I joined Puregyhttps://www.puregym.com/m a couple of months ago with the aim of getting myself fitter and stronger over the winter period for my two main sports BJJ and cycling. Puregym is the cheapest gym in my town and the price also included all the exercise classes on their timetable. I’ve never done a gym fitness class before so out of curiosity, I tried a whole bunch of their classes.
Here is my review of the classes I attended:
– Les Mills BodyBalance: BodyBalance combines yoga, taichi, and pilates into one 45-minute session. Already I can hear the groan and eye-rolling from the traditionalists about watering down their art forms. And they’d be right – BodyBalance is a distilled version of the above-mentioned arts, accompanied by soft music and packaged into a program for time-poor folk like me. My wife enjoyed it a lot. It was just challenging enough (especially the standing balancing poses) but not so much as to be too difficult. All the spiritual and mythical elements have been removed so there is no mention of chakra or chi energies. It was very low impact and my HRM barely registered anything more than low to moderate activity. That being said, it was really therapeutic to stretch away the aches and pains from a week of weight training and BJJ.
– Circuit Class: this was fun and a moderately good cardio workout. According to my HRM stats, I spent 37% in Zone 2 (moderate) and 2% in Zone 3 (tempo). There were 8 or 9 stations (eg medicine ball slams, Bulgarian bag, barbell, rowing machine, ropes, step-up box etc) and we had 40 seconds on each with 20 seconds rest. We did three rounds around the circuit. It was hard work but not that intensely challenging. The instructor was good enough to demo each move and motivate us throughout. The loud music was annoying though.
– Spin class: spin was the main reason I joined a gym. I read that it was a useful part of winter cycling training when I’m less inclined to use my road bike (ie zero lol). Not gonna lie, spin class was hard! A lot of it is spent off the saddle and I’ve still yet to get the resistance knob dialed correctly – it just seems either too easy or too hard and not the gradual resistance I assume should happen. By the end of each class, I’m a very sweaty wreck. My HRM shows that I spend most of the time in Zone 3 and Zone 4 so it’s definitely a very good cardio workout. The loud music is annoying as I can’t hear the instructor over the beating thuds so at various points I lose track of the task set. I also don’t see the point of the upper body exercise components when spinning, these movements literally do nothing so they might as well drop them.
– Les Mills BodyCombat: the martial arts purists in me might have scoffed in the past, but my curiosity got the better of me. Could a Les Mills Bodycombat offer something that my 30 years of martial arts training couldn’t? Well, ngl it was bloody hard work!! It reminded me of the toughest warmups I used to do in karate or kickboxing class back in the day. The Bodycombat class lasted 45 nonstop minutes. My Strava HRM stats tell the full story: 54% spent in Zone 4 (166-184bpm) and I even hit 30 seconds in zone 5 with a max of 195bpm! So it was definitely a very hard cardio workout and even sent me into the anaerobic phase for a bit.
The drills were a variety of punching and kicking moves culled from Karate, kickboxing, and Muay Thai. There was a little bit of something from capoeira too. No actual partnered combat or pad work was involved – everything was performed solo. I took it for what it was – a fitness class that uses martial art moves. I tried very hard to match the instructor’s tempo but couldn’t keep up in the final 10-12 minutes of it. There was some mention of specific moves being applied in certain scenarios (eg instructor would say, imagine this punch hitting someone in the temple etc) but I think these were used more for visual reference points rather than actual martial art instruction. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.
– Les Mills BodyPump: this is the original class that made Les Mills the worldwide brand it is today. I made the rookie error of putting the heaviest plates onto my bar – not that it was heavy – 10kg plates are nothing in weight lifting terms – but when applied to the rapid tempo of the Bodypump class it soon became apparent I was struggling to complete the sets. The instructor was motivating and ran a good class but there was no instruction on how to do a technique properly, you just lift and follow. Regulars of the class were able to change plates and perform all the exercises with ease while I was still fumbling around with the equipment. That being said, it’s a decent full-body workout: we covered squats, overhead presses, rows, deadlifts, press-ups, planks, and lunges finished by a short gentle stretch. I don’t think the class is helpful to someone following a regular weight training program. Bodypump is a very different thing, especially as there’s no time for rest between sets and no obvious way to work a progressive overload program. The class is simply a fun, challenging, and moderately intense (64% Zone 2) cardio class using weights of your choice. But I don’t think I’ll do another.
– other classes at Puregym include boot camp, body attack, absolute abs, body tone, legs bums and tums etc. I didn’t attend these.
There are a lot of classes on offer here at Puregym. On the whole, they’re very polished and the instructors had us punters zipping along to the exercises at a swift pace. The classes were designed to have us working just about hard enough to feel like we’d done some work but not so hard as to leave us in a puddle of exhaustion. The Les Mills branded classes don’t seem to be anything more special than basic aerobics, boxercise, pump etc classes, but they follow a specific pre-determined formula which they rotate on a quarterly cycle.
Personally, I wouldn’t base my entire gym time joining group classes as they are so heavily cardio-focused – I get enough of that from BJJ training. I’ll probably stick to my program of free weights, then jump into a spin class and a BodyBalance class once a week until my outdoor cycling season begins. But there’s no doubt classes add huge value to the overall gym-going experience.