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Canary Wharf: How Third Space can help Wharfers maximise their training days

Elite personal trainer Stephanie Whitehead talks gym workouts, top equipment and mental health

Third Space's Stephanie Whitehead
Third Space’s Stephanie Whitehead

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There’s more to going into work than toiling at a desk or moaning about your employer in the office kitchen.

It’s about coming to a different environment and being able to take advantage of facilities that simply don’t exist in the suburbs or the home counties.

Take Third Space in Canary Wharf, for example.

Set over three floors, it boasts more than 100,000sq ft of training space including a climbing wall, swimming pool, boxing ring and pretty much every piece of exercise equipment you can call to mind.

Regular readers of Wharf Life will already be familiar with the hundreds of classes it offers every week, with everything from Yoga and Pilates through to the epic Yard WOD set in its purpose-built CrossFit-style training area.

The club recently launched its autumn campaign, offering memberships with no joining fee, encouraging Wharfers to see its extensive facilities as an extra benefit to heading into work, as more and more people transition back to regular commuting.

Elite personal trainer at Third Space Canary Wharf, Stephanie Whitehead, said the benefits to exercising this way were clear.

“Training at the gym is very different from training at home,” she said.

“During lockdown, because I’m a trainer, I could be very resourceful and come up with great workouts using just one kettlebell and that would be great fun.

“But we don’t have to do that anymore. The difference here is, firstly, the environment. This isn’t working out on a mat on your kitchen floor.

“Here, you’re in amazing surroundings with people doing really cool things.  You’re somewhere else and focused – you’re ready to train.

Third Space Canary Wharf has received some recent upgrades including to its free weights area
Third Space Canary Wharf has received some recent upgrades including to its free weights area

“Secondly, it’s all the equipment. You’re not limited by what you have at home.

“If you haven’t been in a gym for a while, that can seem overwhelming – which is why having the input of a personal trainer is really important.

“Suppose, for example, you’re coming into the office a few days each week.

“We can put a programme together for you that fits that, tailored to maximise what you get out of each specific visit.

“Each trainer will have a different style and a different approach, but it’s our job to give you that clarity, structure and focus.

“It also prevents you just doing the things that you are good at, which can create imbalances in the body.

“My approach would be to work with a client on an all-round programme based on the number of days they are coming in to make sure all of their muscle groups are getting involved and we’re working on their whole body.

“For example, I’ll do strength training, but in terms of conditioning, I’ll always try to throw in bigger, full-movements like thrusters or squats.

“That way you get better results and the client gets more bang for their buck.

“I’d say a minimum of three visits a week is a good idea because that is just enough to build habit and consistency and it’s achievable.”

Stephanie says she believes in pushing herself and her clients
Stephanie says she believes in pushing herself and her clients

Stephanie has worked in the industry for more than a decade and has been a trainer at the Canary Wharf club for eight years.

She is also assistant fitness manager there, meaning she mentors new personal trainers as well as working directly with clients.

Having discovered a passion for fitness at university while studying psychology, she went on to compete in CrossFit before developing a career on the gym floor.

That broad background means she is well-placed to understand the benefits training can have on her clients’ mental health as well as their physical state.

“A lot of my clients would say they have very stressful jobs – lawyers who work really long hours, or bankers who might deal with mistakes involving millions of pounds – really high levels of pressure to deal with,” said Stephanie.

“Firstly, coming to the gym is a distraction and, secondly, it’s a complete break with everyday life.

“I always say to people that this is a place where they can leave work behind – one hour, which is just for them.

“No work, no phone if they want – just the training.

“Exercise is an outlet – a lot of my clients have a little vent at the beginning of their session and then forget the minutiae of the day.

“There’s also that feeling of achievement – getting that personal best on the 2k row or lifting heavier than ever before.

Third Space's recent upgrades include new pin-loaded weight machines
Third Space’s recent upgrades include new pin-loaded weight machines

“With consistency and discipline you will see results and that’s what’s so rewarding about it.

“It’s positive reinforcement and it’s just different from the feeling you get from, say, buying a nice pair of shoes.

“That can be great, but it wears off quite quickly, whereas the feeling you get from achieving in the gym, whether it’s building muscle or losing body fat, means you get fitter and stronger.”

Over the pandemic, many people will have naturally lost the habit of going to a gym and may be nervous about their ability to return to regular training. 

Stephanie said the best remedy was simply to start exercising, but not to worry about attaining a certain level of fitness before getting back in the gym. 

“Personal trainers are not like drill sergeants – we’re not going to go crazy at the beginning,” she said.

“Personal training is very tailored, so each individual client will have a different ability level. We’ll assess that in the beginning and we just go from there. 

“Every single person, no matter what strength or fitness level they’re at will certainly see progress by the end of a few months.

“It might be that that they’re moving better or they feel less out of breath. They might be stronger or feel better.

“But there’s definitely no minimum standard to start coming to the gym – any time is a good time to start.

“My tip would always be to increase frequency.

Stephanie says commuters can get great benefit from exercising three times a week
Stephanie says commuters can get great benefit from exercising three times a week

“If you’re going only once a week and progress seems slow, then going up to three times will be of benefit.

“It’s also important to not just do that same movements over and over. That’s where a personal trainer can really help.

“Personally, I like having a certain amount of pressure.

“That’s why I compete in CrossFit, because having that constant challenge to improve gives me a limitless reservoir of drive and motivation.

“My training philosophy has always been to push myself and, within their own limits, that’s how I work with my clients too.”

In addition to its Canary Wharf club, Third Space operates in the City and at Marylebone, Islington, Mayfair, Moorgate, Soho and Tower Bridge. 

  • Third Space is currently offering memberships to its clubs with no joining fee.
  • Other incentives include discounted personal training sessions, two complimentary guest passes to the club worth £50, a meal from Natural Fitness Food, 10% off at The Pearson Room and a 25% discount off the member’s first treatment or massage at the Third Space’s Canary Wharf Spa. 
  • Club membership at Canary Wharf costs £180 per person, per month. The cost of personal training sessions varies.

Read more: How Canary Wharf’s Junior Board is shaping the estate

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com

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Canary Wharf: How Ultimate Performance works to help its clients meet their goals

Wood Wharf-based personal training business offers relentless focus and commitment

Ultimate Performance's Mike Turnbull assists in a lift
Ultimate Performance’s Mike Turnbull assists in a lift – image Matt Grayson

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Ultimate Performance (UP) might look a bit like a traditional gym.

Descend into the brand’s Wood Wharf facility underneath the 10 George Street residential tower and you’ll find ranks of high-end Atlantis fitness machines in serious red, white and black livery, shiny lines of silver dumbbells awaiting the firm grip of sweating clients and a scarlet trackway ready for a pounding from those pushing sleds.  

But this business is a very different animal.

This is “where the excuses stop and the results begin” – according both to the writing on the wall of the facility and more subliminally from the TV screen beside the street-level entrance, which broadcasts an unrelenting carousel of before and after pictures of the bodily changes achieved by its clients.

Founded in 2009 by personal trainer Nick Mitchell, UP has grown from a one-man band in east London, to operating 21 gyms in four continents. 

It only offers in-gym or online personal training, meaning its clients only work out at its facilities on a one-to-one basis for hour-long sessions with their trainer present.

“Our motto is: ‘Producing results not promises’,” said Wood Wharf UP gym manager Mike Turnbull.

“We always aim to give clients a significant return on their investment.

“Nick’s founding idea was to change the personal training industry for the better and to make sure the clients were getting the best out of it.

“People who train with us get serious value for money.

“They sign up for results – whether they want to achieve a certain bodyweight or look – and we’re going to say that with the programmes that we have, designed over more than 10 years, we know we can deliver.”

