When the YMCA Club in Fitzrovia offered Healthy Living London a free pass to check out their recent £2.2m refurbishment, I jumped at the chance to try out London’s oldest health club, set in the heart of the West End. Read on to find out how this hidden gem is constantly pioneering to keep Londoners fit and well..
The YMCA Club on Great Russell Street has been a holistic well-being hub within the capital for over 100 years. Behind it’s very unassuming front door lies a vast and interesting space featuring a brand new heated 25m indoor pool with accompanying steam and sauna rooms. In the centre, lies a large central multi-functional sports hall. Surrounding the edge, is a matrix of rooms and mezzanine levels, spread over four floors, filled with cardio equipment, spin bikes, yoga studios, machine weights, free weights, weighted sleds, a climbing wall, a skill mill running machine, TRX, stretching and core mats, therapy rooms as well as areas for meditation and prayer.
There are 125 classes to choose from every week. These range from cycling, spinning, circuits, yoga, pilates, barre work and more. It is community focused with a thriving volunteer bank of over 250 members who help out in every aspect of the day-to-day running of the YMCA Club.
With the first phase of its multi-million pound investment complete, the club offers a new 25m indoor swimming pool, the largest of its kind in central London. There are also a selection of brand new classes on offer including FloatFit; a low impact, full body workout whilst balancing on a floating board, and in-Trinity yoga, created by the fitness innovator Jonny G, who developed the popular indoor cycling workout; spinning. There is also a members’ lounge, café and chill out spaces, new therapy rooms as well as refurbished studios.
What Can It Offer?
The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and feels very inclusive and not at all intimidating. As part of the club’s induction programme, every member receives a comprehensive health assessment as well as an introductory training programme, which you can change as often as you like at no extra charge.
Upon arriving I was met by my instructor Edgaras who explained that we would start with the health assessment before getting to work on a tailor made programme to fit my personal goals. We started with a body composition analysis.
This involved standing barefoot on a body composition machine, which measured my weight, muscle mass, body fat mass, total water percentage, my body mass index, percentage body fat, waist-hip ratio and basal metabolic rate. It also identifies any imbalances in the body in terms of muscle mass and strength. My right arm and left leg were more dominant, showing a very slight variation in the lean mass evaluation test. This really helps identify your strengths and weaknesses and which areas of the body need some extra attention, in order to rebalance your strength and power.
Next up, I did a grip test. Quite simply, this involved squeezing as hard as I could on a hand held machine which measured my hand and forearm strength. Ed then recorded the best of three attempts on each side. Being right handed, my right hand side was notably stronger than the left.
After this was a sit and reach mobility test. I sat on the floor, with my legs outstretched and rocking over at the hips, keeping my legs straight and feet at right angles, I was tasked with seeing how far I can reach. This measures your range of movement and flexibility. Once again, my best of three attempts were recorded. Ed then took my blood pressure, measured my cholesterol and my VMO (peak lung capacity).
I was really impressed with how thorough the health assessment was and even more impressed to learn that all members are entitled to book a review as often as they like (the recommendation is every 6-8 weeks) in order to measure their health and fitness gains.
I was pleased to learn that the stats suggest I’m in very good shape, but there is always something to work on right? The tests indicate that my cardiovascular fitness is strong, but the lean mass evaluation test identified that my right arm and left leg are more dominant, so we agree that a strength and conditioning programme to help to minimise these imbalances should be my focus alongside the cardio I am already doing.
Personalised Training Programme:
I was really impressed with the knowledge and encouraging manner that Ed had. It was obvious he loves his job and loves to help people achieve their fitness goals. As he guided me around the many areas of the gym, through a variety of fun and challenging strength and conditioning exercises, I noticed how many members stopped to have a little chat and update him with their progress. It just added to the very open and friendly vibe of the club, which really feels like one big happy fitness community.
Like the health assessment, anyone can update their training programme with the help of personal trainers who work and volunteer at the gym as often as they like and at no extra charge.
The range of equipment on offer is impressive. All the latest gear is available for anyone to use. As well as the huge number of classes on offer each week, they have also created a women’s weights workshop. This has successfully broken down the barriers which have previously prevented many women from having the confidence to enter the free-weights area of the gym. It is just one example of the many innovative ideas that are implemented to enhance the whole experience of its members.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be fit and well, according to the YMCA Club Director, Daniel Lynn. “For some Londoners, money can be an issue and so there is subsidised access to the club and continuous support available” for those who need it. There are currently 3,400 concessionary members from training elite athletes to cancer-rehabilitation patients.
Other benefits of club membership include free friend Fridays – where you can bring a workout buddy free of charge and also various offers and discounts at a range of restaurants and shops local to the gym.
+ 28,000 sq ft gym, set over four floors
+ 75 station cardio and functional training zones
+ 8 studios
+ 3 badminton courts
+ State-of-the-art indoor cycling studio
+ Heated 25m pool
+ Sauna & Steam room
+ Dedicated weights room
+ 125 free classes a week including the brand new FloatFit and In-TrinityYoga
+ Support from 252 expert health and fitness professionals
+ Meditation Room
+ Seven in-house sports clubs
+ Regular events alongside evening arts and education workshops
I was really impressed by the YMCA Club. I found it to be a welcoming, friendly fitness space, that offers all the latest equipment and classes, at an affordable price. It has a real community feel, and I really liked the matrix of workout spaces set around the central sports hall. The success of the renovation speaks for itself, with the new swimming pool and upgraded facilities, studios and treatment rooms demonstrating its commitment as a pioneer in London’s health and wellbeing industry. The changes are more than physical. The investment is also focused on developing a community of like-minded people and helping them to live well in their body, mind and spirit. Providing this pillar of support for its members, is at the core of what the YMCA Club stands for.
How much: Membership starts from £55.95 pcm, but there are various offers and corporate discounts available and you can drop in for the day and use all the facilities for £15
Where is it: YMCA Club, 112 Great Russell St, Fitzrovia. WC1B 3NQ
More info: www.ymcaclub.co.uk,