It all started with a bit of confusion and couple of glasses of Bubbly…. Or 3….
Rewind beginning of Summer (yes peeps, it’s been a while….) and an invitation to the Monica Vinader shop in Kings Road for an event hosted by PHIIT London.
Putting 2 and 2 together, we thought we were going there to do a workout session in a jewelry store… Stranger things have happened….
Turned out it was a social even to discover the Monica Vinader collection and have a presentation from PHIIT London and Neat Nutrition.
Take 1! People’s eyes literally popped when we made our entrance, in this lovely settings, in sport attire. The Fashion police was ready to arrest us!!!
Then, it all happened in a flash! Run to the closest store to jump into their changing rooms; queue-in the music “Wonderrrrr Womaaaaaaan!”; “Pow!!”, “Wizzz!!” and “Hey Presto!” we were back in civilian clothing.
Take 2! Strut your way into the store and grab a glass of champagne as if nothing happened…. If this is not the mother of all recoveries, you have to tell us what it is
The presentations were really interesting and our curiosity got tickled when lovely Lindsey Holden spoke about her studio PHIIT London in Fulham. Couple more glasses of champagne later (are we losing count?) we get to chit-chat with Lindsey and it all ends up with a “come to the studio for a workout!”
Such an energetic and passionate person, we were so looking forward to check out what PHIIT is all about…
Fools as we were we thought the workout would consist in a form of Reformer Pilates… nice and easy….
Oooooooh Nooooooo! You couldn’t be so further from the reality! PHIIT will be your House of Pain where sweat is currency! We should have picked on the clues when classes are called “Upper Body Killer”, “PHIIT Fight Club” or “Full body HIIT killer”….
So what is it then?
In a nutshell PHIIT is a Dynamic Pilates combined with HIIT drills. In the space of one class everything gets thrown at you: balance, core, pushup, resistance, AMRAP and even the kitchen sink! All this with pumping music!
“Classic” Pilates, PHIIT is soo not!
The format of the class uses the MOT-R reformer combined with kettlebells and other tools aimed at testing your cardio, strength and athletism.
The class kicks off with a meaty warm up and then it is non-stop all the way to the end.
Balance drills will test your core to the limit! Lucile, who is the better half of us when it comes to balance and flexibility, had her work cut out. Couple of drills that stuck up: jump in and out of the “foam-roll part” of the MOT-R or stand on the same section to do squat…this is where Squat Queen titles are won!!!
Need some upper-body workout? Don’t worry at PHIIT they thought it through, and off we transitioned using the cabling part of the MOT-R to attack those arms. They look like an innocent piece of kit? Turn on the resistance and your biceps and triceps will be left screaming. Sonia holds her own when it comes to strength work but here she felt the burrrrrn! The sets are not short so you will really have to work through the muscle fatigue. But guess what? This is where results come from.
And throughout the class, Lindsey’s energy is sky high. She bounces around the studio encouraging you and keeping your commitment to the workout in check. But also she has her eyes sharp on you to correct any posture and form issue ensuring that every rep counts!
Last home stretch and last drill of the class. Is it going to be a quick and easy active recovery set? Of course not! You got to finish on a Bang so bring on an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) drill just to make sure your body will remember PHIIT for the next 48hours (for the record the DOMS after PHIIT were ridiculous, couldn’t laugh for couple of days!). There were burpees, mountain climbers, KB swings, jump squats… it was just relentless!
At the end we just about managed to smile for a final picture. Spot also the disheveled hair…. When you think it all started with a social event and a few glasses of Bubbly….
All in all PHIIT has been the surprise of the chef! And we have been pleasantly surprised: we walked into their lovely studio thinking we’d do some run of the mill Pilates but actually this is a very dynamic workout led by a very dynamic lady.
As a matter of fact our assumption (shame on us!) was so wrong we actually did not have any change of cloth after the class.
Do pay a visit or more at PHIIT, you will not be disappointed and as an offering they do hold their own against the big franchises out there. We are looking forward to see you growing PHIIT!!
They are based on North End Road in Fulham (well worth the commute). They offer various types of classes based on the same principle of Pilates and HIIT training combo, it’s up to you to choose how you want to sweat!
Sweat Factor – 4.5/5 bring a towel! As a matter of fact, bring 2 towels!!
Strength Factor – 4/5 It is not an impact-intense work out but you will have to soldier on through muscle fatigue to survive a set
Stretch Factor – 4/5 Although the class we attended did not require stretch poses, your balance will be seriously challenged
I love Ballet.
However, I must confess that my passion is limited to admiring the shows at the Royal Opera House: aaaah...the grace of the ballerinas with their super-athletic and lean bodies, the music..... All this mixed with childhood memories of after-school ballet classes back in France. However, my parents quickly came to the conclusion that I was more the action type of girl: so it was out with the pink tutu and in with the horse riding lessons and muddy boots!
Fast forward to Present Time...
When I started to hear about barre classes developing across London, I really got excited and dreamt that I would get fast tracked to that grace and fitness I’ve always admired. And let’s be honest- who wouldn’t like a ballet body!!
