Class Review: Functional Bodybuilding

21st June

When I heard I was being sent to review “Functional Bodybuilding”, honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Visions of a 1960s Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to leave me, and I was sure I was walking into a class where my heaviest lift would see me laughed out of the room.  

Fortunately, it turns out the Gymbox version of bodybuilding is quite different. There wasn’t a Speedo or well-oiled thigh in sight when I made my way to the Frame area of Gymbox Stratford, and the focus was very much on getting a full body workout rather than pumping up some Popeye-level biceps.  

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After we’d piled up enough weights and secured enough TRX cables for me to wonder what on earth was coming next, we jumped straight into a series of exercises that worked every muscle. The format was a basic circuit, taking us around three stations of two exercises. Spilt into groups, we spent 8 minutes at each station, working for 45 seconds on one exercise before swapping onto the other. The first 45 seconds generally felt pretty good – by the eighth set, I was more than ready to move stations as my smooth, controlled movements descended into some sort of shaky flail.  

The exercises utilised both bodyweight and actual weights, whether we were hanging off the frame for knee tucks, gripping kettlebells for squats and lunges, or clenching every core muscle for TRX work. I liked the variety, especially as we were never doing one exercise for more than 45 seconds at a time – the circuit as a whole was tough, but it never felt unmanageable and it never got boring.  

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I’d never done a class in the Frame area before, and was worried I’d feel self-conscious being in the middle of the gym rather than hidden away in a studio. I definitely felt that way to start, but as soon as we got going, I forgot all about everyone else – it just became a group of people getting on with their work out. It was also nice to be able to use the frame for a circuit without worrying about someone else jumping on when you’re on another part of your routine, or feeling guilty for trying to colonise it when someone else might need it for their workout.

If you’re looking for a solid strength workout and could use having someone standing over you to make sure you actually do your reps, this class is a great option. The circuits are also easy to recreate on your own – so if you could use some inspiration to change things up, give this class a go. Your inner Terminator will thank you.

You can follow Louise on Instagram and Twitter @iamlouisesmith

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