The internet is awash with surveys suggesting people often fail to achieve the fitness goals they set themselves – one by Bodybuilding.com found only 27% had done so within a year with only 40% getting halfway there when left to their own devices.

UP’s approach is squarely aimed at addressing that challenge, although with a price tag of £5,650 for a 12-week, 36-session package, access requires a significant financial outlay.

The justification for that bill comes in the sheer intensity of approach from UP.

Ultimate Performance's Wood Wharf gym
Ultimate Performance’s Wood Wharf gym – image Matt Grayson

“Our programmes are very much backed up by science, so we know we can deliver,” said Mike.

“First of all at a consultation, we break down the layers to find the true reason a client has come to us.

“That’s different for every person – it might be to get a six-pack, to be able to perform 10 pull-ups or just to feel healthy again. 

“We want to understand their vision so we can project-manage to help them achieve their end goal.

“We’ll take a full set of measurements, photos and conduct an intense assessment on the gym floor so we get a real profile of their starting point.

“Then we’ll know what to do to build their training programme.

“It will also allow us to set nutritional guidelines – how many calories a person is going to need – breaking that down to fats, protein and carbohydrates, so we can find the calorie deficit necessary to help achieve their goal.

“From a scientific point of view, that’s the guarantee – the harder part is coming in with the right mindset and being able to follow the plan. 

“That’s where our trainers come in to try to find the right solutions to any problem, to guide people and help them stay accountable.

“We have a messaging system where clients can contact our trainers at any time as a support network to keep them going.”

This holistic approach offers clients a clear plan to achieve their goals, although UP is clear that the effort has to come from them.

The brand’s regional manager for London and Amsterdam, Matt Milles, said: “We’re serious about what we do to achieve results.

“For us, it’s about going the extra mile with everything we do. 

“That includes how we approach nutrition – we offer packages to help time-poor people – how we train clients in the gym itself, the level of support and service we give outside the gym and the amount of time and money we invest into making sure that every aspect of our operation works, whether that’s the personal training product itself or the technology behind it.

“Even if we’re doing something well, we don’t want to rest on our laurels, but ask ourselves how we could do it better.

“However that doesn’t mean our clients have to be athletes – we train clients from every single background you can imagine.

“We have complete beginners, people who want to get in shape ahead of a holiday or a wedding, or sports people who want to build muscle.

“People usually come to us because they want to achieve a physical goal, but they find there are also lots of mental health benefits to exercise.

“Our clients talk to us about how much more confident they feel and the benefits to their relationships with their family and work colleagues.

“They’re more energised – they’ve got more energy to spend with their kids and such things are priceless.”

Ultimate Performance's Matt Milles
Ultimate Performance’s Matt Milles – image Matt Grayson

Mike and Matt have been with UP for about seven years, having both worked as personal trainers before joining.

“Working in commercial gyms is tough,” said Mike.

“It’s finding your feet, building a client base – you’re out there on your own, wanting to be the best, but not sure how to get there. 

“At UP, you have a mentor and a team and there’s a lot of support.

“You’ll be looking after your clients, but we’re always working to understand how we can improve our programmes – you have to be a certain level of trainer before you walk through the door.

“Then you get to concentrate on that job because you don’t have to do the marketing or the sales – you just focus on the training and helping your clients get the most out of it.

“That’s the best bit of the job – seeing the person in front of you changing and working towards their goals is super-rewarding.

“As a manager, my role is to look after and train the trainers and to oversee the programmes.

“We have multiple team meetings every week to discuss where we can improve.

“That’s all to make sure we’re delivering a very high quality of service to everyone.”

Having recently opened, UP’s Wood Wharf gym is currently seeing about 100 clients per week, but has capacity for at least 400 as it looks to grow its customer base locally.

“As a trainer myself, joining UP was like going from playing Sunday football to the Premier League,” said Matt. 

“It was a massive difference in terms of the results we achieve but also the amount of effort we put in.

“Our clients are generally very successful at what they do, but that can mean their health and fitness has taken a back seat. 

“That might be because they have a career and a family and that’s understandable. 

“We’re here for when they realise they need to make a change and, instead of going into a commercial gym and spinning their wheels with no progress, this is a place they can come where they know they will get results.

“As long as they are prepared to do what they need to do, they can be confident we’ll cross all the Ts and dot all the Is to make that happen.

“You might see your trainer for three hours a week, but we’re in touch with our clients every day outside those sessions – that really makes the difference. 

“I really think that’s the big secret and the reason we achieve the results that we do – because we go the extra mile. That comes from experience.”

Ultimate Performance is open daily with early morning and evening sessions available most days.

Trainers work one-to-one at Ultimate Performance
Trainers work one-to-one at Ultimate Performance – image Matt Grayson

Read more: Discover open water swimming in Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How Love Open Water has brought swimming to Middle Dock

Organisation uses NOWCA safety system to ensure bathers can dive into the crystal water confidently

Chess takes a dive into Middle Dock
Chess takes a dive into Middle Dock – image Matt Grayson

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Just as I arrived at Middle Dock in Canary Wharf to interview Chess Roffe Ridgard, she saved a life.

A smallish pigeon had fallen into the water and was having difficulty making it out. In seconds the bird was scooped up by Love Open Water’s head of development, brought to dry land and placed safely in the shade to dry off – the temperature was in the high 20s, after all. 

Later, without so much as a thank you, it flew off to wherever pigeons make their homes in east London.

That little bedraggled animal owes its continued existence to Canary Wharf Group and Love Open Water – a welcome unintended consequence of their project.

The two organisations – working in partnership with the Canal And River Trust, which is responsible for managing the docks – have teamed up to deliver a programme of swimming over the summer.

While these aren’t the first watersports sessions to take place in the dock, this is the first sustained access offered to the general public with a full complement of life guards, a booking system and expert staff on hand to offer tips, advice and point out the best spots to watch fish sunbathing in the depths. 

“I swam competitively as a pool swimmer in the Midlands when I was younger,” said Chess, who is heading up the initiative for Love Open Water.

“I’m a proud Mansfield girl and trained with Becky Adlington who was one of our golden girls in the 2012 Olympics.

“I’ll say it now, she was faster than me, but I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time.

“Then a kidney infection left me unable to train, so I found myself in the music industry.

“I used to work with a lot of famous DJs and bands, and I did that for a long time. Then I found open water swimming about five or six years ago and I’ve never looked back.

“It became so important to me to help other people, and for them to find a mental health boost from this sport.

“Having seen how it really brings joy to people’s lives made me want to become involved, so I quit my job in music and here I am.”

Middle Dock is eight metres deep in places
Middle Dock is eight metres deep in places – image Matt Grayson

With cold, deep water – typically eight metres to the bottom – safety is Chess and her team’s top priority.

Having operated at numerous venues, including east London’s Royal Docks, Love Open Water uses the NOWCA safety system to keep track of exactly who’s in or out and to provide insurance for those swimming.

“Love Open Water was set up to simply create safe spaces for people to swim outdoors,” said Chess.

“The idea is that by using this system we can open more blue spaces to swimmers of all abilities and build community hubs around them so there’s a real social aspect to what we do.

“That’s in contrast to swimming pools, which are very controlled and quite clinical.

“Love Open Water is about getting that community feel, about going out and enjoying the outdoors and the water.

“At Canary Wharf the distances available vary depending on how many safety staff we have working because that’s the key to everything we do.

“We have either a 300m loop, a 500m loop or a 600m loop that goes right to the end of the dock underneath the DLR bridge. 

“Before I came here I’d swum under a few aqueducts before, but never under a railway bridge with trains running on it.

