Alternative London Workouts #3: Body Balance

By SallyB2 Last edited 133 months ago
Alternative London Workouts #3: Body Balance

Not quite as supple as you were when you were thirteen? Feeling out of kilter, off balance and in need of some restorative me-time? Here's an alternative fitness option that rolls three disciplines into one and will have you sorted by the end of your lunch break.

WHAT: Body Balance, part of the Les Mills collection of fitness programmes. Les Mills is a New Zealand family business made good: they cleverly devised a range of keep fit disciplines, set them to pumping good contemporary music, and then franchised them all round the world. It is easy to dismiss their stuff as the interface between marketing and sport, but to do so would be to lose out on a terrific way to work out. Body Balance itself is a '21st Century blend' of the ancient arts of t'ai chi and yoga, with some pilates thrown in for good measure. Londonist absolutely loves it, and is really sulking that our local class has been suspended.WHERE + WHEN + HOW MUCH: Easy this. Body Balance in the UK is run by a company called FitPro, and they have 'licensed operatives' in gyms all over London. Classes are at various times, although to achieve that moral superiority that comes with being 'centred' there's nothing quite like doing an early morning, pre-breakfast class. Participation shouldn't cost you any more than doing a normal keep fit class at your gym.EQUIPMENT: Well, you don't actually need anything. Practice is usually bare foot (so girlies may want to paint their toenails the night before). Yoga mats are provided - although it is always nice to have your own. Wear loose comfortable clothing, and as with yoga classes it is good to have a wrap to keep you warm during relaxation periods. If you're a sucker like us, there are all sorts of gotta-have-it accessories that you can buy, but be strong.THE RUNDOWN: Classes usually last an hour. Typically they will start with a gentle but uplifting t'ai chi warm up: the visualisation techniques usually required in t'ai chi are a great way of forgetting your in-tray/ironing and taking yourself off elsewhere. This is followed by a selection of yoga 'sun salutations' - stretches and bends to wake your muscles up. The balance element of the class comes into play with a series of balancing poses, which usually results in fits of giggles. Stretches to open the hips and the chest follow, together with pilates moves designed to improve your core strength. The final energetic bit comprises twists and stretches to help your body cool, and then you get to kip for ten minutes relax gently before easing yourself back into workaday life. If you are anything like us, you will walk around with a beatific smile on your face for the rest of the day, not to mention wlaking about a foot taller.IS IT THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU? All classes are for all comers, and no previous knowledge is required. Even the fittest Adonii (?) can get caught out on questions of balance and flexibility, and so there is no shame if you cannot perform a particular move. There is no age limit: Londonist has seen teens to octagenarians at classes. And it's good for chaps as well as chapesses. If you are purist devotee of yoga or t'ai chi, though, you might find this diluted mix sacrilegious.Check out where we've previously sweated on your behalf.

Last Updated 20 June 2009