The Most Popular Workouts In London

Paul Harter Paul Harter
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There are plenty of terrific fitness concepts on the market these days. It’s never been easier to workout in London and, in many cases, have fun while doing it. Of course, each has its own pros and cons and there is no one size fits all. Here are a few that we’ve been admiring.


Peloton is about bringing spin class into your own home. They sell attractive, high-tech stationary bicycles that you can put in your bedroom, lounge or any spare room. The idea is to simulate a highly-motivating boutique gym studio experience. You have access to 10,000 classes of varying levels and types. The cost for the bicycle ranges from £2,000 to £2,400, plus a membership fee of £39 per month.


Barrecore is a locally developed business that runs 10 boutique studios across London. The workouts they provide focus on functional exercise and low impact interval training. They strive to deliver “body sculpting”, in an attractive, pleasant environment. Barrecore is mostly about women (there is not a single non-woman pictured on their website). They do allow men to join, but they do not hide the fact that 92% of the clientele is female. The cost ranges from £120 for one week to £2860 for a year.

Barry's Bootcamp

Barry’s founder, Barry Jay, opened his first “boot camp” in Los Angeles in 1998. Today, it is a well-known workout venue in London focusing on burning calories and functional exercise in a boutique gym studio environment. Barry’s is a favourite of young City professionals. Strength training is predominantly bodyweight exercise performed while maintaining a high heart rate. Barry’s is an exceedingly social place, where the sense of community is reinforced with social events featuring, among other things, Barry’s private label wine. Prices range from £22 for a single class to £325 for 30 days.


Originating in Australia, F45 is now a popular London workout venue. The “F” stands for “functional” and “45” means 45 minutes, which is the length of F45’s workouts. Alternating between “strength” days and “cardio” days, the workout consists principally of circuits of high intensity interval training, performed to music that’s meant to motivate. Similarly to Barrecore and Barry’s, F45 is also about community. Prices vary, up to £200 per month.

Body Transformation Gyms

Here, we lump together London’s popular body transformation offerings such as Ultimate Performance, Roar Fitness and Embody. They are very popular among young professionals seeking to lose weight, gain muscle and achieve overall aesthetic improvement. A typical three month programme usually focuses on rapid weight loss and intense strength training to get quick results. Their websites are dominated by impressive “before” and “after” photos showing clients' rather remarkable achievements. Prices are not terribly transparent, but we believe they are in the range of £4,000 to £6,000 for a three-month transformation programme.

All of the offerings are terrific. They all capitalise on the boom that has been occurring in the fitness industry in the past 10 years as people, particularly younger people, become more fitness (and image) conscious. The businesses share one common feature: The clientele is already highly motivated to exercise and does not need much encouragement (or in the case of the body transformation gyms, clients have at least mustered the motivation to sign up for three months of hard work). They all serve their market of motivated people exceedingly well and deliver what their clients want. From that perspective, they have no shortfalls and all deserve applause.

Another common feature of the boutique gym studio environments is that they are also a community, and communities help people thrive. Through a combination of creative branding and marketing, music and décor, programming and social interaction, they are also a club that people want to belong to. The immediate impact is that people enjoy their experience and their motivation to exercise increases – both positive outcomes.

At the same time, they don’t pretend to be everyone’s health and wellness solution, because they are not. The BBC reports that over one third of people in the UK are physically inactive. A very significant additional number of people are not entirely sedentary, but they are insufficiently active to optimise their health. Our experience at Goal Master Fitness tells us that many people, particularly more mature people, are uncomfortable in group exercise environments and either attend them reluctantly or avoid them entirely. The music is loud. The room is sweaty. The clientele sports a physique that many of us have not had for at least a few decades. Most people know they should be exercising regularly, but need help overcoming the barriers that prevent them from doing it – insufficient time, dislike for the available opportunities, confusion about what is best and how to get started.

Also, the boutique workout concepts we describe only handle one of the four pillars of health – exercise. They are not  (and do not purport be) experts in nutrition, stress management or sleep.  Trainers are rarely expert nutritionists or experienced coaches with a successful track record of coaching people towards effective stress control and sleep hygiene. It is a rare person who can achieve optimal health with exercise alone, without nutritional interventions and without addressing their stress and sleep.

Perhaps the most important element that these workout concepts do not offer is the coaching and support that some people need to make exercise a permanent feature of their lives. The boutique gyms are a great platform for people who have the intrinsic motivation stay on track. The body transformation gyms certainly offer the ongoing training that people need to maintain the fruits of their transformation, if they chose to do so. However, many people do not stay on track. Far too often, they revert to old habits. Sustainable habit change is challenging and often requires expert coaching by trained professionals.

If you have the motivation to use any of the offerings described above, you should definitely give them a try. You may enjoy it and find a new place to reach for your fitness goals. If you would benefit from a bit of support or encouragement to get moving, or if you need help with your nutrition or lifestyle in a long-term, habit-changing sort of way, individualised coaching will be a more effective and sustainable option for you.

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