Want to get fit but don't fancy a gym membership? If you're not a fan of exercise, fear not — these activities don't feel like exercise at all.
Learn some circus skills
Swing on a trapeze, walk a tightrope, juggle and hula hoop at the National Centre for Circus Arts in Shoreditch. Monthly, on a Saturday afternoon, in the atmospheric Electric Light Station building, the centre runs a beginners' course in circus skills for adults. No clowning around at the back.
Circus Experience Day, £69 for three hours.
Run up walls
Learn to dance while suspended from the ceiling, and run up walls like Spiderman with these masterclasses from circus group Upswing. Pick from a bungee masterclass, which'll get you using muscles you didn't even know you had, or wall running, which lets you live out all your cartoon dreams. Workshops tend to sell out well in advance, so register your interest for future classes before they go on sale.
Upswing workshops, various locations register your interest here.
Take a kayaking tour
Enough with the walking tours: it’s time to boat around London. See the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast from the river with a tour from Kayaking London. There are also evening sessions if you want to see the lights along the river by night. In the summer, tours of Little Venice also run.
Kayaking London, Big Ben Tour, £39 for two hours.
Surfing meets kayaking in stand up paddleboarding, which claims to be the world's fastest growing watersport. Active360 runs a number of paddleboarding tours in London, starting from Paddington, Kew Bridge, Putney, Brentford Lock or Islington. Glide elegantly (ish) past sights such as Kew Gardens, or through Little Venice. In the winter months, trips are rounded off with a bit of jacuzzi time to warm you up afterwards.
Paddleboarding, £65 for three hours.
If Anguy and Arya got you all-a-flutter in Game Of Thrones, have a go yourself at these taster sessions at 2020 Archery in Bermondsey. You’ll get about half an hour’s tuition before practising with a bow and arrow for about an hour, and picking up a bit of the lingo while you do so. Robin Hood, eat your heart out.
2020 Archery taster, £25 for 90 minutes.
Improve your DIY skills
Building and hammering burns calories at roughly the same rate as yoga. Plus if you choose DIY over yoga, you’ll have something other than a sweaty t-shirt to show for your efforts at the end of class. The Goodlife Centre in Southwark teaches tiling, electrics, plumbing, painting, and even building solar chargers for anyone who’s more about plaster than vinyasa.
The Goodlife Centre, from £60 for a morning session.
Practise diving in the Olympic Park
OK, so these courses aren’t actually run by Tom Daley, but if you want to slice through the surface of the pool like a pro, head to London Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park for a diving school named after him. Classes run weekly, and are open to everyone regardless of skill level.
London Aquatics Centre, from £26.60 a month.
Take the plunge
If you can’t wait until your holidays, get ahead with a trial dive at one of London’s scuba diving centres — there are quite a few of them dotted about town. It’s not cheap, but discovering diving here in London means that if you ever get the chance to scuba dive on holiday, you’ve already learned a bunch of hand signals... and you only had to go to a warm pool in Soho to do so.
Big Squid Diving, £59 for two hours at various locations.
Stretch out for yoga’s slowest styles
Yoga’s not all sweaty studios and fast-moving sequences. Yin yoga teaches participants to hold poses for minutes, not seconds, and you’re unlikely to break a sweat. You won’t be working off any food indulgences in this class, but you’ll still improve your circulation, soothe tired muscles and get more flexible.
Frame Gyms, King's Cross location, from £13 for an hour.
Carry Johnny’s watermelon
Pineapple Studios has been London’s dance destination for decades, so the varied roster of dance classes available here comes as little surprise. If you’re into geometric vogue-like moves then try waacking. Motown fans can even learn to groove with Johnny Castle himself in the studio's new Dirty Dancing classes, led by Paul Kitson, the first Brit to play the role in the West End.
Pineapple Studios, from £8 for an hour.
Dance your way to fitness
If you love dance but hate 'moves' then join the UK’s leading contemporary dance group, Rambert, for dance and fitness classes at their gorgeous Southbank venue. Their fitness classes are particularly effective, focusing on strength, flexibility and stamina rather than sweat or how many reps you can do. No-one’s going to shout ‘pump it’ at you round here.
Rambert dance classes, from £11 for 90 minutes.
Learn the ropes
Always fancied a bit of rock-climbing but never sure where to start? Centres such as Mile End, The Arch in Bermondsey and Colindale, and The Castle in Stoke Newington all run hour-long taster sessions for about £20. See our complete guide to climbing in London.