Advertisement

The best 'lazy' classes in London for when you just can't be bothered

The Human Method
The Human Method

Going hard at a Hiit class and the resulting the sweat-drenched kit may have historically been a badge of honour for Londoners, but this year we’re seeing a slowdown.

Low-intensity classes with benefits for the mind as well as the body are popping up with growing frequency all over the city. East London’s Slow Running Club is garnering a cult following, while a relaxing class at Gymbox which takes place while you’re wrapped in a sauna blanket and has been dubbed ‘the world’s easiest workout’ has naturally piqued people’s interest.

But it’s not just about low-effort; these classes promise to calm Londoner’s racing minds as much as having fitness or mobility benefits.

It’s needed now more than ever, as David Lloyd research shows that two-thirds of people in the UK felt mentally exhausted at least once last year, with 60 percent of respondents unable to remember the last time they switched off, while 22 percent said they wouldn’t know how to.

Our culture moves at such a fast pace and the relentless forward momentum is exhausting. When it comes to movement everyone is looking for something that is sustainable and makes them feel good.

It’s something that yoga teacher Nahid de Belgeonne (whose book Soothe, £15.99), knows all too well. She founded The Human Method, which helps her well-heeled-client base to de-stress by focusing on mobility. “Our culture moves at such a fast pace and the relentless forward momentum is exhausting,” she says. “When it comes to movement everyone is looking for something that is sustainable and makes them feel good.”Indeed, mindful workouts and those for longevity were heralded as one of 2024’s biggest fitness trends. According to Wes Santos, founder of boutique group PT gym Instate Fitness, "It's all about going back to basics.” She agrees with de Belgeonne that this is manifesting in a rise of simpler, more sustainable fitness, which she think is a backlash to years of expensive fad diets and pretentious workouts.

 (David Lloyd)
(David Lloyd)

Classes that help you start from scratch aren’t always easy to find, however. But as Slow Running Club founder Ed Conway, who is also the owner of Fit As studio in Leyton, attests; a low barrier to entry can only make people feel calmer and more confident — something which is guaranteed to benefit their anxiety levels.

“We run at a conversational pace so it’s easier than a lot of higher impact exercise or sports and the distraction of (non-mandatory) chatting helps take the mind away from any boredom or repetition from the exercise,” he explains. Adding that, “for the people who are new to exercise it doesn’t get any easier, other than a walking group.” As well as working on strength or mobility in an accessible way, low impact classes are holistic in the fact that they also focus on overall health, and are mindful without the requirement of experience in practicing traditional meditation. “I’ve learnt transcendental meditation and my biggest take away is that it’s a distraction technique to take your mind off overthinking. For example slow group running does exactly that. You just have to focus on following the person in front of you,” says Conway.

Taking place in nature, or a space curated for relaxation, that is free from clutter and without pumping music or neon lights is an added benefit for busy minds. So it’s easy to see why this new breed of clubs and classes has a lot to recommend them for stressed-out, time-poor Londoners — but which ones should you try? These are our favourite lazy and mindful classes in the capital.

The one that will teach you the art of doing nothing: Niksen with David Lloyd Clubs

 (David Lloyd)
(David Lloyd)

Having identified the need for their clients to learn to switch off and ‘just be’, David Lloyd clubs launched its first Nixsen classes in January. For the uninitiated, Nixsen is a Dutch stress-relief practice of simply doing nothing. The class will guide you through a combination of practical skills and insights to promote relaxation and stress reduction, without guilt or anxiety around not ‘being on’.

It is currently available to members as an online guided practice with Anna Smith, group exercise manager, and will launch as an in-person class from end of April, at gyms including its high-spec Fulham club which has a new luxury spa retreat.

David Lloyd Clubs app members can currently do a virtual Nixsen class online at davidlloyd.co.uk

The cosy one: Gymbox’s ‘Easiest workout in the world’

 (Gymbox)
(Gymbox)

A new gym class devised by Gymbox is a 45-minute session dubbed 'the easiest workout in the world'. It uses infrared sauna blankets which promise to blitz 600 calories in a single session, though it’s not just about burning energy with minimum effort. Sauna blankets are shown to aid muscle recovery and can help improve circulation while easing stress.

The class requires you to do some stretching before slipping into a heated blanket, so it can do its thing while you perform some guided breathwork. Although you might not get the post-exercise high of a more strenuous workout, our deputy shopping editor Abha Shah reported feeling zen after her class which even lulled some others to sleep. Ideal if you need some R&R after a heavy weekend.

Classes are for Gymbox members only and take place Mondays at the Victoria branch. Monthly memberships start from £90, or try a day pass for £20. gymbox.com

The one for burnt-out Londoners: The Human Method

 (The Human Method)
(The Human Method)

If you’re feeling fatigued or just find it impossible to switch off, help is at hand from de Belgeonne and The Human Method. You can practice the mindfulness technique with on-demand classes or private coaching, which blends breathing techniques, somatic movement (the practice of using small movements and being guided according to what feels good), as well as restorative yoga and meditation.

The aim is to help burnt-out city dwellers to reorganise the central nervous system, letting go of muscle contraction, by turning your focus to new movements. It can improve sleep, posture, digestion, and help to clear brain fog, according to its dedicated client base. Our reviewer Rosie Fitzmaurice says in spite of not focusing on sweat count or calories burnt, after a session with de Belgeonne she had ‘a post-gym like glow and slept like a baby that night.’

Details of on-demand classes (£16) in somatic movement, as well as pricing for The Human Method workshop and retreats can be found at thehumanmethod.co.uk

The one for if you’re feeling overwhelmed: Yoga Nidra at Yogaloft, Queen’s Park

 (Karen Yeomans)
(Karen Yeomans)

If you want a break from Bikram or Vinyasa in favour of something more mindful, Nidra could be the one for you. Our beauty and wellnes editor Madeleine Spencer sings the praises of Yoga Nidra to bring yourself into a state of deep relaxation. It’s meant to induce a conscious sleep akin to the moments between waking and sleeping – to help unwind the nervous system.

At Yoga Loft, teacher Leela Miller will guide you through easy movements to transition into stillness with a blanket to warm you. Newbies can spend the class lying on their back or those more experienced may do the class in a supported seated position. Some claim that a 45-minute session has the same effects as three hours of sleep.£18 a class, yogaloftlondon.com

The social one: Slow Running Club

 (Slow Running Club)
(Slow Running Club)

If you can see the upshot of running for body and mind, but don’t have the impetus to find the routes or feel self-conscious about going it alone, East London’s Slow Running Club promises to take any stress off. And importantly not to rush you! The club was founded by Ed Conway and his running fanatic friend William, with a focus on community and mindfulness. It’s not about personal bests and is designed to be unintimidating, yet offers varied weekly routes across East London every week.

You’re encouraged to go at chatting pace so you can get to know fellow runners, and there’s a choice of three runs so you can work up from a 3K to a 5K or 7K with the more confident groups. An added benefit of this pace (where you’re still able to chat comfortably) with your heart rate at around 60-70% of its maximum, is that you’re practicing Zone 2 training. This is currently much-hyped for its improvements to mitochondria function. It’s also less taxing on the joints and can help us destress — so it has longevity implications as well.

The run leaders even provide free coffee at the end. A pretty perfect start to your Sunday then.

The group meets at 9am every Sunday at 161b Leyton Midland Road, East London. No sign-up is required or existing running experience. slowrunningclub.co.uk