Here’s my personal top 10 health clubs in London, ranked in descending order. It’s based on my 10 years experience of gyms and health clubs around the capital, friends’ recommendations, online reviews by users of these clubs, articles in the media, and health club websites.
What makes a top 10 club? Ambience, spaceousness, architectual wow-factor, cleanliness, experience and friendliness of staff, range and quality of equipment, range of fitness classes, variety of sports on offer, range of spa facilities and treatments, social events, level of care for the wellbeing of members, and a whole set of other factors too long to list here.
Disclaimer: this is my personal top 10, based on my own judgment. It may not correspond with your personal top 10. Your concept of a top health club all depends on what’s important to you. So don’t rely on my blog if you decide to join one of these clubs. Do your own research and read the membership contract carefully. Facilities and services offered may change from time to time, so don’t rely on this blog as an accurate and complete list of what each club offers. Can you tell I used to be a lawyer?
I’ve excluded from my list those clubs with membership fees that most of us would need a second mortgage to afford (yes there are such clubs in London), or those clubs with several years long waiting lists, or exclusive boutique personal training studios. It’s a top 10 list of clubs that you can join and use several times a week without having to win the lottery first.
You may be a member of a health club that’s not in my top 10, that you think is worthy of top 10 status. If so please have your say in the comments section below. Or you may think I’ve ranked them unfairly, again leave a comment! And if you’re the owner/manager/a staff member of any of these clubs, feel free to leave a comment too, as long as you keep it clean. Add any corrections or clarifications you see fit.
So here’s my personal top 10 in descending order:
10. Reebok Sports Club
Located in Canada Square, Canary Wharf E14, this club boasts a well-equipped gym, fitness classes, climbing wall, competition size boxing ring, 23 metre swimming pool, with scuba diving courses on offer.
There’s also a sports hall for football, basketball, netball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, and table tennis. And if you’re into boxing, you’ll love the competition size boxing ring. Bonus feature: Bar and restaurant with dramatic views over Canada Square.
9. Virgin Active Barbican
This gym has an abundance of cardio equipment (the high quality treadmills are notworthy), free weights and machines, and a 160m indoor running track which runs around the perimeter of the gym. There’s a 4 lane swimming pool, punchbags to let off steam, and 3 fitness studios with popular instructors.
Unusual for a London gym, there are 4 locker rooms, 2 for men and 2 for women. This is a major plus at peak times. The curvy interior architecture gives this gym the wow factor.
8. The Hogarth Health Club
Set in 2 acres of green leafy grounds in Chiswick W4, a real gem. This health club offers high-tech gym facilities which include an interactive computer system to log your progress, and personalised plasma screens for your DVD’s when you’re doing your cardio.
Highlights include 5 complimentary personal training sessions in your first month (and one per month thereafter), 18m indoor pool, studio classes, 2 all weather tennis courts in the grounds outside, and one squash court. Bonus feature: a strong social ethos among members, with a lively social calendar of events.
7. The Citypoint Club
This high spec and high tech gym under the Citypoint Building near Moorgate station in EC2 offers a wealth of gym equipment with a futuristic twist. In addition to the standard free weights and machines, you get the Matrix Virtual Active machines: 35 cardio machines with dynamic video displays of a range of destinations (such as Hawaii forest) for a total immersion experience. You can even hear sounds of your chosen destination.
Then there’s altitude training (perfect preparation for your Everest climb), Vacunaut training, 2 squash courts, a 20m ozone pool, ice cold plunge pool, and more. Bonus feature: a luxury spa complete with tropical fish tank. The exclusive feel of this club puts it firmly in the top 10.
6. The Broadgate Club (a Virgin Active club)
Similar to the Citypoint Club (see above) in look and feel, this underground club near Liverpool Street station in EC1 just pips Citypoint Club to the number 6 spot by virtue of its larger swimming pool (25m ozone treated) and beautiful mosaic tiles running the whole length of one wall, depicting a huge series of blue waves.
Stunning changing rooms, specialist stretching benches, exclusive spa area, and the latest gym equipment lands this club it’s number 6 ranking. A favourite among city investment bankers and lawyers.
5. The Third Space
We’re now entering seriously impressive territory, the top 5. And a worthy member of this magic circle is The Third Space in Soho W1. What it lacks in size it makes up for in breathtaking interior design. Feast your eyes on the toughened-glass floored studio with views of the swimming pool below. Take in the curves and futuristic lighting of this architect-designed chapel of fitness. The changing rooms are sleek and spaceous, with a laundry service at extra charge.
As well as the gym with its free weights and machines and cardio equipment, there’s a full size boxing ring, altitude chamber, climbing wall, and martial arts dojo. This is one of London’s most futuristic gyms. You might even spot a celebrity or two.
4. Nuffield Health City Fitness & Wellbeing Centre
The reception area gives you the first taste of the cathedral-like space of the huge exposed brick arches which form this Nuffield gym, next to Cannon street station and overlooking the Thames. The sheer thoroughness of your health and fitness checks when you join is testament to this club’s genuine concern about your overall health and wellbeing.
In addition to the well-equipped gym, there are two swimming pools, a pilates studio, spinning studio, squash court, a huge range of fitness classes, and a health clinic & physio on-site. Bonus features: hydrotherapy pool, and stunning views onto the Thames in the chillout zone.
3. The Harbour Club Chelsea
The award-winning spa is just one of several reasons that give this club top 3 status. Luxury and attention to detail are the hallmarks of the Harbour Club, as you’ll see from the sumptuous changing rooms with their limed-oak lockers and widescreen TV’s.
If you’re into tennis you’ll love the extensive tennis programme with coaching, leagues, ladders and tournaments. This club boasts the largest number of indoor tennis courts, no less than 13, four of which become outdoor in the summer.
Add to this the spaceous gym, 25m pool, 14m waterfall pool, and wide range of exercise classes run by some of the country’s top instructors, and you’ll see why this club is ranked so highly.
2. Riverside Health & Raquets Club Chiswick
This is the flagship Virgin Active club, located in London W4. With the ambience of a millionaire’s country club, there are 3 indoor pools, and an outdoor pool surrounded by sun-loungers. The Tranquillity Spa boasts a range of treatments, and a whirlpool with powerful massage jets. The well-equipped gym had the added feature of a balcony for the exercise bikes, with panoramic views down onto the tennis courts below.
Tennis is the crown-jewel of this club. Twelve indoor courts and twelve outdoor courts put Riverside ahead of even the Harbour Club Chelsea. And the tennis coaching programme is of a standard you’d expect of a club like this.
1. The Park Club
So finally we reach the number one health club in London, the best of the best. Set in 27 acres (yes twenty seven acres in London) of private grounds with huge outdoor terrace, its sheer size, range of sporting and fitness activities, high quality of staff and customer service make this club (a sister club of the Hogarth Club, ranked 8, see above) a worthy winner.
It would take too long to list everything, so here are some highlights: a gym with all the features and benefits enjoyed by the Hogarth Club, a wide range of fitness classes, a heated outdoor swimming pool (31 degrees C in the winter, who needs the hot pools in Iceland?), outdoor bootcamps, a creche and all-day nursery and a range of activities for kids.
Now for the sports on offer: tennis (18 outdoor courts, 4 indoor), football, rugby, cricket, netball, martial arts, and gymastics. No other club in London offers such an extensive range of sports to such a high standard.
Bonus feature: a strong family orientated atmosphere, but enough child-free zones to chill out (first class bar and restaurant) and work out. And a calendar of all year round social events such as jousting and firework displays. The Park Club website states “the ultimate family club for health, relaxation and sports”, and it’s hard to argue with that.
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