“The staff at Canary Wharf Group have been absolutely phenomenal – they came up with the idea to activate the dock as part of the work they are doing to get more people in and on the water here.

“They were looking for people to help them to do that and, having put forward our ideas and shown them what we’ve been doing at our other sites, we were lucky enough to be chosen to work with them on this project.

Swimmers can opt for loops of 300m, 500m or 600m
Swimmers can opt for loops of 300m, 500m or 600m

“We hope that this is just the start – we have this trial for the first few months but we’d love to make sure it’s a facility that’s accessible to as many people as possible – we have big plans.

“We’d love to operate at this venue all year round – a million percent yes. 

“Cold water swimming is hugely beneficial for mental and physical health.

“We’ve run winter swimming at our London Royal Dock site for about 10 years, and we’ve seen the popularity of that go through the roof.

“During the pandemic we were only able to operate for a month and a half over the winter, but we saw our membership increase by 450% and swim attendance jump by 380%.

“Those are massive numbers and it shows just how important cold water exposure has become to people.

“It’s all been driven by programmes on the BBC – but we’re here to show people the safest ways to get in and out of the water and to help them understand about hypothermia and the risk of cardiac arrest.

“People need to know that jumping in and swimming off fast are two of the most dangerous things you can do regardless of the time of year or the temperature.

“When you’re immersed in cold water quickly everything tightens up and that puts additional pressure on your heart, so if you try and swim off quickly, you’re at a very high risk of cardiac arrest.

“Remember, don’t jump in, don’t swim off quickly and if you get into trouble, float to live, lie on your back, keep your head relaxed, focus on your breathing and call for help.”


Love Open Water's Chess Roffe Ridgard
Love Open Water’s Chess Roffe Ridgard – image Matt Grayson

Sessions at Middle Dock cost £8 (or £7 for a pack of 10) for unlimited time in the water. Participants must also be NOWCA members, which costs £15 a year.

Swimmers must wear brightly coloured caps or use a tow float so lifeguards can easily see them. Westsuits are not compulsory but are advised when water temperatures fall below 15ºC.

“Safety is very important to us, but we also hope swimmers will come away feeling that they’ve learnt something that they can use elsewhere at other venues or when they’re on holiday,” said Chess.

“All of our lifeguards are open water trained – this is beyond the level of those looking after indoor pools.

“We’d actually love pool lifeguards who are interested in working with us to come down and see us, because we provide that extra training for a job that’s in the great outdoors local to where they live.

“We’ll also offer a range of courses including a first-time dippers session in a couple of weeks so whether you’re a head-up breast-stroker or a front crawler used to bashing out lengths in the pool, you can come and swim here. 

“We can teach you all about sighting, turning round the buoys and swimming in a straight line – which seems to be the thing that eludes people most when they first hit open water.

“I’ll also be doing a front crawl masterclass, where I promise participants that I’ll blow their minds at least five times with the things they’re doing wrong in their stroke.”

Access to the water is via Mackenzie Walk in Canary Wharf
Access to the water is via Mackenzie Walk in Canary Wharf – image Matt Grayson

Anyone who lives or works locally will have seen rubbish floating in the docks and knowing that they’re filled from the Thames might make prospective swimmers think twice about taking the plunge.

It’s unrealistic to expect any body of open water to be completely free from floating debris – even outdoor swimming pools have to have filters – but that doesn’t mean the docks aren’t suitable for swimming.

With regular testing in place, the latest results show Middle Dock’s water rates “excellent” under the EU Bathing And Water Regulations 2013.

“The water quality here is absolutely incredible,” said Chess. “We run eight different sites around the UK and assist with 40 others and we have never seen quality this good.

“The Royal Docks are also very clean so we thought it would be good, but you can see down to the bottom and that’s incredibly rare with an industrial open water space like this.

“Rubbish really isn’t a concern in terms of health and I cannot stress that enough. When the tests are done, we look at the general water quality and the two things we’re looking for are e. coli and intestinal enterococci bacteria.

“Under the regulations for e. coli, for example, you can have up to 500 units found in the test water and it’s still considered safe to swim in.

“Here the reading was seven. That’s how exceptionally clean it is.

“That’s why it’s rated at the equivalent of a Blue Flag beach. We even challenge people when they come here. We have three unmarked bottles. 

“One is tap water, one is dock water and one is mineral water. You line them up and you just cannot tell the difference. 

“The clarity is amazing. Middle Dock is between five and eight metres deep and when you look down you can see absolutely everything.

“However clear you think it’s going to be, times that by 100 and you’ll still be surprised.

“When you look down, there’s old dock infrastructure, bits of pillar, green weed – but nothing that touches you – it’s all at the bottom. 

“When you get to the eight-metre bits, all you can see is darkness, like you’re looking into the night sky, with flashes of light reflecting off the bottom – it’s just stunning.

“One of my favourite spots is a place I like to think fish go to sunbathe and meet their future partners.”

Read more: Why Genomics England is moving to Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canning Town: How Rise Climbing is building a community at Caxton Works

The bouldering centre, gym and cafe aims to attract climbers old and new to its recently launched wall

Conor Skillbeck, left, and James Skinner of Rise Climbing
Conor Skillbeck, left, and James Skinner of Rise Climbing – image Matt Grayson

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Like its walls, there are many angles to Rise Climbing, which recently opened its doors at Caxton Works in Canning Town.

It’s a temple to the pure, clear cut challenge of reaching the top of something.

But its two co-founders have ensured that it’s filled with much more than bouldering problems, brightly-coloured plastic holds, plywood and crash mats. 

“One way we describe it is that we want it to feel like home, a place to relax and for people not to feel like they’re walking into someone else’s space,” said Conor Skillbeck.

“We want people to feel welcome, to drop all their stress and worries at the door whether they’re here to climb or just for a coffee.

“Most of the world isn’t like this – there aren’t many spaces where people aren’t being challenged.

“Everything tells you the world’s miserable and that you should be unhappy so we’ve created a space where people can have a bit of time off from that unhappiness.”

James tackles a problem at Rise
James tackles a problem at Rise – image Matt Grayson

The Rise project began with Conor’s friend James Skinner, who found himself working at a climbing wall after leaving his job in medical software. 

“I’d been climbing since I was 12 and it was something I’d always come back to,” said James. “I ended up sticking around and after working at the wall for a few years, I wanted my own place.

“I looked at all the things I was good at and all the things I was bad at, because good partnerships are with people who complement each other, and they can recognise where their skills overlap. I wanted Conor as a partner because he’s a do-er.”

James, who’d met Conor through climbing, wrote a business plan, put a picture of his friend on it and showed it to him.

After managing to convince him it wasn’t a joke, the two began to plan in earnest, seeking premises and deciding exactly what their own wall would be like. 

Conor, who’d worked as a model before embarking on a career in structural engineering, said that having recently married and, with the prospect of kids on the horizon, he felt that if he was going to do something like Rise, then the time had to be now.

After a lengthy search, they found a lofty unit in east London in an area with little climbing provision, giving them the opportunity to build both an extensive, two-level facility and a new community.

The sport is growing at a rapid rate and both James and Conor hope their wall will attract both veteran climbers living locally but, crucially, an influx of those new to the sport who just want to try it out.

To that end Rise is already starting to partner with local schools and is keen to grow its operation in that area.

“Everyone wants to get to the top of something – walking up mountains, for example,” said Conor.

“In a sense, it’s a completely pointless thing to do, because when you get to the top, you just come down to the bottom again.

“But when you walk along a street with kids, they will want to walk on the wall, just because they get to be on the top of something.”

James added: “It’s such a fundamental action. Any parent in here will tell you that their kids love climbing trees and that they can’t get them off the stairs. 

