Want to know what our classes are really like from the inside? Then read our member review of Balates by Katrina Whitelaw. "This is a workout that challenges strength, balance, stamina and flexibility" she says.
For some, Sunday morning means pyjamas, trashy TV, breakfast in bed, potentially nursing a hangover. So when I signed up for Gymbox Westfield London's earliest Sunday morning class, I was secretly hoping Balates would be nice and easy. Right?
Lose your preconceptions that this class is about tutus and tiaras: this is a workout that challenges strength, balance, stamina and flexibility. 'Balates' – a portmanteau of 'ballet' and 'Pilates' – incorporates both of these worlds, and so much more. In the hour-long class, expect a collection of short choreographed circuits, targeting every single area: legs, glutes, arms, core, back... all set to an eclectic soundtrack, ranging from chill-out strings to upbeat R&B (and a remix of Sweden's classic Eurovision entry 'Euphoria' if you're lucky!).
As somebody with zero dance experience, let alone ballet, I was a somewhat apprehensive (i.e. bricking it), but you soon discover that everyone in the class has their own skill level, and the moves can be tailored to suit yours – so rest assured you won't end up sticking out like a sore thumb!
Each month the choreography is refreshed, with a different sequence of exercises thrown in every week, so we're quite literally kept on our toes about what to expect from the class. About two-thirds of the session is spent using the mats bringing together V-sits, sit-ups, squats, balancing, dancing, yoga and pilates. The remainder of the class takes place on the barre, where we focus on kicks, stretches and ballet physique (so Googling ballet positions before I arrived came in handy then).
We finish off the hour with a few minutes of deep stretches on the mats to cool down, because yes, you will be dripping in sweat by this point. Success – we did it!
The class is led by Nik, one of Gymbox's most prolific instructors, teaching dozens of classes a week across London. With a background in ballet and fitness aerobics, he brings a unique blend of energy, grace and strength to the class, always encouraging us to push ourselves harder.
It doesn't really matter if you're a prima ballerina or a total newbie; Balates improves so many aspects of your physical fitness that it has become an essential part of my gym routine. It's hard not to love a class that has so many benefits – though make sure you get there early to bag a good spot because it's definitely one of the popular ones!
Even if you can barely touch your toes, let alone do the splits, book yourself in and see how it works for you!
Go on, book yourself in right here.