When it comes to health and fitness, the Americans know best. They've always had their fingers on the pulse of what really gets people sweating, from the most celebrated personal trainers to the zaniest high-intensity workout classes. But since their most successful luxury gym, Equinox, opened an outpost in London at the end of 2012, the British capital has been more than happy to learn a thing or two from their friends across the pond. Today, London's top gyms are more like five-star hotels than workout places, with spa treatments on offer, gourmet meals dished up in the cafes and luxury beauty products stocked in the showers.
The craze really took hold with the launch of Equinox in the former Rainbow Room on High Street Kensington. Famous for training Barack Obama and Hollywood A-listers like Cameron Diaz, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to luxury gyms, with Kiehl's products in the locker rooms, cold eucalyptus towels on the fitness floors for a quick freshen up mid-workout and their signature 24-carat gold and caviar facial, a favourite for post-workout relaxation. Their classes are hands down the best in London, from rooftop cycling overlooking Hyde Park to Inside Out Barre, a cross between ballet and Pilates.
If you want the five-star hotel experience at the same time as working out, then the place to go is Bodyism at the Bulgari Hotel. Founded by James Duigan, the trainer responsible for whipping Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley into shape, this is the place Londoners flock to for lean, supermodel-worthy limbs. Their approach is to tackle their client's bodies as a whole, which means a complete nutritional overhaul following James's Clean and Lean plan as well as twice-weekly personal training sessions. Bonuses include massages and full use of the gorgeous Bulgari spa.
The Chelsea fitness fanatics all flock to Lomax for their daily fix. The most relaxed luxury gym in London, they offer flexible pay-as-you-go exercise, nutrition and well-being treatments to fit in with their clients' busy schedules. Their most popular programme is the 21-Day Detox, which involves an hour of personal training six days a week, one of their popular Real Ryder spinning classes every Saturday (they're the first to run the classes in the UK) and a high-protein food plan.
The most exclusive of them all are the classes run by the Skinny Bitch Collective. Launched by top personal trainer Russell Bateman and held at the KX gym in Chelsea, these are intense 50-minute circuit style classes attended by London's glossiest young models, like Suki Waterhouse and Daisy Lowe. More like a members-only club, the classes are so elite that they're run strictly by invitation only and the waiting list is huge; unless Russell likes you, you're won't be getting in. But that hasn't made the classes any less popular – Russell has already run hugely successful pop ups in New York and Ibiza and has even bigger plans for the future.