At W10 Performance their strapline is ‘Results Based Fitness’. Now, what on earth does that mean? Surely fitness itself is the result that people visit the gym for. I guess the point is that for many of us going to the gym is an end in itself: ‘if I am in the gym I must be doing some good. And besides, going at all means I’m not wasting my £80 a month membership fee’. For those of us who think our weekly £20 gym visit is a tad punchy, W10’s monthly membership fees, ranging from £129 per month (£49 for off-peak) to £259 per month, might seem like a body blow. And they’re not even open on Sundays. But the £259 option, which includes four personal training sessions, is nevertheless probably the one to go for.
From what I saw, a standard trip to W10 Performance is a pretty personal experience anyway. It’s not the largest gym (though a much bigger setup than most independent outfits) so there’s nowhere to hide. But once you have signed up to their way of doing things, you wouldn’t want to hide anyway: you’d want to draw on their expertise as much as possible and join in on their 30-plus group sessions each week.
Throughout your time at W10 — and you don’t have to lock yourself in for a year at a time, instead you just pay monthly — they assess your progress and adapt your plan, and that means reviewing your body composition, diet and movement from the start. There’s no point doing the lifting and jumping until you have the fuel and the setup right.
W10 Performance is in a basement in Ladbroke Grove; new premises they moved into in January. It’s a lot airier than it looks on the website, with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. And it’s stocked full of apparatus I cannot name, while I counted only one treadmill and four different bicycle machines. I suppose for what they want to achieve, they don’t need to fill a room with treadmills; if running is part of the plan they put you on you can go outside.
More unusual was the sight of a man pushing a stack of weights along a strip of what looked like greengrocer’s grass. But he wasn’t a meatheaded muscleman, he was just someone with a programme, getting in shape. I looked about for the men in vests admiring their reflections while pumping, but they weren’t there either. Instead, there seemed to be a lot of stretching and use of foam rollers going on. Indeed, at W10 there is an emphasis on simply moving better and more effectively.
What really strikes you is the buzzy community feel. A large part of the camaraderie is created by the relaxed and knowledgeable team, all clearly into the holistic fitness thing and with a strong sporting pedigree — among their number are ex-professionals in ice hockey and rugby, plus an Olympic weightlifter. The gym’s founder, Jean-Claude Vacassin, or JC, has a similar high-performance sporting background but is a rather surprising character. Not only does he appear not in the least bit French, but he’s a pretty stacked, ex-American footballer who now competes in multi-day ultra-marathons. He also disclosed that he visits the farms he sources his food from, so it’s no surprise he’s W10’s authority on nutrition. In fact, on my visit we didn’t get much further than talking about food, but as I am currently marathon training it was the area where he could add the most value for me.
So, if you want somewhere to pound a treadmill while watching TV, with the occasional spinning class and perhaps a pool and steam room, W10 Performance is not the solution. But if you have a fitness goal, say a body shape or performance target, and if you can find £259 a month and a good stock of commitment, W10 Performance will definitely empower you to get the results you’re looking for.