London Fitness: Boxing and Martial Arts

What and Where?

Glove Up

Thai Boxing

Before I signed up to Class Pass, The Flatmate told me about the Thai Boxing class she went to at Glove Up in Wandsworth. There are so many different classes part of Class Pass that it can be hard to find time to fit them all in but this was one that she made time to go back to. I figured that on that recommendation it was worth tagging along with her. It wasn’t long for me to see the appeal – now I always max out my monthly Class Pass studio allowance.

The gym isn’t huge but it’s clean, modern and has all the equipment you could need, with a boxing ring in the middle surrounded by mats and punching bags. It’s also pretty colourful which I like – something about the place makes it feel less intimidating than other places, even though there is usually someone doing some impressive looking training which I can’t imagine ever being able to do.

The class I go to is women only – I find it less daunting – and held every Monday evening with the same the instructor. The classes are usually relatively small and tend to draw the same people each week. As such, out of all the Class Pass classes, this is the only one I’ve been to that I’d call sociable. We all chat and laugh and all the staff are really friendly. People know my name and I even get recognised by an instructor I’ve never had a class with. Even though my membership is with Class Pass, I also feel part of Glove Up.

The classes often involve doing drills on the punch bags. Sometimes this involves doing reps of punches and kicks, sometimes this involves freestyling – sometimes its both. We also always do partner work where one person holds up a big pair of pads whilst the other does a routine of punches and kicks. There’s something very satisfying about the sound of a well landed punch or a roundhouse kick. In some classes we also do circuits. That word used to strike fear in me but these ones are sometimes my favourite part of the class.

Urban Kings


As much as I’ve loved my Thai boxing classes, I really wanted to give standard boxing classes a try. I couldn’t really do this at Glove Up, since my Class Pass membership means I can only go three times a month and I didn’t want to sacrifice one of my regular classes for this. Instead I found a session at Urban Kings. The gym is located close to Kings Cross station, which is ideal for my work.

The place is modern and feels quite intense. There were various people working out while the class was going on, a martial arts class taking place next to the boxing ring and music blaring.

The class started with some skipping to warm us up before we did some shadow boxing. After this, we partnered up in order to practice some routines of punches and defensive moves. I did miss the kicking of Thai boxing but I was happy to try out some defensive moves as this isn’t something that often comes up in my Glove Up Thai boxing classes.

The class was for both men and women of mixed levels. The instructor asked me how much boxing I’d and I downplayed the number of classes I’ve been to. I mean, I am certainly still a beginner but I thought I’d done enough classes to not be useless. I was wrong – I was absolutely awful. No matter how much I tried to focus on what the instructor was doing when he was demonstrating the routines, I just could not pick them up.

The thing is, because I am so uncoordinated, I need to be able to chant the routines to myself as I’m doing them to get them right, like “jab, cross, hook, elbow” and “left, right, left, right”. The problem here was that I don’t have the best hearing and with the loud music in the background, I couldn’t catch a word. I also seemed to lose the ability to work out my left from my right. I felt sorry for my partner. I don’t think she was particularly impressed.

The class finished with some core work. This included an exercise where we had to take it in turns to stand against the side of the ring and basically let our partners pummel our stomachs. I could not believe it. My abs were still screaming from my aerial hammocks class a few days before – of all the things to be asked to do! Thankfully I made it through.

With the exception of some of the core exercises, I have to say that I didn’t feel nearly as worn out after this class as I do after the other boxing classes in this post. Having said that, even if it may not have been the best workout I’ve had, it was a good class if you are interested in learning technique and getting good at boxing – which I am. Fingers crossed, I’ll be better next time.



When I first started Class Pass, The Uni Friend told me about a class she regularly did called Rumble at the 1Rebel gym next to Liverpool Street station. She said it was intense but it one of the best classes she had done. I looked it up on my Class Pass app. The class described itself as high intensity interval training class that’s “a cardio boxing and mixed martial arts battle”.

The studio itself is pretty edgy. When you walk in you’ll find signs reminiscent of an old cinema with the words “#King Of Gyms” on them. Then you’ll immediately head downstairs and come to a wall that looks like those plastic strip curtains you’d expect to see in a factory or something with the words 1Rebel lit up on them.

The changing rooms have a puzzle of copper coloured lockers (which are coded so you don’t need a padlock or a coin to use) and provided several amenities like toiletry products and straighteners, which I didn’t need but appreciated their presence. If you forget your water bottle you can also buy a 1Rebel branded bottle. It might be a bit sad but I quite liked that – I do love a bit of stash.

The Rumble studio is round and full of hanging punch bags, with the instructor in the middle. If you haven’t done boxing before, I’d recommend getting a bag with a good view of the instructor so you can learn the punches.

The room is dimly lit and there is music blasting to get you in the mood. My first class started to the dulcet tones of Eminem. The 45 minute class consists of alternate rounds of cardio, boxing and MMA. Basically you will punch and kick your bag as hard and as fast as possible, only stopping for star jumps, burpees, crunches, planks, press ups – you name it, go to several classes and you’ll do them all.

I thought Rumble was the perfect accompaniment class to boxing. My routine has quickly become to go to the Thai Boxing classes at Glove Up on Mondays and learn the techniques and then to Rumble during the week to practice what I have learnt and focus on my strength and speed.

There is something about the vibe of the class I find particularly motivating. I always seem to get into and send my punch bag flying around. I also seem to be able to hold a plank in this class more than anything else. The instructors are good at not letting you give up.