So this week, I am attending Xtendbarre at DanceWorks, a new ballet studio off Oxford Street. The class brings elements of dance, ballet and Pilates.
My Friend Anna is coming along. She is a mighty runner and the queen of the dancefloor: you’ve got to like her credentials!!
As we walk to the Xtendbarre studio, we are faced with a superb display of skills from a group of high level classic dancers.
1st stage – the Reality check: I have done barre classes in the past and, although great for the body they do have a strict ethos (because it is a strict discipline) that verge on the uptight for my liking. Am I going to experience the same regime?
2nd stage – the Cold -Sweat moment: Did I bite more than I can chew? Will I look like one of those dancing-hippos of Dysney’s Fantasia? Will I end up with ripped leggings?
No turning back, we brace ourselves and walk in.
So is Xtendbarre any different?
Belinda, who is also Sweaty Betty Selfridges ambassador, was leading the class, and after the warm up we get started with shoulders and arms work: and I can assure you that fluffing your imaginary tutu with dumbbells is not as easy as it sounds…
Plus, when you know that Xtendbarre teachers “take pride in their clients’ sweat” you know that you have to push through. On a side note, this reminds me that catch-phrase in Fame, if any of you ever watched the TV series...
And boy we paid our dues in sweat!
I glance at Anna and she is in the zone: the look of deep focus in her eyes, she glances at me and smiles... She's enjoying this challenging class as much as I am! Even when the pliés and courtesies are getting higher and tougher.
The atmosphere was a lot more relax than other barre classes I've attended but by no way less though!The group of teachers was so welcoming and friendly and put us all at ease. Xtendbarre might be the best option for those of us who want to enjoy the benefits and of barre exercise in a more friendly and relax environment.
Watch out for the new kid on the block! We will sure be attending more of their classes!
(And for those who wondered: no ripped leggings and there was no dancing-hippo moment either!)
- Stretch Factor: 4/5 Intense full-body workout, legs and arms were shaking
- Sweat Factor: 4/5 Not out of breath but definitely sweating
- Skill Factor: 3/5 The moves are not that technical to allow beginners to follow the class and yet look like ballerinas
There is nothing like a no-nonsense workout with an inspiring trainer. Lizzie Rizzo is certainly one of them. She leads Sweaty Betty’s #GetFit4Free campaign and put us through an intense Fly Flex Flow workout. She's truly a wonderwoman, running her Personal Training business, empowering women through free fitness classes and being a new mum. We wanted to know more…
Strength and Stretches: What is your fitness background?
Lizzie Rizzo: I started off training as an aerobics instructor as I love the energy you get from an intense high impact class with a group of people and I kind of just fell into personal training! I've been training now for 11 years and not a day goes by that I don't love what I do :)
S&S: Where are we most likely to find you?
LR: In Battersea park with my TRX wrapped around a tree.
S&S: How did you become involved with Sweaty Betty?
LR: I've been Sweaty Betty's fitness ambassador in Kings Road for three years now starting out as a local trainer for them then I began training the girls in Sweaty Betty's head office once a week.
S&S: How are the workouts there different?
LR: Every workout is different, I hate when people know what move is coming next. The trick is also to pick great music!
S&S: What are you hoping to achieve with the getfitforfree campaign?
LR: I want everyone to have fun and get results.
S&S: What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
LR: My little girl. She's 9 months old and loves the outdoors! I begin the day running with her in the pram!
S&S: A core principle behind sweaty Betty's workout is to empower women. What does this mean to you?
LR: It means women can achieve anything they put their minds to and each of us are a lot stronger than we even think we are. Working out makes us balanced and string both physically and mentally.
S&S How do you juggle being a mum and having a successful career?
LR: I'm not sure I've mastered that one yet, but staying positive and only taking on work that I enjoy doing.
S&S: What's your favourite workout?
LR: High intensity crazy stuff! I know fitness madness....
S&S: Any advice for busy women who struggle to find time to exercise?
LR: You are never too busy, it’s just an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you will make the time or you can modify your day to include exercise. For example taking the stairs instead of the lift, Choosing a class rather than going to the pub or jogging/cycling into work.
You can book your session with Lizzie here.
Last night we attended our first Pilates class at the gorgeous Sweaty Betty Boutique on King's Road.
The teacher Chrissie had such a strong and lean body and I thought "if that's what Pilates does to your body, sign me up!" It was a small class which meant there was no opportunity to slack! Chrissie was so lovely and motivating, and her class was fun and challenging with a lot of laughter and hard work. We went through all the pilates basics. This special class was in partnership with Elle UK and we were treated with a lovely goody bag afterwards!
Chrissie teaches this free Pilates class every thursday 6.45-7.45pm at the Sweaty Betty shop on Kings Road.
- Strength Factor - 3/5 Pilates is great to increase your core strength
- Sweat Factor - 1/5 But does not mean you're not working hard!
- Skill Factor - 4/5 The moves are quite intense but Chrissie makes sure your position is correct !
The Low Down:
- You can book your spots online on the Sweaty Betty website but it's very popular and get booked up pretty quickly