Capacity has been reduced and there is no longer an endless supply of fluffy towels, but the power of community spirit is still omnipresent
After several months of makeshift workouts, Zoom classes and attempting to keep fit amid all of the obstacles that come with exercising from home – close quarters, slippery floors, obstructive house plants and temperamental WiFi – Londoners can at last rejoice at the reopening of gyms in London.
Expect a few noticeable differences, however, at your favourite fitness emporiums. Gyms are now operating with revised opening hours and reduced capacity, as well as conducting contactless temperature checks upon entry. KX and Third Space now require you to book the main gym during peak hours, while KX has introduced a tech-savvy THOR® Robot, which is more commonly used to sterilise hospital operating theatres and considered the most powerful British-made sterilisation device. At Equinox, it is recommended, but not required, for members to wear gloves and face coverings during their visits.
In order to keep you safe, high-spec air filtration systems have been introduced at many leading fitness studios in order to maximise fresh air, and there will be hand sanitiser stations where water fountains and disposable cups once stood.
Barry’s Bootcamp and 1Rebel have reopened with separation screens between treadmills and bikes, as well as no shared equipment during classes. Hot Pod Yoga, which has faced one of the most challenging reopenings due to the nature of its sweat-inducing, close contact classes, has relaunched with a reduced capacity of just 12 people per session, as well as unveiling individually sized Minipods, which fit just one.
Some of the perks that gym-goers once enjoyed are no longer on offer, including lengthy showers and unlimited complimentary body lotion. Changing room space and time is limited and customers are encouraged to shower at home where possible or, in many instances, bring their own towels.
What you will have in abundance though is that much longed for human interaction and expert guidance. “Our classes play such a huge part in people's physical and mental wellbeing. Whether you're smashing a bag in a boxing class or mentally unwinding during yoga, it's very therapeutic,” comments Ed Stanbury, CEO of BLOK, east London’s leading boutique gym. “The community element is so important too. Gyms have replaced pubs as a place to socialise.”
“There's a sense of camaraderie, as well as the added motivation you get from walking into a class,” agrees Jason de Savary, founder of Core Collective, which has reopened in Knightsbridge and Kensington. The boutique gym is also continuing its outdoor HIIT classes in Hyde Park, which combine interval running with bodyweight exercises. “From a performance perspective, we find our clients achieve more when they are held accountable in a class. At home, it's easy to get distracted by normal life. In the studio, you can zone out and just focus on your workout. It's a total reset.”