No matter how many classes I do, I always finish exhausted and with a very red face. A scene of Made in Chelsea was filmed in the Rumble studio – but I’m not sure it was while they were actually doing the class. I hope no one can look that well put together during Rumble because I’m a mess. I did actually spot one of the guys from the show in one of my classes – I was very glad there were no cameras there then though.



Powerplates Kickboxing

I’ve visited Powerflex studio for their regular powerplates class a few times now and it immediately became one of my favourite Class Pass classes. When I found that they did Powerplates Kickboxing class on Saturdays, I thought this would be the ideal class for me. After all, I do love a bit of boxing. Having said that, the thought did kind of concern me. I find boxing tiring enough without doing it on a powerplate. I was also a bit concerned about my balance – falling off the powerplate while trying to box on it did sound inevitable.

The Powerflex studio in Victoria is very small. You basically have to go through a black door, near the Shakespeare pub, which has a mini cab sign above it, and walk up multiple flights of stairs until you find the studio itself which seems like a converted office. Due to its size, classes are very small (the biggest I’ve been in is four) which means you get a lot of attention from the instructor.

Thankfully, it turned out I hadn’t quite understood the concept of the class. It turns out there would be no boxing on the powerplate. Instead the class was more like circuits, with us all alternating between rounds of boxing, kickboxing and on the powerplates. The class was only 30 minutes but it was intense and exhausting. But it was also really fun.

The instructor, Ben, practiced with us on our boxing rounds. Here we did various punching routines and also some defensive work. My own personal round involved Ben trying to hit us and us having to block him. If he succeeded, we were punished by having to do five squats. This was good motivation for me. I hate squats. Unfortunately, I did get hit a few times. It kind of felt akin to an arcade game that tries to test your reflexes. You know, the ones where various discs light up in different places and you have to hit them before they disappear.

The kickboxing rounds focussed a lot on cardio, rather than strength. The punchbag was quite small so you could only kick it so hard. The instructor laughed when he saw me kicking it a bit too hard and sending it flying into the weight stand. This did mean that I spent a lot of the kickboxing rounds focussing mainly on not knocking anything over or kicking anything (or anyone) in the small space, as opposed to my strength, speed or technique.

The powerplate rounds involved a lot of core work, which was tiring but worked quite well. Often boxing classes involve core work but this is minimal in comparison to the time spent boxing. Since powerplates make a workout much more intense, we could get more out of the core work. It’s hard to say, since I do love Powerflex’s powerplates classes but I think I may have preferred this one.

Mixed Martial Arts Den

Brazilian Jui Jitsu

When I was a younger, I used to like a bit of martial arts. I did judo once a week for about seven years but I was never any good at it. Then I did Wing Chun (a form of Kung Fu) for another year but I wasn’t particularly good at that either. When I saw the martial arts category on my Class Pass, however, I was pretty excited about trying some out again. I spotted a Brazilian Jui Jitsu at the Martial Arts Den in Battersea and That Flatmate and The Uni Friend were up for trying it with me.

The level of the class hadn’t been specified on Class Pass so I was a little nervous when we arrived and found that the gym seemed quite intense. My nerves were not helped when the first thing we had to do on arrival was take a selfie for our individual profiles and sign a waiver, in case we were injured or something. It turns out many studios ask you to sign a disclaimer, however unlikely an injury may seem.

The class was small and we were the only beginners but that wasn’t a problem. I kept my previous martial arts experiences to myself -I didn’t want the instructor to have any expectations that I’d be anything other than useless. Particularly as, it turns out, BJJ is rather like a combination of wrestling and judo.

After some warm up stretches and running, we had to practice break falls – which is basically how you fall in the least harmful way after someone throws you to the ground. It was the same as in judo – at least this first thing was something I could do.

The first move we practiced involved being pinned down by our partners and then having to get out of their grip. It looked simple enough but coordination is not really my strong point, so I had to really think each move through carefully. I was partnered with The Uni Friend and she hit me in the eye. It was an accident though so I couldn’t be mad. Next, we learned how to put an arm lock on our partners. I found this easier but it still took some thinking.

After about an hour of practicing, we had half an hour left to practice whatever we wanted to. The other people in the gym were sparring and practicing various moves so we just went over what we had learnt that day but we were still left with a lot of time. Then another guy came over and asked if we wanted to learn some self defence. We said yes, so he taught us some moves – including how to knock someone out with our legs. Handy tip. We practiced a bit on each other but mainly on him. I didn’t envy him, having three of us practicing various chokes and arm locks on him, but he seemed almost completely okay. We weren’t the strongest girls.

I had been nervous about the class but I did actually thoroughly enjoy myself. Plus, I think it is pretty important for everyone to have at least a little bit of knowledge of self defence.

Wear and Bring?

Any fitness clothing will do! Sure some martial arts class might require you to have a proper suit but the jui jitsu class I took did not. You shouldn’t need trainers for boxing or martial arts but you will for 1Rebel’s Rumble class.

I highly recommend investing in your own wraps and boxing gloves. You can buy wraps (£4) and rent gloves (£1) at 1Rebel, you can borrow them at Glove Up and Powerflex and I think you can buy them at Urban Kings. However, often gym’s gloves and wraps can get a bit smelly (they are getting used by lots of people after all) and you can get some really good deals in sports shops. My Lonsdale ones were in the sale for less than a tenner.


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