Class crashers: The Games
I’m not a negative person, but I’ve reserved a special place in hell for the person who decided to name this class ‘The Games’. When I arrived at KXU in London’s swanky SW3, I was thinking throwing and catching, colourful dumbbells, yummy mummies and a bit of fun, right? Wrong. There’s nothing playful about these games.
Ignoring the fact that everyone around me is stripping off and absolutely ripped, I throw myself into the warm-up – slow bear crawls, squat jumps and lateral lunges – so far, so simple. Then we’re introduced to the circuits: three 45-second sets of eight different exercises, with a 15-second rest between them. Instructor Will demonstrates each with a dumbbell the size of a small dolphin dangling effortlessly from his hand, and urges us to use the highest weight we can manage throughout.
I start off with dumbbell lunges, and I’m not ashamed to say that barely 20 seconds in, I switch my 10kg for eights. Next up is TRX rows, something I’m quite sure I’ve seen used in torture chambers, but are apparently perfectly legal here. With heels on the floor and a TRX strap in each hand, you hinge backwards, keeping your body straight, then pull yourself up, elbows tight to your body. The lower you go, the harder it is – so needless to say, by the last set I’m essentially upright.
Will darts about correcting form and bellowing encouragement (bass-heavy music is blaring) as we take on goblet squats, alternate dumbbell snatches and sprints on the bike, rower and ski machine. I finally collapse when it comes to mountain climbers on gliders, and kettlebell swings; that’s when nausea sets in.
Oh, and then we just have a quick go on the battle ropes (so exhausting), medicine ball deadlifts (mine is 20kg and I feel like I’ve ruptured something), and lifting a tyre bigger than my car (yes, I did need assistance). Such is the burn that it’s a relief to finally hang from the ceiling, legs held in a feeble pike position.
As I gaze around, panting and just a general mess, I notice there is a clear hardcore here who are absolutely loving it. Scantily clad, glistening with sweat and frequently high-fiving each other, under the purple lights they look straight out of a 1980s music video. They are utterly bizarre and I’ll never understand them.
Just when I think it’s over and I’m longing for the cool down, Will says we’re going to ‘play a fun game we used to do in the military’. This involves switching from forearm to full plank for the duration of a four-and-a-half-minute long song. Will has been added to my ‘straight to hell’ list.
I worry I’m coming off a little negative here, so let me hit you with the positives: it’s an excellent full-body workout you can really feel and easily scalable. It’s impossible to get bored, will build strength – and from the looks of the regulars, perseverance equals big rewards.
KXU is a pay-as-you-go fitness boutique in Chelsea.
Photography by Juan Trujillo Andrades