“So we have such an easy sell – a climbing wall combines all of those things in a single space.

“It makes it safer to do them because of the crash mats, but it also means there are easier and harder ways to get to the top.

“People can get better at doing that and when they discover this, that’s something they really want.

“For kids especially, it’s somewhere they’re encouraged to climb higher, when they’re usually told to get down.”

Conor and James recently opened the wall in Canning Town
Conor and James recently opened the wall in Canning Town – image Matt Grayson

It’s not just for the kids, of course. Conor said the ultimate thrill was still reaching the top hold on a bouldering problem for the first time – something touching the second-from-top could never live up to.

“We set 30 new problems every week and the sense of satisfaction when you get to the top is addictive,” he said.

“Not getting both hands on it can be a complete disappointment and frustration.

“It’s hard-wired into people and you see why they really love it. It’s also a sport people can do for many years.

“Two of the top climbers in the UK are in their 40s.

“There’s so much in terms of technique, flexibility and strength – people who are good make it easy for themselves.

“They find ways of positioning their bodies, so the hard move on a route becomes easier. It’s not just about being strong.

“I think there’s a pretty good correlation between how hard you’ve worked to finish a problem and how much satisfaction you get from reaching the top.

“Sometimes I’ve worked for six months to get to the top of one climb, and that feels way better than something you do straight away – it’s not necessarily how hard it is, it’s how much time and effort you put in.”

There’s also a shared joy among climbers in seeing others progress, develop and conquer the problems they’re tackling.

James said: “We had a guy come up to us and say that he did his first heel hook – not just using your foot to climb like a ladder or the stairs, but in an unexpected way – and he said it was really cool.

“He’d seen someone else do it and he’d asked them to explain it and then he’d had a go and said he would be able to use it on other problems.

“That was on one of our easier routes, but even with those, we want people to learn something, to progress. That feels great.”

It’s this sense of community, camaraderie and collaboration that Rise seeks to embrace and foster, with those who visit for a climb or just for a coffee.

“It’s one thing to build a place the way you want it – we did a good job,” said Conor.

“The toilets aren’t obtrusive and the changing rooms look really nice, but ultimately the space feels good when people are in it. That’s when it comes alive.”

Rise regularly changes its routes to keep things fresh
Rise regularly changes its routes to keep things fresh – image Matt Grayson

James added: “We want it full of happy people who leave feeling happier than when they first walked in.

“The temptation when you’re designing the space is to have holds on every single surface, but we wanted Rise to have a really nice flow to it.

“There are huge mental health benefits to climbing and we wanted our wall to take on board things other walls had done really well and build on them – that it would be a real break from your screen, with challenging problems that will take your mind off everything else.”

For all these reasons, Rise is working hard to become an open space where people can meet, share a slice of Armenian cake and have a chat.

“The idea behind our front desk is that it’s like a farmhouse kitchen, that it’s a relaxed environment where there’s less obvious separation between people who work here and those who have come to use the space,” said Conor.

“We don’t want Rise to be exclusively for climbers – it’s for anyone who wants to come and sit down, for the wider community.

“We’re also running open social sessions on Wednesdays from 6.30pm and a women’s social on Thursdays. 

“We’re passionate about climbing and lots of other people are too – ultimately that’s what will make it successful.”

There are myriad ways to climb at Rise, including single entry for £12 or £9.50 off peak (before 4pm on weekdays). Under 18s cost £8.50. Membership options are also available.

Rise will also be participating in the Caxton Works Open Day on July 9, running low-cost intro sessions.

Rise is spread across two levels at Caxton Works
Rise is spread across two levels at Caxton Works – image Matt Grayson

Read more: How Keyboards And Dreams offers flexible workspace in Canning Town

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: We ask Kate Maxey how Third Space’s offer benefits every member

The strength and conditioning master trainer explores the club’s breadth of facilities and classes

Third Space strength and conditioning master trainer Kate Maxey
Third Space strength and conditioning master trainer Kate Maxey – image Matt Grayson

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Kate Maxey is singularly well placed to recognise and relish the importance of depth at a gym when it comes to enjoying exercise and building fitness.

Growing up, much of her life was about hockey. Her exceptional level of skill and talent with stick and ball led her to represent England up until the end of her time at Loughborough University on a scholarship to play the sport.

“It was pretty full on,” said Kate. “But I loved it and it was a massive part of my life and my friendships.

“My older sisters played, so that’s probably why I got into it and it was what my life was about for a long time.

“But then I got to the point of wondering whether it was really what I wanted to do – did I want to play hockey forever?

“Then it hit me – I loved the sport, but in training for it I was always made to do stuff for my performance on the pitch, not necessarily the things I wanted to do for my own fitness, lifestyle or stress relief.

“That’s when I decided to explore different things. It was a journey – I could have given it all up and not done anything at all – but exercising was such a part of me.

“That’s when I got into personal training and found that what I wanted to do was to inspire other people to find what works for them in terms of fitness.

“Having become a personal trainer, I then started taking classes – something I especially love because they’re a bit like hockey, a team activity. 

“That’s my big thing, helping create a lifestyle for people and supporting them in finding something they love to do, whether that’s in a class setting or in the gym.

“I still play hockey now to a good level and I really enjoy it, but it’s more a social thing – I had to find what I love and training people is what I want to do.”

Today, that journey has led Kate to the position of strength and conditioning master trainer at Third Space in Canary Wharf, overseeing more than 50 group exercise instructors. 

Kate takes on a Ski Erg in The Yard at Third Space
Kate takes on a Ski Erg in The Yard at Third Space – image Matt Grayson

Her role includes responsibility for developing that team and the classes it delivers as well as coaching group sessions herself.

“Fitness shouldn’t be seen as something you just do if you’re an athlete,” she said.

“If you hated sport at school, that doesn’t mean you can’t go to the gym and find something you love doing.

“Classes are about teamwork – everybody in the room might have different motivations but they’re all trying to achieve something, they have that shared aim.

“At Third Space we design the sessions so anyone can come along and get the best workout for them. The camaraderie and the class environment really helps motivate people. 

“Everyone’s doing the same things at the same time – you might not know anything about them, who they are or what they do – you’re all just there to look after yourselves, to get fit and maintain it and nobody is judging what anyone else is doing.

“That’s the fantastic thing about my job – you get so many different dynamics.

“Some people will come into class and they’ll want to sit at the back and not want too much attention, because they just want to do their thing.

“Others will be more competitive and they’ll use that to motivate themselves. Both are absolutely fine.”

Kate demonstrates a pull-up – image Matt Grayson

While the extensive class list at Third Space – which includes everything from spinning to weightlifting, crossfit, combat and Yoga – presents a multitude of possibilities for members, Kate said the true attraction of the club lay in the breadth of the range of services it offers and how they complement one another.

“Third Space offers everything in terms of facilities, but that in itself can be daunting,” she said. 

“So the best advice I can give when someone joins a place like this is: ‘Talk to someone’. There are staff all around with all the personal trainers and academy and class instructors and that might seem intimidating.

“But this is our world. Everyone has had their own journey to get here and we all, without exception, want to help members. 

“When people are new to a gym, over the first couple of months, the most common thing they do is to absolutely smash themselves five days a week.

“Then their body starts to break down, the stress becomes too much and they can get injured. That’s why you need help. 

“Workouts are a stress on the body, but we’re experts in managing that and allowing people to find what they love doing and what they need to do.

“Personal training can be especially great for that. A good PT can help you with the things you don’t enjoy so much and that will help you avoid injury and perform better in the activities you love.

“They can create a plan for you that will help you develop strength so you get stronger and condition your body.

