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Canary Wharf: How those hitting the gym can achieve their goals with balance

Third Space mind and body master trainer Clare Walters on the physical and mental benefits of exercise

Third Space mind and body master trainer Clare Walters

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Will 2023 be the year it happens?

That the resolution takes and the good intentions are converted into consistent, positive action? 

January and February are traditionally the months of busy gyms as, for whatever reason, people decide to get fit, lose weight, gain muscle, improve their endurance or boost flexibility. 

But, how to achieve those goals and develop a habit that will stick beyond the arrival of spring?

That’s where Third Space mind and body master trainer Clare Walters can help.

Along with her colleagues, her role is to help the health club’s members take the steps they need to get where they want to go.

“Our message for 2023 is all about training for life,” said Clare. “It’s the idea that everything you do in the gym supports what you do outside it.

“At Third Space we provide facilities where you can train every part of your body.

“But it’s not just the physical, it’s also about training the mind and about the restorative side of things.”

Billed as the largest luxury health club in Europe and spread over three floors of the building that houses Waitrose in Canada Square, Third Space Canary Wharf isn’t short on space or amenities.

There are free weights, a swimming pool, a climbing wall, saunas, steam rooms, ranks of cardio machines, a combat zone, weights machines and a vast Crossfit-inspired training area called The Yard. 

Third Space Canary Wharf is currently undergoing a major update

That’s before you even get to the hundreds of classes every week – all included in the monthly membership. So how best to navigate such a wealth of options?

“The best thing you can do if you’re coming into training or returning to the gym, is to get as much guidance as possible,” said Clare, who trained as a dancer before embarking on a career in the fitness industry.

“You’ll see people on social media promoting crazy workouts and doing 30-day challenges. They can be great as a gateway into fitness but they are only ever the start. 

“You want to be training to make your life easier, whether that’s with the aim of climbing a mountain or just running after your kids in the playground.

“In my classes I use the example of my mum. She’s retired and she loves hiking.

“She was struggling on the hikes to get over stiles, so I’ve given her barre exercises and Pilates for strength, flexibility and stability.

“It’s about working out why you want to train – whether your goals are aesthetic or fitness related. I think having longer term goals really helps.

“They make you realise you don’t need to go hell for leather – you don’t want to start with a marathon if you’ve not been running before. 

 “It’s the same with any type of training – pace yourself, get expert guidance and speak to the instructors for advice.

“They will be able to suggest classes that will help.

“For example, a high intensity class will be very fast-paced with larger movements designed to switch on the bigger muscles.

“Adding in something like a Pilates class can help by focusing on the lesser muscles in the body that help with posture and general alignment.

“It’s more of a holistic approach to help maintain a balanced body and avoid injury.”

Then there are the mental health benefits, derived from both intense exercise and slower disciplines.

“People who train regularly can expect to feel like they have more energy,” said Clare, who practises circus skills including the trapeze, outside work.

“The endorphins it creates give you a natural mood boost and help minimise pain.

“Training makes you feel better about your life, yourself, better in your body on a mechanical level, a bit brighter, stronger and fitter.

“Walking up the escalator on the Tube won’t leave you puffing at the top.

“There’s something about lifting a weight that’s heavier than the one a week before, when you feel connected to your breath doing Yoga or when you go swimming and you can do more lengths than the time before. 

“We lead such busy lives, especially in London – having the space to concentrate on one thing is really important.

Clare enjoys Yin Yoga as a break from busy London life

“My favourite Yoga practice is actually Yin – it focuses on the softer, slower aspects of the discipline, with long held postures that are quite meditative.

“It’s good if you just need that little bit of space in your day – you can come into our studio, it’s warm, we dim the lights, we have calm music, and we’re creating that relaxing atmosphere.

“It’s like a haven – a third space away from work and home life where you can come in and only focus on yourself.

“Of course, one of the other great things about Third Space is the community.

“Members meet other members and become friends, whether that’s through attending classes or just chatting in the sauna.

“One of the things we’ve learnt during the pandemic is that people need other people  – isolation isn’t good for humans at all.

“It might simply be that you’re in a class, finding it tough, look to your left and right and feel that sense of connection – something that spurs you on.

