noticed that I was mostly the only one with that issue, so I think its more of a beginner thing and it gets better. In terms of workout efficiency, I really liked it. As you are always moving only stopping for short breaks in between song changes, your heart rate is always up, which burns more fat. In addition, you leave the class with a great vibe because the music is upbeat, everyone is clearly having fun and the teacher is also good at keeping the mood up.
Honestly, Boxing Technique at YMCA was one of the most productive boxing classes I have ever attended, and I have attended a few. The biggest issue I have with classes that use boxing technique purely as a way to get your heart rate pumping is that very little actual technique is discussed. Instead, you are given gloves and are told to hit the punching bag. I always find this method difficult because I have weak wrists and hitting something hard mostly hurts. For this reason, I don’t do it quickly and hit the bag not as hard as I could, thus, my heart rate isn’t up much.
Thus, keeping my previous experiences in mind, I was very interested with the fact that this class actually describes itself as a ‘technique’ and couldn’t wait to learn the proper way to box. I was not disappointed. After a short warm up we began our training which consisted of pairing up and one holding the pads while the other punches. You were shown combos that got longer and more technical. There were two trainers, who throughout the class went to each pair and made sure everything was done correctly. I was told what the correct stance is, how to find it, continually reminded that I should put my hands up to protect my face and how to punch correctly. The last part was very important to me and, although, slightly embarrassing, I was very happy that the trainer had to always go back to show me how to punch.
With the above in mind, this class will make you sweat buckets. I consider myself pretty fit but even I towards the end struggled to keep my feet moving, don’t even get me started on the decreased punching power. Therefore, if you need to incorporate some HIIT training into your routine, look no further than this class. In addition, you will feel so strong and powerful, albeit, super tired.
If you want lean and defined body like a dancer than Total Barre is perfect. It incorporates ballet technique and focusing of stability, resistance, strength, and flexibility. All I can say is my legs and butt hurt inside areas I did not even know existed. If you think going up the stairs the following day after an intense workout, trying to go down the stairs! This barre class surely requires insane levels of stamina.
What to expect? A lot of plies, leg kicks in different directions, squats, arm raises and a small ab circuit at the end. Also, if you struggle to hold a certain position for a long time, get ready to do a lot of that. For this reason, I think my flexibility and stability significantly improved after a couple of Total Barre classes.
To find out more about the YMCA Club, have a look at what Lucinda thought of it when she went to Fitzrovia to visit.