BodyWorksWest is a boutique health club tucked away on a cobbled mews in the heart of Notting Hill. It can, impressively, lay claim to a sporting or fitness connection that stretches back 117 years to a convent school in the area. A local favourite, and previously known as Lambton Place Health Club, this is a proper health club and not just a gym with a physio room bunged on to the side.
It offers a dizzying array of classes, remedies and facilities that belie its fairly modest outward exterior. Well, as modest as a mews property in Notting Hill can get, anyway. I am here to undertake a Hatha Yoga class, followed by a personal training session and then sample the pool and spa areas; I’m thinking more spa than pool at this point.
The yoga studio is a light and airy room with a class size that fits the space comfortably. Mercifully this was a beginner’s class and the knowledgeable and reassuring Janaki took it at an easy pace. Through ‘downward facing dog’ and ‘cobra’ I contorted and twisted myself as well as practiced deep breathing techniques limbering me up perfectly for my looming PT session.
I meet my personal trainer, Andre – a man who missed out on Team GB athletics by one place – on the calm and bright gym floor. The place is apparently at its busiest but feels virtually desolated. This emptiness is perhaps to my detriment as Andre whizzes me through the treadmill, free weights, cable machine and the bench at a Spartan pace. There is no respite because there are no queues for equipment and after ten minutes I am red faced, doubled over and cursing Andre; I now regret my earlier assertion that he could ‘throw anything at me’. Somehow I get through the remaining 40-odd minutes and we head to the warm-down mats housed in nice little alcoves. Each member gets three PT sessions in the first month and then one a month thereafter; if the trainers are all as competent and driven as Andre then this is great value, albeit a little painful.
As with the rest of BodyWorksWest, the pool and spa area are serene, inviting and relaxing. The heated pool is overlooked by a grand, coloured fresco of a Roman garden scene which makes for a nice change to the usual ‘no heavy petting in the shallow end’ shtick. The steam room is an actual steam room and not just a vaguely damp, smelly box as if often the case. It incorporates a cold shower and a wall of hot, eucalyptus mist engulfs you upon entry.
The men’s changing areas – I am told the women’s are the same – are an extension of the calm and grown up feel to this club. Little touches such as toiletries from Knightsbridge’s Aromatherapy Associates and cotton buds and shaving mirrors mean this is not just a changing room. It is somewhere you want to get changed. And now I also want hushed lighting on my mirror at home.
From the outside it seems implausible that such a building houses a full split level gym, therapy rooms, pilates studio, spin studio, 18m pool, steam room and a very nice reception area. Not to mention the classy and roomy changing areas. It should, by rights, feel cramped and busy. But it doesn’t. It is calm, chic and the very definition of ‘boutique’. From the decoration to the layout and the Bob Dylan pictures (lots of them) throughout this is a health club that has perfectly struck the balance of service and style.