“As a teacher, it’s really beautiful when I see this happening, or when people come to a class and then end up chatting a bit more and hanging out afterwards.

“We’ve also launched Hyrox classes that are aimed at equipping members with the skills to compete in those competitive events.

“Members can do those individually, just like the event, or they can team up with a partner and the classes are the perfect place to find someone to do that with.” 

In other news, the Canary Wharf club is undergoing an extensive refurbishment programme with many machines already replaced and interiors updated.

Membership for Third Space Canary Wharf costs £210 per month with group-wide access £20 more.

There is currently no joining fee.

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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 Third Space’s major update is all about quality and fine detail

General manager at Canada Square, David Burrow, talks lighting, equipment and high expectations

Third Space’s weights machines area has had a facelift

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Health and fitness clubs are, at their root, about maintenance and change.

Nobody joins a gym to see their body deteriorate or their performance decline.

We want to stay in condition and see steady progress towards our goals. 

Similarly, people expect their clubs to provide that – they have the right equipment, classes, facilities and staff to help them get to where they want to be.

Members at Third Space in Canary Wharf will pay £220 per month from January 2023 for access to Europe’s largest luxury health club.

The task of ensuring the Canada Square facility consistently meets their expectations falls to general manager David Burrow.

“We are constantly upgrading – there are always new things coming onto the market, so it’s about asking how we can use them and whether it’s right to have them,” he said.

“We get loads of feedback from our members and we use that to consider what to do next so we can offer an even broader range than what’s already here.”

The club is currently in the midst of a major update that’s seen it refresh the decor and equipment in its free weights and weights machines areas.

It’s halfway through upgrading its vast cardiovascular training areas and is already looking forward to the crowning glory of the project, which will be the remodelling of its changing areas, saunas and steam rooms.

Third Space Canary Wharf general manager David Burrow

David said: “We started with free weights, which we have completely refurbished with new flooring and lighting.

“We have all-new equipment from a company called Eleiko, who are the best in the industry and a firm we’d already been working with in our Olympic weightlifting areas.

“As part of this project we took the opportunity to review what equipment we had, what was best in class and what we wanted to acquire.

“So for our pin-loaded machines we have replaced our offering with products from a company called Pulse.

“It’s an English firm who have been brilliant where we’ve wanted modifications.

“Their machines feature a digital read-out, which gives users a guide to their range of motion alongside feedback.

“That’s what most people are looking for – members can see how they’re performing, how they can do better and get reassurance that they’re using the machine correctly.

“Of course our staff are always on hand to help people with any of the equipment on the gym floor.

“We think Pulse’s machines are great for people at all levels – you can sit on one even if you’re brand new to fitness and be confident that what you’re doing is correct.

“Many people who join a health and fitness club will be slightly nervous, but having the ability to know that they can just plug the pin in, push or pull the equipment and see that their range of movement is correct, is very comforting.

“Our aim is to make everything as simple as possible for advanced athletes or complete beginners.

“The idea is that people can use it without needing to speak to someone or to watch dozens of YouTube videos, so the focus is always on the exercise.”

This philosophy underpins everything David and the team at Third Space do.

While the update will see major changes and improvements to the club, many will be barely perceived directly by members – designed instead to create an overall sense of wellbeing in the gym and its facilities.

An artist’s impression of how the upgraded changing rooms will look

“Next year we’ll be upgrading the changing rooms, which is pretty much the biggest thing you can do with the club still open,” said David.

“We’re changing the lighting completely, which is one of the things members probably won’t notice.

“It will be linked to the circadian rhythm – it will change throughout the day so the amount of illumination will feel right to people in a way they can’t quite quantify.

“With a club like this there’s a great amount of work that goes on in the background to create the correct atmosphere.

“The carpet is also being ripped out and we’re having a beautiful new floor.

“Again, it’s something people will walk over, but we’ve spent six months testing products to ensure people won’t slip and that it can be cleaned effectively.

“We’ve gone to enormous lengths to find the right flooring because once it’s down it’s impossible to replace.

“There’s been a huge amount of cooperation between our designers, architects and operations people to make sure it’s fit for purpose.

