Body & Fitness

Why you should try a boutique gym

Tired of dragging yourself to the gym? A new generation of smaller, ‘boutique’ facilities could provide just the shake-up you need.

Far from the sweaty, cavernous rooms of the big chain gyms, a new wave of boutique facilities are springing up around the country. Offering small classes, specialised equipment and novel ways to get in shape, they’re gyms, but not as you know them…

TRX gyms

What is it?

Short for total resistance exercise, TRX is done using a strong fabric strap suspended from the ceiling, with handles (and leg loops for the pros) on each end.

Holding the handles, you can do countless variations on classic moves like squats, chest flys and tricep press-ups. The clincher is you’re using your body weight as resistance while either fighting gravity or attempting to stay balanced.

What to expect:

The sort of workout that will have you saying ‘hello’ to muscles you never knew you had, you’ll find you can pack a lot of movement into each class as you’re not having to change machines or gather extra equipment.

The trampoline gym

What is it?

The trampolines are similar to the ones you almost lost your lunch on as a kid, although these gyms feature large areas of super-bouncy trampoline floor, with padding that marks out your own square space to jump on during classes.

Some ‘trampoline park’ gyms even have trampolines placed vertically along the edges, so energetic types can literally bounce off the walls.

What to expect:

You might jump with gusto when you first hit the mat, but it’s amazing how quickly you become exhausted.

It’s great for cardio fitness, toning and stress relief, and with your core muscles working overtime to keep you upright, it’s an ab workout too.

Reformer pilates

What is it?

Classes involve a series of exercises on a slightly medieval-looking reformer pulley – a flat, slide-able surface with adjustable springs at the end.

There are usually a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced classes available, and while the moves look simple enough, it’s best to stick to the basic class if you’re a newbie.

Trust us.

What to expect:

Designed to strengthen and tone muscles, you’ll do everything from planks and leg lifts, to tricep-toning and hamstring-lengthening moves. It might be low impact, but you’ll feel the burn!

Perks and pitfalls of boutique gyms

A smaller, more tailored gym could be for you. Here are some things to consider:

The pros:

• Small classes – you’ll probably share a space with 10 or fewer fellow exercisers.

• Specialised equipment – whether it’s a reformer pulley or a row of trampolines, these gyms tend to be built for a specific set of exercises. Plus, the gear is often in pristine shape as it’s not being used as much as machines at larger facilities.

• Lots of individual attention – small classes mean the instructor can keep an eagle eye on you. Which might also be a bad thing…

The cons:

• They can hurt your wallet – the extra perks can bump up the price.

• Classes fill fast – with limited places available, you often need to plan your workout sessions a couple of days in advance to ensure you nab your spot.

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