Helle Hammonds Made Me Do It, Or How I Survived GymClass
Nested in a beautiful neighbourhood of Holland Park, GymClass boutique studio welcomed me with an uplifting 'Hello beautiful' written on the mirror behind the counter with a friendly studio manager Becky. The reception quickly filled up with happy guys and girls who traded some early Saturday morning lie-in for an intense workout session.
Well, that doesn't look like anything I imagined when I heard about this High Intensity Interval Training class that promises to burn as many as 1,000 calories within 50 minutes (and what I imagined was an army-like rigorous exercise in the mud and under supervision of a hyper active trainer precisely!). And, there is no way this beautiful, super fit, glowing with positive energy GymClass founder Helle Hammonds can be tough and make me work out every single of the class to my full capacity! Have I never been that wrong in my life!.. :)
A celebrity trainer & Barry's Bootcamp trainer, Helle set up GymClass boutique studio combining the best of her training experience and latest proven sports research on effective workouts that lead to visible results. At the class, brave GymClass-goers are exposed to two types of exercise: metabolic conditioning and strength work. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) raises the body's glucose metabolism and burns fat while developing core strength, flexibility and balance. Expect cardio (bike work, battle ropes and plyometrics) to burn fat, and strength training (weights, TRX, and frame work) to build muscles and make you leaner.
After a quick warm-up session of various dynamic and walking planks (that to some might feel like a full-on workout already), our class of 14 people (perfect size, if you ask me - quite intimate to get enough attention from the trainer yet enough people to avoid 100% lime-light if you are feeling shy) was split into two groups, each instructed to do a particular set of exercises carefully timed and controlled by Helle herself.
While my group was busy with kettle bell exercises with lunges, the other half of the room was doing a combination of pull ups and squats. We then swapped, completed the sets and embarked on a new fitness challenge. Interval training on spinning bikes that is, while the other part of the group was sweating performing jumping lunges, planks and running on the spot. Within the last round of exercises we were doing stomach exercises with hand weights, and core strength exercises with ankle weights.
That's when my body started giving up, asking to take a few photos for this article instead of working out, praying to grab some water and coming up with other ways to avoid smashing my calories. While in 'your average body-pump-kind-of-style group fitness class' a teacher might let you take a break, in GymClass if the class is still going, you are working out and Helle runs around pumping with energy making sure you pump those muscles. 'This is not a water break Inna, keep pushing, you can do it!' - I heard Helle scramming my name and immediately got back to training.
To end the class (yes, my extra push was not even at the end of the class and there were a few more hoops to jump through, so to say) we did two sets of circuits, including boxing, pull ups, tricep dips, squats with dumbbells, kettle bells, jumping onto a box and TRX chest presses. This was probably my most favourite part of the class (apart from the relaxing stretches to cool down at the very end) as you need to push yourself to the maximum for a very short period of time, quickly changing to the next position. I absolutely enjoyed the boxing set - such a perfect way not only to train but to let the negative energy out - and pull ups (even though I could never do one before, Helle demonstrated how I can start training my body to build up the strength towards a pull up).
I felt absolutely knackered towards the end of the class and when I thought there's nothing else I can possibly squeeze out of my body, Helle gave me an encouraging look and cheered me up: 'Come on, jump on that block Inna, give it a go, it's the last round!' and, miraculously, I did! Wouldn't it be fab to have Helle as my inner voice motivating me every minute of my gym visits and also when friends' home-made muffins look deliciously attractive?
I probably cannot get Helle's willpower and energy embedded within my brain but I can definitely come back to the GymClass London workout which feels like exercising with a group of positive friends with the same fitness and healthy lifestyle-oriented mindset, supported by Helle's attention and fitness expertise.
Workouts are available throughout the day from 6 am and target different body areas, depending on the programme selected by the trainer. Monday is full body, Tuesday’s upper body and abs, Wednesday’s core and so on. Having completed by 50 minutes GymClass initiation, I was crawling out of the beautiful studio buzzing with endorphins and feeling super-proud of myself for kicking the weekend off with such a burst of health and fitness instead of lying in an having that Sat morning croissant.
Last but not least, if you do live outside of Holland Park area, better come in fitness clothes already as the studio's changing room is nice and small. Cheer up though - after the workout you can purchase a smoothie made right in front of you by GymClass friendly staff!