Before you read this post, you need to know one thing: fitness & exercise have never come naturally to me. I don't have an athletic body type, I don't come from a sporty family, I was pretty much one of the worst in the class for any sports we did at school, and most importantly, I never thought I could actually
When I went through phases of going to the gym or doing any kind of exercise in my teens and very early 20s, it was purely in an attempt to lose weight. Which didn't last, because for me personally, that approach to fitness was not the right one. The motivation came from a negative place, I always felt that it was a chore or a punishment, and therefore I ended up having the same attitude about it as I'd always had - being fit is for others, not for me.
As with most things in life, the change came at the most unexpected time. When my husband and I decided to start the Couch to 5K program last year, at the coldest and most miserable time of year at the end of January or sometime around then, it was on a total whim and we didn't have any grand plans of becoming "runners". After all, you can only call yourself a runner if you do races and run 5 times a week, right?
(Wrong, by the way. If you like
running and do it from time to time, you're a runner.)
We'd never be that, but we could try it out and see how we go. That was our relaxed mentality. But we did commit ourselves to completing the program, whether we stopped running after that or ended up carrying on with it.
So you know that we kept at it, not because we felt we had to, but because it was something we'd actually started to enjoy. I'm not saying that it was always easy to get up early and face the cold (often, E would literally drag me out of bed), but in a strange way, it became a hobby, not a chore. It felt amazing to complete a 10K race for the first time last summer, and then I took a hiatus for over 5 months. It was surprising how much it didn't bother me or make me feel guilty that I took a break from running - I just knew I'd get back into it when I felt like it again.
And then when I started again late February, it wasn't begrudgingly - it was because I actually wanted to. This, to me, is the key thing when it comes to exercising. As someone who was definitely not born with the "sporty gene" (I realise that's not a thing, but it's the only way I can describe just how
sporty I consider myself), seeing exercise as a hobby, rather than an arduous undertaking because society or whoever is telling me I should, has been the mental switch that I needed.
I'm sorry if I sound all soapbox-y, but I'm simply trying to say, please don't think that I'm some fitness guru and this all comes easily to me. And also, I wanted to say all the above as an intro to my thoughts on
, because I think it's a great thing for people who might feel similarly to me regarding exercise.
Most of you probably know what
is, but it's just recently launched in London and is essentially a pass that lets you attend a huge variety of different fitness classes around the city. For a monthly fee of £79, you can attend as many classes as you like.
When I first heard about it, I dismissed because a) it seemed expensive, b) I didn't know if I would have time for that plus running during the week, and c) I always found group fitness classes intimidating. And then my friend told me she'd signed up and talked to me about the various classes she'd tried so far, and they sounded intriguing. But again, I didn't really think I was interested.
And then I found out that you could get a trial pass for a week for £10 (unfortunately, I don't think it's available anymore - someone correct me if I'm wrong), so I decided that was worth doing. Long story short, I loved the classes, and with their introductory offer of £59 per month and the refer a friend discount my friend kindly gave me, I found myself signing up for 6 months of ClassPass. E thought I was a bit crazy, but wished me luck.
One month in, and I'm still loving it. The sheer variety of classes that you get to try is amazing, and I've found that it fits in to my lifestyle, which was my main concern. I've taken 10 classes in one month, which is probably about the maximum I'd take, although if I went running less I'd be able to go to more. As is always the case, I do strongly believe that you have to make time for the things that are important to you - meaning I do get up extra early some days to fit classes in, or sacrifice some evening time to attend one, but it's worth it to me (within reason!).
This post is already ridiculously wordy, so I'll try and keep it as snappy as possible, but I thought it might be of interest/help for anyone who's curious about CP and were considering trying it out. Below are my initial thoughts on CP in general, and quick reviews of the classes I've tried so far.
ClassPass :: Pros
- Although the initial cost seems pretty steep, these fitness classes are usually easily over £20 per class. Meaning if you attend even just 1 class a week, you're getting your money's worth.
- There are studios literally everywhere. I'm lucky that I'm self-employed and work in different areas around London, so I can usually find a studio offering a class I'm interested in a short walk from wherever I am. But even if you have a 9-5 job, you can find studios close to your home, or to your work, or on your way to/from work, etc - there are lots of possibilities.
- It's very easy to book classes on their website and with their app. They have a 12 hour cancellation policy (less than 12 hours means you pay a £12 cancellation fee), which I think is perfectly reasonable and lets you be quite flexible.
ClassPass :: Cons
- It's not cheap, so if you think you'll only manage a couple of classes a month, it's not worth it.
- You're only allowed to visit the same studio up to 3 times per month. I'm guessing that this is because the studios would be losing out if they're taken advantage of through CP, so I understand why they have this rule, but it's something to keep in mind.
- For the standard £79 fee, you're not bound to a contract and can cancel at anytime, but there is a re-registration fee of £69 if you want to start up again. This is the biggest con for me.
The classes I've taken so far (bear in mind that since I run, I don't tend to search for cardio-heavy classes, but there are those available too):
(Beginner & Intermediate Reformer Pilates)
I've been to 1 beginner & 3 intermediate classes, and they require you to take a beginner class if it's your first time. The Reformer Pilates equipment scared the heck out of me at first (it looks like a torture machine or something), but it was pretty straight-forward to get used to and I find the intermediate classes definitely challenging but not horribly difficult (although it does depend on the teacher, I had one who I thought must have been mistaking us for an advanced class!). Great for strength training with very little stress on joints.
I'd tried hot yoga before so I knew roughly what to expect - this was a great class, hot but not too hot, and the instructor was very nice and the session had a good vibe to it. I'm not a hugely passionate yogi, but I'd definitely be happy to attend again.
(Tower Pilates, Level 1)
This is a gorgeous little studio in central London, and they make you feel right at home. They have a very limited number of people per class (there were just 2 of us for this class) which makes it very comfortable and intimate, as well as having a lot of the teacher's attention on you which is helpful. Tower Pilates is very different to standard or reformer (again, the equipment scared me at first), but it was a good workout and I'm hoping to find myself in that area again so I can attend another of their classes.
I've been to two of these classes now, and when I went to my first one, I didn't know what had hit me. These classes are
They work your muscles in a completely different way, and I definitely struggled with some of the exercises, but it felt amazing and I promptly went back again. It's not ballet - in fact it's not at all like ballet - but they use elements from dancers' training and work on very precise moves. The studio is lovely and the instructor wears a headpiece and calls you out if they want to correct you - a bit frightening at first, but I got used to it! One of my favourites.
After loving Barretoned, I wanted to try another Barre based workout, so Barreworks it was. The studio is bright and colourful, and they have different equipment to Barretoned which was a nice change - but the workout was still just as tough, if not more so. The teacher did the entire class with us (no wonder she actually looks like a ballerina), and it was a friendly and comfortable group. Definitely one I'll attend again.
(Lomax Blast Class)
This class absolutely
me. The thing is, although the class itself (a circuit/bootcamp type, lots of strength training with body weight & with equipment) was incredibly hard, it wasn't completely impossible and we were given modifications for all the moves to suit our levels. But the class was last Friday, and I am still suffering from acute DOMS. I wish I was exaggerating - I tried to go for a run yesterday, and gave up after 1K because my inner thighs were dying. The instructor was great and very encouraging, and the studio was nice (albeit slightly cramped/cluttered), and I really did like the workout - but I'm scared to go again! I'll keep you posted.
That's all for now (big high five if you made it through this entire post!) - I'll check back in next month and let you know if I'm cursing my moment of insanity for signing up for 6 long months of this.