Strength | Uses weights | Full body | Fat burn
Class - The Games
Instructor - Anna-Maria Ronnqvist
Suitable for - People who like to lift heavy stuff, or want to try!
Fitness/Workout level - Intermediate/Advanced
Length - 60 minutes
Equipment - All provided
Perks - Incredible facilities and equipment. A unique class to mix up your workout routine
Drawbacks – Small changing rooms that get very busy at peak times. Expensive if not on ClassPass
Cost - £24
Location - 241 Pavilion Road, London SW1X 0BP
Website - https://www.kxu.co.uk/
Ever watched World’s Strongest Man on TV and wished it was you? Perhaps not, however, you should check out The Games at KXU because, quite simply, it will make you feel invincible (and a little bit strong).
Before I delve into the finer details, please don’t be put off by the pitch so far. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder or the Incredible Hulk to participate in this class, though some weight training basics wouldn’t go amiss. If you’re not familiar with strength training, you don’t have to rule yourself out. Expert instructors will ensure that you have a safe, effective workout tailored to your ability and that you walk out feeling like you could conquer the world, after you’ve had a lie down...
The Games is a circuit class with a twist, based on the principals of Strongman / Strongwoman training. There’s very little cardio – save a Ski Erg and an Assault Air Bike to contend with – and each station is comprised of three different weighted exercises completed over a 45-second period with 15 seconds rest in between. Some are nice and straightforward while others are on the more challenging end of the spectrum; specifically the sledgehammer (essentially throwing a large, heavy hammer at a huge tyre) and the ‘Farmer’s hold’; for the latter I prefer a videographic depiction (thank you Instagram) expertly executed by one of the resident instructors, Laura Hoggins, in the footnote below.
Are you still with me? Hang on in there if you are. Every exercise comes with an option to reduce the intensity; be it lowering the weight or slowing down the reps - whatever it is you need to do to keep moving and get through the workout. It took me the first lap to familiarise myself with all the exercises, but by round two I was able to increase my weights and push a little bit more. The class is hard, of course, but I can testify that it’s do-able. You don’t achieve results from your comfort zone and doing this on the regular would seriously improve your strength and muscular definition, as well as increasing your metabolism.
My class was led by Finnish 2017 Strongwoman World champion, Anna-Maria Ronnqvist, who does not beat around the bush. After a dynamic warm-up of slow bear crawls, lateral lunges and squat jumps rounded off with mobility stretches, we were a short introduction away from getting our hands dirty. Aforecited KXU instructor, Laura Hoggins, was participating in the class that day and under Anna-Maria’s instruction demonstrated all the exercises in the circuit, giving clear teaching points on technique and alignment. A personal highlight was the demo for the heavy med ball carry, with which we were instructed to run, accompanied by the warning “if you’re not running, I’ll chase you.” Unless you fancy being hounded by a Strongwoman World champ cradling a ball the best part of your bodyweight, you’d better get your skates on.
Without further ado we were grouped into threes and assigned a starting station. I was in team Laura Hoggins, aka @bicepsandbronzer, and was already feeling slightly scared about what this meant for me and my virtually non-existent biceps. Turning towards her to give her my best “I’m definitely not sh*****g myself” smile, she clocked the heart rate monitor strapped to my chest and gestured towards hers, remarking: “Nice, I’m wearing mine too to check I’m not dead.”
It was all over in a sweat-hazed blur faster than I could drop the log press. The luxe, rose-gold changing rooms beckoned, and though a little on the small and dimly lit side, they are well equipped with waterfall showers, soft towels, Kiehl’s hair products and other handy toiletries. The lockers even have built-in chargers to cater to your post-workout Instagram needs should you wish to fulfil them, or to let loved ones know you’re still alive.
If you’re feeling peckish after the energy burn-out, head upstairs to the smoothie and nutrition bar specialising in Poke-inspired superfood salad bowls. They also have a spa, an infra-red sauna and a state-of-the-art cryotherapy  chamber if you’re feeling flush; it is Chelsea after all.
 Cryotherapy is the process of using freezing temperatures for health benefits, predominantly to decrease pain and muscle spasms, improve recovery, slow cell aging and improve overall health.
Conclusion: The Games is certainly up there on my recommendation list, not least for the highly sought-after instructors and amazing facilities. Classes with a circuit format can be a little manic, but there was enough space to move around the studio without risking life and limb. The exercises change week on week, so you’ll get some variety if it becomes one of your regular sessions. KXU are also on ClassPass, which means you get to train in a swanky, high-end Chelsea gym for an affordable price.
My only criticism is the less than adequately-sized changing room, which makes for a less than calming experience. Bear this in mind if you are planning a pre-work session. As far as the class is concerned, a little more emphasis on technique throughout the circuit would have been useful, especially given that a lot of the exercises are quite technical.
Details: Nestled in a quiet pocket of Chelsea, KXU is one of the newer kids on the boutique fitness studio block, and they haven’t scrimped on quality. The facilities are second to none and their timetable offers something for everyone; from the infamous Paola’s Body Barre and spin to treadmill training and yoga. A stone’s throw away from Sloane Square Underground, it’s no surprise that the financial collateral weighs in at a hefty £24 per class. They do, however, offer cheaper rates if you buy classes in bulk and they are also on ClassPass.