“Then with classes I’d suggest trying a range of things.

“You might go along and absolutely hate it, but it’s only 45 minutes of hell, and then you’ll know – you can cross it off the list and try something else if it’s not for you.

“First it’s about safety – members can use classes to learn how to move correctly.

“You often see people writing down what they’ve done so they can replicate it again on their own.

“Then classes like Yard Strong, for example, allow people to try things they might not have done before, which is always exciting.

“It has 10 stations with exercises like log bars and farmer carries – exercises that leave people feeling they’re really accomplished something.

“For members who want to get stronger, classes like these are there for them to lift in a safe environment with a knowledgeable instructor who can help them develop and keep an eye on their technique.

“In a class like that it’s more about working in partnership with the trainer.

Kate says Third Space offers a wide range of classes
Kate says Third Space offers a wide range of classes – image Matt Grayson

“The important thing is that for every class you can stay within your own zone – you can interact as much as you like.

“Likewise, if someone has suffered an injury or is restricted in what they can do, it’s our job to adjust what we’re offering to include them, to provide alternatives so they will still get something from the class.

“We will always strive to go above and beyond what’s on offer elsewhere so every person who comes to Third Space achieves what they want to and is able to train with us.

“That’s why, for me, this is the ultimate gym.

“You have your home, which is your first space, your place of work which is your second space and then we’re your Third Space.

“Then within that there are so many spaces at the club, whether you’re a member who wants to find a quiet corner, put their headphones on, do their workout and not be seen or whether it’s a member who wants to take part in a big class in The Yard.

“The great thing about Third Space is that you have the facilities to do all those things, whether it’s taking part in a dance class, going for a swim, using the climbing wall or doing a treadmill class. It’s about what you want.  

“Then what’s key is finding something that is sustainable for you and that you enjoy. 

“That way you can make good habits, build slowly over time and achieving those goals becomes so much easier.

“Here, you can come and know there’s always someone who is there to help you get through your workout and make the most of it.” 

Kate takes on the air bike on the gym floor
Kate takes on the air bike on the gym floor – image Matt Grayson

Membership of Third Space Canary Wharf costs £180 on a rolling monthly contract.

Personal training rates at the club are available on request, with a discount for new members on their first two sessions.

Group-wide membership for all clubs including City and Tower Bridge costs £210 per month.

New members get two guest passes, a meal or shake at Natural Fitness Food, 25% off their first treatment at the Canary Wharf spa and an ongoing discount of 5% as standard.

Read more: Personal trainer Darren Bruce on one-to-one sessions

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Canary Wharf: How Darren Bruce helps gym-goers hit their goals at Third Space

The elite personal trainer has spent 20 years coaching clients at the Canary Wharf club

Third Space elite personal trainer Darren Bruce
Third Space elite personal trainer Darren Bruce – image Matt Grayson

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Learning to move in the right way is crucial to avoiding injury and achieving your goals through exercise.

So says elite personal trainer at Third Space in Canary Wharf, Darren Bruce

If anybody knows, he certainly ought to. Typifying what the massive gym in Canada Square offers, Darren has a wealth of expertise, having competed at the highest levels as a sportsman.

As a boxer he was a challenger for the IBO Welterweight World Title and is a former British kickboxing champion and county champion long jumper.

But he’s also spent nearly 20 years helping gym-goers achieve their own aims.

“I actually started working here when it opened in 2002 as Reebok Sports Club,” said Darren.

“I was being sponsored by a construction company at the time – I’d go to work for half a day and then box at a gym in south London.

“I’d had lots of breaks in my career but I’d decided I needed to think about doing something else, so I saw the marketing suite for the gym and went to see what it was all about.

“I already had a personal training qualification but they said they didn’t need trainers at that time so I started out taking boxing classes.

“That was pretty much brand new to me but I ended up having the busiest class at the club – that was my foot in the door.”

Darren began seeing clients one-on-one in 2004 image Matt Grayson

Two years later Darren got a job as a personal trainer after another member of staff left and has never looked back.

“At first making the transition from athlete to trainer was awkward – I’d trained at the highest level, so I realised I needed to gear things down, but in no time at all I got it,” he said.

“Personal training is about getting that relationship with the client right, getting them to believe in you and knowing your craft.

“I’ve worked beside some really great coaches over the years so I stuck close to a couple of those guys, learnt from them and studied. 

“My skills developed from there and they’re still developing – I’m always trying to evolve what I do, but I’ve stuck to my principles since starting personal training in 2004, and I still use the same approach.

“Safe exercise is first and foremost. You don’t want to injure your client – it’s a bad experience for them and they’re not going to come back.

“Then, everything is about sound movement patterns.

“Many people who come to me have desk-bound jobs and the best thing is to get them moving. 

“If I can make them feel that they are moving better and they’re getting stronger, then they’ll keep coming back and progressing – I still have the first client that came to me at this gym and she’s fantastic.”

Everything starts with a thorough assessment before Darren creates a bespoke series of exercises.

“The first time someone comes to me, we’ll do an evaluation,” he said. “I’ll ask them what their goals are, what their previous training history is like and whether they have any injuries. 

Darren's professional boxing background informs his approach
Darren’s professional boxing background informs his approach – image Matt Grayson

“From that process, I will go about devising a programme that’s dependent on that client’s goals and what they need to achieve them. Then we’ll work through it together.

“I think people should aim to train for a minimum of twice a week with a personal trainer helping them. 

“People shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they can do this on their own.

“Our personal training clients at Third Space find they can get an extra 10% out of themselves with a coach.

“People generally don’t know how to improve themselves – that’s why we’re here to coach them in those movements.

“That’s important for safety too – if someone wants to do a high impact class they’re much better off seeing a trainer first because their movement patterns might be pretty poor and that’s something we can work on.

“That’s why it’s best to see a trainer more than once a week as progress is faster.”

As a trainer, Darren is able to draw on the countless hours of expert coaching he’s received over the years.

“Discipline is the most important thing,” he said. “You have to learn to focus and realise that progress doesn’t come overnight.

“When it comes to coaching boxing we can do the drills I used to do, but just spend less time on them so the client is always learning and progressing.

“Obviously it’s great when you have clients who want that specific combat expertise – if people want to spar we can do that in the ring here in a safe manner because I’m a professional.

“That’s one of the things that sets me apart because it’s not an easy thing to do. But the discipline of training for boxing is also great for general fitness. 

“The great thing about Third Space is there is so much of it – so much room – and the facilities are first class.

“There’s no waiting around, even at peak times, and it has everything you need.”

Membership of Third Space Canary Wharf costs £180 on a rolling monthly contract.

Personal training rates at the club are available on request, with a discount for new members on their first two sessions.

Group-wide membership for all clubs including City and Tower Bridge costs £210 per month.

New members get two guest passes, a meal or shake at Natural Fitness Food, 25% off their first treatment at the Canary Wharf spa and an ongoing discount of 5% as standard.

Read more: Why even exercise specialists need personal trainers

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Wapping: How The Sporting Club delivers for clients at all levels of fitness

Personal training gym in Garnet Street offers one-on-one and semi-private sessions alongside classes

Founder of The Sporting Club, Tim Keleher
Founder of The Sporting Club, Tim Keleher image Matt Grayson

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January is traditionally the month of knee-jerk reactions to the excesses of the festive season.

Alcohol is shelved, meat nixed, diets started and resolutions to walk thousands of steps more a day than last year enthusiastically begun.

It’s not peak time for sign-ups at The Sporting Club in Wapping, however.

That usually comes in February as expert help is sought in the fitness field when it becomes clear abstinence and good intentions aren’t quite going to be enough to generate the honed body of desire.

