In a class of your own
Bored of yet another run or gym session? Here are 14 of the best classes in Berkshire to help you find your fitness mojo. Pound anyone?!
Setting yourself fitness goals for 2020? So determined am I to shift my wobbly bottom, I’ve signed up for a half marathon (Yikes!) and training has commenced with the aim to be fitter, stronger and leaner for life! The secret to sticking to it is not getting bored. At Muddy, we’ve been having a nose around to see what’s out there to inspire you to get into your groove. Ready, steady, GO!
Fitness has just got rock ‘n’ roll, and we like it. POUND is one of this year’s hottest trends and has rock-star flair that’s less embarrassing than playing air guitar and better for you. The class consists of drumming, cardio and strength training. Throw in some yoga and pilates, and it becomes a jam session that will give you the confidence to channel your inner Mick Jagger. Join Jo at Willing Spirit Exercise and while she plays the music, her Pound Posse (that’s you) bring the beat with weighted drumsticks called Ripstix. Bye-bye bingo wings, hello rock star bod.
If there’s an exercise fully endorsed by celebs it’s Pilates. Kate Winslet, Kate Hudson, Mandy Moore, Reece Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, all swear by it to keep them looking long, lean and strong. If the gym brings you out in hives but you’d like to reacquaint yourself with your core, improve your posture, balance and develop the flexibility of a human pretzel, Sophie Hewitt FLEX Pilates is your gal. Sophie runs group classes in Twyford, Henley and Marlow, plus one to ones, corporate classes and ante and post-natal classes are all available.
OK gym bunnies, if you love the following a dedicated programme of cardio and weights, this one is for you. Shredding 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, offering 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. The training is insane, you will be challenged, it will be hard, but Operation Smoking Hot will be well on its way.
If you find pilates a bit slooooooow, Reformer Pilates could be the ticket, a machine that looks torturous with its pulls and levers but has an incredible effect on the body. Available at the awesome Bootcamp Pilates in Windsor, they offer energetic, no-impact stretching and toning workouts that help to lengthen and strengthen your muscles. If you want to mix it up, Power Flow Yoga, Barre class and a Mum/Dad and Baby classes are also available.
Knackered and no time for anything extra in your life? I hear you. Why not let the fitness class come to you. DVDs are sooooo last decade, embrace the online fitness community. Anna Cousins Online Personal Training has a phenomenal website and app 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. Anna creates a bespoke training programme, with nutritional advice, tons of healthy recipes, live online and IRL classes and personal training. It’s a healthy lifestyle of eating and training, rather than diet and exercise.
Did you see Pelaton’s cringy Christmas ad? Its blatant sexism is a shocker, but don’t let that put you off getting your leg over a static bike and flogging yourself for 45 minutes in a dark room. The music’s loud, there’s flashing club lighting and you’re required to ride along to the beat of whatever music is playing. It is a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout that involves the whole body that, to put it mildly, is knackering, but you will repeat this physical torture week after week. A-listers swear by it. Spin Sanctuary in Windsor and Ascot, Wellington Health and Fitness in Reading, Bradfield Sports Complex and Foundation Fitness in Sandhurst all run classes.
The Muddy staff have a lot of experience propping up bars, but barre fitness needs some work. What is it? Well, it’s a hybrid workout class that combines ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga and strength training. If you spent your childhood pointing your toes in a pink leotard, you’ll recognise the classic moves such as plies. But Barre also focuses on high reps of small range movements – and the real difference between barre and other workouts are the isometric movements, where you hold your body still while you contract specific muscles, until you shake and feel the burn! Classes available at Bootcamp Pilates Windsor, Accomplish Fitness in Hungerford and BarreConcept with Jill in Reading.
Kapow! Boxing is perfect for a total body workout helping you get fitter, stronger and more kickass. It also improves balance, coordination, reactivity and agility. Try Go 12 Rounds at Gecko Fitness – a 36-minute high energy boxing circuits class. Learn real boxing skills (watch out Mr Muddy), burn a ton of calories and every class is different – so it never gets dull. Still not convinced? Here’s the knockout blow, the Victoria Secrets models swear by it. And they don’t look too shabby.
OPEN WATER SWIMMING
Brrrrrrrr! Open water swimming is big in Berkshire, well we do have lots of rivers and lakes to splash about it in and since the Brownlee brothers became Olympic stars, we’re all leaping into our Lycra. If you want to dip your toe into the icy water, head to Bray Lake Watersports, near Maidenhead. It runs regularly open water swims (loops of 150m-1km) in a friendly and safe, yet challenging if you need it to be, environment. The centre’s onsite swimming experts are also on hand to give coaching and advice whether you’re a novice or pro. They also run paddleboarding, windsurfing
Coming to a lake near you, SUP (stand up paddleboard) yoga is the newest addition to the yoga world. I’ve tried it on holiday once and although it initially seemed an impossible ask to do yoga poses on a moving board, it was actually achievable once you got the hang of it. Great for your core but also for your mind as doing yoga outside and on the water is very contemplative. You can join a class Horseshoe Lake in Sandhurst to give it a try but it can only be a matter of time before it’s widely available.
That’s climbing to you and me! Climbing centres are cropping up across the UK as an alternative to the routine of the gym, not least because it’s a mental as well as a physical challenge. Try Oakwood Climbing Centre in Wokingham which has hundreds of different colour-coded climbs and we’re loving the sound of it! There’s also a good climbing centre in Reading.
Put a spring in your step and try trampolining fitness class. If you’re bored with watching your kids have all the fun, bounce along to Jump IN in Newbury for one of their classes, combining traditional aerobic steps, dynamic sprints and “power sports” elements on trampolines. Apparently, NASA believes it to be the most effective and efficient means of exercise and it’s fun, really fun so excuse me whilst I bound off like Tigger to a class (er, here’s hoping my pelvic floor exercises have worked!).
Wanna look as hot as Jen Aniston, Jessica Biel and Madonna? Take up hot yoga and you too can perspire profusely in the art of mind and body perfection. Muddy award-winning Inspire Hot Yoga in Maidenhead has a state-of-the-art studio, heated to a perfect 40 degrees. Breath Yoga is the perfect beginners class – slower-paced and less intense – focussing on alignment, linking movement and breathing. It’s excellent for upper body strength, stamina and core strength. Prepare to tune out, tone up and detox.
New mums/ dads/ grandparents or friends just giving their knackered mate an hour’s rest, grab the baby and out you go. No need to find a gym with a creche, wrap ’em up, because the tiddler’s coming too. Buggy Beat, run by the lovely Jo Asplin of Willing Spirit Exercise, is an outdoor cross-training class covering cardio, strength and flexibility training that takes place in local parks, all year round. You do all the hard work, the baby gets lots of fresh air and you meet lots of new people. Pay as you go or in blocks of 6 or 10 sessions.