Week 32: Matrix at Digme Blackfriars

Many months ago when I started my challenge to try a new fitness class, craze or fad every week for a year, my very first session was a spin class at Digme‘s Richmond studio. This week, their latest studio opens in Blackfriars and it offers Matrix, a running based HIIT session, as well as its statement Ride class.

Digme is renowned for its high energy, high tech approach to training and I was really excited to see what’s in store at the city’s newest gym.

What they say:
Our unique and innovative Matrix classes are 50 minutes of short spells of hard work interspersed with rest periods, leaving you burning calories for hours afterwards. Based on three elements – run, condition, move – Matrix has been specially designed to be a full body workout.

Each class will feature the awesome Technogym SKILLMILL, kettlebell, TRXs and bodyweight movements.

My experience:
As always, I took the opportunity for a little London sightseeing en route to class and strolled from Waterloo along the river to Blackfriars, home of Digme’s latest studio. I love the vibe along this part of the river… the cool kids in the skate park, the cultured at the BFI and National Theatre and sand sculptures on the little beach at Gabriel’s Wharf.

The gym itself is inside the station, right next to Platform 2. Even a five minute detour can be enough of an excuse to give the gym a miss, but a gym in a station… what a brilliant idea! This makes it a breeze for Blackfriars commuters to get a sweat on before or after work.

The gym is long and narrow, not big by any stretch, and was probably previously used as storage space. Just as with their other studios, Digme have made this work spectacularly; proving that you don’t need loads of room to get people working hard. There are two studios: Ride and the Energy Lab, where my Matrix class was taking place.

The room was darkly lit, with a row of nine Skillmills (self powered treadmills) lining one mirrored wall. The floor was cleverly separated into grids, creating sectioned lanes behind each Skillmill, with a TRX and neat array of kettlebells at the other side of the room.

We were split into three groups, with each starting on a different station and rotating through our lane throughout the class. Each station had a name: “Skillers” were running, “Conditioners” were in the TRX/kettlebell area, and “Movers” were in the middle section, performing bodyweight movements.

The class format followed three circuits of 4 minutes on each station. The first round was a warm up to learn the movements, with the intensity ramping up as the class continued. Running on a Skillmill is very different to running on a normal treadmill. It’s a self powered machine with gears and is harder than running on a traditional treadmill where you can just bob up and down as the track moves beneath you. I’d done “Murph” that morning (a CrossFit hero WOD… 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats and a final mile run – all while wearing a 6kg vest). More running… oh dear, what had I let myself in for?

The conditioning and mover stations each comprised four movements, spending a minute on each, counted down by a bright clock on the wall. These were things like kettlebell thrusters, leg assisted muscle ups, groiners and down dog to sphinx flows. In between each 12 minute working circuit, we all joined in the middle of the room for a 60 second “Dig”, a single dynamic movement repeated for a minute, before grabbing a swig of water and returning to our first station.

This was a proper sweat-fest. As I ran facing myself in the mirror, all I could see was glistening sweat reflecting the neon light. As an aside, I’m not I used to mirrored gyms and find this especially strange when running. Where are you supposed to look? I alternated from straight into my own eyes (felt a bit like Rocky) to checking my form (nearly tripped over) to looking at the people next to me (probably not the done thing). Hmm. Anyway, as we progressed through rounds two and three, Dan gave technique cues and pace guidelines on running as well as the other movements and it was quite cool – or a distraction at least – to try out different gears and strides on the Skillmill.

Personally, I found the bodyweight movements the hardest. They were a real mental and physical struggle at times, but I felt as if I was going through it with everyone else in my group and we pushed through. Always one for a little friendly competition, I made sure I picked up the heaviest kettlebell for the final round of the conditioning station… the guy next to me quickly followed suit!

As we finished the final circuit, we came together for a final minute of jumping lunges. I say a minute, but most of us were stepping after about 30 seconds, before staggering to our water bottles as the clock signalled the end and the music went down.

We finished off with a delightful stretchy cool down to the sounds of Prince’s Purple Rain. Aaaaaaaaaand, relax.

This class was a really great combination of high intensity and functional movement. The coaches gave technique cues throughout and everything was scalable. It was essentially a circuits session, but there was a real sense of being ‘in it’ with everyone else in the class. The conditioning and movement elements presumably vary from session to session, and running on the Skillmill is ace – over time you could definitely challenge yourself by setting pace and gear targets.

I left feeling full of the joys of life; sweaty, smiley and oh-so hungry! The wander back to Waterloo felt like a stroll along the Seine, long shadows through the avenues of trees and happy people enjoying the evening sunshine. I got a Wahaca takeaway and sat with a big smile on my face eating my burrito and watching the sun set over the Thames before pootling home for a big, well deserved sleep. Lovely end to a lovely day.

In Summary:
Digme has done it again with a brilliant high intensity session guaranteed to leave you sweaty, exhilarated and a little bit sore the next day! Unlike the Ride class you don’t get feedback on your running performance, but it would be pretty cool if they could do that in the future.

If you commute through Blackfriars, get down there! This could be a game changer.

Where: Digme Blackfriars – other studios in Richmond, Moorgate and London.

Cost: current offer £20 unlimited for ten days, normally £20 per session or packages and monthly memberships available.

