Fitness Playground no longer exists unfortunately. But my reviews of them are pretty entertaining even if I do so myself… so I have left them up. Just don’t go trying to attend a session because they no longer run….
THE BASICS: A light jog, a playful warm up and a series of torturous yet (if my muscles today are anything to go by) highly effective tone up/cardio circuits in the park.
THE BITCHES: Carly and Sarah
THE CLASS: Saturday morning is not my favourite time of day, but I generally feel pretty smug if I wake up hangover-less and manage to persuade myself out of bed and take the morning by the balls. Now I admit, persuasion usually comes in the form of a huge breakfast, but obviously Project Hot Bitch means I have to monitor the consumption of these a bit more closely nowadays. And so this Saturday, the bacon sarnie took a back burner and persuasion to haul my arse out of bed took on the guise of an hour long fitness session near southbank, courtesy of Fitness Playground.
The class promises to make London your outdoor gym, which sounded excellent as one thing I struggle with is finding inspiration in a sanitary gym work out. Better still they are offering the chance to take two classes for a tenner so you can test them out. Seeing as you can’t even buy two glasses of wine for a tenner nowadays, I was in! (Yes, a glass of wine is the currency in which I work out the relative value of everything, it’s best I admit this from the off).
Anyway- Saturday morning. After two failed attempts to hire a Boris Bike (sort it out, BoJo), I hopped on the bus and made my way from my home in Shoreditch to London South Bank University sports centre on London Road, close to Elephant and Castle roundabout.
The meeting place is up the ramp and right inside the foyer to the LSBU sports centre building, and is actually a bit closer to Elephant and Castle roundabout than the map on the Fitness Playground website shows (although this is definitely a glitch on googlemaps as they acknowledge this on their site, and their “how to find us” instructions are nice and descriptive, so even a directionally-challenged luddite like myself managed to find it easily).
The receptionists at the sports centre looked at me like I was mental when I turned up and said I was there for a fitness class (which I think says more about him than me considering he is working on the reception of a fitness centre), but seconds later Dan appeared and my mind was set at ease that I’d found the right place! And so my advice on arriving slightly early and being faced with a slack-jawed receptionist is to smile sweetly, sit and wait until one of the Fitness Playground guys arrives.
Dan and I had a natter whilst we waited for fellow HB Sarah, and he commended me for not taking a bike to get to the class, presumably because I was about to have every ounce of energy squeezed out of my poor unsuspecting body. I promptly forgave Boris. Dan also told me about the fact that today’s class was one of Fitness Playground’s BEST classes, as opposed to the “more playful” BURN class that they held on Monday and Wednesday weeknights. Today, we were in for several circuits, with the aim of testing and improving our fitness. I was scared.
When Sarah arrived, she got herself sorted, we left our bags at LSBU (handy), and then we set off- a quick check for injuries and a light jog to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, we chose a sunny spot and Dan set out the cones. We then had one of the most genuinely feel-good warm ups I have ever experienced, which set the fun, playful tone of the classes brilliantly.
My two highlights of the warm-up were probably shoulder-tag, where the object was to lightly tap your opponent’s shoulder, (this basically became Sarah and I flumping about and “sparring”…. and I think secretly enjoying the legitimate opportunity to wallop each other), and the other being paper-scissors-rock-planking. Think trying not to giggle whilst holding a stare-off with your opponent in plank position, and then jumping up to “draw” our paper/scissors/rock at each other. And then staring blankly at each other trying to work out who won the draw because it is 10.15am on a Saturday and we are too busy recoving from the plank to work out if scissors beats rock or not. Luckily Dan was in hand to remind us which beat which (whilst stifling a laugh at our bewildered little faces), and then the loser chased the winner to try and tag them, again whilst trying not to fall about laughing.
The circuits themselves were exhausting. Seven all in all, with 4 minutes to complete each circuit. Burpees featured. I almost cried at several times whilst trying to complete them. Lots of sprinting, skipping, and squatting. My body was in shock after the second circuit rep, but Dan was great at keeping us going when we flagged and looked less like Hot Bitches and more like Startled Road Kill (SRK?). He was genuinely very good at inspiring us to push harder so we would beat out previous completion time, something which personally really encourages me to keep going and achieve, so I found this really helpful. Having that goal was a good way to keep you working hard for the whole class, and despite my continual wails of despair, after about circuit 4 the endorphines kicked in and I was determined to beat each previous circuit time in a slightly more positive fashion that the previous three!
We were allowed a small rest at one point, where I took the opportunity to flump onto the grass dramatically for a lie down. Getting back to the circuits afterward this rest brought a new lease of life out of me, and we really hit some good times in that second set. I still never mastered a burpee but I liked to think that I gave them a good throttling an at least tried to take them on!
Cool down was some deep stretching and a light jog back to LSBU, the whole time chatter was relaxed and encouraging. Upon our return to the uni sports centre, Dan nipped upstairs to get our bags, and came down with a hazlenut chewy eclair for both of us- something that I can only describe as a heavenly mouthful of rainbows and unicorn’s tears. What an end to the class!
I really did feel a sense of achievement having completed the circuits, and flailing around and yelling in a alcoholic, tourettes like about the desire to down a G&T half way through the squatting section wasn’t frowned upon in the slightest, which is the sign of a good class if you ask me. I think patience, encouragement and the genuine desire from Dan to create fun during the class were all very apparent, and made me feel happy that I had chosen to whizz around the park in a child-like fashion on a Saturday morning rather than stay under the duvet and give in to the lure of a bacon sarnie. My muscles are aching today, especially across my arms and back, which I assume means something good is happening!
THE VERDICT: Exhausting, great fun and lovely, patient trainer. Definitely going back, next time to try a BURN class after work.
THE EXTRAS: I am stocking up on these. Hey, a hot bitch needs her energy!!