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Best in class

If you've fallen off the fitness wagon, fear not. Here are 10 of the best exercise classes to get you back on track.

How your fitness goals going for 2018? Mine hit a bump  in the road pretty early on when I was struck down with virus. Although to be fair, the weather was bad, my bed was calling and I was diving headfirst down a Netflix rabbit hole. But Operation Hot Bod, starts now. The secret to sticking to regular exercise is not getting bored. To show you what’s on offer, here are 10 of the best classes that’ll have you leaping into your Lycra.



It’s a knockout! Phew! Nothing to do with Stuart Hall, but the chance to get fighting fit. Boxing is perfect for a total body workout helping you get fitter, stronger and more kickass. It also improves balance, co-ordination, reactivity and agility. Useful, after a couple of sherbets.

Try Go 12 Rounds at Gecko Fitness in Yattendon – a 36-minute high energy boxing circuits class. You spend 2 minutes on each station, learn real boxing skills (watch out Mr Muddy), burn a ton of calories and the every class is different – so it never gets dull. Prices from £10 per class. Still not convinced? Here’s the knockout blow, the top Victoria Secrets models swear by it. And they don’t look too shabby.


BEST FOR BEGINNERS – HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT Exercise class in bracknell Berkshire Willing Spirit Exercise
If you’re keen to drag your bottom off the sofa and start moving, then read on. Half the battle is turning up, conquering the fear of looking daft, feeling less able than everyone else or thinking you cannot afford it. Jo Asplin of Willing Spirit Exercise is on a one woman mission to change that. If you want to get fit, you can. No expensive gym membership, no long term packages. Her Monday night HIIT class is £2.50 pay as you go.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) became really hot when the bearded Body Coach Joe Wicks got our attention. It could have been the shirt off loveliness or the combo of quick healthy meals and short, effective workouts. Jo’s Willing Spirit Exercise HIIT class flip flops between very intense periods of exercise and slower recovery periods for a shorter, more efficient workout. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities, with lots of options to vary the intensity. Plus being in a group means you meet new people, have a giggle, burn calories and tone up – all for the price of an Americano. No excuses.


Downward dog beginners yoga Inspire Hot Yoga Maidenhead

“You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying…in sweat.”  Yup, the classic line uttered by Miss Grant in 80s teen TV classic Fame. But Hollywood’s taken this to heart and some of the hottest stars – Jen Aniston, Jessica Biel and Madonna – are perspiring profusely in the art of mind and body perfection.

So what’s so spesh about hot yoga? Inspire Hot Yoga in Maidenhead has a state of the art studio, heated to a perfect 40 degrees. Hot yoga provides the stretching and toning benefits of traditional yoga, but the heat enables you to extend further into the positions. Looking like a pro *coughs* without even trying. Then there’s the sweat. It is inevitable you’ll feel like you’re melting faster than an ice cream in the Sahara, but it think about the detoxifying benefits. Drink plenty of water, and you’ll get a body workout that benefits you inside and out.

Want to give it a go? Breath Yoga, it’s the perfect beginners class – slower paced and less intense. This style of yoga focuses on alignment and links movement with breath in a continuous flow. It’s excellent for upper body strength, stamina as well as improving core strength. Prepare to tune out, tone up and detox.



Things I wish I had done while pregnant: not eat for 2 and exercise more. I flirted with pilates once but it was really an excuse to have lie down. It can be uncomfortable lugging your baby bump around all day, let alone thinking about keeping fit. But a little body maintenance goes a long way. Not only will it help alleviate the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, your core won’t be entirely shot to pieces and you’ll have a pelvic floor that doesn’t give in every time you sneeze.

Newbury Wellbeing Centre offers Fitback and Bumps – a prenatal and postnatal exercise class with a qualified physiotherapist. Good to know you’re in safe hands. You’ll spend time working on your posture, pelvic floor and there’s every chance you’ll have a flatter stomach once you’re baby has popped out. It took me 18 months to lose 3 stones, a dietary overhaul and A LOT of running. I needed Newbury Wellbeing Centre in my life back then. If you’re cheggers, check out the cool classes, workshops and therapies to help you before, during and after the birth.



Until very recently, I’d never tried yoga. For anyone who thinks it’s not physical enough, you sweat, you work your muscles and I ached for 2 days in places I didn’t even know existed. Hello tummy muscles. It’s been a while. Plus yogis have killer bods, so nuffsaid. The focus on breathing and free flowing movement. Plus you’re concentrating so hard on the job in hand, your brain empties of life’s white noise.

