Tried & Tested: BLOK’s boutique gym in Shoreditch


Straddling the border between the City and Shoreditch, BLOK’s newest gym is set up to evenly cater to people from both sides of the border. From the outside, the space could easily be mistaken for an edgy art gallery with its industrial interiors and large installations mounted on to vast walls.

But City folk are welcome here just as much as the successful East London creatives. The team here aims to promote the social, artistic and cultural aspects of the local fitness scene within a super schmick space. It is a meeting place for such people to come together as much as it is a gym to work out in.

What is it?

This is the second version of the Clapton-based ‘award-winning fitness meets art, design and fashion’ boutique gym founded by Reema Stanbury, Ed Stanbury and fashion photographer Max Oppenheim. The new instalment offers a huge array of classes seen previously in Clapton, all the while introducing new challenges designed specifically for the fresh space.

There are over 180 classes per week, with 32 different types of class. It surely isn’t hard to find the right one for you. And BLOK even has a decent 60-seater café with its own outdoor seating area – but best wait until nearby construction stops before properly enjoying this offering.

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be spurred on to work harder by your fellow fitness fanatics

How does it work?

Enter the gallery space/café/reception area where you sign in, grab a towel and make your way down the long winding corridor to the change rooms. It feels as if you’ve stepped into a Black Mirror episode where the new surrounds are both futuristic and Brutalist. You’ll eventually find your way into one of the new studios, still smelling freshly constructed, and get your sweat on.

The BLOKfit and BLOKcore classes are some of the most popular due to the high intensity, quick, fat burning routines. Trainers will show little mercy in these classes, but you’ll also see results much faster. Boxing is also a huge selling point for BLOK, with plenty of men and women diving right into their offerings. You can either take your anger out on a bag or go sparing and properly punch someone – it’s all too easy to envisage your opponent as your overbearing boss.

The most diverse range of classes lies within the yoga category. And it’s no wonder BLOK focuses on yoga, with both East London locals and stressed out City workers increasingly falling in love with it. One of our favourites would have to be the restorative yin yoga classes, which everybody takes things at their own pace, holding positions significantly longer than usual.

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Get crazy flexible at some of their yoga classes

BLOKparty, meanwhile, is billed as a fun and silly class where you learn some simple dance steps while working up a proper sweat. But, for some reason, they start out with a little cardio by jumping up and down and doing a little grapevine before getting you to do sit ups and bum bridges on the floor. It isn’t until halfway through the class when you start to bust some moves and, even then, it feels more like simple aerobics. We did, however, greatly appreciate all the Beyonce being played. So that’s a plus.

What are the benefits?

Even if the BLOKparty class feels like a bit of an afterthought, most of the other classes have been tried and tested at the Clapton gym and have had all the wrinkles ironed out. The HIIT classes will get you burning calories fast and are perfect lunch break workouts – you’ll feel less guilty about sitting at your desk all day eating chocolates and crisps. You’ll build up stamina and agility in boxing classes while venting some built up anger.

And yoga classes will get you flexible, strong and focused. BLOK has it all, like many other boutique gyms dotted around the City. But one big extra perk comes in the discounts members get at nearby fashion, lifestyle and food retailers. All annual members receive a BLOK Black Card which gives them 20% off at Anatome, Red Bar, Bistrotheque, Blue Tit and High Moon Food, as well as 10% off at a whole host of other spots.

How much?

Prices vary a lot depending on what kind of membership you buy. A 14-day unlimited trial goes for £50 while a single class purchased on its own will be £17. And like most other gyms, the more classes you buy in bulk, the cheaper each will cost. Black Card membership starts at around £88 a month when buying a whole year’s worth of classes at once. With this, you get priority access to 10 classes each month.

Where is it?

Principal Place, 2 Hearn street EC2A 3BR.