While its personal training programmes aren’t cheap – a one-to-one session costs £80 for 60 minutes – founder Tim Keleher can promise a highly tailored service that has seen around 30% of clients working out with him or his trainers for more than 10 years.

“We’re realistic with people right from the start,” he said. “We set sensible goals that change over time.

“If people say they want a six pack then I’ll be honest with them and ask whether they’re willing to train six times a week, clean up their diets completely and not go out on a Saturday night. For many that’s a step too far.

“What our clients report after they start training with us is a general feeling of wellbeing. It might be that their sleep improves, their concentration at work is a little bit better or that they feel energised and are more likely to do healthy activities outside the gym.”

Originally from Melbourne, Tim made the journey to London from Australia at the invitation of his brother Jamie, who had more work than he could handle as a personal trainer.

While Jamie moved on from Wapping to Wimbledon, Tim stayed in east London, steadily building up his business at John Orwell Sports Centre before moving into his own premises, tucked away at Sovereign Close looking out onto Wapping Woods. 

Seeking more footfall and greater prominence he’s now relocated the business to premises over two floors in Garnet Street, which has generated a stream of interest from passers-by, one of whom stops by during our interview. 

“We are coaching based – that’s the fundamental difference between us and a mainstream gym,” said Tim.

“Our clients come and they are always getting coached – this isn’t a gym where you can come and do a workout on your own and we have to be clear about that.

“Predominantly people train here in one-to-one or two-to-one settings with a trainer. We also offer semi-private sessions for up to three people with a focus on strength training and classes, at the moment, for up to eight people. 

“That allows us to bring in a few different things, such as Yoga, boxing and circuit training. Our clients will come in and do one or a combination of a lot of those.

“The first thing to say is we can train people of all levels but our typical client is someone who doesn’t have any  specific athletic goals.

“Most have busy lifestyles, stressful jobs and perhaps they haven’t been doing enough exercise and would like to lose a few pounds.

“But my youngest client is the 12-year-old daughter of a friend across the street who is doing some strength training with us and our oldest is a local councillor who is in her late 70s and we have everything in between.

“Most people who start with us stay with us, they love training and are loyal to us as a local business and I think that’s a good reflection of the service we offer. 

“We have about 90 clients who are doing personal training with us and of those, 25 have been with us for more than a decade. I still have the very first client I started training at John Orwell.

“We always ask clients to commit to at least 12 weeks of training. It’s not a cheap thing to do, but if you want to get the most out of it there has to be an investment of both time and money.

“Generally, getting people to commit financially is a good way of getting them to do the work they need to in the gym.

“We do offer a bit more flexibility with our semi-private classes and group classes where session packs are available and people can purchase single sessions too.

“For the group classes we also do an introductory offer of three sessions for £30.

“Ultimately I think we’re a good place to train, but we won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. For that type of session, I want people to try one out and see if it fits with what they’re looking for.”

Tim demonstrates a squat at the club
Tim demonstrates a squat at the club image Matt Grayson

The Sporting Club’s core focus, though, is on personal training, with personal programmes created for each client according to their needs and individual goals.

“I think what sets us apart is the quality of the trainers we have here,” said Tim, who grew up playing a range of sports before discovering a passion for weight training in his late teens.

“Unfortunately the quality of personal trainers in the industry as a whole is not very high – it doesn’t take much to get your certificate and you have providers of those courses who want to make it as easy and accessible as possible to get those qualifications.

“But what you learn in many of those courses does not give you the skills to be a personal trainer.

“It’s a first step and everyone has done it, but learning the process of becoming a trainer, knowing how to read clients and to write really good programmes for each individual – that takes time.

“A statistic that is probably a little old but still rings true is that two thirds of personal trainers are out of the industry within six months.

“They get their certificate, they try to make a living out of it and within six months they can’t and then they’re out. It’s a massively high turnover.”

Staff at The Sporting Club are selected based on personal connection or recommendation and have to go through a rigorous interview process, which includes writing a programme for Tim and coaching other trainers under scrutiny.

“That enables me to see what their skill sets are like and how they work,” said Tim. “It also ensures that I’m comfortable for them to start seeing clients.

“We currently have six other trainers here apart from myself, including Justin Lam who I’ve been working with for more than 10 years after meeting him on a course.

“That expertise is essential because, having worked eight years in a public gym my opinion is that most people don’t know enough about exercise to do it by themselves and get results.

“They might have the best of intentions but don’t know how to put exercises together to get the most out of their workout.

“For a lot of our clients, having a set time in their calendar when they’re accountable not just to themselves but to us, is motivation enough.

“And that’s the first step. You have to show up every week – it’s a game of consistency. Then we’re very good at designing programmes, asking what a client’s capabilities and goals are and bringing the two together for them.”

Brightly-coloured kettlebells at the ready
Brightly-coloured kettlebells at the ready image Matt Grayson

Part of the service is having a facility and equipment capable of delivering and from its clean, white shopfront to its banks of free weights, cable machines and basement studio, The Sporting Club is comprehensively kitted out.

“I like my toys,” said Tim. “Take our set of bars, for example. We have a lot of different ones that you would not see in a mainstream public gym.

“They will probably have a standard Olympic bar and nothing else. Mainstream gyms are usually a little behind what studios like us are doing.

“But the reason we have these things is to ensure we can safely do different types of exercise with a wide range of clients.

“Our latest piece of kit is called a belt squat machine, made by a company called Primal. Because you’re loading around your back this is a really easy and safe way to coach squats.

“I’ve only had it for four months but it’s quickly become the most versatile and most-used machines we have because it allows people a greater range of motion.

“We also have our track – a must for personal training studios if you have the space.

“It’s where we load up push sleds or pull sleds and you just get people dragging weights, which is a great way to build leg strength.”

Read more: Why Third Space’s Eve Powell turned to a personal trainer

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Canary Wharf: How PT sessions at Third Space can help with fitness goals

Pilates and group exercise lead instructor Eve Powell on why she sought help with weightlifting

Eve Powell, Pilates and group exercise lead instructor
Eve Powell, Pilates and group exercise lead instructor – image Matt Grayson

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It’s January, the time when for reasons more traditional than functional, people take stock of their lives and pledge to make changes for the better.

But how to make those resolutions stick once the novelty value has worn off?

Wisdom is generally gained from experience, so a good starting point in any fresh venture should be to seek out the thoughts of those who are already pretty good at what you’re trying to achieve.  

With the festive bloat at maximum, increased exercise is generally bobbing around the top of people’s lists.

But motivation can wane rapidly, so I sat down with Eve Powell of Third Space in Canary Wharf to discover her tips for sticking with the programme and how she personally stays in shape and maintains her enthusiasm.

A certified Pilates coach and group exercise lead instructor, Eve has been described as “the superwoman” on Trustpilot by a gym member, who praised her “meticulous performance on the gym floor and in classes”.

Eve says personal training can help deliver motivation
Eve says personal training can help deliver motivation – image Matt Grayson

Having first qualified as a trainer while at university, Eve initially embarked on a career in the film industry before realising she got more out of her weekly combat class at the weekend than five days  spent on set.

“That’s when I made the transition to thinking I wanted to do it full-time,” she said.

“The main thing is the job satisfaction because we’re lucky to have endorphin-high, sweaty people telling us how great they feel at the end of a class.

“It’s a job where you help people and now, having got into Pilates, that’s even more the case.

“I’d never practised it before I joined Third Space – I’d done Yoga and thought it was basically the same – but my boss here asked if I wanted to go on a training course and I said yes because I thought it would be another skill to have.

“I’m so glad, because it changed my life and the way I train completely.

“Not knowing anything about it, I thought Pilates was good if you had a bad back, or if you were a bit older and your physio told you that you needed to do it.