I joined Emma Robinson’s class in one of the most beautiful yoga studios EVER! The Swan at Streatley boutique hotel has a stunning gym right on the river and the yoga studio is small, with bi-folding doors looking out across the riverbank – cue dogs, waddling ducks and geese. It’s an oasis of calm. So if you look to improve your strength, flexibility, posture and focus, this is the one for you.



This is your Private Benjamin moment – the chance to build on strength, cardio endurance, lean muscle mass and torch the fat Bootcamp style. If your goal is to fight the flab and build your fitness levels, Bootcamp is known to help with weight loss and long term health.

FastTrack Fit Camp, run by Heidi Strickland-Clark, is an outdoor group class in various locations across Berkshire. Sign up and you get a clean eating plan – no weighing, measuring or calorie counting and for max results you say hi de hi campers at least 3 times a week. Each 45 minutes of blood, sweat and tears of laughter, you’ll work your butt off with a partner, alone and in a group. Plus you get to soak up all the benefits of al fresco fitness – mental wellbeing, extra calories burned, temperature regulation. Winner winner.



Knackered and no time for anything extra in your life? I hear you. It’s hard to juggle and fly out the door to spend an hour working out. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t have the same lustre as a bottle of wine with your bestie. But all is not lost. Let the fitness class come to you. DVDs are sooooo last decade, embrace the online fitness community. There are some cracking trainers who provide great online classes for you to do when you have spare time between cooking supper and the next round of washing.

Anna Belle at My Fit Zone has a phenomenal website with video workouts that are so varied, there isn’t a hope in hell of getting bored. They’re also different lengths, so if you can squeeze in 10 minutes one day and 30 the next, no problemo. Bored of the usual spag bol, check out the healthy recipes to mix it up. Plus there are live online classes, group sessions  at venues in Berkshire and personal training. It’s a healthy lifestyle of eating and training, rather than diet and exercise, for real people.



If the idea of a traditional exercise class leaves you cold, then something that’s appears to be too much fun to be considered fitness, could be right up your street. Paddle boarding is especially good for strengthening core muscles and upper body, plus it helps to tighten buttocks, thighs and legs. It’s easy to get started (if I can do it, anyone can), gets you out on the water and is something you can do with the girls or the famalam.

Bray Lake Watersports offers a 2-hour Starter Session for £49. You’ll learn the basic strokes and manoeuvres to get you going. Once completed, you’ll be issued with a Ready to Ride BSUPA certificate, a Bray Lake paddle license and an hours free hire. Be warned, you will get wet, you’ll will have a laugh and you probably won’t look like Elle McPherson. But at least we have goals.



There was a time when the bar we thought about was one that we could happily prop up for hours with a large G&T in hand, but not anymore. Barre workouts (big in London and big cities for a while are popping up all over the place outside the M25) are designed to work the whole body, focussing on core strengthening, static and dynamic movements and active stretching to lengthen muscles.

No rhythm required! Thank god, my jazz hands dance moves are a sight to behold, no leotards or pirouettes. It’s a normal class, has a pointed toe in pilates, yoga cardio and HIIT. The barre is used as a prop to help you balance while you focus on the tiny isometric movements. It’s low impact, so no more squats and shoulder presses. You get a killer workout, improved posture, weight loss, flexibility and a ballerina style bod. Just add a tutu.



OK gym bunnies, if you love the following a dedicated programme of cardio and weights, this one is for you. Shred is an intensive workout that burns fat fast and creates muscle definition. Say hello to the guns. But be warned, you’ll feel the pain to get there.

The Shredquarters in Reading is relatively new gym that offers bespoke training to help you reach your goals. All you have to do is turn up, low weekly costs, no contracts, and each class feels like a PT sesh. All the benefits of personal training with the sense of community. The training is insane, you will be challenged, it will be hard, but Operation Smoking Hot will be well on its way

Find more ideas here


4 comments on “Best in class”

  • Hero February 1, 2018

    Really useful. Just going to, you know, limber up gently at home while I decide which exercise regime to tackle first.

    • rachel February 1, 2018

      I’m kinda loving anything that involves lying down, right now

  • Corbin Spicer January 26, 2018

    Awesome write up. I am a member of the Shredquarters and it really is at the top of its game for fat burning workouts!

    • rachel January 28, 2018

      No pain, no gain


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