Until January 2015, there was only Barry’s Bootcamp. But when the moneybags behind Fitness First (Balfour father and son team) decided to come up with their own high intensity workout gym for those who are cash-rich and time-poor, fashion-forward and fitness-focused, 1Rebel burst onto London’s fitness scene in an explosion of beautiful-but-snooty staff, No Contract policies, interior design perfection and… a fridge full of chilled towels?!
There are two 1Rebel studios, one in the shadow of the Gherkin in the City, and the other beneath Broadgate Circle. Think waxed concrete floors throughout, very low and moody lighting, obscured glass details and beautiful receptionists.
You can either Ride (a spin class), Reshape (a fast-paced intervals class of treadmills and resistance training) or Rumble (a boxercise-esque HIIT class). Workouts are accompanied by theatre-grade red and blue lights (good news – as the coloured lighting hides how red in the face you’re getting!) and pumping beats (sometimes from a live band or DJ). In the waiting areas outside studios, top quality headphones hang from wall hooks, playing rousing Gladiator soundtrack-style playlists to get you psyched up for your workout. So far, so hipster.
The luxe changing room facilities are enough to tempt even the most gym-phobic person back. Balfour describes it as “pared-back industrial luxe”, and here you’ll find walls of high tech metallic lockers, heated benches, a Smeg fridge of chilled towels, vintage barber’s chairs (“because it’s not about doing your hair on jelly legs”), complementary fluffy towels, posh toiletries, GHD hair styling tools and mobile-phone charging sockets. You can literally just turn up and work out, with no need to bring anything with you.
The rainfall showers are fab, with industrial copper piping and stopcocks and yummy scented products.
The Rebel Ride class comes with complementary cleated cycling shoes and premium, new-to-market ICG bikes; the studio has strobe lights and soundtracks curated by an internationally acclaimed DJ, which transports you to a nightclub… on your bike! The workout is mainly cardio-based, and you can expect to sweat profusely, but some hand weight exercises are incorporated too for full body effects.
I rode front row in the studio of 65 bikes for a live DJ session with Tiago, an incredibly muscly bloke who made me sweat profusely!
Rebel Reshape, on the other hand, is a poor attempt at a Barry’s Bootcamp class. With the intention of feeling like a personal training session, extended to a wider group, you’ll use the latest Woodway 4Front treadmills (love them – these babies each cost a small fortune but deliver the best indoor run) along with a personalised workout bench, complete with your own set of dumbbells, resistance bands and medicine balls, switching between resistance training and treadmill running to get your heart pumping and your muscles burning.
With so much going on in a Reshape class, the instructor needs to be seriously on their game to keep track of both Shapers and Runners, whilst giving feedback on form, communicating speeds, inclines and timings, and shouting encouragement to push you harder. Barry’s has got this down; 1Rebel? Not so much. Things tend to get a bit disorganised and the runs aren’t quite as structured as I’d like…
Rumble is a cardio boxing and mixed martial arts session in a circular room with about 40 punch bags. From my experience, it’s HIIT Lite – an accessible class, it requires no prior boxing experience, and didn’t get me panting or sweating as promised. (Note: Handwraps must be purchased [£4] and gloves rented [£1]).
Marylebone juice bar Roots & Bulbs has a café inside 1Rebel, for juices, smoothies and snacks.
A workout here is not cheap, at £25 for 45 minutes. But I figure you can almost get your money’s worth if you take advantage of all the facilities – the showers and changing rooms are certainly my main motivation for visiting!
It’s an all-encompassing experience that will inspire you to get fit, if only because you can’t wait to set foot inside that beautiful building again! It’s expensive and somewhat pretentious, but design-wise it’s been impeccably executed.
63 St Mary Axe, City of London, EC3A 8LE | Broadgate Circle, London, EC2M 2QS