“It may look beautiful on day one, but we’re interested in day two, day 200, day 2,000 – can it cope with the footfall and trolleys with towels rolling over it every single day.

“That’s why we test and test and test until we’re certain.”

David has been working in the fitness industry for nearly a quarter of a century which has included building his own business in the Netherlands and stints at director level for big chains.

He came to Third Space six years ago, attracted by the opportunity to do the job he loves.

Third Space Canary Wharf’s free weights area now has Eleiko equipment

“For me it’s about the day-to-day interaction and operation,” he said. “When this job came up it was quite an easy choice.

“The challenge of a club this big is unique – there’s nothing else that’s the same.

“I’ve worked in incredible clubs for incredible companies, but there’s no club like this – the range of products, the range of offerings and the challenges that creates.

“I love that I have the opportunity to build and grow this club and I’m extremely lucky to work with the most incredible group of colleagues I’ve ever worked with.

“Members join this club because it has all the toys, but they stay because of the people – the atmosphere really is amazing.”

The upgrade should make it even easier for Third Space to foster that atmosphere with lighting that can be controlled via Bluetooth across the club.

The new cardio area features top of the range Technogym equipment and an updated layout with a more open-plan design.

“The project also features new Woodway treadmills and an upgraded Wattbike studio.

“Personally I’ve reached an age where I like to mix my exercise sessions up,” said David.

“I do a static cardio day, a strength stability day – something like TRX – and some kind of Hiit-based session. Those three will be locked in and then I will do something I feel I need. 

“That might be something strength-based, followed by a steam room or sauna.

“Sometimes it’s about that balance between physical and mental health – asking what is right for me at that moment?

“As you mature, you learn to listen to your body more and I’ve definitely got better at that.”

In addition to the remodelling of the floors in the changing rooms, the upgrade also includes new showers, steam rooms and saunas to help members relax and refresh themselves after their workouts.

An artist’s impression of how the new saunas will look

“It’s the ultimate part of the whole project and it will come in at the beginning of next year,” said David. 

“We’ve got high budgets and a high number of members who all, quite rightly, have high expectations.

“That means we have to deliver an experience to them while the work is going on that is acceptable, while totally renovating the facility.

“That is a challenge but one I am confident we can meet – a lot of research and preparation goes into getting things right here – everything should feel great without people knowing exactly why or realising how much work there is behind it.

“It’s not just about chucking new equipment in – we’d never do things that way.

“Then, after everything is finished, and with Wood Wharf opening in due course, it will be about asking how the two Canary Wharf sites complement each other to offer even more. 

“There’s always something that needs considering, updating or improving – but I love it.”

Standard membership works out at £7.23 per day. Find our about more member benefits here.

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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 In2Sports provides facilities for the whole community

Charitable trust runs Wood Wharf venue, which includes a sports hall, gym and The Training Room

In2Sports director Callum Wear
In2Sports director Callum Wear

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Harbord Square has got a secret.

If you’ve walked through Wood Wharf, past the buildings to the east of its green oblong of grass, you may have spotted In2Sports’ red and blue logo in the brightly lit unit on corner of Brannan Street. 

But that space, with its orange chairs and Mars vending machine is merely the tip of an iceberg. It’s all about what lies beneath.

Walk through its glass doors, descend a level and you’ll find an expansive relaxation area, complete with a pool table, ping pong, a bar, bikes, seating, sports memorabilia and tables made from old vaulting horses.

It’s a charming enough space on its own, but this too is just an appetiser.

What In2Sports is really sitting on is a full-size, purpose built sports hall, complete with changing facilities, fitness studio space and even a crossfit-inspired gym.

Some of the facilities will be used part-time by the neighbouring primary school, when it opens, with the remainder of the timetable available for clubs, businesses and individuals looking for functional, affordable space.

The main sports hall at In2Sports in Wood Wharf
The main sports hall at In2Sports in Wood Wharf

“In2Sports is an indoor sports arena that caters for a wide variety of needs, with the ability to deliver a wide array of opportunities for people to be able to participate in sports and leisure activities at every level,” said Callum Wear, In2Sports trustee.

