“Basically this place is about having fun,” says Fitness Hub East London co-founder George Lopez, with a big grin. “And staying fit, of course, in a holistic way. Our vision has always been about bringing the whole community together – and that’s why we want to offer classes for £2 a pop. So everyone can come and try us out.”
Yep, you heard right. For the duration of May (2nd-31st) you can take your pick of about 30 classes (out of a total of 50) for “less than the price of a Big Mac,” he says, from group cycle and boxercise to kickboxing and bootcamp. The discounted classes are all run by the resident instructors Justyna and Moss (find out more about their credentials here). Usual single class price is £14 – so this is a massive saving.
Can’t picture Fitness Hub East London? George and I are standing in its airy front space, which overlooks Leytonstone High Road (dangerously near those two delish food joints Panda Dim Sum and Yard Sale).
This multifunctional room with floor-to-ceiling windows is “primarily for yoga and pilates, although not exclusively,” he says, before whisking me through to the stylish larger bare-brick space with atrium windows and mirror wall. This is the scene of more rigorous activities, such as East London Circuits and Boxing.
Rewind 15 years and George and his business partner Dave Appanah ran their Orient Physiotherapy Clinic after meeting and working together at local club Leyton Orient, where they were both the club’s physiotherapists. They originally set up in what’s now the new location of award-winning grocery store Stone Mini Market (fact: the two businesses are extremely friendly and even used the same local artist, Aaron Williams, for their hand-painted shop signs).
The pair acquired this spot, a former body-building gym, back in 2019: work began in June and took a whopping 18 months, finishing just as Covid was still in full throttle. They opened their doors for the first time in Oct 2020 – but then had to close after only two weeks due to the second lockdown and restrictions for a further seven months.
“It was a labour of love,” he says, “but we believed that there was a market for this here. With the physio clinic we obviously treated a lot of different people, and asked them what they wanted in the area. And we realised there was nothing like this where you can actually go and try something different, from dancing in heels to yoga.”
What else is on offer? “Dance classes, children’s boxing and dancing, Boxing classes, circuit training, calisthenics (full body workout), Group Cycle, kickboxing, HIIT classes, boot camps, Fit Mummas (back to fitness), Lift and Shred, Strength & Stretch Body Movements Yoga, Pilates, and many more,” he says. Classes are available at all levels, from beginners to advanced (including pre- and post-natal) as well as those for adults and children; they’re currently looking at running keep fit classes for older residents too. There’s a private personal training studio for one-on-ones and small groups, and “some of our classes are also run for women only,” he adds. You can find out more about each in detailed descriptions here.
There are, of course, treatment rooms for physio and sports massages: “Our expertise is in sports injuries, neck, back pain and all musculoskeletal conditions, with some of our therapists providing acupuncture as part of their treatments,” he says.
“Our therapists have many years of experience in dance, professional sports (both George & Dave having worked at local Premiership club where Dave is still lead rehab specialist) as well as the British Army. We’ve combined these skills with our knowledge of spinal conditions and post-surgery rehabilitation to provide an elite-level service to members of the general public.”
Dave’s wife Helen is the resident Physio and Clinical Pilates teacher who has been at the clinic from the beginning: “She’s played a huge part in helping the clinic grow,” says George. “This is truly a family-run business in all its glory.”
Meanwhile, at the front reception is café-style furniture, where locals can also look forward to a forthcoming artisan coffee and smoothie bar. “We want people to finish their class and just feel like they can relax in a pleasant space and connect with one another.”
So why sign up? “Ultimately, it’s about something that you enjoy doing,” he says. “That’s what fitness in 2022 is all about. It’s about you saying, ‘I like the idea of being fit – but I don’t know where to start.’ And so you try one of our classes. Or, if you want the 1-1 treatment, then one of our PTs.”
The more sedate amongst us will be all too aware that in a traditional gym you have to be very self-motivated, and even know (or look like you know) what you’re doing.
“Yes, it can be very intimidating. But here it’s not about machines, it’s about engagement with people, you come in and make friends. Everyone’s in the same boat. It’s about bringing different people and cultures together – especially those who’ve not had the opportunity to try these things out before.”
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