Is the Tough Mudder Challenge a workout or a form of torture? A bit of both it would seem, as it’s an 18-20 km obstacle course where you have to belly-crawl through sludgy mud and swim through a tank of ice to succeed. But before you sign up you’ll need to train, and they’ve helpfully provided Tough Mudder Boot Camp instructions for you to download, where a mix of cardio and strength training will prepare you. The training sessions involve 10 minute circuits of cardio and obstacles, during which you’ll be doing press ups, lunges, rope pull ups, ski jumps and tyre runs in quick succession.
Over in the US, Barry has attracted a celebrity following with Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Jake Gyllenhaal and Amanda Seyfried all signing up to his self-proclaimed “best workout in the world”. His sessions take no prisoners; each class consists of 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill and 30 minutes of military exercises and weight lifting, but focusing on on specific areas of the body, so one day you could be doing just chest, back and abs, or your lower body. The bootcamp takes place indoors at 16 Upper Woburn Place. If it’s good enough for the A list…
Flywheel is spin class for the hardcore; you’re still pedalling indoors, but with the added benefit of sprints, climbs, and weightlifting to strengthen your arms at the same time. The bikes let you keep track of your progress and there’s loud, pumping music in the background. Try it at Shoreditch House
So devoted are CrossFit’s followers in the States that they even hold their own competition; CrossFit Games has taken place every summer since 2007. Each session has a bit of everything: gymnastics, Olympic weight lifting, running, squats and climbing, which explains why it’s been adopted by athletes, fire departments and military organisations. CrossFit have gyms in Bethnal Green and Dalston.
Claudia Schiffer and Elle McPherson are fans of the Power Plate, which is essentially a vibrating plate you stand on while doing your normal exercise routine. The vibrations intensify the effects of your workout, and you can control the settings dependent on your fitness regime. It’s available at David Lloyd Gyms.
British Military Fitness
This tough workout has been around since 1999 when a former army Major decided to take military training to the masses. There is lots of running, as well as traditional exercises like push ups and squats, assault courses, and team activities like tugs of war. BMF is good if you like working out as part of a team and don’t mind getting soil on your clothes, as sessions always take place in parks.
The idea behind Metafit is that after a 24 minute workout your metabolism will continue to work for the next 24 hours. They say this is because the largest muscle groups are targeted with high intensity exercises like star jumps and squats, so the heart rate speeds up faster than with conventional exercise, stimulating the metabolism so you continue burning calories long after the class. It was thought up by a former Royal Marine Commander so be prepared to sweat (and possibly be barked at). Find a coach here. \n\nBody Attack
Body Attack is a little like an intensive form of aerobics, the emphasis being on cardio. Classes combine movements like kicks and jumps, push ups, running, squats and crunches, all to a thumping soundtrack. One study found that around 600 calories can be burned during a 55 minute class. Many gyms offer Body Attack, including Soho Gyms and LA Fitness.
HiiT or High Intensity Interval Training alternates high intensity exercise with lower intensity movements during what is called the “recovery period”. The number of times each exercise is repeated and the length of time of each period depends on how fit you are and your trainer’s methods, but the theory is that short blasts of high intensity exercise provide better results than longer, more gentle workouts. Try HiiT at Ten Pilates.
A form of High Intensity Interval Training devised by Professor Izumi Tabata, this particularly fast-paced workout consists of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated in a four minute cycle. Classes may only last a total of 20 minutes, but you’ll definitely feel the burn. Fitness First offer Tabata sessions.
London's Most Intense Workouts