Finding a Crossfit Friendly Gym in London

Since I started working in London, I’ve been hunting for a good Gym. I define a “good” as:

  • one which has some Olympic Weightlifting bars
  • the space and the will to let people use them for Olympic lifting (Snatch and Clean & Jerk)
  • has Crossfit style equipment: rower, dumbbells, kettlebells, pull up stations
  • close to my flat, i.e. around Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Islington, Euston or the City
  • Not exorbitantly expensive.

After spending some time scouring the web, I collated the following list of gyms. It’s included here along with my notes on the ones I visited, over 2 sodden nights pacing the streets of London in the evenings. Obviously the prices were what were given to me at the time:

A. UCL Bloomsbury Fitness Centre http://www.uclunion.org/leisure-fitness/bloomsbury/index.php 020 7679 7221
3rd Floor, 15 Gordon Street
£255 for annual offer anytime membership or 3 months for £115
£200 for off peak offer anytime (excludes 11am – 7pm Mon-Fri) or 3 months for £85
Free induction. “Baz: we have rubber dumbbells ranging from 2kg-40kg and 2 Olympic bars with range of discs on a squat rack and bench press. Unfortunately we do not have kettle bells.”

B. City University, http://www.city.ac.uk/studentcentre/saddlers/join/prices.html
No Oly bars “Free weights to 48kg”
Annual: £370.00 Monthly: £37.50 Direct Debit: £32.50 £6.00 single visit
5 free weight stations. Pull up station. 3 rowers, some bars but narrow, not full length.

C. MAXIMUMS GYM LTD 82 ST JOHN STREET ISLINGTON LONDON EC1M4JN
Wasn’t there !

D. Juno, 61 Turnmill Street, London, EC1M 5PT. 020 7250 3489
Was women’s only Gym, but now appears to have closed.

E. THE CURZONS GYM 55 GRACECHURCH STREET CITY OF LONDON LONDON EC3V0EE – 020 7621 0911
Didn’t visit

F. The Fitness Exchange, 9 Devonshire Sq, London, EC2M 4WY. 020 7626 3161
Didn’t visit

G. Vie Health Club, 122 Clerkenwell Rd, London, EC1R 5DL 020 72788070, viehealthclubs.co.uk “comprehensive free weights area”.
6 free weights areas, some detachable bars, £63/month + joining free of zero to £100 depending on how they’re doing.

H. Aquaterra Premier Gyms, 1-11 Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QF 020 7253 4011
Big swimming pool but small gym, only 2 free weight stations.

I. Slim Jims, 1 Finsbury Avenue, London, EC2M 2PF. 020 7247 9982
Didn’t visit

J. The Health Studio, 1 Pardon St, London, EC1V 0LR. 020 72531223
Actually called Drakes. Personal Training only. Very small place.

K. Chariots, Fairchild Street, London, EC2A 3NS. 020 7247 5333,
Didn’t visit

L. CUTLERS SQUASH & GYM CLUB LTD, 020 7614 4275, LAMBS CLUB, 1 LAMBS PASSAGE, ISLINGTON
LONDON EC1Y8LE – 020 7614 4275
Didn’t visit

M. CHAMBERLIN & GRANT LTD 1 FINSBURY AVENUE CITY OF LONDON LONDON EC2M2PF – 020 7247 9982
Didn’t visit

N. KINDER GYM (UK) LTD 20 LINCOLNS INN FIELDS CAMDEN LONDON WC2A3ED
Didn’t visit, suspected it’s a kids gym

O. Citypoint Club, Citypoint, 1 Ropemaker Street, London, EC2Y 9AW. 020 7920 6200
Didn’t visit

P. Body Reform, Cousin Lane, London, EC4R 3TE. 020 7283 3728,
Didn’t visit

Q. Fitness First Plc, 60-63 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8QD, 020 7490 3555
Wouldn’t let me in to see the place as there were “no membership consultants available”.

R. Holmes Place Plc, 33 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8LP, 020 7448 5454
Now Virgin Active. 2 Oly bars with possibly the room to use them, however rather light on available weights to use them. Don’t think there was enough for a decent dead lift for example, not without using every weight in the place!
£83/month for a 12 month contract.
£89/month with no contract, but can use any Virgin Gym (bar a few exceptions).
£40 joining fee

S. LA Fitness. 20 Little Britain, St Pauls, London, EC1A 7DH. 020 7600 0900 http://www.lafitness.co.uk/
Swimming pool, some free weights but all metal plates. 10 rowing machines.Club Peak (12 month) RRP: £46 / month
Web offer: £40 / month (12 month contract)
Pushed a “Quick Start” booklet at £30

T. Virgin Active, 333 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7DG, 020 7014 9700
Didn’t visit

U. VIRGIN GYMS LTD, 9 CHEAPSIDE, CITY OF LONDON, LONDON EC2V6AT
Didn’t visit

V. 121 GYM 160 CITY ROAD LONDON EC1V2NP, 020 7336 0466
As their name suggests the 121 Gym offers a personal trainer service for its members. Appointments must be booked in advance and each session costs £40. They are located within the Complete Health Care Centre.

You may notice that the first 2 gyms are University gyms. This is a great tip as many people don’t realise that University gyms are typically open to the public too. Not only are they generally cheaper than “normal” gyms, their off-peak times are the wrong way round too. Given that students are typically in the gym during the day, when they should be in lectures(!) and in the bar in the evening, their off peak time is evenings and weekends, which makes them even cheaper. UCL for example is currently £200 for a years off peak membership!

