High-intensity | Cardio | Full body | Low impact | Extra sweaty
Class – Climb to the Beat
Instructor – Courtney Fearon
Suitable for – Anyone with a reasonable cardiovascular fitness level who’s up for trying something new
Fitness/Workout level – All
Length – 45 minutes
Equipment – All provided
Perks – The only place in Europe you’ll find the class. Plus the changing rooms are the best that London fitness studios have to offer
Drawbacks – Expensive. Advance booking essential for peak class times
Cost – £30 (for non-members)
Location – 24 Paddington St, Marylebone, London W1U 5QX
Website – https://bxrlondon.com/sweat-by-bxr.html
Want to up your cardio but can’t bear the thought (or the accompanying joint pain) of treadmills, bikes and cross trainers? Sweat by BXR might have created a class that’s right up your street, plus they’re the only place in Europe you’ll find it.
Introducing: The VersaClimber. It’s an odd-looking, vertical contraption with foot pedals and handles that you may find sequestered in the corner of your local gym collecting dust. Why are we dragging this monstrous relic back into the limelight you may ask?
Firstly, it offers a both a full body and low impact workout, relieving pressure on the joints.
Secondly, it burns more calories than any other cardio machine – around 500-700 calories in 45 minutes.
Thirdly, the VersaClimber has no speed limit, so forget risking life and limb to slow down the treadmill when you’re running at full pelt, or worse still perilously jumping your feet onto the sides. Smooth and quick transitions between different speeds of movement allow for greater variance (minor changes) and progression (more consistent gains) in your workout. Lastly, it’s England rugby player James Haskell’s favourite piece of kit; that’s your fun fact of the day.
If you haven’t already diverted your attention to their website to book your session, read on.
Although I had dabbled with the VersaClimber during circuit classes at my gym, it came back to haunt me during a competitive @teamathleticlife training event at BXR hosted by Caroline Lucey and Andy Manteit, founders of Active in Style and The Active Man  respectively. Part of the workout involved completing a 15-minute climb for maximum distance individually, followed by a 5-minute sprint finisher in teams. Clearly fuelled by post-workout endorphins after a group of disgustingly fit individuals climbed dizzying heights, I decided to commit to Nike Trainer, Courtney Fearon’s (@thehiitman) savagely-renowned ‘Climb to the Beat’ class.
 Active in Style & The Active Man are both online retailers of the world's most fashionable and performance-related fitness and lifestyle apparel.
The movement on the VersaClimber takes a little bit of getting used to. The aim is to achieve a synchronised push/pull movement between the right and left side of your body; the speed of which is dictated by the beat of the music. Much like a spinning class at Psycle, the speed will vary from quick sprints to steadier, longer endurance sections. The trick is to find and maintain a steady rhythm, focusing on your technique to avoid a premature blow out, especially in the forearms. Think about engaging your core, keeping your back straight and lifting your knees up using your glute strength, whilst creating a powerful push/pull movement with your arms to achieve your maximum stroke length. The greater the range of movement, the more muscle fibres you're going to recruit. When your legs start to tire, push harder with your arms, and vice Versa (see what they did there).
The VersaClimber has a monitor displaying the time elapsed, distance climbed, steps per minute and your heart rate. As I’m not at all competitive I definitely wasn’t eyeing up @neha.ldn’s screen to make sure I wasn’t having a shocker…
The atmosphere is nothing short of electric - banging club tracks, pounding bass and blue strip lighting. Close your eyes and lose yourself in the music; you might truly forget that you’re strapped to a 7-foot vertical machine climbing an imaginary mountain.
Once you’ve produced enough sweat to fuel a small steam engine the summit is in sight. Be mindful of the puddles that have collected around the bottom of your VersaClimber and navigate your way towards dryness to stretch your muscles. Forget the anticipation of any unwelcome DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) , the low-impact nature of this workout should leave you relatively pain-free. You’ve also got one of the nicest gym changing room experiences to look forward to, via a Joe & The Juice pit stop if you’re running on empty – you don’t even need to leave the building. Heated bath towels, spacious showers and Malin & Goetz products await. If you're feeling a little dry, ergo you haven’t done the class right, then pop into the sauna and steam room so you at least look like you’ve participated.
 Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in the muscles following unfamiliar or strenuous exercise, usually peaking after 24-48 hours.
Conclusion: Serious kudos to anyone who does this workout on the regular, but for me it’s a perfect every once in a while sweat fest. A cardio fiend acutely aware that I’m in the minority, this class is a great way to maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness without breaking your body in the process. It forces you to work on areas that are generally underused in modern-day living - notably the lower back, core and glutes - while other cardio machines will allow alternative muscle groups to compensate for movement deficiencies. As the VersaClimber is powered manually, you are in control of how hard you exert yourself. Courtney is a savage motivator, plus who wouldn't want to work out in Anthony Joshua’s gym?
I will say, however, that this class is a battle of the mind. It’s all about the music, unless moving your arms and legs in sync for 45 minutes whilst staring directly at screen on a tall black machine is your thang. They also offer a performance and an endurance-based class; the latter an attempt to climb a vertical mile in the fastest time possible.
Details: BXR is a world class, high-end boxing gym, which opened in Marylebone in January 2017. Housed just off Chiltern Street among healthy organic eateries and boutique stores, it’s hardly surprising that it offers the highest standards of training and facilities, plus heavyweight Anthony Joshua is one of its founders and investors. While BXR is members only (and you might need to front a fair bit of cash to join) Sweat by BXR is a pay-to-train boutique fitness concept with three studios offering different classes; Skills (high-intensity boxing), Cardio (the VersaClimber) and Strength & Conditioning (resistance-based training).
A class at Sweat by BXR will set you back £30 as a non-member; a little pricier than the standard going rate. They do offer an introductory package of 3 climbs for £30, and various other bundle packs which provide a modest discount. Memberships are priced at £180 per month.
To find out more about Sweat by BXR and book your class, visit the website here.
Picture credits: Sweat by BXR & Kate I’Anson