How to book

Many months ago when I started my challenge to try a new fitness class, craze or fad every week for a year, my very first session was a spin class at Digme’s Richmond studio. This week, their latest studio opens in Blackfriars and it offers Matrix, a running based HIIT session, as well as its statement Ride class.

Digme is renowned for its high energy, high tech approach to training and I was really excited to see what’s in store at the city’s newest gym.

What they say:
Our unique and innovative Matrix classes are 50 minutes of short spells of hard work interspersed with rest periods, leaving you burning calories for hours afterwards. Based on three elements – run, condition, move – Matrix has been specially designed to be a full body workout.

Each class will feature the awesome Technogym SKILLMILL, kettlebell, TRXs and bodyweight movements.

 

My experience:
As always, I took the opportunity for a little London sightseeing en route to class and strolled from Waterloo along the river to Blackfriars, home of Digme’s latest studio. I love the vibe along this part of the river… the cool kids in the skate park, the cultured at the BFI and National Theatre and sand sculptures on the little beach at Gabriel’s Wharf.

The gym itself is inside the station, right next to Platform 2. Even a five minute detour can be enough of an excuse to give the gym a miss, but a gym in a station… what a brilliant idea! This makes it a breeze for Blackfriars commuters to get a sweat on before or after work.

The gym is long and narrow, not big by any stretch, and was probably previously used as storage space. Just as with their other studios, Digme have made this work spectacularly; proving that you don’t need loads of room to get people working hard. There are two studios: Ride and the Energy Lab, where my Matrix class was taking place.

The room was darkly lit, with a row of nine Skillmills (self powered treadmills) lining one mirrored wall. The floor was cleverly separated into grids, creating sectioned lanes behind each Skillmill, with a TRX and neat array of kettlebells at the other side of the room.

We were split into three groups, with each starting on a different station and rotating through our lane throughout the class. Each station had a name: “Skillers” were running, “Conditioners” were in the TRX/kettlebell area, and “Movers” were in the middle section, performing bodyweight movements.

The class format followed three circuits of 4 minutes on each station. The first round was a warm up to learn the movements, with the intensity ramping up as the class continued. Running on a Skillmill is very different to running on a normal treadmill. It’s a self powered machine with gears and is harder than running on a traditional treadmill where you can just bob up and down as the track moves beneath you. I’d done “Murph” that morning (a CrossFit hero WOD… 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats and a final mile run – all while wearing a 6kg vest). More running… oh dear, what had I let myself in for?

The conditioning and mover stations each comprised four movements, spending a minute on each, counted down by a bright clock on the wall. These were things like kettlebell thrusters, leg assisted muscle ups, groiners and down dog to sphinx flows. In between each 12 minute working circuit, we all joined in the middle of the room for a 60 second “Dig”, a single dynamic movement repeated for a minute, before grabbing a swig of water and returning to our first station.

This was a proper sweat-fest. As I ran facing myself in the mirror, all I could see was glistening sweat reflecting the neon light. As an aside, I’m not I used to mirrored gyms and find this especially strange when running. Where are you supposed to look? I alternated from straight into my own eyes (felt a bit like Rocky) to checking my form (nearly tripped over) to looking at the people next to me (probably not the done thing). Hmm. Anyway, as we progressed through rounds two and three, Dan gave technique cues and pace guidelines on running as well as the other movements and it was quite cool – or a distraction at least – to try out different gears and strides on the Skillmill.

Personally, I found the bodyweight movements the hardest. They were a real mental and physical struggle at times, but I felt as if I was going through it with everyone else in my group and we pushed through. Always one for a little friendly competition, I made sure I picked up the heaviest kettlebell for the final round of the conditioning station… the guy next to me quickly followed suit!

As we finished the final circuit, we came together for a final minute of jumping lunges. I say a minute, but most of us were stepping after about 30 seconds, before staggering to our water bottles as the clock signalled the end and the music went down.

We finished off with a delightful stretchy cool down to the sounds of Prince’s Purple Rain. Aaaaaaaaaand, relax.

This class was a really great combination of high intensity and functional movement. The coaches gave technique cues throughout and everything was scalable. It was essentially a circuits session, but there was a real sense of being ‘in it’ with everyone else in the class. The conditioning and movement elements presumably vary from session to session, and running on the Skillmill is ace – over time you could definitely challenge yourself by setting pace and gear targets.

I left feeling full of the joys of life; sweaty, smiley and oh-so hungry! The wander back to Waterloo felt like a stroll along the Seine, long shadows through the avenues of trees and happy people enjoying the evening sunshine. I got a Wahaca takeaway and sat with a big smile on my face eating my burrito and watching the sun set over the Thames before pootling home for a big, well deserved sleep. Lovely end to a lovely day.

In Summary:
Digme has done it again with a brilliant high intensity session guaranteed to leave you sweaty, exhilarated and a little bit sore the next day! Unlike the Ride class you don’t get feedback on your running performance, but it would be pretty cool if they could do that in the future.

If you commute through Blackfriars, get down there! This could be a game changer.

Where: Digme Blackfriars – other studios in Richmond, Moorgate and London.

Cost: current offer £20 unlimited for ten days, normally £20 per session or packages and monthly memberships available.

How to book: www.digmefitness.com


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