“But I really fell in love with the history of it, the discipline and practice. It’s conditioning, building that strong, solid foundation for other exercises so you can run, lift weights and do Crossfit.”

Eve has a coach for her Olympic weightlifting
Eve has a coach for her Olympic weightlifting – image Matt Grayson

Another key element to Eve’s approach to fitness is seeking out one-on-one expertise, especially for those new to the gym or branching out into new areas.

“Using myself as an example, I’m a coach, but when I decided to take up Olympic weightlifting I went to a personal trainer because I was a total beginner,” she said.

“I had a bit of a head start because of the endurance, flexibility and mobility I’d built up with Pilates, but I needed someone with that experience.

“For people who are new to the gym, maybe they don’t even know what their goals are, so I’d recommend having a session with a trainer and trying lots of different things.

“That’s why Third Space is a great place to start because there’s so much to choose from here. Then we have so many great trainers it’s easy to work one-on-one with someone on general fitness or on something specific. 

“With weightlifting, it was a brand new skill to me and it’s so technical – I knew I would benefit from having the time and eyes of a coach. 

“It’s also easier to commit and to work on smaller short-term goals in pursuit of what you’re trying to achieve.

“The trainer I see is on me to hit those targets. If you’ve got a good coach, invested in you, and you’re investing in yourself, it’s amazing.

“I have that one hour where it’s me and her and I’ve got a goal – snatching a particular weight or focusing on my hip mobility in my overhead squat.

“Whatever it is, it’s my time with that person and I call it my therapy. In between sessions we stay in touch – I send her videos of my progress and I really miss it if I can’t make a session. It really helps with motivation.

“It also helps me from a professional standpoint because my trainer will use cues and commands while I’m exercising that I find I can use. 

“Even though the Pilates classes I coach aren’t the same, something that works for weightlifting might also work for me when I’m doing banded overhead squats with a group.”

From the other side Eve said one-on-one sessions gave trainers the chance to go into great detail with individuals.

She said: “You have more time to really look at a person’s body. You have time to ask the client questions and get their feedback, to find out where someone is feeling something and what it feels like for them.

“Initially, trainers use their first sessions to see how their client is moving, what their core strengths are and if they have any imbalances to address. 

“It starts with identifying a goal – what the client wants to get out of their time with a coach.

“That might be to lose some weight, to increase their fitness, to tackle an injury or some pain they’re getting or to improve their posture.

“Then the trainer will come up with an individual programme tailored to achieve that. In general that will be a 360-degree approach that delivers a full body workout as a way of delivering those goals.

“It’s also great for trainers because after I’ve had a session with someone I’ve always learnt something.

“Everyone has a different body. A cue that might work for one person might not work for another so you have to be very adaptive. 

“It’s a process of discovery, you have to make sure you’re using the right language. 

“You might have a client who spends all day working at a desk and has no knowledge of the fitness industry so you have to find a way to communicate that makes sense to them.”

Membership of Third Space Canary Wharf costs £180 on a rolling monthly contract.

Personal training rates at the club are available on request, with a discount for new members on their first two sessions.

Group-wide membership for all clubs including City and Tower Bridge costs £210 per month.

New members get two guest passes, a meal or shake at Natural Fitness Food, 25% off their first treatment at the Canary Wharf spa and an ongoing discount of 5% as standard.

Read more: Why exercise should be like brushing your teeth

Read e-editions of Wharf Life’s print edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

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Canary Wharf: How Third Space has all the facilities you need to forge a healthy habit

Senior lead trainer Danny Cunningham on the importance of consistency when it comes to fitness

Danny pushes a sled at Third Space in Canary Wharf
Danny pushes a sled at Third Space in Canary Wharf – image James Perrin

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“For people to see that exercise is something to do on a regular basis, like brushing your teeth is incredibly important,” said Danny Cunningham.

To describe the senior lead trainer at Third Space as passionate about fitness would be similar to saying Tigger is partial to the odd bounce.

Anyone who’s been fortunate enough to attend one of his classes in Canary Wharf knows he all but vibrates with exactly the sort of infectious energy you need when trying to summon up the motivation to inch that ambitiously heavy kettlebell you accidentally selected at the start of the session, off the ground. 

He also makes it plain, crucially, that if you’d rather just squat using your own bodyweight, then that’s just as valid and equally worthy of celebration.

CONSISTENCY

“Even if somebody turns up and just does 10 minutes of something, that’s going to have a more positive impact on their mental and physical health, than if they neglect exercise altogether that day,” said Danny.

“It’s consistency that enables people to progress. Like cleaning your teeth, you might not do it as hard or as long on certain days, but you know it’s important to do it regularly.

“Exercise is really great, it makes people feel more cheerful. Getting into the habit of training regularly tends to have a beneficial knock-on effect – those who do often finish tasks more efficiently at work or at home, creating real positive momentum.

“The opposite is often true as well – clients often end up telling me they’ve had a bad day when they’ve missed their morning workout, woken up a bit later and turned up to their first meeting feeling a bit rubbish. It all stems from starting off on the wrong foot.

“Morning exercise is great, but it isn’t for everyone – training at lunchtime or in the evening is excellent too.”

Danny knows what he’s talking about – having been thrown in the boxing ring by his east London dad as a boy to “toughen him up”, he studied sports and exercise science at college and university before embarking on a career as a personal trainer and fitness instructor in 2008.

“After several years as a PT, I really wanted to broaden my horizons,” he said. “So in the mornings, evenings and at weekends I continued to train clients, while also holding down nine-to-five jobs. For me, personally, that was also an insurance policy – if you work in a physical job and you get injured, what are you going to do? 

I deliberately sought sales and marketing roles because those skills are transferable back into the fitness sector, a lot of which is about online presence now.”

While Danny now works full-time for Third Space, that previous experience afforded him a particular level of insight into corporate life and how exercise fits into it, having spent two years working for KPMG in Canary Wharf. 

Danny says carving out an hour is vital
Danny says carving out an hour is vital – image James Perrin

PRIORITIES

“The most important thing for people to do is to make sure going to the gym works around their schedule, but at the same time to be flexible enough to prioritise their training,” he said.

“If you’re really busy and literally don’t have any spare time, then you need that discipline to carve out a regular one-hour time-slot in the same diary you use for work.

“You need to see it as a non-negotiable meeting you have to attend. You could argue it’s the most important one in terms of your own positivity.

“People are often happy to prioritise deadlines at work, but they often neglect themselves.

“If they’re able to look after their own health and fitness, they’re much more likely to hit other deadlines and the process will be a lot more enjoyable because they’ll be approaching everything with a positive mindset.”

BREADTH

As many people go back to the office and people’s lives return to pre-pandemic rhythms, Danny said well-equipped and organised gyms offered a potent alternative to working out alone at home.

“One of the things Third Space offers is the variety of its classes and, in terms of the equipment available, it has everything you could think of all under one roof,” he said.

“In terms of classes, you’ve got the mind and body workshops, which are good for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

“Then you’ve got the HIIT classes, which are a lot of fun and the strength-related classes, which are good for people who want to build muscular power.

“You’ve got The Yard, which is the biggest functional training space in London, a huge selection of exercise machines and weights and brilliant studios that are incredibly atmospheric to train in.

“Then, on top of that, there’s a climbing wall, saunas, steam rooms, a swimming pool and other things like the Powerplates where people can come and do low-intensity exercise that gets transformed into something really worthwhile.

“That’s a real contrast to doing boring home workouts where it’s burpee after burpee.”