However, on Thursday last week, I found the hidden gem: Bethnal Green Weight Lifting Club, which is less than 2 miles away from Farringdon. Not only do they have 3 pukka weight lifting platforms, 10 Eleiko Oly bars, loads of Eleiko weights, plus they have rowing machines, about 10 power lifting stations, loads of dumbbells. I need to confirm it, but I understand the cost will be £40 for a 13 week term at 1 night per week. That’s a bargain!

But even that’s not the best bit, I went this Tuesday evening and was coached in my lifting by the current British Olympic weightlifting record holder in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk and the 2002 Commonwealth Snatch gold medal winner: Giles Greenwood. His over 105kg weight record is 180kg (396lb) Snatch and 207.5kg (456lb) C&J. Just to put that in perspective, I can’t even lift 180kg off the floor, let alone throw it over my head!

On top of that, I also met Patrick Atteridge, a former British, European and World Masters Weightlifting champion and Masters Olympian. For example, again in 2002 Pat won Gold at the World championsips. Pat was telling me that Bethnal Green Weightlifting club has produced 241 champions in the 80 years it’s been open!

So basically, I’m as happy as Larry. 🙂 I can do all the weightlifting I want, coached by champions, on my doorstep, it’s cheap as chips and I may get to introduce some of them to Crossfit too, you never know. 😉

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • andrew stemler 30 August 2008, 4:15 pm

    High mate.

    if you book at Bethnal Green on tuesday evening, ill see you there. I want to do some more sessions, but until I have my university timetable i dont know what days my modules are.

    Andrew, Crossfit London

  • Colin McNulty 5 September 2008, 7:32 am

    Hi Andrew,

    I booked yesterday for 2 days a week. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, so should see you there.

    I went last night and after 45 minutes of Clean & Jerks, decided I’d do a Crossfit workout to finish, I did Jackie (1000m row, 50 x 20kg Thrusters, 30 pull ups). No one was interested in joining me “A fitness thing? In a weight lifting gym? We don’t do that hear!” was the reply, lol.

    There then followed a big debate on whether those funny wiggly pull ups really counted for anything. 😉

  • AD 14 October 2008, 9:01 am

    Hi mate, do you have to enrol in the classes to get access to the gym? Or can you go at other times? I work at Bishopsgate and need a pay as you go gym to lift at the moment, and this sounds promising.

  • Colin McNulty 14 October 2008, 11:43 am

    The only pay as you go one I found was: B. City University at £6 per visit.

  • Andrew Johnston 28 October 2008, 12:36 pm

    This sounds like what I’ve been looking for since I moved to London, do you have any contact details for enrolling at Bethnal Green? Your help is much appreciated.

    -Drew

  • Colin McNulty 29 October 2008, 1:19 pm

    Hi Drew,

    Check out my latest post all about Bethnal Green, with pictures and details on how to join:

    http://www.colinmcnulty.com/blog/2008/10/29/bethnal-green-weightlifting-club/

    I might see you there, say hello if you do come. I normally go on a Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Colin

  • Steve Truglia 5 January 2009, 3:28 pm

    There’s a great weightlifting / bodybuilding gym very near the one mentioned. It’s in Hague Street, off of Bethnal Green Road, called Muscleworks. I’ve been weight training there for a few months. There are a few crossfit exponents there and you can pay £5 per visit or the membership is reasonable. There are a high percentage of pro / serious bodybuilders there but they seem very relaxed about letting people cross train and there is more than enough equipment and space.
    Search for muscleworks on google, they have a small website.
    There’s a great coach who often trains his clients there, his name is Nick Mitchell (www.upfitness.co.uk). I’ve seen him cross train some clients and have been extremely impressed indeed. He is very knoledgeable, a great motivator, and will make you cry for your Mum if you want to be pushed that hard!!! I say this as a former military airborne PTI who has done both Paras ‘P’ Coy and the RM Commando Course.

    Enjoy.

  • Jacob 11 February 2009, 5:11 pm

    Hey, great info on gyms in london!

    I am interested in going to bethnal green gym but am a bit confused about the enrollment procedures. The site you provided says that enrollment is closed until April. Would you happen to have someone I could contact to see if I could enroll this late?

    Also, if you want to do multiple days, how does that work? Do you have to come to an agreement with them and pay extra?

    Thanks for the website and the info. I’ve been looking around for ages for an olympic lifting gym so to have someone tell others where it is and how to enroll has been a godsend. Good luck on your lifting endeavors!

  • Colin McNulty 11 February 2009, 9:29 pm

    If enrolment is closed, it sounds like they’re full already! Give them a call to check. It’s effectively an adult education course and you sign up for 1 evening a week. If you want to do more, you have to sign up for more evenings.

  • Jacob 13 February 2009, 3:10 am

    Thanks for the info Colin. Good luck lifting!

  • Nicole 17 April 2009, 5:02 pm

    Here’s a great listing of pay as you go gyms > http://www.gymsinlondon.com/index.php/membership-fees

    since i don’t go very often , prefer not having to commit myself to paying a full fee every month!

    Hope it helps

  • Andrew Stemler 29 December 2009, 1:38 pm

    Crossfit Londons “blackboard gym” is 45 seconds from Bethnal Green Tube station.

    check out

    http://www.crossfitlondonuk.com for details

    for authentic Crossfit in a dedicated Crossfit facility

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