Flexibility | Strength | Core | Restorative | Extra Sweaty
Class - Classic
Instructor - Emma Croft
Suitable for - Everyone
Fitness/Workout level - All levels
Length - 90 minutes
Equipment - Towels, water and yoga mats needed (or pay £1 a piece to hire, studio depending)
Perks - Expert instructors, nice studios and very relaxing
Drawbacks - Communal showers (very European)
Handy tips - Keep hydrated! It’s also well worth bringing electrolytes for afterwards to replenish your salts. Wear lightweight, opaque gym gear - you’ll look like you’ve just stepped out of the shower
Cost - £17 (studio depending), but they are also on ClassPass
Location - Primrose Hill, Queen’s Park, Kentish Town/Chalk Farm, Old Street, Finchley Central, Brixton - see website for full details
Website - http://www.fiercegrace.com/
Ashtanga, Bikram, Vinyasa, Hatha, Kundalini – confused? I certainly am.
The yoga scene in London is exploding year after year. From sunrise sun salutations atop some of the capital’s tallest buildings, to downward dogs in trendy fitness apparel stores, there’s a dizzying array of options to navigate your way through. 2017 statistics indicated that the Pilates and yoga industry is worth an estimated £812m a year in the UK alone, so it’s no great surprise that boutique studios and inventive new yoga concepts are popping up across the capital faster than you can say Namaste.
With just one yoga experience under my belt, I was somewhat apprehensive to try Fierce Grace’s most popular ‘Classic’ class, which I carefully selected over other options including ‘WILD’ and ‘The Beast.’ For someone who trains five times a week in the early hours, a spot of relaxing late-morning weekend yoga is a real treat. Cue stumbling block #1 – the devastating discovery that I had no breakfast food in, followed closely by #2 – the realisation that there are six Fierce Grace studios in London (of which two are confusingly close to one another) and I’d rocked up at the wrong one.
Running from Primrose Hill to Chalk Farm in attempt to salvage my Zen weekend yoga mindset is one thing, however narrowly missing my friend who had meanwhile erroneously arrived at the same wrong studio is another. Determined not to write the whole thing off, I sprinted back to Primrose Hill in a last-ditch attempt to make a later class, arriving flustered, profusely sweating, stomach growling and unsurprisingly less mentally prepared to do ninety minutes of hot yoga having covered five miles of London on foot since leaving my flat three hours previously.
The class began with seated breathing exercises, or Pranayama, to improve blood circulation and bring stillness and calmness to the mind. This was followed by a series of standing poses – some simple (chair pose), others more challenging (eagle pose and crows) – before finishing with a sequence of floor postures on the mat.
Our instructor, Emma Croft, was extremely calming and professional, providing individual attention to beginners and experienced yogis alike. Though at first it seems identical to traditional, Bikram-style hot yoga, there is much more variety and an increased focus on alignment, hip opening, upper body and core movement. If you’ve never done yoga but have a good base fitness level, you’ll be surprised at how much of it will feel instinctive, and more advanced yogis will be challenged by some of the more difficult postures. The heat allows you to go deeper into poses, and more safely, as your muscles are nice and warm.
Despite heightened anticipation, the class more than exceeded expectations. If you are unfamiliar with hot yoga, the sheer magnitude of the heat can, at first, be a little overwhelming. As my hypothalamus was already battling a higher body temperature than most after my run around north London, I can only describe entering the studio as stepping into a burning furnace. I would advise wearing as little clothing as possible – a scary thought – though trust me, you will resemble a life-sized waterfall in the space of a few minutes. One man rocked up in the tiniest pair of Lycra shorts, essentially Speedos. Though disbelief was my initial reaction, as pools of sweat began to gather at his feet forming a salty man-made lake, I realised I'd been proved wrong.
Conclusion: The hot yoga at Fierce Grace is excellent; it challenges the entire body and is perfect if you’re in the mood for something restorative but still want to feel as though you’ve had a tough cardiovascular workout. Make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after class. I’d also recommend drinking electrolytes afterwards to replenish your salts, as you’ll feel completely wiped out and devoid of energy. Fierce Grace’s USP is undoubtedly its accessibility – male or female, beginner or experienced, injured, pregnant or otherwise, all classes are effective and beneficial for everyone. Forget burning incense and ritualistic chanting, Fierce Grace prides itself on being quite the opposite; a dynamic, challenging and empowering full body workout. If you're looking for slower, more restorative yoga, I would recommend the either the'Fierce Grace' or 'Deep Core' class.
Details: Fierce Grace was founded in 2013 by Michele Pernetta, who brought Bikram yoga to the UK back in 1994. Their six different hot yoga variations conducted in a 38-degree studio are founded on the principles of Hatha, Bikram and Ashtanga yoga – using the same core poses and principles but varying in emphasis, duration and intensity. They have six studios which all run independently of one another, located in Primrose Hill, Queen’s Park, Kentish Town/Chalk Farm, Old Street, Finchley Central and Brixton, and thus are all individually priced. Most 70-90-minute classes are priced at £17, however monthly and yearly memberships are also available. They also have a great introductory offer; 30 days of unlimited yoga for £39, and are on ClassPass.
To find out more about Fierce Grace and book your class, visit the website here.
Picture Credits: Fierce Grace