“It’s a place for anyone and everyone to have fun, play sports and then there’s the social side of it as well, which is a very important feature.

“Rather than just coming in, playing your sport and then leaving, players can relax and mingle with like-minded people, share their victories and talk about their next game strategies.

“It might be cricket, football, netball, volleyball, dodgeball or any smaller-sided counterparts to outside games that can be played indoors.

“We will always be evolving to accommodate new trends and demands.

“Our ambition is to become the home for anybody, any club or association that has a need to deliver sports and leisure activity programmes in this area.

“We don’t have an alliance with or allegiance to anyone, and we will work with a wide variety of people.

“Success for us is about participation – people walking out of the door and saying they’ve had a fantastic time.

“Having a fun place with an electric atmosphere is what we want.

In2Sports’ crossfit-style gym area

“That’s the name of the game. If you’re not having fun playing sport, you’re not going to achieve to the best of your ability. 

“When you’re here, you might be playing table tennis, but you might be playing with your football team or talking about the game or your next opponent – we want there to be constant activity around you.

“It’s a place that keeps people entertained and involved socially – sharing experiences with people is key.”

In2Sports is structured as a charitable trust and following a £9.99 registration fee, the sports hall can be hired for between £120 and £160 per hour depending on timing.

Quarter and half-court hire are also available and there’s a 40% discount for local residents with disabilities, those on benefits, who are senior citizens or who are full-time students. 

In celebration of its opening, In2Sports is currently offering all courts at off-peak prices.

Flexibility is central to the organisation’s model, with The Training Room perfectly summing that up.

“It’s certainly not just a bar and it’s a bit more than a clubhouse,” said Callum. 

“It could be the space where you could come for a small community workshop, for presentations, talks, speeches, birthday celebrations or just a place where people can relax after a game and have a drink with friends. 

“We’re a licensed venue, but you can also have health drinks as well, such as smoothies. It’s warm and welcoming.”

Callum knows a thing or two about welcoming Wharfers. Originally from New Zealand, he moved to the UK and, while working as an analyst on a financial project management system, met and became friends with accountant Chris Bennett.

The two discussed various ideas but both loved the idea of collaborating on a business related to sports and after about a year and a half of discussions created Play On Sports, launching in 2004.

Stretching to an eventual 50,000sq ft of space on the Wood Wharf site, it all began with a guaranteed 18 month lease.

In the end, Play On stayed until 2014, relocating its operations to Whitechapel when they had to make way for building works as Canary Wharf Group began the regeneration of the area.

The Training Room can serve many functions at the venue

“It’s great to be back in Canary Wharf – everyone has welcomed us back and people have been so supportive,” said Callum.

“I think Canary Wharf Group sees the benefit to the community that we bring and hopefully we’ll be contributing to the vibrant hub the estate has become.

“Now it’s full steam ahead – we have opened and it’s time to develop relationships with businesses and organisations around here and to tell the community that we’re here and we’re available for them to enjoy.

“This isn’t just a facility for corporates, it’s a place for anyone to use and play. 

“We’re ideally located, less than a 10-minute walk from the Jubilee and Elizabeth Line stations and there are good bus services along Preston’s Road too.”

In addition to The Training Room and the sports hall, In2Sports is also offering monthly memberships or access on a pay-as-you-go basis to its gym.

“It’s a crossfit-style training room, which is a really inclusive form of exercise,” said Callum.

“Everyone can engage with it because you’re only competing against yourself. 

“Then we also have our studio space which would be ideal for Yoga, Pilates and so on. 

“We’re also working with various charities so they can use it to achieve their goals and they’ll be utilising that space to get people up and active.

“We have a can-do, all inclusive approach to delivering sports. This is not your square-boxed sports hall, so if someone wants to host a sports activity, we will try to deliver it.

“This is very much a community project, the In2Sports charitable trust is for the benefit of everyone – corporates, social clubs and children.

“We like to work with organisations who are using sports to break down barriers, to give people that self-esteem, that self-confidence and to keep people playing sports on a sustainable basis so that they can have fun and feel better.”

One of the changing rooms at In2Sports

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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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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 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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