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Spa Junkie at… Whipped! London

Our reporter is shown the ropes at the latest fitness craze – quite literally

Spa Junkie at… Whipped! London

Image: Jay Yeo

October 12 2013
Spa Junkie

As my next fitness class conjures images of being flogged, I approach it with some trepidation. Struggling to lose the summer pounds, I have wangled a guest pass at Bowie’s-bygone-party-palace-turned-fitness-mecca Equinox to trial the fitness craze that all my friends keep raving about: Whipped!, the main component of which seems to be several giant ropes…

The workout is the brainchild of body-builder John Brookfield, whose world records for tearing 100 decks of playing cards in half and dragging 24,000lb trucks have earned him some serious kudos.

I weave my way under Equinox’s elliptical domed skylight to the main studio where four 10m, 20kg ropes (which could have been heaved straight from a dockyard), stretch the length of the studio, anchored in the middle with weights.

I’m greeted by plucky trainer Rory Knight, who soon has our group of 10 running around the room in a circle. Squats, knee raises and bottom kicks are woven into the 15-minute warm-up and by the end I am perspiring and my heart rate is seriously raised.

The circuit consists of six workout stations with a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, kettle bells, sandbag weights and ViPRs (alongside the ropes). The latter is a weighted rubber cylinder – a trendy piece of kit used by top trainers for a new concept in sports conditioning: loaded movement training.  In simple terms, it’s moving with a load, and has been shown to improve balance, agility and dynamic strength.

We get into pairs to begin the set of circuits. (The class, I soon gather, is comprised of nearly all American expats, testimony to Equinox’s cult status stateside.) My seasoned partner and I work our way clockwise around the room, where two different exercises are performed for 30-second intervals at each station, several times over.

The circuit exercises are pretty standard fare; we do kettle-bell lifts on a raised platform, compound squats and bicep curls, and side lunges using discs that slip and slide on the floor (one false move and you can do yourself a real groin injury, so control is key). We also do sets of planks and sit-ups between stations.

The differences with this circuit session are the stations where we use the ViPR and the ropes. For the former, we start with lunges holding the ViPR above our heads, and also do front squats combined with overhead presses. The weight is evenly distributed so that it’s blissfully simple to manipulate. It’s the evolution of free weights.

At the ropes, we are told to “go crazy”. We hold them at the end (one in each hand) and flip and flap our arms from side to side and up and down to “whip” them, creating ripples and waves. Rory also says we can do lunges and squats at the same time.

Using the ropes differs to lifting weights as when you lower weights, you can use momentum to push back up again, but here there’s no rest for the muscles as we are continually shaking the ropes about – and they are pretty heavy. It can be as intense as we want it to be (depending on how energetically we move the ropes), and while my partner seems to be going to town on hers, shaking them all over the place, my arms feel ready to fall off. It’s all too much like hard work for me. (I am grateful when we swap over to weave 5kg sand weights around our legs in figures of eight.)

After 50 minutes I feel exhausted; my arms are throbbing.

While Rory runs off to teach his next class “Tread & Shred”, I reward myself with a visit to The Juicery – a perfect little pop-up offering signature recipes from leading nutritionists and integrative medical experts. I opt for a Glowing Green with cucumber, avocado, apple and kale. It’s refreshing, clean, and the flavours complement each other perfectly.  

The bottom line:

Whipped! is a total-body workout – full-on cardio that I can well believe torches calories and fat. It was a fun, stimulating class that I would definitely try again, purely for the rope element, which is a challenging way to shake up a workout – and target bingo wings.

I was told to expect to burn 650 calories a class, and I can see how regular classes will tone up the arms and reveal the abs. Obviously it goes without saying you still have to watch what you eat, but with The Juicery on site, the ingredients are all there.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, therapies and accommodation.

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