Third Space's facilities include a combat area
Third Space’s facilities include a combat area – image James Perrin

INCLUSIVITY

“We design our classes to be suitable for every level from complete beginners to seasoned athletes, by giving multiple options and pushing the culture that you don’t have to hit certain targets,” said Danny.

“Instead, as long as you achieve what you are comfortable with, that’s what matters. Music is very important too.

“People probably take it for granted that there’s a certain beat when they first come in – it will have that feel-good factor and a bit of energy in the room.

“Then we start the session, which is supposed to be thought-provoking so we’ll have ambient sounds and dim the lights to get everyone in the right physical and mental zone.

“Throughout the session people can expect epic lights and music plus fun and friendly chat from the instructors to help keep everyone motivated and take away the pain.

“It’s important for them to be enjoyable because as well as the physical benefits, it’s about the mental benefits of turning up and having a good time.

“People come to realise how valuable getting away from their desks and having a release is. Not everyone wants to be pushed to their absolute limits.

“Some want to come in, have a good workout and not feel like they’re dying. But it works for those who do want to push themselves. 

“It’s being in an inclusive environment where everyone can train at their own level next to each other.”

STARTING

Danny said, for people completely new to exercise, the key thing initially was getting into good habits early.

“For people in that position, one of the things to think about is why they didn’t go to a gym before,” he said. “A lot of that may come down to the fear and intimidation of thinking that everyone’s got to be super fit and it wouldn’t be for them. But it’s not like that.

“First of all, people should focus on turning up, because that’s something to celebrate – just building exercise into their lifestyle is the important thing.

“For the first two to six months, their mindset should be: ‘I’m just going to go’.

“Nobody should be putting pressure on themselves to get an eight-pack or huge biceps – they should be celebrating having the motivation and dedication to show up on a regular basis. In the long run, that’s what’s going to keep them healthy and fit throughout their lives.”

Exercise should be about positivity and enjoyment
Exercise should be about positivity and enjoyment – image James Perrin

EVERYWHERE

Having developed an extensive online offering, Danny said Third Space was also well-placed to offer members a balance of on-site services and at-home expertise.

“What’s interesting and not much discussed is that it’s great to have a healthy mix of home and gym workouts to suit your routine,” he said. 

“Personal trainers are aware of this and may well prescribe certain sessions  to do that will be helpful in terms of technique if people can’t get to the gym because of their schedule.”

Membership at Third Space Canary Wharf cost £170 per month, which works out at £5.59 a day.

The company is currently waiving its joining fee and offering new members a free meal or shake at Natural Fitness Food, 25% off their first Third Space Spa treatment and two guest passes.

Readers can follow Danny on Instagram here.

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Canary Wharf: Fitness brand Sweat By BXR offers free classes at Crossrail Place studio

Boxing, Versaclimbing and Strength And Conditioning sessions all available at its facility

Working the Versaclimber at Sweat By BXR
Working the Versaclimber at Sweat By BXR

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Everywhere, normal life is reasserting itself. Inboxes are buzzing, people are getting back in touch and returning to the office – Canary Wharf hasn’t been this busy since the first three months of 2020.

It’s time to get out and meet again, to shrug off the PJs, shift those extra pandemic pounds and get in shape.

The solution? It’s not home workouts. Contorting yourself to see a tiny figure on your phone flexing something is so first lockdown.

What’s needed is consistent, energising, professional help and boutique, pay-to-train fitness studio, Sweat By BXR in Canary Wharf has an offer that’s hard to resist.

It’s currently offering anyone who signs up for its weekly newsletter a complimentary class. Free, no strings.

“We want to encourage people out of their offices and homes,” said managing director Alex Nicholl. “We want people to come and enjoy the experience, to get back in the studio.

“Once people have done that, we then have two introductory offers that work out at £10 per class for a number of sessions.

“With the complimentary class, we just want people to come in, meet us and try out a workout. It’s that simple.   

“People just need to scan the QR code on the following page, enter their details and we’ll send them a voucher code that can be used for any of our classes.

“That’s a really good, free and then cost-effective way to get into our studios and experience what we have to offer.”

Sweat By BXR’s Alex Nicholl – image by Ilyas Ayub

Specifically the brand’s Crossrail Place branch has two workout spaces that are currently home to three classes – Sweatbox, Strenghtbox and Climb To The Beat.

“We have two concept studios,” said Alex. “One is focused on boxing and the other on Versaclimbing. On the boxing side we have two classes – one designed around boxing and bodyweight exercises that we call Sweatbox.

“The other is designed around boxing plus resistance and weight training – that’s Strengthbox. They both have music and lighting as part of the concept and a really fun atmosphere.

“The studio can hold up to 30 people – 15 can be working out on the heavy bags, while the other 15 are working out on the floor using equipment or their own bodyweight.

“One of the big differences in our product and those offered elsewhere is that our boxing classes come from our heritage with BXR – our concept boxing gym in Marylebone.

“All of our instructors are either current fighters, former fighters or have worked at a high level in boxing so you get a really great workout.

“All the equipment is available at the studio – gloves and wraps, everything is here. We also do pre and post-workout shakes.

“Our workouts are usually 45 minutes, with at least 41 minutes of exercise and a three or four-minute stretch towards the end.”

Sweat By BXR offers boxing-inspired workouts at its studio

Inspired by the regimes of top boxers, who need explosive cardio workouts to compete at the highest levels, Sweat By BXR also has something pretty special.

“At BXR, we opened the first Versaclimber studio in Europe when we launched our Marylebone site in 2017,” said Alex. “It’s a machine at a 75-degree angle that has handholds and pedals to mimic climbing. 

“As a machine it’s unique in the fitness world – it’s completely non-impact and burns more calories per minute than any other. It’s a total body workout. You can do an intense interval workout on it – lots of boxers use it before a fight.

“But the first time I tried one, I was on it for an hour and absolutely loved it. There’s a rhythm there, a catharsis in the movement of it. So I sat with some specialists and we were able to conceptualise and create a class for it.

“We launched that in April 2017 and Climb To The Beat became our biggest selling product. The energy, the highs, the pumping music and its crescendos all play into it. I have a background in nightlife so I’m very keen on working with DJs and light technicians to create an atmosphere. 

“The energy is unlike anything I’ve seen in a studio before – it’s a particular feeling. The fact your heart rate goes up so high but that you can recover quickly just by bringing your hands down and then go again, makes it a product for everyone. 

“Coming out of the pandemic is so much about getting yourself back into a regime – there’s a mental health element to that too. 

“Boxing is entrenched in that and the highs from Climb To The Beat also make people feel really good – they walk out of a class with smiles on their faces. We really want people to come and experience that.

“Our pay-ast-you-train model offers our clients a lot of flexibility and that’s key, particularly at the moment.

“We’ve extended all of our expiry dates so people get greater flexibility and can buy a pack of classes, keep them and use them when they need to train.”

A full class timetable is available here.

Sweat By BXR’s Versaclimber studio space
VERSACLIMBER
Climb To The Beat is Sweat By BXR’s most popular class with participants following the beat of the music on their machines, increasing and decreasing intensity as the sounds ebb and flow.

Beloved of osteopaths and physios, the machines are non-impact meaning the risk of injury is reduced. 

Sweat is currently developing a new class, Performance, that will use heart rate monitors to gauge intensity. It’s expected on the Wharf in 2022. 
Sweat By BXR’s boxing studio space
BOXING
With capacity for 30 people, Sweat By BXR’s boxing studio draws on boxing concept gym BXR in Marylebone.

The workouts offered within – Strengthbox and Sweatbox – include full body exercises, punching skills and instructors who are either fighters or involved in the sport at a high level.

Participants alternate between floor-based workouts and using the plentiful heavy bags to the rear of the studio space.

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