For this week’s new find I’ve gone for some good old sweat and intensity!
Core Collective has been a mainstay of High Street Ken for a few years and has just opened a brand new studio in Knightsbridge. I went along to check out their signature lift+row class
What they say:
True all-round fitness: 45 minutes of high intensity interval training, developed for cardio, strength and endurance. Combines a varying sequence of weights and floor exercises with rowing intervals. You’ll build strength, burn fat and test your mental resilience like no other class.
I’d booked in for a Saturday morning class and headed up to town feeling not entirely full of beans; December is kinda exhausting! As soon as I stepped off the tube at Knightsbridge, however, I was pleased I’d come – having a gander at the jewel entrusted decorations on the Harrods tree alone was worth the journey! The tree is adorned with totally OTT sparkly festive foods: turkey, Christmas pud, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates and even lobster (is this a festive food? Maybe people who shop in Harrods food hall eat lobster for breakfast on Christmas day…).
The Core Collective studio is a stone’s throw away and was welcoming with a sociable small drinks cafe on the ground floor and stairs going down to the main fitness studios. I was warmly welcomed by a friendly receptionist who gave me a couple of towels (one for sweat, one for shower) and asked me if I’d like to order a post workout shake (the popcorn of the fitness industry) before showing me around.
The main studio downstairs is entirely dedicated to lift+row classes, with 12 Concept2 rowers down one wall, stacks of Core Collective logo’d kettlebells and dumbbells on another and rubber flooring throughout.
Two of the walls are glass, so you can peer in as you wait for – or recover from – class. There’s a seating area, which reminded me of bleachers in a high school movie, where the rest of my class waited and watched the crew before us finish up. As they left the room, every single person looked pink and sweaty and I already knew I’d like this class. Before we began, a team of cleaners hustled in, mops in hand to sweep up the sweat on the floor.
A few minutes before the class was due to start our coach, Carl, called in any newbies (there were 3 of us) and got us to sit on a rower each and start rowing. This gave him a chance to give some pointers to people who haven’t rowed much before and to explain the format of the class. Essentially, we’d switch between rowing intervals and floor work; like Barry’s but with rowers instead of treadmills.
The rest of the class of 24 came in and we started with a general warm up and some mobility before Carl explained what we’d be doing. We were split into two groups, half the room would being rowing in 1 and 2 minute sections (going as far as poss each time) while the other half completed goblet squat and push-up intervals. We then switched over and had two goes on each station.
This was classic HIIT; as hard as you make it – so suitable for experienced fitnessers and newbies alike. You could select your weight for the goblet squat and I was thrilled when Carl told everyone at the offset to leave their egos at the door and drop to their knees if they needed to during the push up section (you can easily ruin the intended stimulus of a high intensity workout by making the movements too difficult). I’m pretty good at push ups and I certainly dropped to my knees about halfway through.
Once that section was over we had another 12 minute workout before we finished, this time an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of rowing, kettlebell swings and burpees. It was a sweatfest.
Throughout the class the lights were low and the music was loud. The session was challenging and well programmed so you could get a good workout at any fitness level. With a short 45 minute class there wasn’t much opportunity for rowing coaching, but Carl got around the people who needed pointers while keeping the floor workers in check too. I was busy with 24 people in there, but dark enough that you don’t really notice what anyone else is doing and can focus on your own workout.
By the end of class I was beetroot red and dripping in sweat; it was glorious! I can’t remember the last time I felt that way and am truly not sure if it was the fact that I was working harder being in a group environment (most of the time these days I workout on my own) or just that I’m used to training in the fresh air and therefore stay cooler! We had a good stretch and cool down before heading off and letting the cleaners sweep back in before the next class.
The gym is as swanky as you’d expect in this neighbourhood; Malin+Goetz products and hair straighteners galore in the changing rooms and jugs of cucumber and mint infused water to refresh you after class. The second studio offers a range of classes from trx and circuits to pilates and yoga, so there’s a range of fitness to choose from.
This was a great classic high intensity interval class. If you’ve never rowed before you’d be absolutely fine, but you’d definitely get more from the session if you have a rough idea of how to row.
Rowing is absolutely brilliant as a whole body workout and there’s a hell of a lot more to it than just sitting on a machine and pulling. I’d highly recommend seeking out someone to teach you how to row if you’re not quite sure how to do it. This isn’t a ‘learn to row’ class, but you’d definitely get pointers and get more from the classes over time if you came regularly.
The Knightsbridge studio is smaller than the original Core Collective but equally sleek. I skipped off full of endorphins and singing carols in my head as I watched the local shoppers scurrying to buy their Christmas lobsters.
Where: Core Collective, Knightsbridge
Cost: single class £22, packages and monthly memberships available
How to book: http://www.core-collective.co.uk