I’m lucky to have tried gyms all around the world, in just about every continent (damn you, Antarctica) – and I was pleased to receive an invitation to visit Fitness First in Tottenham Court Road last week, just down the road from my usual London gym in fact.
This was my first visit to the gym and I was impressed by the huge range of facilities there – at 6pm, there were four exercise classes taking place simultaneously, all well-attended. I don’t know many other UK gyms that have the amount of separate studio rooms that would be needed to support that number of activities.
And there is, as you’d expect, a large range of cardio machines – with multi-channel TV – and a large resistance training area with a good weights platform (for all of you who for some reason insist on dropping the bar in a deadlift rather than lowering under control) plus dozens of machines from calf raise to shoulder shrugs and everything in between. For virtually every machine, there are multiple instances – I think I counted four leg extension machines, for example.
All good – and massively popular. And that, perhaps, is a drawback – it was very crowded in the cardio, free weights and resistance training area. A workout would need to be flexible if you didn’t ever want to wait for anything. Supersetting could be a bit difficult, I expect.
A more personal drawback is that it doesn’t have high ceilings. I know that may be seen as a weird comment, but I like training in an airy space – in London, think of Jubilee Gym in Covent Garden, and Fitness First’s own locations in St Pauls and Broadgate, both of which have partially double-height workout areas. Further afield, two of my favourite gyms – Hercules Gym in Telford and Gold’s in Venice Beach – both have high warehouse-high rooflines, which contribute to the atmosphere (it for me, anyway).
There’s also a swimming pool, which I didn’t use, and looked pretty tempting if you like that in your gym. I’ve discovered that putting a swimming pool in a Fitness First gym usually moves the membership category up a tier – which means those with Fitness First memberships of a more lowly calibre can’t use any of the facilities there – which is why this was my first visit.
In summary, Fitness First Tottenham Court Road is a great gym with more equipment and a bigger floor area than I’ve seen in any other London Fitness First. And I guess the popularity was due to my 6pm visit time. Go at some less popular hour, and I know you’ll have a great workout! Checkout their website and you may just find a way to get a free one-day pass.
And thanks so much to Shaun and the team at Fitness First Tottenham Court Road for inviting me over for the visit.