A gym where you can get fit in 15 minutes that’s more of a private members’ club? Sounds like my kind of place!
The Library gyms in Notting Hill, Barnes and W1 are certainly a unique concept. I was invited to the Notting Hill club to find out more. Charming co-founder Zana Morris explained the thinking behind the clubs to me. It’s been proved that exercising for too long puts unnecessary strain on the body, yet short, sharp bursts of exercise are the most effective. High Intensity Training is ideal for those like me who want quick results to keep them motivated. Here it centres on the use of weights to increase intensity and help protect your bones. From age 30 our bone mass starts to decline but with appropriate exercise it can be brought back to optimal levels.
The gym itself is a stunning building. A former synagogue, it’s located just off Portobello Road and has beautiful stained glass windows.
Decorated with books in keeping with the library theme, it’s a light and spacious place with a punch bag, pool table and relaxation areas.
There’s a first floor gallery where yoga lessons take place and where the luxurious changing rooms are located, and lots of quirky little design touches.
Outside, there’s a lovely little courtyard where you can take a break and enjoy a complimentary glass of refreshing mint or cucumber water.
Before embarking on an exercise programme here, Zana will assess your current nutrition and make personalised recommendations to help you achieve your goals. She’s a nutritionist, fitness instructor, yoga teacher and the creator of Strong Nutrients. No amount of exercising will compensate for poor nutrition and that’s why The Library place so much emphasis on the correct fuel for your body. Strong Nutrients are a range of supplements for those whose busy lifestyle means they can’t always eat the food that their body needs. I found the ‘chill pill’ or B12 and the amino-slim pills particularly effective. The chocolate flavoured protein powder is also a godsend if you’re feeling hungry mid afternoon.
Not only that, she’ll also take your measurements, check your weight and assess your body fat with calipers. That way, you’ll be able to benchmark your progress as you go along. Your first few sessions will be one to one with a trainer who will show you each exercise and even set up the machines in the correct position for you. As someone who generally avoids the weight training area of the gym, I found this help invaluable. They also give you an exercise card on which to keep track of the weights you have lifted and what exercise you’ve done on which date. After that you’ll be training with one or two others each time, with the instructors still talking you through each exercise and correcting your posture where necessary.
To avoid muscle strain, you’ll alternate between exercises for chest and back on one session, shoulders and arms on next and legs the time after that. However it’s safe to work the abs each time so those exercised are incorporated at the end of every session. I soon saw mine toning up! Some of the exercises were new to me, including one where you lower yourself up and down in a ‘chair’. It’s very effective for working arms and shoulders. I also found the ladder great for toning calves up, once you’ve done the recommended amount of exercise on this you’ll definitely feel it.
The trainers themselves are a great bunch. They’ll push you as hard as you can go but always with good humour. It was fairly easy to stick to the exercise programme and on the days when I was travelling I tried to do the abs in my hotel room. I got a bad cold at one point so had to stop for a couple of weeks but surprisingly my muscles sprang back really quickly and I only put on a small amount of weight during that time.
You should start to see results quite fast if you train at least 3 times a week and stick to the dietary recommendations. My arms and abs in particular soon looked more toned. By the end of my programme I’d lost three quarters of an inch on my waist and a considerable amount of body fat bringing me close to my optimal weight. The benefits weren’t just in terms of weight though, my clothes felt a lot looser and I was no longer breathless walking up several flights of stairs. The chill pill seemed to have made me more relaxed and I’d picked up some very healthy eating habits.
Excitingly, the new flagship private members’ club in W1 has recently opened.
Appropriately named The Clock given the 15 minute training concept, it’s an elegant Georgian townhouse spread over three floors in Marylebone.
Decorated with original antiques, some of which come from The Ritz, it promises to nurture your body and soul.
If you’re someone who doesn’t normally like gyms or if you simply want quick, lasting results then I’d highly recommend The Library.
Have you ever tried High Intensity Training? What did you think of it?
The Library, 206-208 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1NR and in Barnes and W1
Tel: 020 7221 7992; Book@thelibrarygym.com