Tuesday 10th March- Covent Garden to the London Eye
Fuelled by my first two Nike Training Club sessions, my next stop was a free NTC Run to Train class based at the Nike Covent Garden store. After swapping stories from the Ellie Goulding event with the other girls (a mixture of regulars and fellow newbies), our trainer Kezia set us out onto the pedestrian-filled streets of Covent Garden for our run down to the London Eye to tackle some NTC drills and breath-taking views.
To the bemusement of a few tourists at having seemingly never seen a group of girls run before, we weaved our way in and out of busy pavements to briefly jog on the spot with high knees whilst we waited to cross the road. If you ever see a bunch of girls shouting ‘Green!’ with relief at the changing traffic lights whilst you’re walking around London, you’re probably passing a Run to Train class.
From Covent Garden, we ran across a bridge populated with weary workers, down the steps and alongside the water until we met our destination, signalled by a bright wheel lit up in red. As I quickly found out, that long run was just a warm up for what was to follow.
From crawling along the floor like a bear stretching out their paws, jumping back and forth like a frog to alternating tricep push-ups with my new-found partner, my first experience of exercising outdoors was a miniature shock to the system until I got used to making uninhibited contact with the ground and grass.
Coupled with using the trees as support and working as a group to do collective sit-ups, the experience of running around in the dark with the lights of London as a back-drop made the hour seem to run out all too quickly. With a run back to the store, we worked out that we clocked up about 4.6 (ish) km to London Eye and back. That was unexpected for a Tuesday night.
Tuesday 17th March- Covent Garden to Buckingham Palace
Motivated by running more in the previous session than I had probably managed for the whole year previously, I rushed to sign up for more Run to Train. Greeted by a warm smile from Kezia as she gathered us around the changing rooms for the popular class, I can see this becoming my Tuesday after-work-ritual. This session had the girls tackling the lengthy picturesque route down to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace. With our run taking us down The Mall, we interspersed jogging down the long road with some walking lunges. As we passed multiple cars, I appreciated being shrouded in the veil of darkness so that no one could see just how shallow and weak my lunges became as our journey progressed.
Before we headed back, we took on some weaving in and out of bollards, walking planks and lunges under some railings with the Palace glittering in the background. Our return route took us past the lit fountains of Trafalgar Square and onto the perimeter of Covent Garden’s cobble streets. With these classes, I’ll never need to take another London Sightseeing bus tour again. At around 5.2km clocked up for by the end of the session, that Nike 10k is looking a little less intimidating with each run.
Monday 23rd March- Westfield Workout
Braving the tube to tackle the Central Line all the way from Bank to Shepherd’s Bush, my next class took place at the Nike Westfield store. You can tell that I’m really enjoying these sessions if I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to take on a different tube line that isn’t black or blue…
Used to the outdoor nature of the previous classes, I was surprised to be led out of the Nike store into a cordoned off area of the shopping centre for our drills. With curious shoppers slowing down their walk as they passed, our firm-but-fair trainer directed our circle of girls to a series of gruelling reps. With exercises ranging from squat relay races, multiple burpies, plank variations, ab crunches and mountain climbers, the class worked me harder than other sessions that I’ve paid top dolla for elsewhere. (Top tip: Exercising in London is expensive. I now take back everything I’ve ever said about paying £20 for a monthly gym membership in Glasgow).
Throughout the session, having excited children cry because they wanted to join in our class worked as motivation to keep going with the drills- if you always push yourself harder in an exercise class, try doing the same when you’re also faced with an audience carrying shopping bags…
Tuesday 24th March- Covent Garden to Under the Bridge
With the torrential rain turning the streets of London into a monsoon for spontaneous downpours, Kezia took the girls down to one of her favourite work out spaces under a bridge overlooking the city backdrop including the Oxo Tower, Shard and Big Ben. For a chilly night, we warmed up quickly with a series of motions including walking down and up from plank, alternating 10 burpies with standing leg squats and using benches for push-ups.
With each session, you naturally unite with the other girls over expressions of apprehension and determination over ab crunches and misjudged high faces exchanged between burpies. As the end of the month approached, I realised how lovely it has been to be able to strike up conversations with new people at each class, and pick up on where you left of with the regulars. Exercising for free and socialising- taking on the Nike Training Club looks like my perfect start to London.