Weight Watchers ‘Feel Good Cafe’, Windrush Square, Brixton

Weight Watchers Feel Good cafe wind rush square brixton

For those who want to shed a few pounds but are in need of a little kickstart, it might be worth putting 4th-6th June in your diary as Weight Watchers are setting up camp in Brixton’s Windrush Square to launch their Feel Good Tour.

Throughout the day they’ll be serving food from WW’s own range of ready meals and snacks, with experts on hand to provide advice on eating well and keeping fit. We’ve been told there’s also an opportunity to get involved with their Feel Good For Summer plan which could help you lose up 1 stone in 8 weeks. Not too shabby.

To entice you further they’ve got a ‘selfie station’ (remember when that word didn’t exist?) where if you post a snap with your own #feelgood tip, using the hashtag, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win 1 of 100 hampers containing Weight Watchers goodies.

The ‘Aquabiking’ fitness trend: we visit HydroFit on Northcote Road

Aquabiking, underwater spinning, cycling in a bath tub: whatever you want to call it, HydroFit is the latest fitness trend for 2015 and with a promise of burning at least 300 calories in half an hour, we wanted in on it. IMG_8283
Put simply, HydroFit is like spinning, but instead of being in a studio with other sweaty cyclists, the bike is in what can only be described as a giant bath. And why have the fitness gods decided that cycling in water is now a thing? The people behind it explain that there are multiple benefits to exercising this way. The water means that there is much less impact to joints than traditional cycling, and the jet streams (think similar to a jaccuzi) targeting your legs are said to help break down cellulite (whether the latter is true or not, we reckon you’d need to visit a LOT and cut back on booze/sugar/all sorts else to see any results too).

Our HydroDuo pod

Our HydroDuo pod

That aside, it seems gimmicky but we were keen to see what happens in a session. Through the booking process you can reserve yourself an individual ‘tank’. If you want to take a mate you can – there’s a room with two tanks which can be separated with a white curtain if necessary. You can book a 30 minute or 45 minute session. You’re left alone to change into your swimwear before a member of staff helps you into the bath, which is already partially filled with water (which, FYI is clean every time) before they start to fill it to its optimum height. For those daunted by the prospect of running an unknown machine, the staff are there to do it all for you. We didn’t need to push any buttons throughout the whole session, leaving us to concentrate on enjoying it. As seen in the picture, every tank comes with a TV screen (and headphones) so you can watch whatever you like. While Saturday Kitchen is always a good idea, we opted for music to get our legs going instead. The 30 minutes sped by. Prior to the session officially starting, staff told us that the average distance customers cycled was about 10 or 11 kilometres. Nothing like a target to motivate you, not to mention a competitive mate pedalling furiously next to you. While it felt like a complete gimmick, we couldn’t ignore the after effects. Think wobbly legs and thirsty mouths (luckily they provide water as you work out). While we ached the next day, it wasn’t to the same degree with usual exercise, so perhaps the water had its benefit after all. Price wise it’s not cheap, with peak time sessions starting from £30. However their trial offer allows you to book for half price if you want to give it a go. The staff are incredibly friendly and there’s definitely a buzz from finishing (we got 11k on the spot – phew), but we’ll be counting our pennies before we next make it along. HydroFit Battersea (also available in Fulham), 137 Northcote Road, SW11 6PX

South London fitness: The Shala, West Norwood

The Mysore studio at The Shala

The Mysore studio at The Shala

In the past year or so West Norwood’s had a little mini fitness boom, with the Better Leisure Centre opening last year, and The Shala arriving in 2013 from its original home in Clapham.

To be honest it’s probably a bit flippant to put The Shala just under a fitness category, as yoga and Pilates is a lot more than that. The centre offers these two classes covering a broad area of levels, from kids to ‘Mysore’ self practise (more on that in a bit) and pregnancy.

I’ve been practising yoga and took myself down there months ago to try their beginner 4 week course, comprising of one 1-hour session a week. If you’re new to yoga, I’d go for this option. The practise is completely broken down – we spent the first session simply going through the Sun Salutation pose – so it’s a lot less daunting then going straight into a regular class.

I’ll happily admit I thought yoga wouldn’t challenge me. I’m relatively fit but soon enough understood that this is a completely different challenge to the body to the likes of spinning and running. It was a little embarrassing at how inflexible I was. However, as you’d expect, while you’re encouraged to push yourself, it’s an incredibly laid-back atmosphere with none of that competitive element you’d normally get from ‘keeping fit’.

Unlike ‘hot’ yoga, The Shala practises Ashtanga in rooms heated to around 25C, so for some (aka me) it’s a far more comfortable experience.

There are a number of teachers here, and they all have their own style. I attended Ian’s introduction course who was very patient and constructive, making sure I got the poses right, and now go to Gingi’s (the founder) weekend classes on a semi-regular basis who quite frankly, is the most chilled out, amiable person I’ve ever come across (well, you wouldn’t want a ragey yoga teacher, would you).

As well as ‘taught’ classes The Shala run ‘Mysore self-practise’, where you’re encouraged to lead yourself through the poses. It might seem like the more advanced option but it’s welcome to all levels if you “have adequate knowledge of the standing sequence”.

Apologies for the lack of photos – I’m sure it’s bad etiquette to take pics in this sort of environment so there’s just one of the main studio before the rest of the class turned up. To see it in all it’s glory check out their brand new website here.