In a world where Gymbox member, Genevieve Teevan, dreams of doing superhero stunts, how far will one Grip class go to make it a reality? Based on real events.
Grip is categorised as a Functional Training class: that means it applies to real-life. Alas, real life seldom requires us non-Marvel heroes to hang by our fingertips from rocky outcroppings, skyscraper ledges, or fast-moving trains. But just in case you fall into a Joss Whedon-esque version of reality, don’t you want to be ready with good hair, clever one-liners, and super strong grip? Assuming your hair is already on point and you trust your inner scriptwriter to handle the zingy quips, then all you need to fulfil your Marvel hero destiny is cliff-hanging grip skillage.
The official tagline of Grip class is “to increase your grip strength for lifting, calisthenics and aerial work”, but since this class feels like a training montage in a film, let’s consider it action hero groundwork.
This class focuses on technique and strength – Sweat Drench it ain’t – so the opening scenes are all about mobility. We start with wrist exercises including a version of press-ups with the backs of our hands on the floor. Unless you have bionic hands and wrists, this hurts so you don’t use your full weight. Next, you use light bars for shoulder mobility exercises similar to some of the moves in Yoga for Lifting class, another 2017 new release from Gymbox.
The main action involves rotating with a co-star through seven stations. Each one teaches a different element of grip. You may find that you have undiscovered aptitude for certain grips. Hanging 5kg plates from your fingers for palms-down bicep curls might be a strain, yet you swagger towards the rings like they’re the villain you’ve spent your whole law enforcement career chasing.
Jamie, who taught the class I tried, offered endless spin-offs of each exercise to make it more accessible or to ramp up the endurance required. For example, when hanging from bars, tubes, or short ropes, you can do a simple dead hang and then progress to scapular pull-ups and then on to L-sits, alternating knee-ups, toe-to-bars, and levers for the real A-listers. Hanging from the cones and cannonballs was the greatest challenge for most of us, but even that can be made easier by putting your whole hand over the top – or harder by having just your little finger outside the chain from which the ball hangs.
The best thing about this class is the narrative arc of improvement that takes place in a single class. The first round of the seven exercises requires some trial and error. By the second round, you can really focus on technique and build your endurance.
For me, the climax was rope climbing. For every kid who flailed uselessly at the bottom of a rope in PE class, being taught to do it properly as an adult feels like avenging all your demons. As with the six other Grip stations, climbing a rope is a simple matter of technique. Rope Burn – yet another hot new Gymbox production – also teaches rope climbing but it’s a Sweat Drench class so you’re almost too knackered to enjoy the thrills, whereas Grip leaves you with a calm sense of heroic satisfaction.
Improve your grip at the following clubs:
Farringdon, Wednesdays @ 12:15
Victoria, Wednesday @ 18:15
Westfield Stratford, Fridays @ 18:00
Old Street, Sundays @ 10:15
Bank, Mondays @ 18:00
Westfield London, Tuesdays @ 12:15
Or book here